Home  |   About us  |   Partner with AWC  |   Login      

Advocacy

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

Published on Friday, March 10, 2017

Legislative Bulletin – See which bills made it past the cutoff | Possible budget impacts on cities

Hot topics

Senate to hear public records bills this week – including AWC priority bills HB 1594 and HB1595. We encourage you to contact your Senators and let them know about the importance of these two bills. More

Hearings scheduled on latest versions of city business license and tax bills EHB 2005 and ESSB 5777. AWC is gathering a panel of cities to testify at the hearings. More

Text

From the Director

What to expect on city priorities, budget, and policy in the coming weeks
Several of AWC’s priorities made it past the March 8 cutoff. Find out the next steps this session including important dates, legislators’ budget timeline, and an upcoming April 3 AWC Lobby Day where you are invited to join us in Olympia, or make calls to your legislators from home. More

Need to know

Budget & finance
One piece of McCleary education funding fix now in place. Last week, the Senate and House passed ESB 5023, the levy cliff bill. More
Lodging tax bill limiting city authority did not advance before the legislative cutoff. Thanks to all the cities that contacted Senators to express concerns with further limitations on this local authority. More
Lodging tax reporting due by March 15. All cities with lodging tax expenditures in 2016 must submit a report to JLARC. More
Fiscal flexibility bill continues to move. SHB 2006 passed the House on March 7. More
Bill to expand homestead property tax exemption scheduled for hearing. More

Environment
Comment period begins for proposed clarifications to Shoreline Management Act procedural rules, including a new process for periodic review of local shoreline master programs. More

General government
Non-English emergency notice bill gets hearing in Senate, local governments offer input. More

Housing
Housing and homelessness bills are still alive after cutoff. More
Bills to remedy problems created by abandoned and foreclosed homes are still moving. More

Infrastructure
There is still a chance to preserve the Public Works Trust Fund if we keep up the pressure. More
Problematic bill that would change claims process on construction contracts fails to pass. More

Marijuana
Update on dead marijuana bills. More

Personnel
Update on dead personnel bills. More

Public safety & criminal justice
Update on dead public safety bills. More

Telecommunications
Small cell telecommunications bill fails to move out of the Senate. SB 5711 is technically dead, but this is not the end. More

Transportation
Bill that requires review of pavement condition reporting requirement moving through the process. More

Media time

What's going on with the state budget and why it matters for cities More
City officials travelling to NLC's Congressional City Conference More

 

Things you can do

Join us for a critical AWC Lobby Day on the Hill More

 


 

From the Director

What to expect on city priorities, budget, and policy in the coming weeks

March 8 was a critical deadline to move policy bills from one chamber to the other. The good news is that several of AWC's priorities advanced - principle among them bills addressing public records reforms. Less certain is the fate of other AWC priorities dealing with infrastructure funding or housing affordability and homelessness. These bills have some degree of fiscal impact on the state's operating or capital budgets and are in somewhat of a "hold pattern" until budget writers and leadership in both chambers figure out where they fit in or not. There are also bills AWC has opposed or expressed concerns about. Most of them have not advanced, in large part because of your voices from home, so thank you! Several could reemerge and we'll keep you posted if that's the case.

Legislators' attention now turns to committees sorting through policy bills sent from the opposite chamber, as well as behind-closed-door conversations about budget proposals expected to first see the light of day in the Senate sometime shortly after the March 16 state revenue forecast. AWC's attention will be focused on both.

We've highlighted in this Legislative Bulletin a number of key hearings this week, including those for our public records bills in the Senate State Government Committee on March 15 and different versions of House and Senate bills addressing city business licensing changes that will be heard later in the week. We also urge cities to be in touch with your Senators and Representatives to remind them of the importance of continued state sharing of revenues, and the need to maintain support for critical infrastructure funding - especially in our smaller communities. Getting these messages directly to your legislators before the first operating budget is released in the Senate can have a real impact.

