Welcome to Kieran's Corner! This is my monthly newsletter update that contains summaries of Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Government Action and Transportation Committee meetings. I also will include coverage of meetings of City Council, the Spokane County Commissioners, and other special events!
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Jan. 8 AWB Transportation Listening Tour - Spokane Region

Mike Ennis, Government Affairs Director of Transportation and Environmental Policy for the Association of Washington Business (AWB), conducted a statewide listening tour to present information about a potential transportation package expected this session and to learn about transportation issues affecting different regions in the state. On the penultimate stop of his month-long trip, Ennis met with a group of Spokane-area advocates to get a pulse on what projects are important to our community and how we can work together. After hearing the presentation from Ennis, our group determined that, since there are no major projects identified in our region, we may have to get a head start on trying to secure Maintenance & Preservation funds to keep our infrastructure and roads up-to-date. From a Spokane Valley perspective, Ennis suggested focusing on the 'Bridging the Valley' projects and how to once again rally behind it as one project with a series of phases. Ennis suggested that may be an effective means of securing more funding for the individual grade-separations because it will compete directly dollar-wise and in terms of regional impact with projects in the I-5 corridor that are also seeking funds.
To view items that are tentatively included in this potential package, select the button below.
Jan. 8 Spokane Valley City
Council Meeting
Council had its first meeting of 2019 on January 8th. Council had discussion and votes regarding: mixed-use development; an interlocal agreement with WSDOT; and Councilmember committee assignments for 2019.
Ordinance 19-001 adjusts regulations for development in mixed-use zones identified in the Spokane Valley Municipal Code. Council voted on an amendment to this ordinance during its second reading after the release of the Planning Commission’s recommendations. Of its many recommendations for codified changes, one item that was rather contentious was a requirement for developers to add 210 square-foot per dwelling unit in mixed-use zones if the units are not within a quarter mile of a park or trail network. In a 4-3 vote, Council struck this item from the ordinance, citing support for developers, property rights, child safety, improving density development, and beautification of areas immediately surrounding major arterials.
Next, Council approved an interlocal agreement with WSDOT that will have the City receive $900,000 to conduct design planning for a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Barker and Cataldo Ave. to improve this Westbound I-90 interchange.
Lastly, Council approved its committee assignments for 2019. This list can be reached by selecting the button below.
Jan. 14 Government Action
2019 Olympia Fly-In (Jan. 23-24)
Our January 14th Government Action meeting began with a presentation and policy consideration request from BNSF Railways. BNSF is seeking a letter of support from the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce to use during an upcoming hearing with the U.S. Coast Guard as they look to add a second rail bridge across Lake Pend Oreille, parallel to the sole existing bridge. The rail company has announced that they will be fully-financing this bridge and some related infrastructure improvements at Bridge St. and Sand Creek in Sandpoint, ID. BNSF is seeking to complete this project to reduce congestion at this choke point on their corridor from Chicago to Western Washington ports, which is one of their busiest routes. Our Committee was told that more efficient flow of trains through this corridor would reduce delays at-grade crossings because trains moving westbound could be backed up by eastbound trains at this segment of the railway, which could result in multiple westbound trains having to come through Spokane Valley at the same time. Our Committee voted in support. BSNF’s request was forwarded to the Board of Directors and subsequently was approved at the January 23rd Chamber Board meeting.
Following the BNSF policy consideration, Chris Cargill, Eastern Washington Director for the Washington Policy Center gave a presentation about his organization’s call for the Legislature to make a statewide sales tax cut during the 2019 Legislative Session. Citing the 2019-2021 revenue forecast, Chris explained that the State is expecting to bring in around $50 billion, which is an increase of over 75% from $28.5 billion in revenue ten years ago. In Washington, the state sales tax has not seen a reduction since 1982, and with the decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. , it was ruled that states can now collect sales tax on online purchases. This will further add to the increasing revenues of the state, and an argument for a reduction in the sales tax, since it will soon have comprehensive application. If you were unable to attend or want to review the materials Chris provided again, you can read more on this recommendation by WPC by following this LINK .
Our team was part of a delegation of advocates from our region that descended upon Olympia for a two-day trip to meet with elected officials during the second week of the 2019 Legislative Session. We were fortunate to hear committee updates on issues like Transportation, Economic Development, Health Care, and Capital/Operating Budgets. We also heard from some other key elected officials, including Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the respective caucus leaders from both parties in the House and Senate.
Jan. 31 Transportation Committee Meeting
Karl Otterstrom, Director of Planning with Spokane Transit Authority (STA), was the speaker for our January Transportation Committee meeting. Karl highlighted STA's completed projects and upcoming major projects, including the Central City Line, the Division High-Performance Transit Study, and their I-90 corridor plans in the Valley.
Condo Liability Reform Update
In October, our Government Action Committee and Board of Directors approved a policy consideration request to join a coalition of regional partners advocating for condominium liability reform in Washington state. On January 15th, the second day of the 2019 Session, 4th District Senator Mike Padden unveiled Senate Bill 5219, which addresses condominium liability for developers. Senator Padden's bill has broad bipartisan support, with nearly half of the Senate on board as co-sponsors. This bill has been referred to the Senate Law & Justice Committee, on which Senator Padden is the Ranking Minority Member. His colleague and chair of the committee, Senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43), is also a co-sponsor of this bill. Another very similar bill SB 5334 (and its companion, HB 1306), sharing many of the same sponsors, is also gaining a lot of traction so keep your eyes on it as well.
The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to support the Spokane Valley Fire Department's four-year Maintenance and Operations Levy. This levy will supply more that 50% of the department's annual budget which includes day-to-day operations as well as capital projects. The levy will be on the February 12th ballot Learn More
Coming up in February...
Feb. 11th - Our Government Action Committee will be meeting on this date at MultiCare Valley Hospital from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Our program will feature updates from: Alex Scott, Eastern Washington Director for Senator Maria Cantwell; John Culton, Eastern Washington Director for Senator Patty Murray; and Traci Couture, District Director for Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. This is an event you will not want to miss. RSVP NOW!
Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce
1421 N. MeadowWood Ln, Ste. 10
Liberty Lake, WA 99019