Fiscal Flexibility Bill in Danger

HB 1718, a bill to provide cities and counties some flexibility with existing resources, is in danger of dying in the House. The bill, prime-sponsored by Representative Mike Volz, a Republican from the 6th Legislative District, and including a bi-partisan list of secondary sponsors, would

  1. Remove prohibitions on supplanting existing local government expenditures with proceeds from a locally imposed 0.1-percent sales and use tax dedicated to mental health and substance abuse;
  2. Allow all county authorities to seek voter approval for the criminal justice regular levy;
  3. Allow jurisdictions to use revenue generated with a levy lid lift to supplant existing funds;
  4. Establish the Developmental Disability and Mental Health Levy as a separate property tax levy outside of the county general levy;
  5. Establish the Veterans’ Assistance Levy as a separate property tax levy outside of the county general levy; and
  6. Require the county legislative authority to budget the direct costs of administering the Veterans’ Assistance Fund and prohibit the charging of indirect costs or fees.

The bill passed out of the House Local Government Committee with only one no vote. It passed out of the Finance Committee, however, with only one Republican voting in favor. As a result, the bill is sitting in House Rules in real danger of dying.

A bill addressing the Veterans’ Assistance Levy, HB 1829, already passed the House with a vote of 66-32.  A bill similar to HB 1718, HB 2006, which was introduced in 2017, passed the House with an 87-10 vote in 2017 and by 92-6 in 2018 when it was in the same form as HB 1718 is now. Unfortunately, that bill made it all the way through the Senate but died in the Senate Rules Committee.

If this bill would help your county, please consider contacting your local representatives and encourage them to request a floor vote for the bill despite the fractured Republican support. The last day for the bill to be voted on by the House is Wednesday, March 13th, so time is of the essence.

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Mellani McAleenan

Mellani joined WSAC as the Director of Government Relations and General Counsel. Mellani has worked in government relations since 2000, most recently as Director of Government Affairs for the Dental Association. Mellani has also represented the state judicial branch of government as the primary legislative advocate for the Board for Judicial Administration, Administrative Office of the Courts, and Supreme Court. Mellani earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Seattle University and her BS in Human Services from Wayland Baptist University.