In addition to the March 16 date to remember, on March 20 we expect a Senate budget to come forward, and on March 29 policy bills need to clear the opposite committee. Finally, April 4 is the last day to consider and pass both policy and budget bills from the opposite chamber. Wedged right in there is our April 3 AWC City Lobby Day – wherein we're asking each city to dedicate time to connect with your legislators to let them know what you need them to address. We're hosting and organizing an opportunity for face-to-face communications at the Capitol that day and will soon be sharing ideas on how you can participate from home as well.

We so appreciate the support your voices are providing so far. There's much at stake in the following weeks before scheduled adjournment on April 23, and your direct contact from home at key times remains critical.

Back to top

 


Media time

 


What's going on with the state budget and why it matters for cities

Your AWC Government Relations Advocate Victoria Lincoln brings you the lowdown on what’s really going on with the budget and why it matters for cities. Catch this video to learn the three problems the Legislature is facing with passing the budget, and the huge impacts on cities. Share this video in council meetings to get the conversation going on about state-shared revenues at risk, and contact your legislators before it’s too late.

Back to top

 

 

City officials travelling to NLC's Congressional City Conference

AWC's leadership and approximately 90 Washington city officials are headed off to Washington, D.C. next week to advocate for federal policies that support our cities. Check out our federal priorities here and follow along March 11-15 on AWC's twitter.

Back to top

 


Things you can do

 

Join us for a critical AWC Lobby Day on the Hill

April 3 | Olympia
Many legislators have been clear that state-shared revenues of more than $200 million are in jeopardy and soon we'll know how true this is. City officials are invited to Olympia on April 3, one day before cutoff, to make a push and tell legislators that strong cities are the key to a great state. Make appointments to meet with legislators, or notify them of your arrival, and share the positive or negative impacts of the difficult budget decisions they face. More

Back to top

 


Need to know

Budget & finance

 

Hearings scheduled on latest versions of city business license and tax bills EHB 2005 and ESSB 5777

City business license and tax proposal EHB 2005 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee on Thursday, March 16 at 1:30 pm. This version includes extending the date for cities to choose to participate in FileLocal instead of the business licensing system by one year, from July 2017 to 2018. It also changes responsibility for staffing and chairing the workgroup of cities and businesses on apportionment of service income from the Department of Revenue to the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC). The amended bill did not amend the population threshold of 500 for the hardship exemption from requiring cities to join the business licensing system.

ESSB 5777 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Finance Committee on Friday, March 17 at 8 am. More favorable to cities, this bill would adopt a more flexible approach to providing hardship exemptions to join the business licensing system. It also allows cities to choose the alternative city-operated FileLocal tax and licensing system through 2020.

AWC will be putting together a panel of cities to testify at the hearings and 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.

Back to top

 

 

One piece of McCleary education funding fix now in place

As legislators keep communicating, one of the primary issues this session will be resolving the McCleary funding issue. The state operating budget proposal expected shortly after the revenue forecast later this week will begin the negotiations on education funding and the requirements of compliance with the court’s 2012 ruling.

Last week, the Senate and House passed one related piece ESB 5023, the levy cliff bill. It provides local school districts additional authority for local levies to avoid limitations that would otherwise have gone into effect later this year.

During the recession, in an effort to lessen the impacts on school budgets, the Legislature gave local school districts additional authority to raise local levies to help make up for state funding shortfalls. This additional flexibility was set to expire later this year. Without this legislation, school districts would have faced a combined $358 million revenue decrease from the levy authority reduction.

The bill also requires school districts to report the programs and activities that will be funded through the proposed levy beginning in 2018 to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to ensure maintenance and operation (M&O) levies are not used for basic education programs. OSPI must approve the report before a ballot proposition can be submitted for voter approval.

Back to top

 

 

Lodging tax bill limiting city authority does not advance

SSB 5827, which AWC opposed, was not acted on by the Senate before the legislative cutoff on March 8. While the bill is technically dead, discussions continue with the bill proponents regarding their concerns about uses and reporting of lodging tax.

