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Welcome to AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles and other updates.

Published on Monday, March 6, 2017

Legislative Bulletin – City business license and tax bills pass | Public records bills pass | Bill hot sheets

Hot topics

City business license and tax proposals EHB 2005 passed the House and ESSB 5777 passed the Senate. AWC will continue to work with the business community, with the hope that any final bill assists businesses by streamlining the license process while protecting local authority. More

AWC priority public records bills pass the House! HB 1594 passed with a vote of 79-18 and HB 1595 passed with a vote of 75-22. Thank legislators who supported these bills. More

Check out our hot sheets that track the movement of bills that AWC is focused on advancing or expressing concerns with this week. You are encouraged to add your voices by contacting your legislators to ask them for help to advance or stop these key bills. House Senate

From the Director

Cities told budget will be devastatingly gloomy – Tell your Senator why cities matter
We've learned that the budget proposal in the Senate will be "devastatingly gloomy" for cities. The state revenue forecast will be released on March 16, after which things will move quickly on Senate budget decisions. Tell your Senator or remind them that shared revenues make a difference in your community. More

Need to know

Budget & finance
Senate Ways & Means Committee making key decisions for drafting proposed budget. More
Keep contacting your Senators on lodging tax bill limiting city authority. More

Environment & land use
Hirst/Foster water bill passes the Senate. More

Infrastructure
Public works apprenticeship utilization bill on the move. More
Bill would require cities to provide relocation assistance on projects. More

General government
Emergency notification bills move out of both chambers. More

Human services
Bill consolidating state’s public health system passes House. More

Personnel
Bill allowing stress-related occupational diseases for police and firefighters moving in the House. More
Workers’ compensation reform bill on the move in the Senate. More

Public safety & criminal justice
Deadly force bill stalls in Senate but could still move later in session. More
Drug take back program continues to move through the Legislature. More

Transportation
Legislature takes on REAL ID compliance. More
Distracted driving bill on the move. More
Bill would create community aviation loan program. More

Media time

Remind legislators what state shared revenues mean to your city. More
Talk about your budget challenges through your local media. More

 

Things you can do

Keep contacting your Senators on lodging tax bill limiting city authority. More
More town Hall Meetings have been scheduled More

 


 

From the Director

Cities told budget will be devastatingly gloomy – Tell your Senator why cities matter

Why now? There’s at least $210 million in city revenue sharing funds susceptible to the budget ax as Senate budget writers work behind closed doors to craft their budget proposal. The proposed budget is expected to be released and voted upon soon after the next state revenue forecast on March 16, which will tell them what revenues to expect. After that, they will quickly decide what they can afford to fund, what gets cut, or whether or not new revenue is needed to fund top priorities.

More than 360 city officials gathered in Olympia on February 15, and they weren’t the first to hear that the budget proposal in the Senate will be “devastatingly gloomy.” More than 2/3 of an expected $40 billion plus operating budget is dedicated to schools, and there is arguably little room to cut elsewhere. That leaves less than 1/3 of their budget to “play with” and it’s within this portion that historic shared revenues with cities are located.

Even though the $210 million now shared with every city to support services like public safety makes up only half of one percent of the overall state operating budget, some legislators view these as non-critical or unnecessary. They assume cities large and small are doing well in this economy and won’t miss the funds if eliminated. Few recognize that with the sole exception of the Tri-cities area, nowhere else in the state began to get back to pre-2008 recession employment levels until very recently, and some haven’t gotten there yet!

Tell your Senator or remind them that these shared revenues make a difference in your community. In addition, liquor revenues have been shared for decades and absent them, local liquor taxation might have been sought or allowed. If the state pursues retreating from sharing revenues generated in our communities, what are legislators doing to help reduce service costs? With the exception of legislation that helps modernize the Public Records Act to allow small charges for electronic records, legislators don’t have much else to offer as help thus far in the session.

