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Three local governments form partnership on state issues

Legislative Group

Top officials from the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County and the Port of Bellingham are working together to promote shared goals for the 2013 legislative session.

This year – for the first time – the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County and the Port of Bellingham have developed a shared set of legislative priorities and contracted with a government affairs firm to represent local issues in Olympia during this important two-year budget writing legislative session.

“When we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder and demonstrate our shared interests, we are much more effective,” said Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws. “Our state delegation made it clear that they appreciate our efforts to bring forward one set of priorities.”

“This partnership is possible because we've worked hard to collaborate on many community issues," said Mayor Kelli Linville. “During my time in the Legislature, I always preferred when people, organizations, and agencies worked together."

Early in the legislative session, Louws, Linville and Port Executive Director Rob Fix spent a day in Olympia meeting with all legislative members of the 40th and 42nd districts, as well as with other legislators. The trip focused on discussing the shared county/city/port objectives, learning about the budget issues and commenting on legislation that may impact the local community.

“We know the state is facing a challenging budget and we think this is a way to be efficient and effective,” Fix said. “Plus our whole community benefits from our discussions in developing a shared agenda.”

The shared set of legislative priorities includes eight top issues regarding general budget funding, retaining Public Works Trust funding for city and county projects, retaining Model Toxic Control Act environmental cleanup funding, gaining approval for a fourth Superior Court Judge, and other issues.

In January, the three governments approved an Interlocal Agreement and collaborated in a competitive selection process that resulted in the city contracting with McBride Public Affairs. Each government will pay $30,000 for the annual government affairs services.

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Published:  February 7, 2013

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