Unanimous support for County’s focus during 2017 Legislative Session
StoryKing County will call on the 2017 State Legislature to provide the County with the tools it needs to maintain needed essential services that include public safety, public health and housing, and homeless services. The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to a State Legislative Agenda that will give counties the tools they need to support vital services such as infrastructure and public health throughout the state.
“The King County Legislative Agenda highlights our priorities for sustainable funding for public health and public safety, as well as strengthening essential services for the residents of King County,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “I look forward to working with our partners in the legislature to advance this agenda this year.”
“The Council’s 2017 State Legislative Agenda reflects the Council’s commitment to keep King County a region of opportunity, inclusivity, and equity,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “In a time of uncertainty for many in our community, we are advocating that state laws be strengthened to provide support to organizations and programs that deter and counteract hate-motivated criminal activity, improve access to voting, and ensure access to affordable health care coverage and affordable housing for all King County residents.”
“I’m looking forward to working with our state legislators to draft solutions to the issues facing King County over which the Legislature has purview,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Committee of the Whole. “It’s my hope that we can achieve consensus over some of these pressing issues. I am especially interested in roads financing so we can preserve our $40 billion asset.”
The Council, in collaboration with the County Executive, develop an annual State Legislative Agenda that focuses on the positions that are most important to bring to the attention of the State Legislature. For the 2017 session, the County's top priorities focus on enhancing revenue options that will allow King County to:
Protect public safety and justice: King County is facing the same challenge as counties throughout the state, cutting essential public services in order to close the ever-widening general fund structural gap between the cost to provide essential services and the revenue available to pay for them. With three quarters of the County’s general fund paying for public safety and criminal justice programs, the structural gap is devastating our ability to ensure the health and safety of our residents. The County will go to Olympia and ask lawmakers to replace the 1 percent cap on revenue with a growth limit that ties directly to inflation plus population growth.
Stabilize local public health services: Funding changes and repeated budget reductions over the past 16 years have left the state and local public health systems struggling to meet their basic responsibility to provide essential public health services. King County’s ability to address latent tuberculosis in about 100,000 residents has been limited, and the county has experienced record numbers of communicable disease outbreaks. The reductions in the infectious disease programs has made it difficult to do outreach to people who may be infected with syphilis, hepatitis B, pertussis and gonorrhea. The legislative agenda calls on the state to provide statewide assistance to fill the gaps in the public health system.
Homelessness and Affordable Housing: The County is looking to partner with the state to confront homelessness and the opioid crisis and address the immediate emergency and the root causes of both issues. The County will ask for an investment in the Housing Trust Fund to increase affordable housing supply, and removal of the 2018 sunset on the Document Recording Fee to preserve rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing efforts. The agenda also calls on Olympia to expand access to medication assisted treatment to transition people safely off heroin or prescription opiates.
Local roads and infrastructure: King County is the state’s “economic engine” with thousands of individuals and millions of dollars’ worth of goods transported daily on county roads. The county looks to collaborate with the state to protect those assets by identifying a suitable revenue source to address long term regional and local road needs and address chronically underfunded county regional and local road projects. King County also wants to ensure that people and goods continue to move during the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement construction by extending $15.3 million for King County Metro mitigation funding, consistent with the state’s MOU.