skip navigation

Ask MRSC Archives

Browse Inquiries By Topic


What makes an employee an exempt employee vs. non-exempt? Must exempt employees have staff under them or can they have no one reporting to them and still be exempt?
Reviewed: 05/16

Regarding the factors that are considered in distinguishing between an exempt vs. a non-exempt employee, Overtime 101, an MRSC blog post provides a good summary on that issue. Another helpful source that we have highlighted is from the University of Washington's Human Resources Department regarding the FLSA and overtime eligibility and exemptions.

Regarding your second question, a determination related to whether an exempt employee must supervise staff to be exempt depends on the exempt employee category at issue. For example, as explained in our blog post referenced above (emphasis in original):

Each exempt category of employment has its own duties test; for example, to qualify as exempt, an executive employee's primary duty must be managing the organization, or managing a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the organization. 29 CFR 541.100. (FLSA regulations discuss what is meant by "primary duty" (29 CFR 541.700) and give examples of what may be considered to be "management" duties (29 CFR 541.102).) The executive must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent and have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the executive employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion, or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight. (See 29 CFR 541.105 for an explanation of what is meant by "particular weight.")

An administrative employee is exempt if the employee’s primary function is to perform office or non-manual work, directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers, that includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. 29 CFR 541.200. FLSA regulations provide guidance as to what is meant by "directly related to the management or general business operations"(29 CFR 541.201), "discretion and independent judgment" (29 CFR 541.202), and give examples of the administrative exemption (29 CFR 541.203).

(Link to this question)

Does the city (or its residents by way of ballot) have the option to add a fee or tax to the motor vehicle fuel tax to fuel sales within its boundaries?
Reviewed: 05/16

No, the city does not have the authority to add a fee or tax to the motor vehicle fuel tax with respect to fuel sales within its boundaries. RCW 82.36.440(1), effective until July 1, 2016, states:

The tax levied in this chapter is in lieu of any excise, privilege, or occupational tax upon the business of manufacturing, selling, or distributing motor vehicle fuel, and no city, town, county, township or other subdivision or municipal corporation of the state may levy or collect any excise tax upon or measured by the sale, receipt, distribution, or use of motor vehicle fuel, except as provided in chapter 82.80 RCW and RCW 82.47.020.

Effective on July 1, 2016 (after consolidation of the motor vehicle fuel tax and special fuel tax statutes), RCW 82.38.280(1) states basically the same thing:

The tax levied in this chapter is in lieu of any excise, privilege, or occupational tax upon the business of manufacturing, selling, or distributing fuel, and no city, town, county, township or other subdivision or municipal corporation of the state may levy or collect any excise tax upon or measured by the sale, receipt, distribution, or use of fuel, except as provided in chapter 82.80 RCW and RCW 82.47.020.

(Concerning the statutes referred to as exceptions in the above statutes, RCW 82.20.010 authorizes a local option gas tax, but that can only be levied by the county and it applies countywide (at a rate equal to 10 percent of the state rate). RCW 82.47.020 authorizes cities located no more than 10 miles from an international border to levy an additional one cent per gallon gas tax with voter approval to mitigate the effects of tourism on their streets.)

(Link to this question)

When does the city real estate excise tax (REET) apply in an annexed area?

Reviewed: 05/16

The city's REET applies to any real property sold within an annexed area beginning on the effective date of the annexation. The REET - which, as the name clearly states, is an excise tax and not a property tax - is on "each sale of real property in the unincorporated areas of the county for the county tax and in the corporate limits of the city for the city tax . . . ." RCW 82.46.010(2)(a); RCW 82.46.035(2). Upon the effective date of an annexation, the corporate limits of the city include the area annexed.

There is no statutory connection between the REET, which is governed by chapter 82.46 RCW, and the property tax, which is governed by Title 84 RCW. RCW 84.09.030, which sets when "the boundaries of counties, cities, and all other taxing districts shall be the established official boundaries of such districts" applies only "for the purposes of property taxation and the levy of property taxes." That provision has no application to the REET.

