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

Published on Friday, January 18, 2013

Changing of the guard

This past week, the new Legislature convened and the 5th Democratic Governor elected in a row was inaugurated. It all happened with civility, good humor, some pomp and circumstance, and even a party attended by around 3,000 people.

In his inaugural address before a joint session of the Legislature, Governor Inslee outlined his priorities and described his intent to bring “disruptive change” to Olympia to make government more efficient. He stressed the importance of job creation and retention and the fact that “any economic strategy wouldn’t be complete without a transportation plan that facilitates this growth”. This is welcome news for cities in need of additional state dollars and more local options to raise funds at home. Governor Inslee held his first press conference on his first full day in office and, when asked about his remarks during the campaign that he didn’t support new taxes, he made it clear that he was open to considering extension of existing ones slated to expire this year. It also appears that we won’t soon know his budget preferences – at least not until he has time to engage with legislators and other interests (including AWC).

Most of the 20 House and 15 Senate standing committees spent last week getting organized, introducing new members and staff, and holding work sessions or briefings before hearing and considering bills.

AWC’s lead fiscal lobbyist, Victoria Lincoln, joined a parade of speakers before the House Appropriations Committee who each shared (in two minutes or less) input on former Governor Gregoire’s proposed budget. Victoria shared our concerns with, and opposition to, further cuts in city liquor revenues and urged them not to increase state general fund revenues by raiding infrastructure accounts like the Public Works Trust Fund and the Model Toxics Control Account. The following day (and again under the two-minutes-or-less committee rule), AWC lobbyist Carl Schroeder linked arms with representatives from business, the ports, counties, and environmental groups to testify before the same committee – again urging restraint in raiding these critical infrastructure and job-creating accounts to pay for state general fund programs. The newest member of our lobbying team, Alison Hellberg, jumped right in and shared our interests and general perspectives on economic development needs before the House Technology & Economic Development Committee. Candice Bock and Victoria Lincoln presented to the House Government Operations & Elections Committee on public records and open public meetings. Carl and I had the opportunity to brief the House Local Government Committee on cities, our agenda, and how they can help.

Within this Bulletin, you’ll read more about the schedule of hearings during the coming Week 2 of a (minimum) 15-week-long session. The schedule includes a hearing in the House Local Government Committee on one of our priority bills dealing with public records. We’ll present background information and a description of city transportation perspectives and needs during a briefing before the Senate Transportation Committee and will testify in opposition to a bill before the Senate Governmental Operations committee that eliminates all forms of annexation except by a vote of citizens.

We’re working to line up great speakers for our upcoming City Legislative Action Conference on February 13-14, so you can hear firsthand from those shaping policies and making fiscal decisions that will surely have an impact on you and your city for years to come. The fiscal challenges and opportunities facing our new Governor, a Senate led by a unique, untested, and slim new majority coalition caucus, and a seasoned House majority leadership are daunting. The inaugural festivities and organizational maneuvers are all but over, and the time to govern has arrived. (For those interested, here’s a good short piece by Crosscut reporter John Stang describing what he calls “Showdown at the Oly corral.”)

Whether serving as mayors, councilmembers, or staff; city officials know (or are quick to discover) that good ideas and intentions aren’t always easy to implement. As AWC’s former longtime lead lobbyist and executive director Stan Finkelstein used to say, “Politics is the art of satisfying the irritated without irritating the satisfied.” Let’s see how this is all going to work!