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Published on Friday, January 29, 2016

Strong city voices and presence at the Capitol

More than 300 city officials stormed the Capitol over a two-day period last week during City Action Days to tell legislators that their partnership and help is needed and appreciated. City officials from more than 100 cities employed their advocacy skills by engaging legislators in their offices, over meals, at hearings, and during presentations. They also heard from Governor Inslee and several past and hopeful recipients of AWC’s Legislative Champion award. City officials attended workshops and briefings on key topics such as addressing the explosion in broad public records requests that make it extremely difficult to help with specific requests from regular citizens who need information. A large crowd of elected officials from cities of all sizes heard from speakers in a lively, interactive session about how to constructively work on homelessness, mental health and housing affordability issues arising in many of our communities.

Our annual City Action Days gathering is designed to bring city officials together in Olympia during a key time of a legislative session when legislators need to focus on what bills to move or pass over. Friday, February 5 is the first key deadline for a policy bill to clear a committee. To stay alive, a bill must be considered and passed by one chamber by February 17. After that, the pace quickens and issues sort down to only those ready for agreement before session closes down on March 10.

Attendees packed hearing rooms and presented testimony to show support for two of AWC’s 2016 priority issues. There were bills in both the House and Senate to restore the growth in city liquor that helps fund public safety needs, and a House bill to start addressing public records issues that burden cities large and small across the state.

It is particularly gratifying this year to see and sense how many of our members worked with their legislators on key issues well before they came to Olympia. Having so many energetic and engaged officials, both seasoned and new, not only puts a face on the need to address city issues, but also provides AWC staff with insights, stories and encouragement to keep pushing to make a difference for you and all cities. Thanks and keep up the good work!