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Published on Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Winds Down, but the Heat Stays On

In Olympia, it is difficult during the lazy days of summer to get a sense of the underlying tension brewing as the anticipated showdown over K-12 school funding between the State Supreme Court and legislative branch draws closer. Earlier this week, a deadline passed for interested parties to file briefs with the Court, who will hear oral arguments on September 3 as to why the state should not be found in contempt of court over school funding.

As current and hopeful legislators jostle to prepare for the 2015 legislative session, many are talking and thinking about the McCleary school funding case and how to address it. AWC has provided an updated background brief to bring you up to speed. Depending on how funding is provided, it will have an immediate and direct impact on the future of state revenues shared with cities for your service and infrastructure needs.

With this in mind, AWC has officially rolled out a multi-faceted effort we are calling Operation: Strong Cities. The intent of this effort is to mobilize city officials to engage and hold our state legislators accountable in order to prevent the erosion of the historic partnership between the state and its cities and towns. You know that the stakes are high, and the local/state partnership is under stress as never before. AWC is taking the lead on this initiative, but it will take individual and collective action to engage with legislators so that they can better understand the needs and perspectives of our cities and towns. Read about the specifics of what you and your city can do to participate and make a difference in the new Take Action section of this Bulletin.

As summer winds down, we are gearing up to set the AWC legislative priorities for the 2015-2016 sessions. The new AWC Legislative Committee met in Spokane this June, and identified a number of preliminary priorities. The Committee had a brief conference call on August 11 to refine the list further, and they will again meet on September 16 to hear from a number of legislators and Inslee Administration officials. At the September meeting, they will also review and adopt a set of recommended priorities to forward to the AWC Board for consideration on October 3. Keep an eye out for updates along the way in both our weekly CityVoice electronic newsletter and our monthly Legislative Bulletin.

We appreciated the opportunity for the AWC Board leadership to work with Governor Inslee and the leadership of the Washington State Association of Counties in preparing and sending a letter to our Congressional delegation in support of efforts to pass the Marketplace Fairness legislation we’ve long sought. Please take a look at the letter, and reinforce the need to act with our Senators and your Representatives.

Finally, our thoughts are with communities who have suffered, and continue to suffer from devastating fires. Leaders in these communities, and those recently impacted by landslides are again showing what it means to care and make a difference. Many thanks.