WSAC/WACO Joint Conference Save the Date
Scott Blonien
Legislative Hot Sheet January 16-22, 2017

Good morning! Today is day 12 of the 2017 legislative session.
Although not every WACO Priority bill was dropped in both houses simultaneously, we are currently working a total of 11 bills in both houses.
Signed legislation is the result of several successes throughout the session. For a bill to become law, we have to be successful at drafting the bill, securing sponsors, getting a committee hearing, lobbying to get enough votes to move the bill out of committee - then securing support to move it through the rules committee, to the floor calendar, pulled for a floor vote, and secure the votes to move the bill to the opposite house. Once in the opposite house the process starts all over again.
We’ve had a flurry of successes in the past week. All of our priority bills have been sponsored, introduced, and now 10 of 11 of our bills have had, or are scheduled to have, committee hearings. The WACO Priority bills have generated a lot of attention and enthusiasm; in some cases there was competition over who would be the prime sponsors.

Priority Bills

Assessors: (HB 1309, SB 5188) The Assessors’ bill to remove land from the current property tax classification due to natural disasters had a hearing in the House Committee on Finance at 8 am in House Hearing Room A (link); Policy Director Monty Cobb testified on behalf of WACO and the Assessors. The Senate version of the bill is scheduled for a hearing January 24 at 1:30 pm in the Senate Committee on Local Government.
Auditors: (HB 1161, SB 5187) the Auditors' clean-up bill was discussed in the January 17 House Local Government Committee hearing (link). WACO Policy Director Monty Cobb and Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall testified in favor of the bill.

(HB 1286) The Auditors' licensing fee bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Transportation January 25 at 3:30 pm.

Clerks: (HB 1396, SB 5327) The Clerks' modernizing and clarifying statutes relating to the County Clerk bill has dropped, but is yet to be officially assigned to a hearing. The Senate version of the bill is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice January 24 at 10 am.

Prosecutors: (HB 1355, SB 5278) The Prosecutors' Public Safety Review Board bill is scheduled for a January 25, 8 am hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary. The Senate version of the bill will receive a Senate Committee on Law & Justice hearing January 24 at 10 am.
Treasurers: (HB 1283, SB 5189) The Treasurers’ anticipated tax bill is scheduled for a hearing the House Committee on Finance January 27 at 8 am. The Senate version of the bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Committee on Local Government on January 24 at 1:30 pm.

Legislative Receptions

During session we are partnering with WSAC for four legislative receptions at the Water Street Café in Olympia. Please put these receptions on your calendars and give your local legislators a call to invite them to join us.

On Wednesday night, January 18, we held the first joint WACO/WSAC legislative reception. Thank you to those who attended. These are great opportunities to meet with the legislators in a very informal setting.

On Wednesday, we learned that some legislators would be introducing county friendly bills addressing state agency rule reform. It gave WACO the opportunity to again make the pitch that when agency rules place burdens on the counties, the agency should be required to prepare a fiscal impact note. We’ve heard from so many of you that far too often agency rules are enacted without concern of the costs to implement them at the county level.

The remaining receptions are:

  • February 15, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
  • March 15, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
  • April 5, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Cafe

Guest Editorial: Bill Elfo, Whatcom County Sheriff

(Article courtesy of: The Northern Light)

As sheriff, I am responsible for operating the jail in a safe and humane manner that meets constitutional and other legal standards. Failures of critical infrastructure, unreliable life-safety systems and an increasing number of violent and often dangerously mentally ill offenders have endangered our staff and those housed within the jail. The lack of space to appropriately house and treat those with medical and behavioral health issues compounds risks.


County-Merger Plan a Bad Idea

(Article courtesy of: Daily Sun)

Clark County Republican Assessor Peter Van Nortwick and Democrat Treasurer Doug Lasher want a state constitutional amendment requiring a minimum population of 25,000 residents for a county to exist. They say forcing the state’s 12 least-populated counties to be folded into more-populated neighbors or into unwanted mergers could save tax dollars.


Republicans Join Inslee, Ferguson in Call to Abolish Washington's Death Penalty

(Article courtesy of: The Seattle Times)

OLYMPIA — In announcing a proposal Monday to abolish Washington’s death penalty, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson didn’t stand alone.

At Ferguson’s side were fellow Democrats, among them Gov. Jay Inslee, and several Republicans, including former Attorney General Rob McKenna and two members of the GOP-controlled state Senate.


Head of Prosecutors' Association in the State Says Death Penalty Decision Should go to Voters, Not Lawmakers

(Article courtesy of: Q13 Fox)

SEATTLE — On Thursday, a judge refused to release the man accused of killing five people at Burlington’s Cascade Mall.

A Skagit County judge said Arcan Cetin is a danger to the community, refusing to release the accused killer on his personal recognizance.

The defense also informed the court that Cetin is scheduled for a competency evaluation next week. As the high-profile case moves forward, the head prosecutor in charge, Richard Weyrich, is weighing in about the death penalty issue.


Is Compromise Possible on Changing Police Use of Deadly Force Law? Some Lawmakers are Trying

(Article courtesy of: The Olympian)

For state Sen. David Frockt, changing Washington’s unique law that protects police officers who kill in the line of duty means trying to find some sliver of agreement between two outspoken camps.


Is 'Levy Swap' a Dodge or Good Policy

(Article courtesy of: The Daily News)

Is it a way to make public school funding more fair or a state money grab?
Or is it both of these?


Lawmakers Debate Whether to Spare School Districts from 'Levy Cliff'

(Article courtesy of: The News Tribune)

School district officials have long questioned whether Washington lawmakers can fix the unconstitutional way the state pays for schools by April, when the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn.


New Maps, Spurred by Oso Slide, Shed Light on Hazard Areas

(Article courtesy of: The Herald)

OLYMPIA — Washington’s Department of Natural Resources is following through with a key safety recommendation that arose in the aftermath of the Oso mudslide, as it starts to post intricate topographical maps online.


The Economy's Expanding. So Why Aren't Tax Revenues?

(Article courtesy of: Governing)

It may still not feel like it to everyone, but we are at or near the top of the business cycle. By all definitions, we have been in expansion for nearly eight years, the third-longest period of expansion in modern American history. Gross Domestic Product growth is tracking at more than 2 percent, the unemployment rate is under 5 percent, and wage gains have finally begun to accelerate. But if you work for a state or a local government, you may not have noticed.


A Matter of Records: Governments Look to Change Ways Public Gets Information 

(Article courtesy of: The Yakima Herald)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Last year Yakima County responded to 2,453 requests for public documents. Many of those had multiple parts, each requiring research of thousands of documents.

For example, one recent request in the county’s planning department contained 10 boxes of documents.


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