Transportation-heavy 2014 legislative agenda OK’d
November 12, 2013
By Peter Clark
Transportation funding from the state remains a top priority for the City Council.
During its Oct. 21 regular meeting, the council approved its legislative agenda for Lobbyist Doug Levy to spearhead in Olympia. Deputy Administrator Charlie Bush said the approved agenda helps direct the lobbyist during the fast pass of legislation.
“This really guides our efforts when working with Doug, so we can make sure we are on the same page as all of you,” Bush said to the council. “Things break very quickly and we need to take positions fast. There’s typically not enough time for us to talk to all of you individually when we need to take a position.”
With the 2012 hiring of Levy for $52,000, the 2013 legislative season was the first time Issaquah had a presence to champion city interests with law makers. The council considered it a success.
“Last year was one of the first times we had strongly used a lobbyist and I think it was very beneficial,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said. “I’m excited about what comes forward in this next legislative session.”
In 2013, legislation added $5 million to the North Issaquah local improvement district and funding was secured for Lake Sammamish State Park improvements.
The 2014 approved agenda focuses largely on an unfunded item from the 2013 agenda. Specifically, the highest priority will go towards an Interstate 90 corridor plan and overall transportation investment.
“This is an area where, unfortunately, we will take home a wave of disappointment rather than a transportation revenue package,” Levy said. “Obviously, we have to now hope that a transportation revenue package can be enacted in 2014, if not in the closing months of 2013.”
Approved Oct. 21, the updated plan calls for funding I-90 improvements, an overcrossing along 11th or 12th Avenue and a potential overhaul of the Front Street interchange.
Additionally, the council calls for the Legislature to maintain shared revenue between the state and cities, restore liquor revenue and explore new and sustainable revenue sources. It gave an example of sharing recreational marijuana tax revenue.
At the council’s Sept. 24 work session, Levy spoke of the continued hurdle a transportation package faces from lawmakers.
“There’s still an ongoing, unresolved question about transportation and whether the Legislature will do a new investment package,” he said. “The level of reform, the number of reforms will be one of the debated issues.”
He said a November or December special session to solely deal with a transportation package could still develop.
2014 is an off year for the biennial budget process and many of the legislators will be up for election. These elements lead Levy to believe the legislative session could be brief.
“It will go from a 105-day session to a 60-day session,” he said.