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

Published on Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 2 highlights include hearing on Public Records Act

The Legislature got down to business last week as Governor Inslee settled into his office and residence. Within each topic area in our Legislative Bulletin, we share information about issues or bills important to cities for the upcoming week, and also provide updates on bills previously heard. I attempt to summarize some of the key matters in play here in my column and share how to find more about them for those interested.

A key issue for cities across the state over the past several years is how best to provide full and fair access to public records while addressing the rare, but burdensome, overly-broad requests. During a lengthy and comprehensive hearing last Friday, AWC President Don Gerend and Pasco Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik joined numerous other local government officials testifying in strong support of HB 1128 before the House Local Government Committee. Sponsored by Committee Chair Rep. Takko (D-Longview) and supported by both Democratic and Republican legislators, this AWC priority bill aims to protect local governments from public records abuses. Proponents and opponents spent over an hour engaging the committee in a lively debate. You can read more about it in this Everett Herald article and in the Public Records section of this week’s Bulletin. Thank you to President Gerend and Mayor Pro-Tem Francik for taking time to come to Olympia to testify on behalf of cities.

Our city advocacy team was busy last week testifying and meeting with legislators and interests who can help or hinder our priority agenda. Alison Hellberg briefed a House committee on city economic development interests. She and I appreciated the opportunity to brief the Senate Transportation Committee about cities and our need for more help in maintaining and expanding our transportation infrastructure. We’ll have a similar opportunity on January 30 at 3:30pm before the House Transportation Committee. Victoria Lincoln worked to introduce and prepare testimony for a January 28 hearing on another AWC priority bill — this one aimed at extending more flexible use of city-collected lodging tax revenues (read more in the Finance section). Carl Schroeder continued his work to advance reforms on land use and environmental reviews that maintain protections while helping to reduce process. He’ll be testifying January 28 on an important bill designed to clarify how cities are to respond to a mandate to convert public fleets to alternative fuel sources by 2018 (read more in the Environment and Land Use section). I testified in opposition to a Senate bill that would eliminate all forms of annexation unless agreed to by a vote (see last week’s article for more information.) We are meeting with the bill’s sponsor with suggestions for amendments and hope to reach an agreement on how to move forward.

On January 30, AWC and the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) will team up to host an informal lunch discussion with interested legislators and staff involved in local government issues. We hope to help them better understand what cities and counties do and how decisions are made, or not made, in Olympia that impact our communities.

We’re also getting ready for hundreds of city officials to come to Olympia for our City Legislative Action Conference on February 13-14. If you haven’t already registered, please consider it. Governor Inslee is confirmed for lunch on February 13, and several key legislators are scheduled to engage with attendees on both days.