Lobbyist update finds silver lining in legislative clouds

May 13, 2014

By Peter Clark

Issaquah’s Lobbyist Doug Levy tried to make legislator lemonade out of the lemons given in the most recent legislative session.

He presented a post-session update to the City Council during the April 7 meeting and found some positive things to say about a relatively uneventful session.

“My sum up of this session would be there were certainly not areas where we feel like there was any significant harm done,” Levy said. “It’s just that I would have liked to be able to report more progress to you. It was a little bit more of a running-in-place kind of session.”

The short session lasted from Jan. 13 to March 13. Legislators made no significant movement on a comprehensive transportation package, reconciling medical/recreational marijuana rules or finding K-12 education funding.

“They did get done on time, which they haven’t done since 2008,” Levy said. “I think, with all due respect, it is going to go down as a legislative session where a lot of items were deferred, sort of kicking the can into the 2015 longer session.”

He said the lack of a transportation package remains the most stinging outcome of the session.

“We know we have a problem in the state of Washington,” Levy said. “With every year that goes by without action, it makes it tougher and more expensive as costs rise with inflation.”

Still, he found cause for celebration spots in the stagnation session, though it revolved around the inaction.

“One really good part for a lack of a capital budget for us is that there was one of the propositions to reduce funding at Lake Sammamish State Park,” Levy said. “That’s a good thing for us.”

He said he wanted to work for greater cooperation between the city and the state in the future, to ensure better legislative results for Issaquah.

“I feel like there has been a little bit of an erosion in the partnership between local government and state government,” Levy said. “There’s been less reception of the need to share revenue and help with infrastructure than we would like. That’s going to be an ongoing battle. We have work to do to get back on the partnership.”

As for next year’s agenda, City Communications Manager Autumn Monahan said she expects the city will continue to focus on Interstate 90 funding and trying to find state money for green projects like Confluence Park.

“A lot of it depends on what the City Council decides the legislative update will be in the fall,” she said.

Levy expected next year’s session would focus on trying to find education funding and establishing the next biennial budget. He said Issaquah made some inroads into its interests this year, despite the lack of action.

“Obviously, it was a disappointing session in some ways, but we really built a foundation in other ways,” he said. “While I express some disappointment in the legislation, I do really feel that the folks who represent the 5th District and the 41st District, they do understand a lot of your issues and they do really care about your issues.”

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