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Published on Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Decision time in Olympia, voice your views on critical issues

The countdown clock to adjournment is ticking and city voices can truly make a difference on the key policy and fiscal issues still under consideration. Whether or not you have connected with your legislators, now is a critical time to voice your view on critical issues! The Senate passed a budget on a strictly 25-24 partisan vote.

The House is poised to vote on its budget on Friday and will likely pass on a partisan vote as well. It all comes to a head early next week when both chambers start sifting through remaining policy bills and start to sort out budget differences.

AWC invites cities to join in a chorus of voices this Monday, April 3 to let legislators know that:

  1. You value and appreciate their service;
  2. There are some key policy bills that need their attention and support; and
  3. Each of the Senate and House budgets contain many good items for cities and their help is needed to secure funding and address some concerns.

Key issue areas that you can choose from to address with your legislators:

First, say thank you!
Thank legislators for recognizing the important partnership between cities and the state by maintaining key shared revenues (as both Senate and House budgets do thus far). As compromises are worked, remind legislators that share revenues are critical and these should not fall off the table.

Support:

  • Public records updates in HB 1594 and HB 1595 that have passed the House with bipartisan support and are poised for action in the Senate.
  • Resources for the public works assistance account in the final budget. Both the Senate and House budgets contain the first funding for projects in over 4 years!
  • Efforts to work towards solutions and program funding to address our state’s homelessness and human services crisis.
    • Support the elimination of the sunset and efforts to increase the document recording fee.
    • Support full funding of the Medicaid Waiver, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Housing and Essential Needs programs.
    • Support homelessness funding and local affordable housing tools in HB 1570, HB 1797.
  • The option to allow elected local city or county officials authority to change the limit from the 1% property tax cap to inflation and population (HB 1764).
  • A responsible fix to allow cities and rural home owners the ability to secure water in a manner that is economically and environmentally responsible (SB 5239 is the likely vehicle and is now in the House).
  • The commitment for marijuana mitigation funding to cities that do not ban facilities, which scheduled to increase July 1. The Senate fully funds, but the House budget does not yet.
  • Full funding of additional Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) classes in the supplemental 2015-17 budget and 18 BLEA classes per year in 2017-19 budget.

Oppose:

  • The elimination of the state’s share of funding LEOFF 2 pension obligations as is included in the Senate’s, but not the House’s budget. This would cost cities $35 million/year beginning July 1.
  • Any legislation that reduces local control over public right-of-way management, access to municipally-owned poles and other facilities, permitting and zoning, and related timelines and costs. (While SB 5711 is technically dead, discussions are continuing.)
  • The elimination of streamlined sales tax mitigation to warehousing cities in 2019 unless or until new sales tax revenue from collections of sales taxes by out-of-state sellers matches the loss of the mitigation fund. (House budget)
  • Caps on distributions and changes to the distribution formula for the 44 cities and two fire districts for distributions, with the effect of eliminating distributions for many jurisdictions, from the Fire Insurance Premium Tax fund, which aids cities in meeting their state-mandated pre-LEOFF and LEOFF 1 retirement and medical benefit obligations. (Senate budget)
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