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MRSC Insight Blog

A vendor stall at an outdoor market featuring produce, cut flowers, and potted plants

Planning for Local Food Systems: A Whatcom County Case Study, Part 2

After extensive planning and community engagement, Whatcom County is developing a comprehensive local food system plan. See Part 2 of the series on the plan's development and lessons learned.

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Military honor guard marching and presenting the U.S., Canadian, Washington, Oregon and MIA/POW flags

Flag Display: Requirements, Protocols, and More

While there are no federal requirements to fly the U.S. flag, state law does require several types of local governments (and state agencies) to fly the U.S. and Washington State flags, and, for some entities, the POW/MIA flag as well. 

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A close up of handcuffs set against illegal drugs

New Law on Drug Possession, Use Takes Effect July 1, 2023

After being called back to a special session, the Washington State Legislature passed SB 5536, also known as the Blake Fix, adding a new statewide law on drug use and possession, with most provisions taking effect on July 1, 2023.

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A close up of rows of berries at the Whatcom County Farmer's Market

Planning for Local Food Systems: A Whatcom County Case Study, Part 1

What is a local food system plan and why would a local government want to develop one? Whatcom County is one of a few local governments statewide developing such a plan, and county staff share insight into the process. 

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Many hands in a multitude of colors surround and stretch towards the earth

Centering Equity in Climate Plans and Programs

As new legislation (HB 1181) has added equity components to the Growth Management Act, it is essential to understand what climate equity means and how it is successfully being carried out by local governments across the state.

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A voter putting their ballot into a mailbox

Recapping the February and April 2023 Ballot Measure Results

Regional fire authorities, fire district mergers, hospital funding, and a regional crisis care center network were some of the local ballot measures that appeared before voters in the February and April special elections.

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A thermometer showing a temperature of 100+ against a background of an urban street

Protecting Communities When the Heat Is On

How can local agencies prepare for extreme heat events, including protecting those populations most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and death? By looking carefully at how heat impacts various neighborhoods, an agency can take a variety of approaches to maximize services. 

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Two officials sitting at a dais during an open public meeting as seen through the lens of a video camera

Practical Tips for Holding Hybrid Meetings

After years of practice during the pandemic, local governments have become accustomed to holding hybrid public meetings, but that doesn't mean the process is always seamless. Fortunately many have developed procedures and methods to address the most common problems.

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Close up of person's hand checking off a square box on virtual interface while working on a laptop

Clarifications for Filing the Notice of Completion

It can sometimes be confusing to know which contracts require an agency file a Notice of Completion with the DOL, L&I, and the ESD, especially if the contract involves purchased services or public works. 

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A large social gathering in front of a row of food trucks at an outdoor park at dusk.

Food Trucks Have Arrived: What Are the Regulatory and Policy Options?

Food trucks have gained in popularity over the years, but what options do local jurisdictions have in determining how, where, when, and under what conditions food trucks can be operated within their communities?

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During a meeting of a small group around a table, one of the members puts his head down on the table because he is dismayed at what is happening.

Four Bad Habits Governing Bodies Should Avoid When Meeting

Whether it's due to heightened emotions or misunderstanding how to apply Roberts Rules, meetings of public agencies can sometimes go awry. Guest author and Parliamentarian Ann Macfarlane provides some procedural tips to governing bodies seeking more effective meetings. 

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Rights and Limits on Filming in Public Facilities

Rights and Limits on Filming in Public Facilities

First Amendment Audits, when a person records an interaction with a government official or staff member, can be uncomfortable at best, and possibly even veer into harassment. How can an agency ensure the safety of staff without violating the First Amendment Rights of the auditor?

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A close up of a model of a building against scattered coins, keys, and a calculator,  representing a landlord renting property

Should You Be Collecting Leasehold Excise Tax?

Does your local government lease property to an individual, business, nonprofit, or another local or state government? If so, your agency should be collecting and reporting leasehold excise tax to the Washington Department of Revenue.

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A crowd is gathered and sitting on the grass while a band plays in a covered area at the Seattle Center

Summer Festivals and Risk Management

Summer festivals are a great way for local governments to bring people together but agencies should first undertake a variety of risk management steps to protect attendees, ensure smooth and efficient event operations, and make room for improvements for the following year.

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Shows a group of social media icons against a table at which two people are working; one on a cell phone and another on an iPad.

Social Media Policy Questions for Local Governments to Answer

Establishing effective social media policies requires your agency consider a number of questions, from what is the communications-related goal of using these tools to how the agency might address personal use of social media sites by employees and elected officials. 

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Two gold wedding rings on a stack of US $100 dollar bills

Conflict of Interest and the Spouse

Contractual situations involving spouses or partners of local government officials can present complications that are not immediately apparent, and so elected officials and governing bodies should tread carefully.

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The ladder of a toy firetruck leans against a tall stack of coins

Multi-Year Levy Lid Lifts: A Tool for Coping with Inflation?

Inflation is at a 40-year high, but property tax revenues are limited to a 1% increase each year. Multi-year levy lid lifts can help local governments cope with these inflationary pressures — but will voters approve them? Let’s look at the data.

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A red button on a yellow box labeled emergency

Emergency Powers in Washington State, Post COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic local governments operated under a series of emergency orders, some of which drew legal challenges. As these proclamations have ended, now is a good time to look at what happened to the challenges, and how (or if) they affected emergency powers.

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Stack of wooden blocks with green images of net-zero and other climate actions

Implementation Strategies for Climate Action and Sustainability Plans, Part 1

Local governments have been using various strategies to help implement their climate action and sustainability plans, including working with community partners, tracking progress on climate-related goals, and engaging residents through educational programs and incentives.

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View of a little public park with trees and greenery along Seattle's city hall exterior

For More Equitable and Livable Cities, Consider Trees

As cities and other urban areas in Washington State continue to grow and change, an urban forestry management plan can provide a coordinated, long-term vision for managing the urban tree canopy to ensure the continued livability of local communities.

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