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Published on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Top five advocacy achievements for cities in 2015

The 2015 legislative session was the longest in state history, yet cities saw signs of a renewed city-state partnership. This was the result of hundreds of city officials from throughout the state telling legislators and other statewide public officials that the state will only thrive if cities and towns are strong and vibrant. Check out our top 5 bright spots from this year:

#5. Legislature affirms/reaffirms partnership to help fix culverts that prevent fish passage and support city stormwater cleanup. One of the transportation reform bills passed during the 2015 legislative session contained a significant opportunity for cities to make progress on a looming problem – correcting locally-owned fish barriers. Additionally, the state’s capital budget dedicated another $53 million to helping local governments deal with stormwater operating responsibilities and capital retrofit investments.

#4. Hundreds of city officials hit Olympia for the annual City Action Days. City officials from all 49 legislative districts came together in February 2015 to learn whether or not leaders had a plan to balance the state’s budget without again dipping into city coffers. City officials heard from legislators about the important message that strong cities are vital to the state’s success. Revisit 2015 memories on Flickr or register for the 2016 conference.

#3. The state budget did not include additional cuts to city revenues. The state’s sharing of revenues with cities is the product of a longstanding partnership that goes back eight decades. As the 2015 legislative session began, cities feared the state would continue to take revenues from cities in order to balance the operating budget. In the end, the adopted state budget did not include additional cuts to revenues shared with cities. More

#2. Cities see first revenue distributions from marijuana excise taxes. With amendments to Washington’s recreational marijuana law, cities and counties not banning the sale, production, and processing of the product now receive a portion of excise tax distributions. Additionally, cities successfully repelled efforts to pre-empt existing regulatory authority to ban marijuana businesses and the Legislature passed a bill that brings the unregulated medical market in line with the regulated recreational market. More

#1. After years of urging the legislature for action, a comprehensive, multimodal transportation package passes. Passage of the transportation package was a bright spot of the 2015 legislative session. In addition to funding much needed transportation projects throughout the state, the package provides specific benefits to cities. Cities will receive an increase in direct distribution from the collection of additional fuel tax revenues and new revenues from the multimodal account. Several state grant programs that benefit cities also received a funding boost. More