Thanks to all the cities that contacted Senators to express concerns with further limitations on local authority to determine that lodging taxes are used in the best ways to meet community needs. We will keep you informed if any additional information becomes available.

Back to top

 

 

Lodging tax reporting due by March 15

The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) asked AWC to remind cities of the deadline for reporting of lodging expenditures for 2016. All cities with lodging tax expenditures in 2016 must submit a report to JLARC by March 15 using their online reporting system. Get access to the system and information about the requirements here.

Suggestions or questions about the reporting system may be directed to JLARClodgingtax@leg.wa.gov or Suzanna Pratt (Suzanna.Pratt@leg.wa.gov or 360-786-5106).

Back to top

 

 

Fiscal flexibility bill continues to move

SHB 2006 passed the House on March 7. The bill now combines the following provisions of HB 2006 and HB 2041:

  • Removes the non-supplant language on property tax levy lid lifts.
  • Extends the $0.50 voter-approved local option county criminal justice levy to counties with more than 90,000 population.
  • Removes the non-supplant language from the mental health sales tax. Currently, one city levies this tax.

Back to top

 

 

Homestead property tax exemption bill scheduled for hearing

HB 2115, a bill to expand the property tax homestead exemption, is scheduled for hearing in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, March 14, at 3:30 pm. The expanded exemption would also require passage of an amendment to the state constitution.

Back to top

 


Environment

 

Ecology proposes clarifications to shoreline procedural rules

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is seeking public comments on proposed changes to state procedural rules for managing shorelines.

The proposed rules:

  • Define procedures for counties and cities to comply with a legislative requirement to periodically review local shoreline master programs (SMPs) on a repeating eight-year cycle. The first round of reviews are due June 2019.
  • Outline a new optional process for amending SMPs that reduces duplication by consolidating local and state comment periods.
  • Incorporate recent legislative enactments and adopt other “housekeeping” changes.

Ecology developed the rules with help from a local government sounding board, and held a public comment period on a preliminary draft last summer.

Ecology will accept comments through May 15, 2017. Comments also will be accepted during public hearings in April:

  • April 5: 1:30 pm at Ecology’s Headquarters, 300 Desmond Drive SE, Lacey.
  • April 6: 10 am at Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office, 3190 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue.
  • April 11: 1:30 pm Spokane Shadle Branch Public Library, 2111 W Wellesley Avenue, Spokane.
  • April 13: 10 am at Ecology’s Central Regional Office, 1250 West Alder Street, Union Gap.

The proposed rule and instructions for submitting comments are here.

For information, contact Tim Gates, (360) 407-6522, or email smarulemaking@ecy.wa.gov.

Back to top

 


General government

 

Emergency notice bill gets hearing in Senate, local governments offer input

HB 1540, requiring public notices in languages other than English, received a hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee on Thursday, March 9. The bill requires local governments to provide emergency notices in languages understood by large population segments while also requiring local jurisdictions to develop communications plan for contacting these populations. AWC and other local government representatives testified with concerns about the construction of the bill, practical problems with implementation, and cost. We will continue to offer changes to make this bill workable.

Back to top

 


Housing

 

Housing and homelessness bills are still alive after cutoff

We passed the biggest early session cutoff, where bills need to have passed the chamber in which they were introduced or be considered dead for the year. You may now be wondering whether all of the housing and homelessness bills are all dead. Don’t worry, the House and Senate have declared the three major bills Necessary to Implement the Budget (NTIB) and therefore exempted them from the deadlines.

The document recording fee increase HB 1570, the local options tools bill HB 1797, and the omnibus homeless and housing revenues plus GMA buildable lands amendments bill SB 5254 are all in this place. However, this is a bit of a double-edged sword because once a bill is declared NTIB, it tends to lose a lot of momentum. If history is any indication, these issues will likely be wrapped into the end-game discussions. There may not be many outward signs of life on these bills, but they are very much still in play.

