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State Supreme Court Says Cities Can Ban Collective Gardens, but the Legislature is Replacing Them with Medical Marijuana Cooperatives

State Supreme Court Says Cities Can Ban Collective Gardens, but the Legislature is Replacing Them with Medical Marijuana Cooperatives

May 21, 2015 by Bob Meinig
Category: Recreational and Medical Marijuana

The Washington State Supreme Court today issued a decision (Cannabis Action Coalition v. City of Kent) upholding the constitutionality of the city of Kent’s ordinance banning collective gardens as a valid exercise of the city’s zoning authority. But, in a related development, the Washington State Legislature, vi...

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Medical Marijuana Reform Legislation Enacted

Medical Marijuana Reform Legislation Enacted

May 14, 2015 by Jim Doherty
Category: Recreational and Medical Marijuana , 2015 Legislation

Here’s a toast to the Washington State Legislature! On Friday, April 24, Governor Jay Inslee approved, with several section vetoes, Second Substitute Senate Bill 5052 (2SSB 5052), which significantly revamps the entire medical marijuana structure in Washington. This legislation -- n...

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Charting Your Future Part 2: Conducting a Strategic Planning Retreat

Charting Your Future Part 2: Conducting a Strategic Planning Retreat

May 12, 2015 by Stan Finkelstein
Category: Management , Council-Commission Advisor

Stan Finkelstein continues his series on strategic planning by describing the role of retreats along with key strategies for conducting them effectively.

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Beyond the Annual Financial Report: Communicating Your Agency

Beyond the Annual Financial Report: Communicating Your Agency's Financial Data

May 12, 2015 by Toni Nelson
Category: Accounting and Internal Controls

As financial reporting to the State Auditor's Office wraps up, Toni Nelson explains some other types of financial reports you should be providing to management and elected officials.

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New Legislation Provides Some Flexibility for County Legislative Bodies as to Meeting Locations

New Legislation Provides Some Flexibility for County Legislative Bodies as to Meeting Locations

May 7, 2015 by Bob Meinig
Category: Legislative Body , 2015 Legislation , Counties


In one bill, the 2015 Legislature addressed the issue considered in a 2014 attorney general opinion that was discussed in a December 2014 MRSC blog post, May a County Legislative Body Meet Outside its County to Hold a Joint Meeting with the Legislative Body of Another County? That attorney general opinion, AGO 2014 No. 7, concluded that, absent specific statutory authority, the legislative authority of one county may not meet outside its borders with the legislative authority of another county. HB 1145 (Ch. 74, Laws of 2015) amends state law to provide that specific statutory authority when the legislative bodies want to address matters of mutual interest.

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Highlights from the 2015 National Planning Conference

Highlights from the 2015 National Planning Conference

May 5, 2015 by Steve Butler
Category:

Last month, over 6,400 planners from across the country came up to Washington State for the National Planning Conference, which took place in Seattle, April 18-21.  MRSC Planning Consultant Steve Butler joined the wonk-filled activities and shares some of his thoughts and highlights from the four-day event.

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Free Statewide Membership to Alliance for Innovation Available through MRSC

Free Statewide Membership to Alliance for Innovation Available through MRSC

April 30, 2015 by Josh Mahar
Category:

Earlier this year we kicked off an exciting initiative to help local governments look toward the future and push into the next level of organizational performance. As part of that initiative, we’ve partnered with the State Auditor’s Office’s Local Government Performance Center, to secure free membership to the Alliance for Innovation for all local governments in Washington. With membership typically costing a jurisdiction between $1,000 and $8,250, this is a truly fantastic opportunity! See below for membership access details.

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Hiring the Right Person Part Four: Screening Your Applicant Pool

Hiring the Right Person Part Four: Screening Your Applicant Pool

April 29, 2015 by Marci Wright
Category: Selection and Recruitment , HR Advisor

This post is the fourth in MRSC's series on the hiring process: Hiring the Right Person

You are a busy manager trying to fill a vacant position. You’ve designed a recruitment plan to attract the strongest candidates available. You advertised the job and you’ve rece...

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A Brief History of the Development and Passage of Clark County

A Brief History of the Development and Passage of Clark County's Home Rule Charter

April 29, 2015 by Nan Henriksen and Steve Foster
Category: Forms of Government-County

At the beginning of 2015, Clark County became Washington's seventh county to adopt a home rule charter. The charter transitioned Clark County's form of government from a traditional commission form to a “council-manager” form, replaced the three-person commission with a five-member council, and provided citizens with the powers of initiative and referendum. The process of adopting a home rule charter was years in the making, including several failed attempts. But in the end, after a diligent process of developing a solid charter, voters approved what they believe to be a stronger, more effective form of government for the county. The following is a brief summary of how Clark County’s citizens developed and passed a home rule charter in the 2014 general election.

