COBI Engages State Lobbyist, Finalizes 2024 Legislative Priorities

Over the past couple of year’s Washington State legislative sessions, a wide-ranging slate of house and senate bills have been passed with great impact to local land use, waste reduction, transportation, and utilities. In response to those actions, the City of Bainbridge Island has recently engaged the services of a professional lobbyist, and also set the legislative priority items for that consultant to track and engage with in Olympia.

This is a marked shift from the City’s past history, and one which promises to better connect the island with the rest of the state. It also mean that is well worth taking a few minutes to get to know Briahna Murray and the topics and initiatives she is tasked with advancing on behalf of Bainbridge.

State Legislative Lobbyist: Briahna Murray

briahna murray gordon thomas honeywellBriahna Murray is a Partner at Gordon Thomas Honeywell Government Relations and manages a team of consultants focused on Olympia lobbying. For 15 years, Briahna has advocated on behalf of public agency and nonprofit clients to the Washington State Legislature and the State Executive Branch. Her clients have formally recognized her exceptional service, professionalism, responsiveness, and advocacy.

Through her advocacy for public agencies, she has developed expertise in advocating for issues intersecting with state budgets, tax and finance, growth management, transportation, criminal justice, housing and human services, and more.

Prior to joining Gordon Thomas Honeywell in 2006, Briahna served as legislative staff in the Washington State Senate and in 2005 was commissioned by the State Auditor to research and author a monograph titled A Citizens Advocate: History of the Washington State Auditor’s Office.

Click to read Briahna’s Citizen’s Advocate monograph

Briahna graduated cum laude from Seattle University School of Law, where she also served as a member of Seattle University Law Review. Briahna graduated summa cum laude from Pacific Lutheran University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English-Writing. She now lives in Tacoma, Washington.

The engagement of Briahna and Gordon Thomas Honeywell were officially approved by unanimous 7-0 vote at the October 24, 2023 COBI Council Regular Business Meeting.


City of Bainbridge Island: 2024 Legislative Priorities

For 2024, four areas of focus have been established for the City and its consultant lobbyist. In full, in the city’s own words, the legislative priorities are:

1. Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
The City of Bainbridge Island requests $200,000 as the remaining funding needed to extend a water line to the new Visitor Center at the Japanese Exclusion Memorial. During World War II, Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans became the first in the nation to be forcibly removed from their community and incarcerated. The new Visitor Center project is funded through philanthropic funds raised through the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association (BIJAEMA). Late in project development, it was discovered that a water line needs to be extended to the Visitor Center to meet fire flow and potable water needs. A $200,000 state allocation would provide the remaining funding needed to ensure the water line can be constructed.

2. Affordable and Workforce Housing
At the direction of the Legislature, the Department of Commerce and Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council recently indicated that Bainbridge Island must plan to accommodate 2,000 new homes by 2044. As of 2021, Bainbridge Island workers commuting from areas outside of Bainbridge increased by 51%. The city asks for the state’s partnership to provide 100 housing units on city-owned land to serve households making less than 60% of the area median income. To provide more housing on the Island, the city needs the support and engagement of the state, non-profit housing providers, and other funding partners.

3. Planning for Growth to Meet Unique Local Circumstances
The City of Bainbridge Island is updating its comprehensive plan to outline a vision for how the community will grow over the next 20 years. The city’s comprehensive plan will accommodate Bainbridge Island’s unique local circumstances, such as limited water availability from a designated sole-source aquifer, limited on-island emergency medical facilities, and access to and from the Island being limited to the Agate Pass Bridge, which lacks adequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and unreliable ferry service. As the Legislature enacts new statutes impacting community growth plans, the city requests that the proposals consider communities’ unique local circumstances, be technically sound/implementable within reasonable time frames, and be adequately funded with new resources.

