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Published on Friday, January 9, 2015

Curtain rises on multi-act Olympia drama

147 legislators return to the Capitol next week to take their places next to the Governor in a performance expected to last at least 105 days. AWC will be in the audience and behind the scenes, bringing you timely information about our progress in advancing your PRIORITIES and sharing information about how you can help – mostly from the comfort of city hall or your home.

You can follow the unfolding drama in our weekly Friday afternoon Legislative Bulletins, Wednesday afternoon CityVoice e-mails, Legislative Advocacy webpage and occasional Action Alerts. We’ll also include reviews and commentary as the performance unfolds so you can evaluate the performances of your favorite or hometown players.

The cast of characters includes new and familiar faces. Some of the leads have changed from past performances, as seen in pre-session briefings by legislative leadership and the Governor before a gathering of reporters in Olympia earlier this week. There are some significant differences on what it takes to meet their obligations to adequately fund K-12 education and all of the other needs. You can read more about those different takes in our new “Media Time” section that will bring you a weekly sampling of legislative coverage from around the state.

Over the last six months, we worked to help you understand the challenges and opportunities facing legislators and the Governor as they gather in Olympia to balance budgets and meet operating and capital needs while under order from the State Supreme Court to adequately fund K-12 education. Our Operation: Strong Cities campaign includes tools to help you look at what your community needs to function and prosper, as well as encourage you to engage your legislators to be more accountable to these needs. In a video by AWC’s President Francis Benjamin he reminds you of the importance of maintaining this engagement, and you’ll learn more over the coming weeks on how, and when best, to do that. Find Francis’ video under “Media Time” in your Bulletin email.

During the first week of a fifteen- week session, most of the action will be ceremonial, with the dozens of committees gathering procedural and baseline information. Our Advocacy Team will participate in several briefings about your needs and our priorities. We’ll also be working with an emerging group of legislators in the House, from both parties, who formed a Local Government Champions Caucus. Their goal is to provide a voice within the House to discuss, prioritize and advocate for the importance of keeping cities and counties strong partners in meeting the needs of citizens and businesses throughout the state. Efforts to form a similar bi-partisan caucus in the Senate are underway. You can help energize the voices by asking your legislators to consider joining these informal caucuses.

We’re looking forward to having dozens of mayors in town later next week for a Mayors Exchange that includes a night-before reception with numerous legislators at AWC’s office. We’re gearing up to host hundreds of you in mid-February during our annual City Action Days that will include hearing from the Governor and numerous legislators, as well providing participants with exciting opportunities during the second day on the Capitol campus.

As the drama unfolds, please take the time to do more than just sit back and relax. There’s much at stake for our cities and staying connected and engaged heightens our chances for success!