Regional lawmakers win Association of Washington Cities awards

OLYMPIA — Two state lawmakers from Sequim have been named 2018 City Championship Award recipients by the Association of Washington Cities.

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege and Rep. Steve Tharinger, both Democrats, were among the 14 lawmakers to be honored by the Association of Washington Cities (AWC).

The awards acknowledge those who championed critical city issues during the 2018 legislative session, according to a AWC news release.

The association plans to award and thank Van De Wege and Tharinger in person in their communities sometime during the spring or summer, AWC government relations advocate Carl Schroeder said in a phone interview.

Both lawmakers represent — along with Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles — Legislative District 24, which covers Jefferson and Clallam counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

Water for growth

Van De Wege — along with Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien; Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee; and Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake— was recognized for leadership in the Hirst and Foster decisions “fix” legislation — Senate Bill 6091 — “Securing Water for Future Growth.”

Sponsoring the bill was Van De Wege, a Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee chair.

His work was seminal to bringing about a bipartisan compromise in which access to a sufficient water supply — in accordance to instream flow rules — is ensured to all cities, according to Schroeder.

The bill was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Jan. 19.

The main goal is for municipalities to chose and develop a legal structure, provided by the bill, to help water’s role as a tool for communities’ growth, Schroeder said.

Van De Wege will oversee the pilot program as a task force member to review the results of the bill’s project, Schroeder said.

Public Works Trust Fund

Tharinger — along with accordance Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis; Rep. Beth Doglio, D-Olympia; Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline; and Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver — was recognized for leading a legislative work group to reform the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF).

The PWTF was established in the mid-1980s to create low-interest funding for basic infrastructure statewide.

In 2009, the recession hit and the state Legislature funneled funding to other needs, Schroeder said.

In 2017, the PWTF was at risk of being eliminated from the 2018 budget, according to the release.

Tharinger joined a bipartisan subcommittee to make reforms focusing on small communities, which in turn became House Bill 1677, Schroeder said.

The award was granted to Tharinger for the bill being passed and his leadership and work across the aisle to support smaller communities’ access to infrastructure support, Schroeder said.

Four organizations — Washington State Associstion of Counties, Building Industry Association of Washington, Washington Realtors and Washington Farm Bureau — also won the award this year.

The AWC is an Olympia-based organization advocating for the state’s 281 cities and towns. This is its fifth annual round of awards, according to the release.

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