Back to top

 

 

Bills related to abandoned and foreclosed homes still moving

As noted in an earlier Legislative Bulletin article, AWC has been actively engaged in conversations around city authority over abating nuisance properties that are in foreclosure and/or have been abandoned. Currently, cities run into numerous hurdles when it comes to addressing blighted homes that pose a threat to public safety and health because of their deteriorating condition due to abandonment.

In our last update we characterized HB 2057/SB 5797 sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines/Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) as works in progress. The bills continue to be fine-tuned, but have come a long way in the past weeks. As currently drafted the legislation would:

  • Put in place a multi-level process by which a servicer may enter abandoned residential real property to make repairs or remediate problems.
  • Authorize the Housing Finance Commission (HFC) to issue certificates of abandonment for a fee, and require the HFC to notify the appropriate city, town, or county.
  • Establish processes for servicers—acting on behalf of the beneficiary of a trust deed—to enter abandoned property to take reasonable steps to secure it.

There are still many issues to be ironed out, notably, establishing a process where cities are also able to issue certificates of abonnement and able to take steps to remediate problem homes when servicers fail to step in. AWC remains committed to continuing to work through the process. As changes are made we will continue to provide updates.

Back to top

 


Infrastructure

 

There is still a chance to preserve the Public Works Trust Fund if we keep up the pressure

We are still hearing positive indications that the House is interested in moving forward with an amended version of the AWC public works reform proposal, HB 1677, and using that as a vehicle to advance a conversation about preserving the Public Works Assistance Account. That would likely occur alongside their budget rollout in the coming weeks.

We continue to benefit from broad bipartisan support in the House for preserving this program. Frankly, there is broad bipartisan support from many Senators as well as rank and file legislators that are very supportive of this program, it just isn’t faring well when the budgets are finalized. We still expect a big fight as the session winds down. Will this be the year that the Public Works Trust Fund is revived, or will it be the final nail in the coffin?

We are still in the ball game, but we need you to continue to tell your Representatives and Senators that the Public Works Trust Fund is a priority for your city. They know all cities want this, but you need to make sure they know that their specific cities want it too, and that you want your legislators to fight for this program.

Back to top

 

 

Bill that would change claims process on construction contracts fails to pass

SB 5788 concerning construction contracts, has died. Also known as the “Mike M. Johnson” bill, referencing a state Supreme Court case that was favorable to public owners, this bill would have undermined the claim notification process in contract procedures. It was highly problematic for cities and AWC opposed the bill.

Back to top

 


Marijuana

 

Marijuana bills that failed to make cutoff

The following are marijuana bills AWC has been tracking that are now dead due to failing to make it past the cutoff date. It’s important to note that the Legislature has the power to revive a dead bill at any time.

HB 1099 – Addressing local governments' unofficial moratoria on state-licensed marijuana retail outlets.

HB 2060 – Requiring counties, cities, and towns to permit the operation of state-licensed marijuana retail businesses in order to receive marijuana-related tax distributions.

Back to top

 


Open government

 

Senate to hear public records bills this week – including AWC priority bills

AWC’s priority public records bills, HB 1594 and HB 1595, will be heard in the Senate State Government Committee on Wednesday, March 15 at 8 am. We encourage you to contact your Senators and let them know about the importance of these two bills.

Both bills were amended during their journey through the House, but they retain their most important components.

HB 1594:

  • Requires training for records officers to address issues of retention, production and disclosure of electronic records.
  • Creates a grant program within the Office of the Secretary of State for local governments to improve their public record management systems.
  • Establishes a program within the Office of the Attorney General and the State Archives to consult with local governments on public records best practices.
  • Creates a study on the feasibility of establishing a statewide open records portal.
  • Provides for a $1 document recording fee to fund the programs in the bill.
  • The funding and the programs will sunset in 2020.
  • Updates the process for asking a requestor to clarify a request.

HB 1595:

  • Amends the PRA to allow cities to charge a small fee for providing copies of electronic records. A city may establish different fees by conducting its own cost study but the default charges in the bill are as follows:
    • 10 cents per scanned page
    • 5 cents per 4 files or attachments
    • 10 cents per gigabyte
    • These charges may be applied cumulatively
  • Creates the ability for cities to deny overwhelming computer generated “bot” requests.
  • Prohibits overly broad requests for all of a city’s records.
  • Creates a way for cities to apply a service charge to exceptionally complex requests.

