Cities pinpoint priorities for legislators

Session will convene on Monday, Jan. 9

Sen. Ann Rivers

As state legislators prepare to begin the next session on Monday, Jan. 9, local governments are also compiling lists of causes and projects they hope those elected officials will pursue.

In Camas, current City Administrator Pete Capell and retired City Administrator Lloyd Halverson will be lobbying the legislature on behalf of the city in support of a handful of issues.

For the past two years, the city of Camas has contracted with Halverson, who retired in 2013, to represent the city in intergovernmental relations. His 2017 contract stipulates that he will receive $115 per hour, not to exceed $10,000.

In preparation for the upcoming state legislative session, a list of nine topics was given the green light by the City Council in December. Among them are maintaining funding for the Municipal Research and Services Center and the Washington State Auditor’s Local Government Performance Center.

MRSC is a private, non-profit organization that supports local governments in Washington, by providing information to city leaders on legal and policy issues.

The Local Government Performance Center offers training and tools to help jurisdictions improve performance and effectiveness.

Other Camas legislative priorities include increasing the cap for business and operations taxes that can go to the Washington State Main Street Program, an effort that supports downtown revitalizations.

The city also supports transferring $25 million for the West Camas Slough Bridge to fund a project on state Route 14, between I-205 and Southeast 164th Avenue.

“In the past we’ve tried to narrow it down to three or four things,” Camas Mayor Scott Higgins recently said of the city’s lengthy legislative agenda. “This year it is a little more expansive. Part of that is because we are trying to mirror [the Association of Washington Cities’] agenda, and that makes it appear bigger than normal. I’m not overly worried about the length of it, because it’s coordinating with other groups.”

AWC’s legislative priorities that Camas is also backing include providing adequate funding for statewide training for law enforcement personnel; preserving existing local revenue authorities; updating the Open Public Records Act; and increasing the threshold that requires cities with a population of 20,000 or more to create their own Law Enforcement Officer and Fire Fighter Disability Board.

Higgins said he is predicting an engaging session, that will be highlighted by discussions surrounding school funding.

“It will be an interesting session,” Higgins said. “It’s probably going to be a very long session. This is probably the final McCleary [Decision] showdown, it looks like.”

Rivers plans town hall

In an effort to hear the public’s priorities, 18th District Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) will hold a town hall style meeting in Camas on Saturday. It is one of three that will be held in Clark County that day.

The event will be held at 2:30 p.m., at the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave. Meetings scheduled earlier in the day include one at Clark County Fire and Rescue Station 21 at 10:30 a.m., and at Battle Ground City Hall at noon.

“I know there are concerns in our district about the cost of, and access to, health care — that’s why I asked to become the new chair of the Senate health- care committee,” said Rivers, who was promoted to the post in December. “We can talk more about those on Saturday, as well as the tax increases the governor recently proposed, and the work we are doing to provide for education. I’m looking forward to the discussions.”

Rivers will also serve on the Senate’s early learning and K-12 education committee, and the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which will be responsible for developing the 2017-19 operating- and capital-budget proposals.

For more information, contact Rivers’ Olympia office via email at Ann.Rivers@leg.wa.gov or by phone at (360) 786-7634.