Legislative Agenda

  1. Key Issues
  2. Support/Oppose & Track/Monitor

Top Priority Issues -- Impacting Fife Directly

Transportation – Expedite SR 167/SR 509; Port of Tacoma Road Phase II; I-5/54th Gateway

Fife appreciates the leadership and actions of its 25th District delegation – and the Legislature as a whole – to make transformational investments in critical projects such as the SR 167/SR 509 “Gateway” project and Port of Tacoma Road improvements as part of the recent “Connecting Washington” package.  This is vital for a small city that has finite local resources yet faces the big-city challenges of adjoining a major port, being bisected by a freeway (Interstate 5) that runs from Canada to Mexico and having a state route (SR 99) that lies in close proximity to I-5. For the 2019 Session of the Legislature, Fife has identified three transportation priorities to make progress on with its area lawmakers:

  • Port of Tacoma Road Interchange Improvements (Phase II):  This summer saw the ground-breaking of Phase I of the POT improvements, which will include a new road to segregate vehicle and freight traffic and reduce the significant queues that occur between the Port access road and I-5.  Phase II will involve interchange ramps that will significantly benefit not only freight traffic but overall traffic flow for I-5 and the State of Washington.  The City requests that the Legislature include up to $20 million in POT Road Phase II funding – toward a projected $55 million overall cost – in whatever next revenue package or ‘mini-package’ it may move forward with in 2019.
  • SR 167/SR 509:  Fife strongly supports options put forth by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to expedite and streamline the construction of the Gateway project rather than have it stretch over a decade and a half.  Along with supporting early project delivery, the City also supports legislative authorization to use toll lanes in certain areas to help finance the full project cost.  Lastly, Fife supports ongoing budget-proviso language to ensure that any project cost-savings are invested directly back into the Gateway project;
  • I-5/54th Avenue Gateway Beautification:  Fife has signed an Inter-Local Agreement (ILA) with WSDOT that enables the City to take a primary role in adding gateway features and signage to enhance the appearance of the I-5/54th interchange that serves as a major entry point and gateway into the community.  The overall cost of these improvements is estimated at $900,000 and the City requests that the Legislature allocate $300,000 in the 2019-21 Transportation budget toward cost-sharing of these gateway upgrades.  The state’s investment would cover 1/3 of the project cost, while Fife ($350,000) and the “South Sound Proud” coalition ($250,000) would contribute 2/3rds.

Continuation of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) Mitigation in Operating Budget

 When the 2017 Legislature directed that SST Mitigation sunset in October 2019, it did so with the expectation that a new “Marketplace Fairness Act” initiative, which involves new sales tax payments from out-of-state sellers, would equal or exceed any loss for jurisdictions that had been receiving mitigation payments. In fact, a Department of Revenue (DOR) study directed by the 2017 Legislature demonstrates that for as many as a dozen cities, that will not be the case.  Fife will thus join the City of Kent, the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) and others in a priority effort to secure ongoing Operating Budget funds for SST Mitigation payments – albeit at a reduced level than previous biennia.  The SST Mitigation funding represents as much as $536,000 a year for the City of Fife.

2019 Key Priorities – Fife joining other cities and coalitions

Economic Development Incentives 

In 2019, Fife will support legislation initiated by AWC and individual cities to provide economic development and economic recruitment tools to local communities.  In 2018, the Legislature considered – but did not enact – a bill to revive the “Local Revitalization Financing” (LRF) tool extended to cities.  The tool involves the use of state sales tax credit dollars, matched by local funds, to make lasting infrastructure improvements that fuel economic development.  The tool is designed to enable Washington to capture investments that otherwise would not have occurred at all, or certainly would not have occurred as soon or as expansively, without the financing mechanism.  For Fife, which controls 12 developable acres nestled between the Sound Transit Phase 3 (“ST3”) light-rail line and the Port of Tacoma, this tool could be extremely helpful.

Funding to Address Public Safety and Mental Health Issues

Fife will actively support coalition efforts to:

  • Ensure Operating Budget funding that allows a “base budget” level of 19 Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) training classes at the Academy in Burien;
  • Enhance funding for the “Mental Health Field Response Teams” program enabling law enforcement officers to partner with mental health professionals to point those with mental health issues toward facilities and services vs. incarceration;
  • Provide Operating Budget dollars for training and robotics at the Washington State Crime Lab so that the Washington State Patrol can make meaningful progress on a backlog of 6,000 sexual assault/rape kits which need to be tested to help solve criminal investigations at the local level.

Funding and Tools for Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention

 Fife will strongly support likely 2019 legislation to enhance existing funding sources and add new tools to help local communities add affordable housing units and address the growing homelessness crisis.  Specifically, the City will support legislative initiatives to:

  • Provide cities and counties new tools and options to address affordable housing and homelessness capital facilities. Specifically, that will include a renewed effort to provide state sales tax credits for affordable housing (SHB 2437) and possibly a sales tax remittance tool for housing/homeless facilities (SHB 1797) that is available to cities with a population of 45,000 or fewer;
  • Allocate up to $200 million for the Housing Trust Fund in the 2019-21 Capital Budget.

 Address Fiscal & Local Resource Needs, Preserve State-Shared Revenues

Fife urges lawmakers to look at cities and counties as partners rather than ‘stakeholders’ – particularly by collaborating with local governments on maintaining and restoring “state-shared” revenues and by giving those same local governments tools to better manage resource needs.  Specifically, the City will work with others to ensure protection of state-shared revenues and existing distributions that are vital to helping cities meet their obligations.  These include liquor, marijuana, and municipal criminal justice assistance.

Protection of local rights-of-way/local authority in deployment of small cell (“5G”) technology

Fife applauds the development of a new small-cell wireless technology, known as “5G,” to further enhance the ability of individuals and businesses to communicate instantly in a nation and world that is increasingly dependent on this type of 21st Century capability.  The City also supports efforts to standardize and streamline the permitting process for 5G.  However, Fife strongly opposes legislation that would undermine local rights-of-way authority, local control, and the ability of cities and PUDs to recover fair market value for use of valuable right-of-way.