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City Legislative Priorities

In order for Washington State to be its best and attract the best, our 281 cities and towns must be strong.

The 2017 legislative session was the longest in history at 193 days and three special sessions. Read how our 2017 city priorities fared in the pdf to the right, or see below for more information. The priorities are detailed with pros and cons about how each issue fared this past legislative session.

Public Records

Modernize the Public Records Act (PRA) so that cities can continue to provide open and transparent government services to our residents.

Pro – Legislature passed HB 1595 which amends the PRA to allow cities to charge a small fee for providing copies of electronic records, creates the ability to deny overwhelming computer generated “bot” requests, prohibits overly-broad requests for all records, and creates a way to apply a service charge to exceptionally complex requests.

Pro – Legislature passed HB 1594 which updates training requirements for records officers, creates a grant program to improve their public record management systems, establishes a program to consult on public records best practices, and updates the process for asking a requestor to clarify a request. The bill also requires some new data collection processes.

Public records issue brief

Homelessness, Housing & Human Services

Enhance efforts to increase affordable housing, decrease homelessness, and improve a strained behavioral health system.

Pro – The document recording fee was extended for four additional years, which is the single biggest source of state and local resources. New authority to use REET dollars for homeless housing was created for two years.

Pro – Funding was maintained for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program, funding for implementation of the Sec. 1115 Medicaid waiver, and TANF funding.

Con – There was no increase in the document recording fee and only limited new tools.

Con – The Legislature’s failure to adopt a capital budget postpones planned critical investments in mental health facilities around the state.

Homelessness, housing, & human services issue brief

Local Infrastructure

Revitalize key infrastructure assistance programs that support job creation, community health and safety, and quality of life.

Pro – If the Legislature can resolve other disputes and pass a capital budget, legislators are poised to fund a Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) loan list for the first time since the 2011-13 budget. They did show their support for continuing the program with the passage of HB 1677, the PWTF reform bill.

Con – The diversion of tax revenues that would go into the Public Works Trust Fund was extended for another four years. The cash in the account was swept into the education budget, and partially replaced with bond funds (if they pass a capital budget) undermining the structure of this revolving loan fund.

Local infrastructure issue brief

Local Authority

Respect city local authority to respond to local needs.

ProEHB 2005 passed requiring all cities to join the state Business Licensing Service (BLS) by 2022 or FileLocal by 2020 to administer business licenses, but protected local authority to impose rates and enforce regulations. Established workgroups on a business license threshold and local B&O tax service income apportionment.

Pro – Successfully defended against proposals to limit cities’ authority to regulate and zone marijuana businesses.

Con – Did not pass HB 1764 replacing the one percent property tax revenue limit with a limit tied to population growth and inflation.

City home rule issue brief

Property tax issue brief

Small cell telecommunications technology issue brief

Task force on local business tax & licensing simplification

City-State Partnership

Maintain critical funding of key services and programs.

Pro – State operating budget fully funded traditional state shared revenues at $210 million for 2017-19, including liquor and municipal criminal justice funds.

Pro – Passed EHB 2163 implementing state Marketplace Fairness Act internet sales tax collection or customer reporting for use tax by out of state internet retailers, effective January 1, 2018, increasing city sales tax revenues by $40.9 million for 2017-19.

Pro – The budget provided necessary funding to the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to meet the immediate training needs for the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA). However, the budget only provided for 16 classes per year when the likely need is for 18 classes in order to meet the expected demand for training new officers.

Pro – The Legislature fully funded its commitment to the LEOFF 2 pension system. An earlier proposal would have shifted $70 million of the state’s commitment to cities.

Pro – The final budget provided additional funding for cities from the Office of Public Defense competitive grant program.

Pro – Fully funded Municipal Research Services Center (MRSC).

ConEHB 2163 phases out Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) mitigation for cities and counties by October 1, 2019.

Con – The final budget for 2017-19 reneged on the agreement from 2015 by reducing the amount of marijuana mitigation revenue sharing from $15 million per year to $6 million per year. However, there is a caveat that the money may be restored if the February 2018 revenue forecast meets a certain threshold.

Con – Did not pass SHB 1113/SB 5240 to restore growth in the local government share of liquor revenues.

Shared revenues with cities: 2015-2017 biennium

Pension merger issue brief

BLEA issue brief

Restore city liquor revenue issue brief

2018 Legislative priority process

The AWC Legislative Priorities Committee meets multiple times per year to identify and recommend to the AWC Board of Directors which city issues should be priorities. The committee comprises approximately 40 city officials from throughout the state. The AWC Board of Directors adopts the next year's legislative priorities at its fall meeting. AWC Regional Meetings are held throughout the fall and include details on AWC’s priorities.

Federal priorities

The health and vitality of local economies are critical to a robust and dynamic national economy. Federal fiscal policies should enhance the ability of local elected officials to respond to needs at the local level. More

Legislative Priorities

Access AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles to search for issue updates by topic.