City officials in communities represented by Senators on the Ways & Means Committee, or whose Senators serve in a caucus leadership position, were encouraged to politely, but firmly call them to ask for their continued support of revenue sharing. Every other city official is now encouraged to do the same. Budget negotiators need to know that you’re wanting continued support and so too are your Senators.

Messages to consider sharing, and links to the state-shared revenues your city is estimated to receive, are as follows:

  • Cutting city revenue doesn't solve the state's problem. It just reduces our effectiveness as the economic engine for the state and puts services we provide, like public safety, at risk.
  • These distributions represent half of 1% of the state's general fund but represent decades of agreements with cities and towns. There should not be cuts to revenue absent equal cuts to obligations.
  • These funds support critical services that benefit our shared constituents, and should not be jeopardized as part of any budget negotiation strategy.

Be prepared to hear from some legislators that sweeping these vital funds is merely a first negotiating position. Politely, but firmly, remind them that it is wrong to use wholesale cuts to cities and towns around the state as a negotiating strategy.

Contact information for your Senator is a click away here, and information about your own city shared revenues estimated to receive 2017-19 if cuts aren’t made are available here (select your city in the drop-down arrow box).

Cities and towns across the state need to stand united and let Senators know that we know their jobs aren’t easy and that resource demands exceed what’s available. As partners in governance and representing our communities, we’re here to keep cities strong and this a great state!

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Media time

 


Remind legislators what state shared revenues mean to your city

State budget proposals are under development and budget writers are looking to find money wherever they can. The state-shared revenues your city is estimated to receive in 2017-19 (except for marijuana revenues which are distributed by actual sales) are available here. Select your city in the drop-down arrow box. It is critical you let your legislators know what these state shared revenues mean to your city.

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Talk about your budget challenges through your local media

See this article in the Kent Reporter, where AWC Board Member and Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke fills in her local reporter on a local budget issue that her community faces. Do you have a similar issue that you’d like to educate your community about? Contact your local media and tell them your story.

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Things you can do

 

Keep contacting your Senators on lodging tax bill limiting city authority.

SSB 5827 could be acted on by the Senate at any time. More

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More town Hall Meetings have been scheduled

See the list here.

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Need to know

Budget & finance

 

City business license and tax bills EHB 2005 passes House and ESSB 5777 passes Senate

City business license and tax proposal EHB 2005 passed the House with a vote of 96-2. While we were actively negotiating with the bill sponsors and stakeholders on potential amendments, ultimately only a few changes were made to the bill before it passed out of the House. This includes extending the date for cities to choose to participate in FileLocal instead of the business licensing system to one year, from July 2017 to 2018. The amended bill also changed responsibility for staffing and chairing the workgroup of cities and businesses on apportionment of service income under RCW 35.102.130 from the Department of Revenue to the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC).

Meanwhile, SSB 5777 passed the Senate with a vote of 44-0. This Senate bill has similar provisions, but the amendments adopt a more flexible approach to exemptions to joining the business licensing system for hardship, and to choose to use the alternative city-operated FileLocal tax and licensing system.

At this time, either bill could be a vehicle for final legislation, and ESSB 5777 is more favorable to cities. AWC will continue to work with the business community, with the hope that any final version of the bill achieves the goals of assisting businesses by streamlining the license process, and protecting local authority.

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Senate Ways & Means Committee making key decisions for drafting proposed budget

AWC recently sent an action alert to cities with Senators on the Ways & Means Committee or in leadership. These Senators are responsible for key budget decisions that are in process for a proposed budget that will likely be released shortly after the revenue forecast in mid-March.

Historic and valued shared operating revenues, programs, and support for infrastructure are all at high risk. State-shared revenues your city is estimated to receive in 2017-19 are available here (select your city in the drop-down arrow box).

Call your Senator and tell them to work with their colleagues to protect these vital city resources.

For key messages to share and more information on the budget discussions, see From the Director.

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Keep contacting your Senators on lodging tax bill limiting city authority

SSB 5827, which AWC opposes, could be acted on by the full Senate at any time. The bill would change the definition of tourist under the lodging tax statute and impact expenditures of lodging tax for tourism promotion, events, and tourism-related facilities.