(Link to this question)

May a local government provide in its personnel policies that accrued vacation leave will be paid off at the time of termination or retirement unless the termination is for cause, in which case no vacation payout will be made?
Reviewed: 05/16

Yes, a local government does have this authority. There are no provisions in state law that mandate what the terms of a vacation policy are for a local government. However, a local government's personnel policies should clearly spell out the terms under which vacation is granted, including those related to vacation payout at the time of termination.  

(Link to this question)

Does the city have to pay for the cost of indigent defense for an appeal to the superior court of a municipal court's conviction?
Reviewed: 05/16

The city is not responsible for public defense for criminal appeals to the court of appeals or the Supreme Court; the state is responsible for those costs. RCW 4.88.330. Unfortunately for local governments, this statute does not apply to appeals from municipal court to superior court. The Washington State Supreme Court made this point clear in Kitsap County v. Moore, 144 Wn.2d 292 (2001). In Moore, Kitsap County and Bremerton contended that the cost of indigent misdemeanant appeals, including attorney fees and costs, for appeals from municipal/district court to superior court was the state's responsibility to pay under RCW 4.88.330. After construing the statute, court rules and legislative history, the court rejected this argument and concluded that the local jurisdiction (cities or counties) is responsible for the costs of indigent misdemeanant appeals to superior courts.

(Link to this question)

Request for information about dealing with blighted/poor maintained/abandoned properties
Reviewed: 05/16

The procedures in RCW 35.80.030 are available to deal with situations in which "one or more conditions of the character described in RCW 35.80.010 exist"; those conditions are:

dwellings which are unfit for human habitation, and buildings, structures, and premises or portions thereof which are unfit for other uses due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents, or other calamities, inadequate ventilation and uncleanliness, inadequate light or sanitary facilities, inadequate drainage, overcrowding, or due to other conditions which are inimical to the health and welfare of the residents of such municipalities and counties.

One advantage of using the procedures in RCW 35.80.030 is the method of cost recovery provided in subsection (h) that statute where the property owner does not abate a dangerous structure and the city must do so, the assessment for which can be entered upon the tax rolls against the property for the current year and the same shall become a part of the general taxes for that year to be collected at the same time and with interest at such rates and in such manner as provided for in RCW 84.56.020 for delinquent taxes, and when collected to be deposited to the credit of the general fund of the municipality.

Another available tool that some cities have adopted is the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings (1997), the stated purpose of which is to address "buildings or structures which from any cause endanger the life, limb, health, morals, property, safety or welfare of the general public or their occupants may be required to be repaired, vacated or demolished." See Sec. 102.1.

Then there is also the International Property Maintenance Code (2012), adopted by some jurisdictions (e.g., Longview), to provide:

minimum requirements and standards for premises, structures, equipment and facilities for light, ventilation, space, heating, sanitation, protection from the elements, life safety, safety from fire and other hazards, and for safe and sanitary maintenance; the responsibility of owners, operators and occupants; the occupancy of existing structures and premises and for administration, enforcement and penalties.

Sec. 101.2.

Our Building Nuisances webpage has examples of ordinances adopting one or the other of these provisions or establishing their own procedures for addressing these issues of blighted/poor maintained/abandoned properties. See also our Community Renewal Law webpage.

(Link to this question)

Does an environmental impact statement (EIS) expire?
Reviewed: 04/16

There is no expiration period for an EIS. However, there likely are expiration periods for project permit applications for which an EIS was prepared; a new application for a previously proposed but not acted upon project triggers new environmental review. DOE's SEPA Handbook (rev. 2004), addresses environmental review in this circumstance:

SEPA documents do not have expiration dates. After SEPA is completed, if a proposal is delayed so that new permits must be applied for, environmental review may be limited to verifying that there is no new information, regulatory changes, or changes to the proposal that would require additional review. (This is true even if the applicant has changed.) As long as there are no changes to be addressed, no additional paperwork is required and agencies may proceed with permit decisions.

See WAC 197-11-600 , which addresses the use of existing environmental documents.