4. Reliable Ferry Service
The City of Bainbridge Island urges the Legislature and the Washington State Department of Transportation to address funding, staffing, and vessel availability to provide reliable ferry service to and from the Island. Inadequate ferry service significantly hinders residents’ quality of life and the island’s workforce and economic vitality

The priorities above are the overview of what COBI would like to see happen at the state legislature next year – those priorities are more widely grounded in and based upon a separate Legislative Policy Document which has also been officially adopted by Council.


City of Bainbridge Island: 2024 Policy Goals & Guidelines

The Bainbridge Island City Council endorses the following policy statements, providing direction to city staff and the city’s lobbyist on those issues important to the Council. Along with the City’s 2024 Legislative Priorities, these statements will guide the City’s engagement in the legislative process.

Climate Action Implementation
The Bainbridge Island City Council has approved a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that identifies specific actions the city may take to address climate change.

The CAP has three overarching goals:

(A) Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 90% by 2045 compared to 2014 levels with interim milestones of 25% reduction by 2025 and 60% by 2035.

(B) Ensure that Bainbridge Island is climate savvy and can withstand the impacts of climate change.

(C) Inspire community action and partner with local and regional organizations to take meaningful and equitable climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.

  • The City Council supports legislative proposals that align with and assist in the implementation of the City’s adopted Climate Action Plan (CAP). Specifically, the city encourages the Legislature to . . .
  • Support allocating funding to cities through either grants or direct distribution, to assist in
    successful implementation of the city’s adopted Climate Action Plan (CAP).
  • Support funding and proposals promoting renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and
    energy conservation, including facilitating Puget Sound Energy (PSE) investing in
  • Support establishing a clean energy navigator program to facilitate consumers and businesses
    accessing clean energy programs and energy audit services.
  • Support implementation of the state building and energy code that is otherwise delayed until March 2024.
  • Support funding and proposals advancing alternative fuel vehicles and associated infrastructure,
    including electric vehicle charging stations and incentives and investments for electrification of
    public and private fleets, including heavy-medium duty fleet components such as school buses.
  • Support legislation establishing a circular economy for recycled goods, including extended
    producer responsibility models and proposals facilitating organic waste management.
  • Support statewide and local planning for climate change resiliency, including mitigating the
    impact of wildfires and potential of sea-level rise. The City supports a specific allocation of $3-6
    million for shoreline roadway climate adaptation mitigation for shoreline repairs

As an island that relies heavily on the Washington State Ferry (WSF) service and the Agate Pass Bridge, the City of Bainbridge Island encourages the state’s strong partnership in facilitating a multimodal and reliable transportation network connecting to the island and throughout the city. On the island, the city maintains 270 lane miles of paved roads and 5 miles of gravel roads.

  • The city encourages the Legislature to:
    Support full funding and reliable operations of the Washington State Ferry System.
  • Support legislation and funding for cities to maintain and preserve local streets and roadways.
  • Support legislation and funding for active transportation methods including investments in public transit, ADA-oriented infrastructure, implementation of complete streets, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
  • Support funding to advance improvements to State Route 305 developed in coordination with regional partners, including:
    • The SR305/Day Road intersection improvements.
    • High School Road and Lovgreen Road intersections.
    • Replacement of the Agate Pass bridge with enhancements for non-motorized transportation and transit.
    • $3-6 million to improve the portion of the Sound to Olympics Trail from Sakai to CopperTop

Land Use & Planning
The City’s Comprehensive Plan establishes a long-range vision for the island. The plan includes goals, policies, maps, actions, and capital improvements that guide the community toward that vision. The Growth Management Act requires the City to update its comprehensive plan in 2024. Additionally, the City is completing a Winslow Subarea Plan update to set the land use and transportation policies within that specific region. As the Legislature considers changes to local planning, the City encourages those efforts to align with and complement the work that is underway.

