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Posted on April 29, 2021 at 1:47 PM by Melanie Terry
Headed into the 2021 session, legislative leadership communicated clearly that given the unique, unprecedented challenges posed by a virtual session, the number of bills introduced would be greatly reduced and those advanced would need to clearly relate to legislative priorities. Given these challenges, WACO is pleased and proud that 6 of our original 8 priority bills were successfully passed this session. Among them, the first cross-affiliate bill in recent history, which gained us repeated praise for its no-cost continuity of operations focus and the collaboration among affiliates it represented. WACO members worked diligently with legislators and stakeholders on positive solutions to bills that posed significant implementation challenges, and as a result greatly reduced the number of bills on which sustained opposition was required.
WACO PRIORITY BILLS
EHB 1271 - Ensuring continuity of operations in the offices of county elected officials during the current COVID-19 pandemic and future public health crises.
SHB 1309 - Concerning the Dates of Certifying Levies (Assessors)
Changes the due date for a county legislative authority to certify the levy amount to the county assessor to December 15; and the due date for taxing districts to certify the levy amount to the county assessor to the first Monday in December.
SB 5019 - Standardize Recording Practices (Auditors)
Renames the E-Recording Standards Commission to the Recording Standards Commission and expands the Commission's responsibilities to include making recommendations for rules to the Secretary of State on recording standards generally. Allows the Secretary of State to make rules for the uniform recording of documents in cooperation with the Recordings Standards Commission.
SB 5131 – Better Alignment of Duties in the Recall Process (Clerks)
Transfers the responsibility for notifying the petitioner moving to recall an elected official and the elected official of the hearing date from the county clerk to the superior court. Transfers the responsibility for certifying and transmitting the recall ballot synopsis from the superior court to the county clerk.
ESHB 1326 - Mandate National Certification for Elected or Appointed Coroner/Medical Examiners and Fix the Autopsy Reimbursement Rate Gap (Coroners)
ESSB 5118 - Supporting successful reentry (Prosecutors)
County Prosecutors requested amendment to RCW 9.98.010. Known as the “Peeler Fix” was incorporated into a larger bill. The component requested by the Prosecutors avoids the dismissal of cases when a defendant is charged in multiple counties with multiple crimes and claims the right to a speedy trial in multiple counties at the same time by excluding the time a defendant spends in jail awaiting trial from the speedy trial time of another county, solving the problem created by the courts in the State V. Peeler case.
STATE BUDGET (SB 5092)
Linked here is a side-by-side comparison of proposed and final budget a relevant to counties. Specific to WACO affiliates:
State V. Blake
The budget includes $95.8 million dollars in funding for the state’s response to State V. Blake by allocating money to the State Department of Corrections (DOC), Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Office of Public Defense, and Office of Civil and Legal Aid:
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
This year was comprehensive for bills related to criminal justice reform. There are numerous bills that touch some aspects of this area. However, the list of bills that cleared the legislature is much smaller than originally anticipated. Here are five that stand out for their impacts on Sheriff offices and their staff.
PROPERTY TAX REFORM
Early in the 2021 session was a flurry of bills proposing changes in property taxation as a means of providing relief related to COVID and affordable housing, among other legislative priorities. While WACO’s collaboration with other stakeholders and communications with legislators helped minimize unintended consequences, much more work lay ahead in raising awareness on this issue. Bills that passed this session:
The legislature continued its recent trend of bills making statements about our system of elections at the state and local level. Like property tax, WACO and WSACA worked, and will continue to work, to provide legislators the true picture of our systems. Auditors were disappointed that their voter pamphlet bill was not successful this year. Election-related bills our members watched closely that did pass included:
OTHER ENACTED BILLS FROM AFFILIATE WATCH LISTS
LOCAL GOV FISCAL FLEXIBILITY (HB 1269)
TAX INCREMENT FINANCING (ESHB 1189)
CIVIL PROTECTION ORDERS (HB 1320)
STATE V. BLAKE (SB 5476)
JEVENILLE REHABILITATION (HB 1186)
RACIAL RESTRICTIONS / REVIEW (E2SHB 1335)
NOXIOUS WEEDS (SHB 1355)
MUNICIPAL FINANCIAL SERVICES (SB 5106)
ADDITIONAL REVENUE SOURCE FOR EVICTION PREVENTION AND HOUSING STABILITY SERVICES (HB 1277)