WSAC serves as a forum to build a statewide county legislative agenda. The fact that WSAC represents all 39 counties is key to building the coalitions needed to pass helpful legislation and likewise prevent harmful legislation. WSAC utilizes various tools to keep members up-to-date on legislative activities throughout the year.
The Legislative Steering Committee (LSC) is composed of one member from each of WSAC’s member counties as well as each of the four County Executives. The LSC has two co-chairs that are appointed biennially by the WSAC President. Co-chairs may not also serve as members of the WSAC Executive Committee. LSC members have frequent interaction, particularly during the state’s legislative session with legislators, agency staff, and representatives of other organizations. In addition to setting the policy direction for the association through the Legislative Agenda, LSC members are expected to attend regular meetings during legislative session and to communicate with legislators regarding WSAC’s legislative priorities.
Counties support legislation and funding that will help to remove fish barriers with a regional and watershed approach in mind. Just fixing state fish barriers will do nothing to solve the overall problem. The Legislature must provide funding to remove fish barriers at the state and local level as well as the necessary tools to meet the 2030 mandate.
Access to a defense attorney is a fundamental constitutional right where the responsibility has been passed down to counties. The Legislature funds less than 4% of the costs and counties spend $156 million annually. For equal access to justice, the Legislature must fund the full cost of trial court public defense services.
Washington State is changing how it pays for delivery of physical health services, mental health services and substance use disorder services, choosing to treat the whole person – mind and body – to more effectively achieve better health outcomes and lower costs. While the Legislature has taken significant steps to strengthen and improve the current behavioral health system, counties, as partners in delivery of these services, continue to be concerned about gaps in services and adequate funding to support county responsibilities. As the state proceeds with behavioral health integration, the Legislature must fund a complete behavioral health system and ensure that counties receive the funds necessary to provide quality care. Ensure Washington State provides an adequately funded comprehensive behavioral health system.
The Legislature has continued to shift costs through policy changes and legislation down to county government. To pay for these unfunded mandates, counties divert funds from road maintenances leaving critical public safety positions unfilled to meet the obligations from the state. Counties oppose any changes that will increase county costs without funding attached.
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