As such, the City encourages the Legislature to:

  • Support legislation and proposals that facilitate cities meeting population, job, and housing
    targets through additional revenue and incentives, and oppose proposals that otherwise take a
    punitive approach.
  • Oppose legislation that hinders the City’s current efforts to update its comprehensive plan as
    required by the Growth Management Act, including new or changing requirements that would
    require work to be re-done or duplicated.
  • Oppose legislation that removes or preempts the city’s authority over land use decision-making.
    Specifically, the city is concerned with any land use mandates surrounding ferry terminals that
    go into effect prior to having reliable and frequent ferry service. Additionally, the city aims to
    focus density in the Winslow Subarea and neighborhood centers.
  • Support increased funding for planning efforts and oppose any new planning obligations that are
    not accompanied with associated funding.

Affordable Housing
In compliance with legislative direction provided in HB 1220, the city is required to plan to accommodate nearly 2,000 new homes by 2044. The City of Bainbridge Island adopted a Housing Action Plan in June 2023 identifying actions that the city can take to address housing affordability. In 2021, about half of Bainbridge Island’s jobs were in the service industry. Increasingly, this workforce cannot afford to live on the island. Over the last decade, workers commuting from areas outside of Bainbridge increased by 51%.

The city encourages the state to invest heavily in affordable and workforce housing, including the following:

  • Support enhanced flexibility with local housing funds generated through sales tax credits (HB 1406) and sales tax revenues (HB 1590) to allow funds to be spent on a broader range of Area Median Income (AMI) levels that align with the housing needs developed by the Department of Commerce and the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council.
  • Support legislation that provides financial incentivizes to private developers to create affordable
  • Encourage any new state-mandated affordability requirements to be flexible, allowing each city
    to tailor affordability requirements to best meet local market conditions.

Utilities & Infrastructure
The City of Bainbridge Island operates water, sewer, and stormwater utilities. Utility rates recently increased because of historically low rates, inflation, and the need to replace aging utility infrastructure.

The City asks that the state:

  • Support funding and proposals that increase funding for improvements to municipal water and wastewater systems, including $1 million for the planning, design, and construction of wastewater beneficial reuse and $5 million for wastewater plant repairs.
  • Support legislation clarifying that the City is able to assume responsibility for providing solid waste management service without providing payment to a solid waste hauler.
  • Support funding for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit compliance and other mitigation measures and projects to reuse, divert, or treat urban runoff.
  • Support funding for fish-passage culvert replacements and low-impact stormwater retrofit projects.

Public Safety
The City of Bainbridge Island Police Department is committed to maintaining public safety for the community. Additionally, the city operates a Municipal Court.

The city encourages the Legislature to:

  • Oppose legislation which would weaken the authority of local law enforcement to control the issuance of concealed weapon permits.
  • Support legislation that would protect the public from crimes, including identity theft committed by use of computers, the Internet or other electronic means.
  • Support legislation that would provide funds for local law enforcement technology.
  • Support legislation to allow flexible work policies and part-time commissioned officers to increase officer recruitment and retention.

Local Government Finance & General Government
The city’s 2023-24 budget reflects a commitment to maintain and provided resources for obligations for previous commitments, rather than taking on new commitments. The City’s primary source of revenue for the general fund is property tax, followed by sales tax. The City has approximately 140 positions – nearly 14 positions less than in 2008.

The City requests that the state support fiscal structure that is equitable and sustainable, and that it refrain from approving unfunded mandates.

  • Support funding and legislation to provide full cost reimbursement to cities for all state-mandated programs and responsibilities.
  • Support legislation that increases local revenues or improves cities’ ability to generate revenue,
    including new taxing authority that can be imposed through a vote of the city council and
    updating the cap on property tax growth to reflect inflationary growth.
  • Oppose legislation that would result in reduced revenue for the City of Bainbridge Island.
  • Oppose legislation that increases employee benefits without system reforms which would offset
    increased employer costs.

The unanimous approval of The City of Bainbridge Island’s official Legislative Policy, and 2024 Top Legislative Priorities was granted at the Council Regular Business Meeting on November 28, 2023

Stay tuned for further updates as the 60-day 2024 WA State Legislative Session gets underway on January 8, 2024…