(Link to this question)

Do you have guidelines for a majority of city councilmembers traveling together?
Reviewed: 04/16

First, there is a specific statutory provision that allows a majority (or more) of the city council to travel together so long as there is no discussion of city business amongst them. RCW 42.30.070 states in part:

(It shall not be a violation of the requirements of this chapter for a majority of the members of a governing body to travel together or gather for purposes other than a regular meeting or a special meeting as these terms are used in this chapter: PROVIDED, That they take no action as defined in this chapter.

Note that "action" is defined in RCW 42.30.020(3) to include discussion of city business:

(3) "Action" means the transaction of the official business of a public agency by a governing body including but not limited to receipt of public testimony, deliberations, discussions, considerations, reviews, evaluations, and final actions.

The above restrictions apply when a quorum of the council travels together, such as, for example, to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressional representatives, or to a meeting held by another agency. For a seven-member city council, four councilmembers constitutes a quorum, so two or three councilmembers can travel together and discuss city affairs without any OPMA implications.

Councilmembers should avoid during their trip any conversation regarding city business that is done when a quorum is present (even if only two members are speaking), and the council should avoid any serial conversations on a city issue that would result in the participation in that conversation of a quorum of the council.

At the last meeting prior to the council trip, it might be wise to have the city attorney (if present at the meeting) or the mayor remind the councilmembers of the OPMA restrictions on discussions of city business by a quorum outside of an open public meeting. That lets the public know that the council is aware of the OPMA restrictions. Keep in mind, however, that some members of the public may nevertheless be distrustful of council compliance with the OPMA when a majority of more of the council travel together.

(Link to this question)

Request for ordinances from smaller cities regulating accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
Reviewed: 04/16

Listed below are examples of ADU provisions from smaller-sized communities: See the following additional materials regarding ADUs:

(Link to this question)

To what extent can the district have a special event to recognize staff members' accomplishments via rewards of some type?
Reviewed: 04/16

Our general response to these types of questions is "it depends." You will always be on more solid legal ground in making such expenditures if your governing body has adopted, in advance, a policy stating that employees will receive, as a part of their compensation, recognition in the form of an event and/or award to honor accomplishments, length of service, or retirement. If the award or event is properly authorized in a policy of the governing body and includes standards as to how it is applied, then it should be allowable. See the employee recognition section of James Pharris' memorandum Eating and Drinking at Public Expense for a more in-depth discussion of this issue. Mr. Pharris' memorandum was written some time ago but is still considered to be good advice on this subject.

An alternative if you don't already have a policy in place would be to simply take up a collection to pay for light refreshments and/or a plaque or some other symbol of recognition.

We have a webpage devoted to Employee Recognition and Suggestion Award Programs. The page sets out some general information and contains links to local government programs that provide for employee rewards.

(Link to this question)

May the city impose any local taxes (in addition to the regular sales tax) on marijuana sales
Reviewed: 03/16

There is no statutory authority for the city to impose additional sales taxes on licensed marijuana retail businesses.The relevant statutes for the state excise taxes for marijuana sales are RCW 69.50.535 and RCW 69.50.540

(Link to this question)

May a city regulate, through zoning, where in the city medical marijuana patients may grow marijuana plants in their own housing units?
Reviewed: 03/16

In our opinion, a city may not restrict the growing of marijuana plants by qualifying patients in their own housing units in compliance with state law. RCW 69.51A.210, enacted as part of the 2015 medical marijuana legislation, allows a "qualifying patient" (defined in RCW 69.51A.010(19)) to grow "in his or her domicile" up to either four, six, or fifteen plants, the number depending on factors identified in that statute. The growing of such plants may not, however, "be readily seen by normal unaided vision or readily smelled from a public place or the private property of another housing unit." RCW 69.51A.260(2).

While, under RCW 69.51A.250(3)(c), a city or county may prohibit the newly-authorized (as of 7/1/2016) marijuana cooperatives in certain zones or, presumably, even entirely, no such authorization is provided to cities and counties with respect to the growing of plants by individual, qualifying patients in their housing units. Any such prohibition of qualifying patients growing marijuana plants in their housing units in a particular zone or citywide would be in conflict with state law that permits such growing by qualifying patients in their housing units.

