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Supreme Court: Fire District Email Policy Violated First Amendment

Supreme Court: Fire District Email Policy Violated First Amendment

February 22, 2018 by Ramsey Ramerman
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Government Advisor

A recent Washington Supreme Court ruling found that the Spokane Valley Fire District's policy prohibiting employees from using department email accounts to send religious messages violated the First Amendment. This post looks at the implications for public agencies statewide. 

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Landslide Hazards: Regulating Them Can Be Hazardous

Landslide Hazards: Regulating Them Can Be Hazardous

February 20, 2018 by Greg Wessel
Category: Critical Areas , Emergency Management

Landslides are common throughout the Pacific Northwest. Regulatory agencies and local governments must do their best to understand and document the hazard potential in their jurisdictions. Guest author Greg Wessel looks at the issue and the role of local government in hazard awareness and mitigation. 

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Recapping the February Election Results

Recapping the February Election Results

February 16, 2018 by Steve Hawley
Category: Elections

Olympia passed the state’s second affordable housing sales tax, the Naches fire district will replace its outdated fire station, and Pullman is passing two bond measures, following uncertainty about whether the measures reached their validation requirements in November.

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ADR? What’s That?

ADR? What’s That?

February 15, 2018 by Linda Gallagher
Category:

Alternative Dispute Resolution offers methods that are considered “alternatives” to litigation, the traditional — and often expensive — form of dispute resolution. In this post Legal Consultant Linda Gallagher discusses two ADR methods: arbitration and mediation.

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The Annual Financial Report for 2017

The Annual Financial Report for 2017

February 12, 2018 by Toni Nelson
Category: Financial Reporting

In this post, Finance Consultant Toni Nelson reviews the changes made by the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) in its annual update to BARS, with a focus on the new annual financial reporting requirements.

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Four Bad Habits to Avoid at Council Meetings

Four Bad Habits to Avoid at Council Meetings

February 9, 2018 by Ann G. Macfarlane
Category: Legislative Body , Council-Commission Advisor

There are a number of “urban myths” about Robert’s Rules of Order that can get in the way of democratic process for your council. If these errors happen at your meetings, address them and improve your processes. 

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Prayer & Pledges—Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Prayer & Pledges—Should You or Shouldn’t You?

February 5, 2018 by Jim Doherty
Category: Legislative Body

Whether to have an invocation (prayer) or a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of a local government meeting is a matter of discretion to be decided by the local government legislative body. Legal Consultant Jim Doherty looks at these issues and provide some background on each. 

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Service Contracting for Personal and Purchased Services

Service Contracting for Personal and Purchased Services

February 1, 2018 by Judy Isaac
Category: Purchasing and Contracting

Agencies have wide latitude in setting their own policies and procedures when it comes to selecting and contracting for personal and purchased services. Public Works Consultant Judy Isaac defines what type of work falls under each service and how that impacts the type of contract used.

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Executive Sessions 101

Executive Sessions 101

January 29, 2018 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Legislative Body

At MRSC, we get many questions regarding executive sessions. Legal Consultant Paul Sullivan addresses some of the more common questions in this blog. 

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Legislature Addresses Whatcom County v. Hirst

Legislature Addresses Whatcom County v. Hirst

January 24, 2018 by Jill Dvorkin
Category: Water Resources , Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations

A new law addressing Whatcom County v. Hirst was recently enacted, providing some clarity and a way in which some development can be permitted in rural areas. Legal Consultant Jill Dvorkin reviews the major points of the legislation in this post. 

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The “Ins and Outs” of School Impact Fees

The “Ins and Outs” of School Impact Fees

January 22, 2018 by Steve Butler
Category: Impact Fees

For many jurisdictions, school impact fees are a potential but underutilized revenue source to help pay for public facilities. This post looks at these fees and the other factors local governments must consider before implementing any.  

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OPMA and PRA Training Requirements for Government Officials

OPMA and PRA Training Requirements for Government Officials

January 17, 2018 by Oskar Rey
Category: Open Public Meetings Act , Public Records Act

This blog post will provide an overview of the OPMA and PRA training requirements for local government officials
and provide resources to obtain training. 

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Introducing Linda Gallagher, MRSC’s Newest Legal Consultant

Introducing Linda Gallagher, MRSC’s Newest Legal Consultant

January 11, 2018 by Linda Gallagher
Category:

We are pleased to welcome Linda Gallagher as our newest MRSC Legal Consultant. 

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Year-End Personnel Topics Pop Quiz

Year-End Personnel Topics Pop Quiz

January 9, 2018 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Compensation , Termination , Leave Policies , Minimum Wage

Take a short quiz to test your memory of some common, personnel-related legal issues as well as new employment laws that came in to or remained in effect in 2017.

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December 2017 Land Use Case Law Update

December 2017 Land Use Case Law Update

January 4, 2018 by Jill Dvorkin
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Land Use Administration

Legal Consultant Jill Dvorkin reviews the top land use cases from the latter half of 2017. These cases were heard by the State Supreme Court and may impact Washington State local governments in the future. 

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Ten Traits of an Effective Councilmember

Ten Traits of an Effective Councilmember

January 2, 2018 by Jon Mutchler
Category: Legislative Body , Administrative and Elected Officials

In this guest-authored blog post, Ferndale Mayor Jon Mulcher reflects on the traits he has witnessed in his career as a public servant that define truly effective councilmembers.

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New JLARC Guidance for PRA Tracking Mandate

New JLARC Guidance for PRA Tracking Mandate

December 21, 2017 by Brooke Frickleton
Category: Public Records Act

This post describes the new public records tracking mandate and a handbook the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee created to help agencies meet this new requirement. 

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Mobile Home Parks: The Newest Front for Housing Affordability

Mobile Home Parks: The Newest Front for Housing Affordability

December 18, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Housing

One under-recognized inventory of affordable housing is the mobile home park. Consultant Lynn Nordby looks at  how communities across the country are protecting this affordable housing resource.

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CPI Changes for Washington Indices Effective January 1

CPI Changes for Washington Indices Effective January 1

December 14, 2017 by Toni Nelson
Category: Economic, Population and Historical Tax Data

On January 1, 2018, the Consumer Price Index will begin to implement its update for sampling areas. Finance Consultant Toni Nelson looks at how this will impact Washington local governments. 

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The Distinction between ‘Legal’ and ‘Ethical’ Behavior

The Distinction between ‘Legal’ and ‘Ethical’ Behavior

December 11, 2017 by Jim Doherty
Category: Ethics and Conflicts of Interest

The line between what is legal and what is ethical is not always clear. Legal Consultant Jim Doherty looks at the definitions of each and the role these concepts play in the public sphere. 

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