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

Published on Monday, January 22, 2018

Legislators need to hear from you!

Whether in Olympia or at home this week, let your legislators hear city voices.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week we’ll have close to 400 city officials in Olympia for our annual City Action Days. Attendees will hear from key legislators and others about bills we like and some we don’t.

By the time our conference attendees arrive, we’ll have produced a hot sheet that describes key city issues and bills of interest, which you can also use to brief your own legislators. Look for your electronic copy in Wednesday’s edition of AWC’s CityVoice newsletter.

During conference sessions or when meeting with legislators, we will communicate these important messages:

  • Thank you for finally passing last session’s stalled capital budget and agreeing to a compromise to address critical water supply issues.
  • Support critical city priorities that help address housing shortages and affordability, support individuals with mental health and drug addiction issues, and provide tools to enhance local economic vitality.
  • Avoid infringing upon local control and adding mandates.

Among many important special guests and speakers at this week’s City Action Days, we’ll be honoring 2017 City Champion Award winners Reps. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland) and Terry Nealey (R-Dayton) for their several-year effort to craft and pass reforms to the Public Records Act. We’ll be interested to hear their experiences and also their reaction to the growing interest in clarifying that legislators should also be subject to the same requirements as local officials, the Governor, and state agencies.

Legislative session week three – bills on the move

Within this edition of our weekly Legislative Bulletin, we highlight a number of these issues and where they stand.

Last week’s breaking of the deadlock over the Hirst water rights issue allowed the capital budget to pass. For cities, this means many local projects can proceed and grant funds are again available from programs like the rebooted Public Works Trust Fund. Removing this roadblock also allows legislators and the new Democratic majorities to focus on their priorities and move towards adjournment by March 8.

One of the first bills moving is ESSB 6002, the state Voting Rights bill. Debated for several years, it passed the Senate late last week on a vote of 29-19-1. It allows code and second class cities to divide council seats by district if they want or if ordered by a court. If cities of 1,000 or more people are challenged to adopt district seats due to a lack of representation by a protected class of voter, a process is outlined on how to go forth. AWC expects some form of the bill to pass the House and we continue to share ideas on how it can best work – including whether or not the 1,000 city size threshold makes sense.

We’re seeing bills to help provide funding and tools to expand affordable housing opportunities and also some that seek to impose new planning requirements, such as requiring minimum density zoning in residential areas. There are bills being seriously considered that would increase local costs, including ones that would expand city liability in situations where someone makes a wrongful death claim against a local government, and some seeking to expand presumptive occupational diseases for police and fire personnel. House and Senate bills are under consideration that would encourage, in different ways, cities to get ready for the deployment of new 5G cellular technology and others to speed up deployment of high-speed broadband to rural areas not currently served.

Legislators on fiscal committees have heard the Governor’s ideas about “tweaks” to the biennial operating budget they adopted last July and will soon commence conversations about their own ideas. AWC continues to share our thoughts about what’s important to fund based upon the Governor’s proposal, and we look forward to discussions with key legislators as they start to unveil their own.

In gratitude

A final note of thanks and appreciation for the many minds and hands that come together to make our cities thrive. The city message is strongest when city officials, staff, partners, and constituents work alongside your AWC board and staff to voice a shared vision and need. In the midst of a face-paced legislative session, it is serves us well to remember that the only way to realize success is to support one another in this important work.