As such, it is our opinion that the right given by statute to qualifying patients to grow marijuana plants in their housing units cannot be restricted or prohibited by local zoning.

Note, however, that the city "may create and enforce civil penalties, including abatement procedures, for the growing or processing of marijuana and for keeping marijuana plants beyond or otherwise not in compliance with" RCW 69.51A.260.

(Link to this question)

Can a sister city pay travel expenses for officials to visit?
Reviewed: 03/16

Our office has taken the position that a city is authorized to pay reasonable travel expenses for city officials to officially visit a sister city, under the city's sister city program. Since the city can itself pay for these expenses, the city may accept a gift that would be used for the payment of those expenses, just as it may accept any gift. The gift should be made to the city, not to the city officials chosen to make the trip; the city would then directly pay those travel expenses.

(Link to this question)

Can a city extend utilities outside its limits or urban growth area (e.g., to a school)?
Reviewed: 03/16

A city has clear statutory authority to extend its utility services (water and sewer) outside its boundaries, but its authority to do so is limited outside its urban growth area (UGA). With respect to a city's authority to extend water service outside its city boundaries, see RCW 35.92.17 (titled "City may extend water system outside limits"), which states:

When a city or town owns or operates a municipal waterworks system and desires to extend such utility beyond its corporate limits it may acquire, construct and maintain any addition to or extension of the system, and dispose of and distribute water to any other municipality, water-sewer district, community, or person desiring to purchase it.

See also RCW 35.92.180.

With respect to a city's authority to extend sewer service outside its city boundaries, see RCW 35.67.310, which states, in part:

Every city or town may permit connections with any of its sewers, either directly or indirectly, from property beyond its limits, upon such terms, conditions and payments as may be prescribed by ordinance, which may be required by the city or town to be evidenced by a written agreement between the city or town and the owner of the property to be served by the connecting sewer.

As noted above, that authority is, however, limited outside a city's UGA, particularly with regard to sewer service. That is because of the Growth Management Act's general prohibition in RCW 36.70A.110(4) on extending urban-type services outside UGAs:

In general, cities are the units of local government most appropriate to provide urban governmental services. In general, it is not appropriate that urban governmental services be extended to or expanded in rural areas except in those limited circumstances shown to be necessary to protect basic public health and safety and the environment and when such services are financially supportable at rural densities and do not permit urban development.

See definitions of "rural governmental services" and "urban governmental services" in a href="">RCW 36.70A.030(17) and (18); sewer service is an urban governmental service, while water service can either be rural or urban. In 1000 Friends of Washington v. Thurston County, WWGMHB No. 05-2-0002, Compliance Order, at 14, (2007), the Growth Management Hearings Board noted that "Under the GMA definitions of types of services, water service can be either an urban service or a rural service," and emphasized that "From these definitions, it is apparent that the critical factor in determining whether the water system is a rural or urban system is the intensity at which water service is provided." (Emphasis added.)

This limitation on extending sewer services outside a UGA applies even if the extension is for a school. So, for example, in this Growth Management Hearings Board decision, The Director of the State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development v. Snohomish County, CPSGMHB Case No. 03-3-0020, Final Decision and Order (2004), the board concluded that an ordinance that permitted the expansion of urban governmental services (sewers) to schools and churches located in a rural area (outside a UGA) was in violation of RCW 36.70A.110(4).

(Link to this question)

Who is covered by new Human Rights Commission regulations against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity?
Reviewed: 03/16

The terms "covered entity" or "covered entities" are not used in Human Rights Commission regulations other than in the new chapter 162-32 WAC, established in WSR 15-24-071, and they are not defined anywhere in the Human Rights Commission regulations. But, because the Human Rights Commission regulations regarding sexual orientation or gender expression or gender identity implement state legislation, specifically in chapter 49.60 RCW, reference must be made to that RCW chapter to determine the entities covered by these new regulations regarding sexual orientation or gender expression or gender identity. And, note that the new WAC 162-32-010 (General purpose and scope) states:

This chapter interprets and implements the sexual orientation and gender expression and gender identity discrimination protections of RCW 49.60.030, 49.60.180, and 49.60.215 and provides guidance regarding certain specific forms of sexual orientation and gender expression and gender identity discrimination.

