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

Published on Friday, February 7, 2014

Are the state and cities ready for a Seahawks parade crowd staying for more than a day?

People across the state and region marveled this week at the sun-drenched crowds swelling Seattle’s streets, celebrating the Seahawks Super Bowl win. Over 700,000 fans – more than Seattle’s entire population - gathered for one magical day. And then they left. City services and infrastructure were stressed, yet were very capable of hosting the 12th Man.

Over the next decade, at least that many more people are projected to boost Washington’s population, taking it to well over 7 million. Are our communities in a good position to welcome and handle this growth, let alone continue to provide quality services and infrastructure to current residents and businesses? These residents and businesses plan to stay for more than a celebratory day.

For the next five weeks, the 147 legislators gathered at the Capitol will make decisions impacting your city’s ability to host current and future citizens. Unfortunately, too few of them are thinking seriously about what it takes for cities to be ready. They aren’t thinking about the services and infrastructure you need to plan for and invest in. Instead, they focus on the state’s services and needs, and assume making cities “work” is your job.

Although many legislators are interested and sympathetic to the cities position, they aren’t talking about changing the status quo when it comes to the authorities or revenues you need. Sticking with the status quo means legislators will fail to:

  • Revisit a decision made in 2012 to “cap” liquor revenues shared with every city in the state that are used to support local public safety challenges and expenses. These revenues continue to grow for the state, yet it’s our communities that feel the growing public safety impacts. Capping the revenues is not acceptable status quo.
  • Restore the hugely successful Public Works Trust fund after sweeping all available funds and redirecting future revenue streams. Loan repayments and taxes paid by utility customers and homebuyers have provided the funding for more than $2.6 billion in low-interest loans for critical infrastructure since 1985. Maintaining the sweep is not acceptable status quo.
  • Enact a transportation revenue package that helps cities maintain roads and transit systems we have and help pay for the critical state system improvements needed to keep people and commerce moving. Stifling our ability to take care of our transportations systems is not acceptable status quo.
  • Legislators may act on our state’s experiment with legal marijuana – a critical area for cities. Bills are in play that would better blend markets and regulations for medical and recreational marijuana. There is also the question of how to spend new revenues from retail sales. Revenue must be shared with cities to help offset public safety costs that invariably will come with marijuana sales and use. Again – failure to share revenues hinders your ability to provide needed services now and into the future.

    Ask for help from your legislators. Ask several times.

    If we have any chance of avoiding legislative status quo on urgent city needs, we need loud voices from home asking for action! You may be asked by legislators whether a short legislative session, with limited resources, is the right time to address your city’s needs. Your answer: Cities are growing now. Can we afford to wait for safe and healthy communities?

    Cities understand and are sympathetic to the state’s many budget priorities. We propose a legislative package that doesn’t ask for revenue shifts during this 2-year budget cycle. Instead, we need action on:

    Marijuana $ – (SHB 2144/SSB 5887) With suppliers gearing up, and stores poised to open early this summer, cities will feel the impact of this commerce and product usage. Our communities and businesses will expect us to respond to calls for assistance. Absent a commitment by the state in the next five weeks to share a portion of any new revenue, will there be the resources and willingness to respond? Will the federal government believe the state has an enforceable system in place, absent support for local law enforcement? It’s time to get real.

    Liquor $ – (HB 2314/SB 6361) to restore cuts to local liquor revenue in a gradual and thoughtful way. We need these bills to be scheduled for hearings in the fiscal committees. There is no impact in this budget, and the impact to future ones is limited. We need legislative action now as multiple important interests are positioning to compete for these sources in the future.

    PWTF $ – (HB 2244/SB 6120) builds back the fund starting in July, 2015 rather than waiting until July, 2019 to restore at least a part of it. We hope that both the House and Senate move these bills soon.

    We need all 281 cities, and the more than 2,000 city officials who represent them across the state, to use your collective voice and “Take Action for Cities.” There’s no better time than now to follow up with your legislators. Engage your local media. Mobilize your community leaders to support your city’s legislative priorities.

    Legislative status quo won’t shut down our communities, but it will hurt our long-term ability to host all the citizens and businesses who are the bedrock of our communities and state and local economy. We want to support our 12th Man well beyond the next decade.

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