Council considers priorities for 2023 legislative session
The next state legislative session is still several months away but the Clark County Council is already working on its list of priorities for next year. Lindsey Hueer, senior policy analyst for the county, presented a list of priorities by tier during Wednesday’s council meeting. The tiers were Clark County specific priorities, Washington State Association of Counties-backed priorities and others.
“We want to make sure we’re in a position to help and support those priorities that matter to Clark County,” Hueer said.
Among the county-specific priorities is funding to complete Vancouver Lake’s management plan and expanding the Criminal Justice Training Center. Hueer said early estimates from the county’s consultants places the cost for completing the lake management plan around $250,000 to $300,000.
“As Councilor (Gary) Medvigy discussed, one of the potential expansion locations is in the Southwest Washington area. There’s a question out there of whether or not we could use Camp Bonneville,” Hueer said.
Medvigy said having a training academy in the region would be a great benefit to the county.
“We will benefit more if it’s in Vancouver or Camp Bonneville or some place close in Clark County,” Medvigy said. “It will be an influx of jobs, an influx of construction, it will bring us tax dollars but more importantly it will be a huge recruiting tool for our local law enforcement agencies.”
Other county-specific priorities are funding to mitigate the cost to the county for the state’s 2019 commercial building green energy requirements, some of which will go into effect in July 2023, and continued grant funding for homeless shelters.
Priorities that align with the Washington State Association of Counties include funding for the county jail; newly enacted housing requirements as well as potential climate change bill requirements under the Growth Management Act; and preserving and increasing Foundational Public Health Services funding.
Other priorities included a third bridge corridor, supporting law enforcement reforms from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and the Prosecuting Attorney’s office civil services provided to the county council.
Because the council had previously discussed expanding access to broadband internet, County Manager Kathleen Otto suggested adding it to the list as well.
As it is unlikely the county will be able to focus on all of these priorities in a single year, Hueer suggested the council narrow the list to the top three or four priorities.
“This is a great list. I wish we could address them all but I’m not sure how our lobbyist can adequately address them all,” Medvigy said. “I support them all. I’d at least like to see all these areas discussed even if there’s no traction in some of them.”
The council will again review the priorities at a meeting closer to the start of the legislative session in January.
— Shari Phiel