RCW 49.60.030, referred to above, is the general declaration of freedom from discrimination, while RCW 49.60.180 addresses discrimination by employers and RCW 49.60.215 addresses discrimination by places of "public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement," which are defined in RCW 49.60.040.

Local governments are covered both as employers and, to some extent, as places of public assemblage. However, non-public restrooms of a local government with less than eight employees are not subject to the new rules. The law against discrimination applies only to employers with eight employees or more. RCW 49.60.040(11). A local government with less than eight employees still needs to comply with the new rules for restrooms available for public use.

(Link to this question)

What options do we have to collect delinquent payments on unpaid LID assessments?
Reviewed: 02/16

The only method for collection of delinquent LID assessments provided in state law is foreclosure of the property subject to the assessment. The procedure for foreclosure of LID assessments is set out in chapter 35.50 RCW. Note RCW 35.50.030, which states in part as follows:

If on the first day of January in any year, two installments of any local improvement assessment are delinquent, or if the final installment thereof has been delinquent for more than one year, the city or town shall proceed with the foreclosure of the delinquent assessment or delinquent installments thereof by proceedings brought in its own name in the superior court of the county in which the city or town is situate.

(Link to this question)

Can a hearing examiner approve a final plat?
Reviewed: 02/16

No. The approval of final plats may not be delegated to a hearing examiner. RCW 58.17.330(1) authorizes the city council to adopt a hearing examiner system "As an alternative to those provisions of this chapter requiring a planning commission to hear and issue recommendations for plat approval." The planning commission is not given the authority by chapter 58.17 RCW to approve final plats, so the hearing examiner cannot be given that authority. And, as stated in RCW 58.17.100, final plat approval can be done only by the legislative body of the city or county

(Link to this question)

Can transportation benefit district funds pay for a street sign improvement program?
Reviewed: 02/16

Yes, in our opinion, a transportation benefit district (TBD) may use its revenues to fund a street sign improvement program, if that program is part of an appropriate transportation plan. RCW 36.73.020(1) allows TBD revenue to be used to fund transportation improvements included in a city, county, or eligible jurisdiction's transportation plan. RCW 36.73.015(6) defines "transportation improvement" as follows:

"Transportation improvement" means a project contained in the transportation plan of the state, a regional transportation planning organization, city, county, or eligible jurisdiction as identified in RCW 36.73.020(2). A project may include investment in new or existing highways of statewide significance, principal arterials of regional significance, high capacity transportation, public transportation, and other transportation projects and programs of regional or statewide significance including transportation demand management. Projects may also include the operation, preservation, and maintenance of these facilities or programs.

This definition is broad enough, in our opinion, for a street sign improvement program contained within a transportation plan to be funded from TBD revenues. Note also that the criteria identified in RCW 36.73.0201) that a TBD should use "when selecting transportation improvements" include "improved safety" and "improved travel time" - matters that street sign improvements can address.

Further information regarding TBDs can be found on our Transportation Benefit Districts webpage.

(Link to this question)

What is the municipality's obligation as to the accumulation of snow and ice on streets?
Reviewed: 02/16

The duty as to ice on streets or roads is discussed in Leroy v. State, 124 Wn. App. 65, 68-69 (2004):

The State has a duty of ordinary care to make its roads reasonably safe for ordinary travel. That duty is conditional, however, for it arises only when the State has notice of, and time to correct, the hazard in question. In short, according to Niebarger v. City of Seattle, [53 Wash. 2d 228 (1958)] the State "must have (a) notice of a dangerous condition which it did not create, and (b) a reasonable opportunity to correct it before liability arises for negligence from neglect of duty to keep the streets safe."