Two additional public records bills supported by AWC are also scheduled for public hearing on March 15 in the State Government Committee.

  • HB 1160 enacting recommendations of the Sunshine Committee. The bill includes the following:
    • Requires public disclosure for certain otherwise exempted personal information where the subject of the information consents to disclosure.
    • Exempts public employee and volunteer passport and visa numbers from public disclosure.
    • Provides that the exemption from public disclosure of information regarding the ongoing investigations of employment-related discrimination lasts until the agency provides notice of the outcome of the investigation.
    • Exempts trade secrets from public disclosure.
    • Allows attorney's fees to any defendant who successfully defends against an injunction of the public disclosure of financial related records.
  • HB 1417 harmonizes the Open Public Meetings Act and the Public Records Act for matters related to technology security by allowing a local government to hold an executive session for purposes of discussing technology security matters.

Also being heard on March 15 in the House State Government Committee is SB 5207, which was requested by the Department of Enterprise Services and would exempt from release GPS data that indicates a public employee’s residential address.

Back to top

 


Personnel

 

Personnel bills fail to make the cutoff

The following are personnel bills AWC has been tracking that are now dead due to failing to make it past the cutoff date. It’s important to note that the Legislature has the power to revive a dead bill at any time.

SB 5822 – Improving the state’s workers' compensation system.

SB 5545 – Requiring public employee collective bargaining sessions to be open meetings.

SB 5276 & HB 1708 – Allowing new government employees to opt out of retirement system membership if the employee is age sixty or older when first hired.

HB 1533 – Prohibiting an employer from requesting wage/salary information from job applicants.

Back to top

 


Public safety & criminal justice

 

Public safety bills that didn’t make it past the last cutoff

The following are public safety bills AWC has been tracking that are now dead due to failing to make it past the cutoff date. It’s important to note that the Legislature has the power to revive a dead bill at any time.

HB 1047 – Creating a system for safe and secure collection and disposal of unwanted medications.

HB 1909 – Limiting the use of automated license plate recognition systems.

HB 1698 – Requiring emergency preparedness guidance measures related to oil train accidents.

HB 1016 & SB 5044 – Changing the burden of proof in certain civil asset forfeiture hearings.

Back to top

 


Telecommunications

 

Small cell telecommunications bill fails to move out of the Senate

After a flurry of lobbying, amendment writing, press reporting, and wrangling amongst senators, SB 5711 never came up for a vote on the floor of the Senate before the “House of Origin” cutoff at 5 pm on March 8. AWC, individual cities and other local governments had expressed their strong opposition to the bill because it preempted local authority. Senators Carlyle and Sheldon were prepared to offer amendments on the floor that would have made the bill much more palatable for cities.

Now SB 5711 is technically dead, but this is not the end. There is interest from many parties in trying to move something forward to facilitate deployment of more telecommunications infrastructure including small cells. Just recently, the Governor’s office called a meeting to try to find a way to facilitate increased broadband access for rural areas. AWC will continue to stay engaged on this issue to make sure that cities retain their ability to balance community interests with the need for new telecommunications infrastructure.

Back to top

 


Transportation

 

Pavement condition reporting bill moving through the process

HB 1490, concerns the requirement of cities to biennially report pavement condition data to the Department of Transportation. HB 1490 passed the House unanimously and is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday, March 13. The bill directs the Department of Transportation to work with cities and the Transportation Commission to review existing pavement preservation rating reporting requirements, and recommend to the Legislature whether a repeal of the report is warranted. It also waives the reporting requirement for the 2017-2019 biennium. This has been a priority bill for AWC.

AWC would like to extend a special thank you to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), and to Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) who worked with us to amend the bill. Their work and support were integral in the bill successfully passing the House with a unanimous vote.

Back to top

 

  Search