AWC testified in opposition to this bill because it breaks the compromise reached on lodging tax authority in legislation passed several years ago, including greater authority for the lodging tax advisory committee, additional reporting processes, and limits on city legislative authority on using this local revenue tool. Sufficient processes are in place to ensure that lodging taxes are used in the best ways to meet community needs.

If you have not done so already, contact your Senator to oppose this limitation of your local authority. Sufficient processes are already in place to determine the use of lodging taxes for community events, tourism marketing, and tourism facilities.

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Environment & land use

 

Hirst/Foster water bill passes the Senate

SB 5239 passed the Senate with a 28-21 vote, with all 25 Republicans voting yes, joined by three Democrats. We are thankful for Sen. Judy Warnick's (R- Moses Lake) leadership on this bill. Many of the Democrats who spoke against the bill indicated that they understand the need to address the issues caused by the Hirst decision, but were concerned about how the bill specifically pursued that goal. We look forward to the next phase of discussions on this issue and still believe common ground can be found.

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General government

 

Emergency notification bills move out of both chambers

Bills that would require emergency notices in languages other than English, HB 1540 and SB 5046, were voted out of the House and Senate last week. The bills have competing requirements but they both require cities to provide emergency notices in languages understood by significant non-English speaking populations within the city. The bills would also require emergency management organizations to develop specific plans for communicating with these populations. The House bill is set for a hearing on Thursday, March 9 in the Senate Local Government Committee. If your city has a perspectives on these bills, please contact Logan Bahr or Victoria Lincoln.

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Human services

 

Bill consolidating state’s public health system passes House

HB 1432, which would consolidate the state’s public health system, was voted out of the House of Representatives on March 2. The bill is an important step in the state’s effort to integrate the physical and behavioral health system. The bill would require the Department of Health to develop a plan that must include:

  • Activities and services that qualify as foundational public health services;
  • An assessment of current capacity, unmet needs, and service delivery models to provide foundational public health services;
  • A statewide model for shared services and a plan for further implementation;
  • A comprehensive accountability structure, including performance measures;
  • The cost of providing foundational public health services statewide;
  • A funding allocation model to ensure services are provided across the state; and
  • Recommended schedules for periodic updates, evaluations, assessments, and reporting progress.

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Infrastructure

 

Public works apprenticeship utilization bill on the move

HB 1849 makes several changes to apprenticeship utilization requirements on public works projects. The bill would apply apprenticeship utilization hours to all contractors and subcontractors and would make awarding agencies responsible for monitoring contractor and subcontractor compliance with the hour’s requirement. The bill also stipulates that failure to comply with the requirements would serve as one of the violations that would count towards debarring a contractor from bidding on the public works.

HB 1849 passed out of the House of Representatives 51-47 and moves to the Senate for consideration.

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Bill would require cities to provide relocation assistance on projects

SB 5049 would remove a city’s ability to opt out of providing relocation assistance in certain circumstances. Under current Washington law, a local government may opt out of providing relocation assistance on projects that do not have federal monies attached. Federal law requires that relocation assistance be provided if any federal monies are used. Relocation assistance generally addresses the costs incurred by a property owner moving a residence, business, farm, or other personal property when that property is acquired for public use.

SB 5049 passed out of the Senate unanimously and has been scheduled for public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on March 9.

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Open government

 

AWC priority public records bills pass the House!

AWC’s priority public records bills, HB 1594 and HB 1595, both passed the House on Friday with bipartisan votes. HB 1594 passed with a vote of 79-18. HB 1595 passed with a vote of 75-22.

AWC is especially grateful to the bills’ prime sponsors, Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland) and Rep. Terry Nealey (R-Dayton), as well as Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland), Rep. John Koster (R-Arlington), Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) and many others for their help getting the bills through the House.

Please take the time to thank those local legislators who supported the bill.

The two bills now move to the Senate where they will likely go to the Senate State Government Committee for consideration. Now is the time to talk to your Senators about the importance of keeping these bills moving.