See also, Wright v. Kennewick, 62 Wn.2d 163, 167 (1962) ("Here, the evidence was that the snow had been on the ground no more than 2 days, and the most recent crust of ice had formed only a few hours earlier. It is plain that the city had not had a reasonable opportunity to remove it."); Bird v. Walton, 69 Wn. App. 366, 368-69 (1993) (The Department of Transportation met its obligation to correct the dangerous condition where it "engaged almost continuously in attempting to sand [an icy] highway, up to the moment of the accident.").

(Link to this question)

The council is considering a salary increase for the town mayor and council. What does state law require in that regard?
Reviewed: 01/16

For the purposes of this response, we will presume that the town doesn't have a salary commission.

A key provision related to town mayor and councilmember salaries and reimbursement for expenses is RCW 35.27.130, which provides in part:

The mayor and members of the town council may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the discharge of their official duties upon presentation of a claim therefor and its allowance and approval by resolution of the town council. The mayor and members of the council may also receive such salary as the council may fix by ordinance.

In accordance with RCW 35.27.130, councilmember and mayoral salaries must be adopted by ordinance.

If the council wishes to increase councilmember salaries, that increase cannot apply to the current term of office of any councilmember. Article 11, Section 8 of the Washington Constitution prohibits a town council from increasing the salary of its members after their election or during their term of office. It provides (emphasis added):

The salary of any county, city, town, or municipal officers shall not be increased except as provided in section 1 of Article XXX or diminished after his election, or during his term of office; nor shall the term of any such officer be extended beyond the period for which he is elected or appointed.

Article 30, section 1, referenced above, provides that elected county, town, city, or municipal officers who don't fix their own compensation can have their salaries increased during their terms of office. As such, the council may, by ordinance, increase the mayor's salary and have the increase be effective immediately (or otherwise during the mayor's current term of office), as long as the mayor's vote isn't needed to break a tie vote to pass the increase (and usually the mayor doesn't vote on this type of matter, so this shouldn't be an issue).

Regarding reimbursement for allowable expenses, RCW 35.27.130 provides that councilmembers and the mayor "may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the discharge of their official duties upon presentation of a claim therefor and its allowance and approval by resolution of the town council." RCW 35.27.130 also addresses the process related to specific requests for reimbursement.

We recommend that the council, if it hasn't already done so, adopt a resolution or ordinance that describes the criteria it will use to determine the types of requests it will approve under RCW 35.27.130.

(Link to this question)

Can you provide a link to the most current data on assessed valuation of Washington cities?
Reviewed: 01/16

Two sources will provide you with the most current data on the assessed valuation of Washington cities.

The first source is the MRSC Population, Property, and Sales Tax Archive webpage, which contains links to PDF and Excel versions of assessed valuation for Washington cities and counties from 2012 to 2014.

The second source is the Department of Revenue Property Tax 2015 Statistics document. This file contains significantly more data beyond just the assessed valuations. It additionally provides current levies, levy rates, new construction values, and statutory levy limit information for all taxing districts across the state.

The Department of Revenue (DOR) has recently updated its property tax webpage to include a property tax statistical data portal that allows for the selection of data to be viewed. DOR will now be providing more timely information and periodic updates to tables throughout the year, instead of just once a year.

(Link to this question)

Does MRSC have a template or a step-by-step process by which a city can follow in order to establish a transportation benefit district?
Reviewed: 01/16

MRSC does not have a template or a step-by-step process that a city can follow in establishing a transportation benefit district (TBD), though the resources on our TBD webpage should help in going through that process. The process goes roughly like this (for a TBD that consists of the same boundaries as the city):

  1. The city council holds a hearing on the proposed TBD, in accordance with RCW 36.73.050.
  2. The city council adopts an ordinance establishing the TBD, consistent with RCW 36.73.050(2). Our TBD webpage provides some examples of such ordinances. These ordinances are helpful in showing the process the respective jurisdictions went through in adopting the ordinances and regarding what is to be done after the ordinance is effective.
  3. The city council thereafter acts as the TBD board.
  4. The necessary fund(s) must be established to carry out the operation of the TBD.
  5. The TBD board (the city council acting as the TBD board) adopts charter/bylaws/rules of procedure to govern its operation. See, e.g., Mercer Island TBD board meeting agenda packet, 11/17/2014; Snohomish TBD board agenda, with attachments, 12/7/2010.

