MRSC Insight Blog
Posts for Bob Meinig
A violation of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) can result in a number of consequences, one of which is a monetary penalty for each member of a governing body who attends a meeting knowing that it is being held in violation of the OPMA. To deter OPMA violations, the Legislature increased the existing $100 civil penalty, effective June 9, 2016, to $500 for a first violation and $1,000 for each successive violation.
In 2016, the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, AFDI v. King County, refusing to enjoin King County Metro’s 2013 rejection of an ad, titled “Faces of Global Terrorism,” for display on its buses. This action by the Court will likely be significant for local governments as they consider the extent to which they can enact and enforce similar restrictions.
In a short, unanimous opinion issued last week, the Washington Supreme Court concluded that a municipality – a city or county – can be held liable for hazardous conditions on its roads created by naturally occurring roadside vegetation.
The Washington State Supreme Court last week, in Citizens Alliance v. San Juan County, finally confronted head-on the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) issue of when a committee of a governing body “acts on behalf of” the governing body so as to have to comply with the OPMA. It did so by adopting, in a 6-3 decision, the reasoning of a 1986 attorney general opinion, concluding, among other things, that the OPMA does not apply to purely advisory committees of a governing body. The court’s opinion also touches on related OPMA issues that merit attention.
The 2015 Legislature enacted legislation (SSB 5795) providing municipalities (defined for this purpose as cities, towns, counties, and drainage districts) the authority to initiate an assessment reimbursement area to finance all the costs of a water or sewer improvement and to become the sole beneficiary of the reimbursements.
Under chapter 35.13A RCW, a city council may, by resolution or ordinance, assume jurisdiction of (basically, take over) all or part of a water-sewer district, with the extent of that assumption of jurisdiction based on how much of the area or assessed value of the district lies within the city.
Cannabis Action Coalition v. City of Kent upheld the constitutionality of the city of Kent’s ordinance banning collective gardens as a valid exercise of the city’s zoning authority. But new legislation is replacing collective gardens with medical marijuana "cooperatives."
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.
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).
What are "land use control ordinances" in the context of vesting for subdivision and short subdivision applications? The phrase is not defined by statute, but court decisions provide some insight.
On January 1, 2015, the misdemeanor caseload limits for public defense attorneys adopted by the Washington State Supreme Court in the new Standards for Indigent Defense take effect.
A Chelan County judge upheld Wenatchee’s moratorium on the issuance of permits for marijuana production and sales and its provision that business licenses may not be issued for activities that are unlawful under federal law.
Every once in a while we get asked how property may be “de-annexed” – removed from city boundaries. This rarely occurs, because it's a lot easier in Washington State for property to get annexed to a city than it is for the opposite to occur.
In Potala Village Kirkland, LLC v. City of Kirkland (August 25, 2014), Division I of the state court of appeals issued a significant decision regarding the vested rights doctrine. The court held that the doctrine is entirely statutory, with the statutory doctrine replacing, rather than supplementing, the common law (court-made) vested rights doctrine. In the first sentence of its...
In my June 10 blog post, New Laws that Affect City/Town Annexations, I discussed the implications of 2013 legislation, SSB 5444, which amended RCW 84.40.175 to eliminate the requirement that county assessors annually value tax-exempt government-owned properties. I interpreted the practical result of this legislation as being that government-owned property will no longer count towards the 100...
In a decision issued today (5/20/2014), Division III of the state court of appeals decided that a code city has the legal authority to impose its utility tax on the revenues of a public utility district's provision of water service to customers within the city limits, except to the extent that the district's revenues "were derived from governmental activities." The court's decision in
Recognizing that, “whether due to error or ignorance, violations of the public records act and open public meetings act are very costly for state and local governments,” the Legislature enacted and the Governor signed ESB 5964 (Laws of 2014, ch. 66), named the “Open Government Trainings Act.” This new law, effective on July 1, 2014, mandates that persons filling certain state and local...
I often come across misconceptions that local government officials have regarding the nature of a city or county right-of-way – the improved part termed a “street” if located in a city and a “road” if located in the unincorporated county. These misconceptions center on the issue of ownership.
A federal district court judge ruled on December 4th that the public defense systems provided by the cities of Burlington and Mount Vernon violated the U.S. Constitution's Sixth Amendment guarantee of effective assistance of legal counsel to indigent persons charged with crimes.