WSAC/WACO Joint Conference Save the Date
Scott Blonien
Legislative Hot Sheet February 6 - 12, 2017

Today is the 33rd day of the 2017 session, only 61 more to go; we are more than 1/3 of the way through the regular session. So far 1076 bills have been dropped in the House and 803 have been dropped in the Senate.
The WACO Legislative Committee is our most effective weapon for passing favorable legislation and our greatest shield for deflecting bills which aim to cause us harm. Each affiliate has a member on the committee chaired by WACO Vice-President, Yakima County Treasurer Ilene Thomson. The committee meetings are every Thursday from 2:00 to 4:00 PM via webinar, if you would like to listen in, please email:
These meetings provide the opportunity coordinate advocacy for the WACO priority bills, those we are trying to defeat, important affiliate-unique initiatives, and the hearing schedule for the coming week. Because of folks’ busy schedules sometime attendance is sparse and please take the time to thank your affiliate’s representative for their dedication and attendance; they make us all better.
As we reach the end of the fifth week of the 2017 legislative session, our legislative priorities are in great shape. With the first cut-off date (February 17) still a week away, our legislative team has pushed at least one version of each of our priority bills beyond the house of origin’s policy committee with the exception of Auditors' fee bill which is currently waiting to be exec'ed out of the House Transportation committee.

What this means is that each of our policy initiatives have already beat the first cut-off date. 
Additionally, one of our bills, the Treasurers’ anticipated tax bill, passed out of the House (with a 98-0 vote), moved to the Senate, where the Senate companion is already in Rules.

So what happens next? We are now shifting our efforts to get our bills out of the fiscal committees and on to the floor calendars for a vote. The fiscal committee cut-off is February 24; so we have two weeks to maneuver our bills through this next important stage.
Over the course of the past three years we have partnered with WSAC on the Fiscal Sustainability Initiative, this morning several of our members testified in support of HB 1764, which replaces the 1% tax revenue limit with a limit tied to cost drivers (Inflation and Population Growth).
The testimony was passionate and painted a very vivid portrait of how the current systems cripples the counties’ ability to provide core services to those who demand them. After listening to all of the testimony, observing the committee members and listening to their questions, I think that most get it; they understand and accept that the counties have serious financial woes. Those committee members, who seemingly oppose the bill, believe that with the existing option of a levy lid lift the counties already have the means to cure their ills. It’s true that a lid lift will address the immediate financial crisis in the short run, it still won’t keep pace with those county expenditures that drive a bow wave; one that spreads out more and more in each succeeding year.
Next Thursday, February 16, the Local Government Committee will hear the Senate version – we’ll let you know how things turn out.
Throughout the legislative session, you are our most effective marketing tool. Your personal voice holds great power and sway with your local legislators. We will be holding our next joint WACO/WSAC legislative reception February 15 in Olympia at the Water Street Café. This is a chance to mingle and speak with your legislators in a more open and relaxed setting. Please extend a personal invitation to them to attend, and hopefully you too will join us – I look forward to seeing you then.

Take care! Scott

Priority Bills

Assessors: (HB 1309, SB 5188) The Assessors’ bill to remove land from the current property tax classification bill has been scheduled for a Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing February 14 at 3:30 pm (link to video feed). The House version of the bill has yet to exec out of policy committee.
Auditors: (HB 1161, SB 5187) the Auditors' clean-up bill is currently with House Rules. The Senate version was voted out of policy committee February 2 with a Majority Do Pass recommendation, and is currently in Senate Rules.

(HB 1345) The Auditors' licensing fee bill had a hearing in House Transportation January 25, and we are working to get this bill exec'ed out by the cut-off date.

Clerks: (HB 1396, SB 5327) When they discovered there was additional stakeholder work to do, the Clerks requested that WACO no longer aggressively advocate for their bills.

Coroners: (HB 1794, SB 5612) The Coroners' bill concerning the death investigations account had a hearing in the the House Committee on Appropriations February 9 at 3:30 pm (link to video feed). The Senate version of the bill had a hearing in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice February 9 at 10 am (link to video feed).

FSI: (HB 1764, SB 5772) Replacing the one percent property tax revenue limit with a limit tied to cost drivers had a hearing in the House committee on Finance February 10 at 8 am (link to video feed). Impassioned testimony in support of the bill was provided by county government, city government, fire and police force representatives, and concerned citizens. Cowlitz County Auditor Kris Swanson gave compelling testimony on the current state of county government from her perspective. Sheriffs Rob Snaza and Mark Nelson spoke on the challenges they face in their counties and the impacts on public safety that a 1% cap currently has. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim spoke on the impacts the unsustainable lid has in their offices and the citizens of Washington. In addition to the linked video, there is a great Twitter feed of the event available (link). The Senate version of the bill is scheduled for a February 16 hearing in the Senate Committee on Local Government at 1:30 pm (link to video feed).

Prosecutors: (HB 1355, SB 5278) The Prosecutors' Public Safety Review Board bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Appropriations February 16 at 3:30 pm.
Treasurers: (HB 1283, SB 5189) The Treasurers’ anticipated tax bill passed the House 98-0 and will now go over to the Senate. The Senate version, having received a Majority Do Pass recommendation is currently in Rules.

Our Progress Thus far

Other Bills of Interest

The following bills of interest were discussed by the Legislative Committee, who then voted to take a position on the bills. 

Support: (HB 1209, SB 5396) This bill allows counties more options in depositories by opening up the pool to credit unions is on the House floor calendar.

Support: (HB 1595) This bill concerns the costs associated with public records, allowing governments to collect a modest fee for electronic records gathered. The bipartisan bill, prime sponsored by Rep. Nealey, came about after extensive off-session discussions involving local and state governments, as well as stakeholder groups. The bill had a hearing in the House Committee on State Government and Technology February 10 at 10 am (link to video feed); the bill is on multiple agendas to exec out of the committed February 10-17.

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.

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
Legislative Website

Appointments with Legislators

WSAC has posted a training video providing a broad overview on handling appointments with legislators; it is a great video for anyone looking to learn how to navigate the information (link).

57 Seconds with Sen. Joe Fain

Legislative Lingo in 57 Seconds Part Two

Part two of Senator Joe Fain's legislative lingo video series (link). These lingo videos are very helpful for those who are new to the legislative process in Washington.

Unpacking Government: How Do Levies Work?
(Courtesy of KNKX)

One of the most pressing questions in the debate over education funding in Washington state is about how much money should come from local school districts in the form of levies.


Could Proposed Schools Fix Help Kill State's 1 Percent Property Tax Cap? Counties Hope So
(Courtesy of The Olympian)

County and city governments say they’ve struggled for years under a state law that restricts their property tax collections from growing more than 1 percent annually.

Now, they think they might have a shot at lifting that property tax cap — largely because state lawmakers might need to do so for themselves.


A Comparison of Republican and Democratic Ideas of How to Fix Washington's Schools
(Courtesy of The Olympian)

Washington lawmakers have a long way to go before they agree on a way to fix how the state pays for schools.


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