The exact process varies from city to city. There is no particular timetable under which this process must occur. To fill in the blanks in the steps outlined above, you may want to contact one or more of the jurisdictions that have established a TBD. Here is a list of the jurisdictions that have established a TBD.

(Link to this question)

Are there any state mandated requirements for the position of police chief in a city?
Reviewed: 01/16

Yes, state law provides a list of eligibility requirements that apply to the position of police chief in all cities with a population of more than 1,000 in RCW 35.21.333:

(1) A person seeking appointment to the office of chief of police or marshal, of a city or town, including a code city, with a population in excess of one thousand, is ineligible unless that person:
(a) Is a citizen of the United States of America;
(b) Has obtained a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate as provided in RCW 8B.50.536;
(c) Has not been convicted under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States of a felony;
(d) Has not been convicted of a gross misdemeanor or any crime involving moral turpitude within five years of the date of application;
(e) Has received at least a general discharge under honorable conditions from any branch of the armed services for any military service if the person was in the military service;
(f) Has completed at least two years of regular, uninterrupted, full-time commissioned law enforcement employment involving enforcement responsibilities with a government law enforcement agency; and
(g) The person has been certified as a regular and commissioned enforcement officer through compliance with this state's basic training requirement or equivalency.

Also, RCW 35.21.334 provides that no city may appoint a person to be chief of police until the agency had conducted a thorough background investigation of the candidate.

(Link to this question)

Under what authority did the Seattle City Council raise the minimum wage?
Reviewed: 12/15

Seattle's minimum wage ordinance was passed under its police power authority to provide for the general health and welfare of its residents and other persons employed within the city. See article 11, section of the state constitution. The ordinance cites its promotion of "the general welfare, health, and prosperity of Seattle by ensuring that workers can better support and care for their families and fully participate in Seattle's civic, cultural, and economic life."

Additionally, the state legislature has specifically authorized local governments to enact more stringent minimum wage standards; RCW 49.46.120 states as follows:

This chapter establishes a minimum standard for wages and working conditions of all employees in this state, unless exempted herefrom, and is in addition to and supplementary to any other federal, state, or local law or ordinance, or any rule or regulation issued thereunder. Any standards relating to wages, hours, or other working conditions established by any applicable federal, state, or local law or ordinance, or any rule or regulation issued thereunder, which are more favorable to employees than the minimum standards applicable under this chapter, or any rule or regulation issued hereunder, shall not be affected by this chapter and such other laws, or rules or regulations, shall be in full force and effect and may be enforced as provided by law.

Note that Seattle's was not the first local minimum wage law in the state; SeaTac enacted one by the initiative process, though it was more limited in its scope than what Seattle's council later enacted. The SeaTac ordinance survived a challenge in the state courts. See Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac, 183 Wn.2d 770 (2015). The Seattle ordinance was unsuccessfully challenged in federal court, but not upon the grounds that Seattle did not have the authority to enact minimum wage requirements. See Int'l Franchise Ass'n v. City of Seattle (9th Cir. 2015).

(Link to this question)

May the city impose the criminal justice tax under RCW 82.14.340 and RCW 82.14.450? When is the city required to have the vote to impose this tax? Is the vote city- or county-wide?
Reviewed: 12/15

Under RCW 82.14.450(2)(a), the city council has the authority to present to the voters a sales tax option of up to 0.1%, for criminal justice purposes, as long as the county has not imposed the full 0.3% it is authorized to impose under RCW 82.14.450(1). The maximum combined city and county tax rate is 0.3%. If a city tax is approved by the voters, 15% of the revenues is distributed to the county and the remaining 85% is distributed to the city.

The sales tax measure under RCW 82.14.450(2)(a) may be presented to city voters at either a primary or general election. The vote is city-wide.

Only counties may impose the criminal justice sales tax under RCW 82.14.340, though cities share in the revenues from that tax.

You can use the MRSC Local Ballot Measure Database to review criminal justice sales tax ballot measures that have passed and ballot language used.

(Link to this question)