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Personnel

 

Bill allowing stress-related occupational diseases for police and firefighters moving in the House

HB 1655 would exempt police officers and firefighters from current prohibitions against claiming stress-related mental conditions as occupational diseases. The bill would create a possible PTSD disability claim for members of the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters Plan 2 pension system. AWC does not support this bill as it unreasonably carves out a class of employee and worsens cities’ exorbitantly increasing workers’ compensation rates.

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Workers’ compensation reform bill on the move in the Senate

Sen. Michael Baumgartner’s (R-Spokane) bill, SB 5822, is continuing to move through the Senate. The bill would improve the workers’ compensation system by modifying procedures for claims to self-insured organizations, clarifying third-party recovery, occupational disease claims, and lowering age restrictions on structured settlements. AWC supports these reasonable and modest reforms to workers’ compensation.

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Public safety & criminal justice

 

Deadly force bill stalls in Senate but could still move later in session

The Senate bill, SB 5073, modifying the criminal liability standard for law enforcement officers using deadly force failed it make it out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee by Feb. 24, rendering the bill dead. However, the Legislature has many ways to revive bills previously thought dead. Some legislators have already suggested that the bill will be linked to the budget. AWC is supportive of the bill and will continue to monitor the situation.

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Drug take back program continues to move through the Legislature

HB 1047 requires drug manufactures to operate a drug take-back program. The bill is continuing to move through the Legislature and would require drug manufacturers that sell drugs in Washington to create and operate a program to collect and dispose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The policy will assist in combating the growing opiate crisis. AWC supports the bill. However, there is strong opposition from drug companies about the requirement that they pay for the program. Proponents argue the cost is minimal given the negative impacts associated with improper disposal. The bill must pass the house by March 8.

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Transportation

 

Legislature takes on REAL ID compliance

SB 5008/HB 1041 sponsored by Sen. Curtis King, (R-Yakima) and Rep. Judy Clibborn, (D-Mercer Island), would update Washington’s driver’s license requirements so that the state can begin to comply with federal REAL ID requirements.

Congress passed REAL ID in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission recommended the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” Washington State has not been in compliance with the federal standards, and after failing to receive a compliance extension in 2016, the state must fall in line or risk its residents not possessing the appropriate identification to do things like board airplanes and access federal buildings.

Under the provisions of the bill, the Department of Licensing would be required to mark standard driver’s licenses and identicards in accordance with REAL ID Act regulations indicating they are not compliant with REAL ID Act standards beginning July 1, 2018. The bills would also lower the fee for enhanced driver’s licenses and identicards to $90 for the next four years. Enhanced driver’s licenses and identicards do meet federal REAL ID standards.

Both bills are moving through the legislative process.

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Distracted driving bill on the move

SB 5289 sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), and HB 1371 sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle), would update and replace current laws that prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones and texting while driving. The bills would impose stricter regulations on the use of any personal electronic devices in one’s hands while driving. This would include texting, surfing the web, checking one’s social media account, talking with a phone to one’s ear or face, etc. It would permit the use of minimal finger use to active, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device and the use of a hand or finger to control the built-in features of a motor vehicle through the use of a touch screen or control panel. The bills preempt local laws that restrict the use of electronic devices while driving, and double the penalty amount due for second and any subsequent offenses within five years.

Both SB 5289 and HB 1371 are moving through the Legislature.

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Bill would create community aviation loan program

HB 1656 sponsored by Rep. Tom Dent (R-Moses Lake), creates a community aviation revitalization loan program within the Aeronautics Account. This program would allow small and local airports to apply for loans to fund capital projects, including repaving runways, installing runway lights, constructing new airport facilities, and improving existing facilities. These loans would be available to both public airports, and private airports that provide a “commensurate public benefit, such as public access, and do not have more than fifty thousand annual commercial service passenger enplanements.”

The bill also creates the Community Aviation Revitalization Loan Oversight Task Force to oversee and provide consultation on the loan program.

HB 1656 is eligible for a vote on the House floor.

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