Jmercier

Legislative survey says: Remote testimony is a winner

May 7, 2014 in Blog

Washington State University has released the results of the "2013 Washington State Legislative Service Survey and the Washington State Governance Series." Based on the answers of lawmakers, legislative staff and lobbyists, WPC's recommendation for remote testimony options for citizens is a clear winner.

Marijuana, Lean management and public records best practices

May 7, 2014 in Blog

No, that's not the opening line of a joke but instead an example of how the (now misnamed) Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) is improving access to public records. According to Governor Inslee's Results Washington process, the Liquor Control Board has made progress using Lean management to improve its response time to growing public records requests as a result of the state's legalization of marijuana.

Benton County Proposition 14-5: Sales tax increase but no performance audits?

May 6, 2014 in Blog

Benton County Citizen Advisory Committee Recommends Sales Tax Increase and Performance Audits

May 5, 2014 in Blog

In my prior post I highlighted the details of Benton County Proposition 14-5, a proposal on the county's August ballot to increase the local sales tax rate by 0.3% raising approximately $9 million per year for public safety spending. The proposed sales tax increase came from the recommendations of a Citizen Advisory Committee that was created to study the county's public safety programs.

Public safety sales tax increase on ballot in Benton County

April 14, 2014 in Blog

In August voters in Benton County will consider Proposition 14-5 and whether to increase the local sales tax rate by 0.3% raising approximately $9 million per year for public safety spending. The tax increase would sunset on December 31, 2024. The proposal would increase the total sales tax paid by a family at the county’s median income ($64,898) by $87 a year, or $7.25 a month.

Should candidates verify their background for voters?

April 7, 2014 in Blog

Voting for candidates for elected office is an important decision. Unfortunately at times there is little information available about candidates to help us make an informed decision. While county auditors and the Secretary of State produce voter pamphlets with information self-provided by those running for office, is the information actually truthful?

That’s where the new CandidateVerification.org in our state has the potential to bring clarity.  

$43.5 million left to pay for imploded Kingdome

March 26, 2014 in Blog

14 years ago today this was the scene in downtown Seattle as the Kingdome was brought to its knees:

Since then the Seahawks have made 2 Super Bowl appearances, winning one, and taxpayers have paid nearly $135 million to retire debt on the imploded Kingdome ($25.8 million for original construction and $109 million for repairs has been paid for debt service since 2001 to date).

Setting the stage for the 2015-17 budget debate

March 20, 2014 in Blog

With seven minutes to spare, lawmakers adjourned at 11:53 p.m. on the last day of the 60 day 2014 Legislative Session, avoiding for the first time in several years going into a special session. Among the bills passed was a 2014 supplemental operating budget (SB 6002). Unlike previous years, when major re-writes of the budget were needed, SB 6002 was a true supplemental budget making minor changes to state spending.

Sunshine Week legislative update

March 17, 2014 in Blog

This Sunshine Week forecast is brought to you by the 2014 Legislative Session: Your right to know is partly cloudy. When the just concluded session began there was the opportunity for brilliant sunshine but at least we avoided any severe secret storm warnings. 

Below is a look back on some of the open government actions (or lack thereof) during the 2014 Legislative Session.

Public notice

Funding for TVW repairs and upgrades cut from capital budget

March 5, 2014 in Blog

In just a few weeks the country will be celebrating "Sunshine Week," a time committed to celebrating the people's right to know about what their government is doing. Recent developments in Olympia, however, may put a damper on those celebrations.

Providing opportunity for remote testimony and improving public notice

March 3, 2014 in Blog

At the invitation of Rep. Pollet and Rep. Hawkins (Co-Chairs) I had the opportunity to make a presentation before the House Open Government Caucus today on ways the Legislature could accommodate remote testimony and improve its public notice process.

10:45 p.m. "public" hearing with no public testimony, surprised?

February 14, 2014 in Blog

Lawmakers work long hours on your behalf, sometimes late into the night. One of these instances occurred on Monday when lawmakers held a public hearing at 10:45 p.m. on HB 2244.

Pension reforms on Senate floor

February 13, 2014 in Blog

As we approach the February 18 House of Origin cutoff, bills are starting to fly off the floor of the House and the Senate. Two pension reform bills in the Senate could soon be among those moving. SB 5851 and SB 6305 are both currently on the floor.

Time for Legislature to live by open government rules

February 10, 2014 in Blog

With policy cutoff behind us the list of living and walking dead bills (nothing is really dead till sine die) is being compiled. Among the proposals that didn't even receive a hearing, however, is a bill based on WPC's recommendation for the Legislature to truly provide Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in the legislative debate while also ensuring lawmakers live by the same open government rules the rest of the state's public officials operate under.

Senate rejects supermajority for taxes constitutional amendment

February 5, 2014 in Blog

The Senate voted today to reject SJR 8213: Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. The proposal failed to receive the votes necessary for passage with a 25-21 vote (33 votes were needed).