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Important New Guidance Issued Regarding Agency Text Messaging

Important New Guidance Issued Regarding Agency Text Messaging

April 24, 2015 by Joe Levan
Category: Public Records Act

If you’re an official or staff member for a local government in Washington State and you sometimes use text messaging to conduct agency business, or you’re thinking about doing so, there are unique legal considerations related to texting that you and your agency need to be aware of. These considerations include possible implications regarding records retention, as well as regar...

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Filling Gaps in your City’s Streetscape

Filling Gaps in your City’s Streetscape

April 23, 2015 by John W. Carpita, PE
Category: Streets and Sidewalks

Your city likely has locations where undeveloped lots are platted, or just exist, without the full range of improvements that are required in today's subdivisions – and now you have folks who want to build on these lots. A likely scenario is that the street serving those lots was once a rural two-lane road without sidewalks, curb and gutter, or storm drains, or that city ordinances at...

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Changes to Washington Law Require Timely and Complete Responses to Unemployment Claims

Changes to Washington Law Require Timely and Complete Responses to Unemployment Claims

April 17, 2015 by Sarah I. Hale
Category: HR Advisor , Termination

In response to a federal mandate requiring states to restructure their unemployment insurance laws, Washington has adopted a new law, which affects how some employers should respond to Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) inquiries regarding a former employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.  Specifically, in 2011, Congr...

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Government of the Future: Introducing the Government Performance Consortium

Government of the Future: Introducing the Government Performance Consortium

April 14, 2015 by Larisa Benson
Category: Management

Government agencies today are not much changed in structure or culture from their predecessors of past decades.  In stark contrast, citizens’ expectations for speed and service accessibility – driven by the information age – exceed most governments’ current capacities.  What does our future look like?

Washington State and her local government jurisdic...

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Joe Levan Takes on New Role as MRSC Lead Attorney as Pat Mason Begins Transition Toward Retirement

Joe Levan Takes on New Role as MRSC Lead Attorney as Pat Mason Begins Transition Toward Retirement

April 13, 2015 by Joe Levan
Category:

As one chapter is coming to an end, another is beginning. After almost 40 years of dedicated service to MRSC, Pat Mason is beginning the transition into retirement. Pat, who’s been a paragon of wisdom and knowledge for MRSC and all those we serve, has decided to retire from his role as manager of our legal team, effective April 13. At that time, Pat’s management role is passing to m...

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Sick Leave Benefits for Local Government Employees, Part 2: Framework for Issue Assessment

Sick Leave Benefits for Local Government Employees, Part 2: Framework for Issue Assessment

April 10, 2015 by Cabot Dow
Category: HR Advisor , Leave Policies

This is part two of a four-part series on the subject of sick leave benefits for local government employees, focusing on identifying issues to think about and questions to discuss regarding paid sick leave benefits.

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Ongoing Public Employer Investigations of Alleged Employee Misconduct: PRA Issues

Ongoing Public Employer Investigations of Alleged Employee Misconduct: PRA Issues

April 8, 2015 by Bob Meinig
Category: Public Records Act

The Washington State Supreme Court issued an interesting decision last week addressing, primarily, whether the names of public employees that are the subject of ongoing investigations of unidentified, alleged misconduct are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act (PRA).

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Communication, Communication, Communication

Communication, Communication, Communication

April 2, 2015 by Bob Jean
Category: Management , Council-Commission Advisor

In real estate or economic development discussions we hear it’s all about location, location, location. When it comes to good governance, whether in Council-Manager or Mayor-Council-Administrator forms of local government, it’s all about communication, communication, communication.

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Holding Two Public Offices – The Doctrine of Incompatible Offices

Holding Two Public Offices – The Doctrine of Incompatible Offices

April 1, 2015 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Legal Principles

We get a lot of questions like this. Is it permissible for a city councilmember to also serve as a police officer for the same city? Can the county clerk be a member of the county’s planning commission? May a hospital district commissioner run for a position on the fire district board?

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Public Management Lessons From A Bond Issue Obstacle Course

Public Management Lessons From A Bond Issue Obstacle Course

March 30, 2015 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

During my time as a city administrator for Enumclaw, one of the projects I worked on was the development of a new library in the heart of town. With land secured, significant community support, and a bond issue ready for voters, I thought the project would be a cakewalk. However, I soon learned that things aren’t always as easy as they appear; getting the project done required maneuvering through an obstacle course of issues. The experience was challenging, but also taught me a number of important lessons about public management.

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Electronic Bidding for Small Public Works Roster Projects

Electronic Bidding for Small Public Works Roster Projects

March 27, 2015 by John W. Carpita, PE
Category: Purchasing and Bidding

In recent months, I’ve been asked about electronic bidding for public works construction projects.  Many Washington State local agencies are interested in using electronic bidding, but they are understandably concerned and cautious about meeting both the intent and letter of public works bidding requirements. With few examples out there, there is a desire for some direction and guidance as to how an agency should approach electronic bidding, if at all. In this post I’ll clarify some of the legal considerations that relate to electronic bidding and showcase a few examples of electronic bidding that have been employed by local governments in other states.

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