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State Legislative Agenda

The 2020 City of Tacoma State Legislative Agenda

These are the 2020 State Legislative priorities for the City of Tacoma as adopted by the Tacoma City Council on December 10, 2019.


State Legislative Priorities and Detailed Agenda Information 


General Government Priorities


Northwest ICE Processing Center

The Northwest ICE Processing Center, located in the Tacoma Tideflats, is an immigration detention facility operated by GEO Group, a for-profit corporation that contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The City Council shares concern expressed by the Tacoma community for the health, safety, and welfare of detainees held in the facility.  The City joins other stakeholders in requesting the State Legislature to take immediate action to address these concerns:


Clarification that the NW ICE Processing Center is not an Essential Public Facility

In 2018, the City implemented local zoning regulations that prevent the Northwest ICE Processing Center from expanding to accommodate additional detainee capacity. GEO group has legally challenged these regulations, arguing that the Center is an essential public facility. The City requests that the Legislature clarify that privately-operated detention facilities are not essential public facilities, thereby resolving the litigation and upholding the local zoning regulations.


Regulatory Oversight & Ban of Privately-Operated Detention

The City supports efforts to immediately bring transparency, accountability, and oversight to the operations of the Northwest ICE Processing Center and eliminate privately operated detention centers as an immigration enforcement option in Washington State.

Affordable Housing

Enhanced Tools to Achieve Affordable Housing Action Strategy Goals

The City adopted an Affordable Housing Action Strategy to create new housing, keep existing housing affordable, help community members stay in current housing, and reduce barriers to individuals accessing housing. The City requests that the State Legislature provide the City Council with enhanced tools for achieving the goals of the Affordable Housing Action Strategy, including local option funding mechanisms for the city-operated Housing Trust Fund and expansion of the multi-family property tax exemption for units that are retained as affordable housing. Additionally, the City will monitor legislation that makes amendments to the Residential Landlord Tenant Act, including just-cause eviction.


Street Maintenance and Preservation

Prior to the passage of I-976, the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) released a report on city transportation revenue and highlighted Tacoma as a case study. The JTC report states that Tacoma’s street maintenance backlog is approximately four times the size of its annual budget. This need is further exacerbated by the passage of I-976, which the City anticipates will reduce revenue by $2.9 million a year, or 12% of the City’s street maintenance budget. The City requests that the Legislature provide enhanced tools for cities to meet local street maintenance needs, including councilmanic local options.


Passenger-Only Ferry Service

Authorization for the city to provide passenger-only ferry service, allowing the City to proceed forward with developing a passenger-only ferry investment plan. The development of this plan would advance forward simultaneous to the completion of the PRSC regional study on passenger-only ferry service.


Project Requests

As the Legislature develops a revenue package, the City requests that the following projects receive funding:

  • $650,000 to complete the Access Revision Report to provide an offramp from I-5 to the Tacoma Mall Regional Center
  • $110 million to fund the $140 million effort to complete improvements to Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge
  • The City requests additional funding to construct the Schuster Parkway Promenade. To finalize project vision, the City requests that $1 million of the $4 million appropriated be advanced:
    • Current: $2 million in 2021-23 and $2 million in 2023-25.
    • Request: $3 million in 2021-23 and $1 million in 2023-25.

Tacoma Dome Investments

The City requests that the State Legislature allocate $2 million in capital funding to renovate the men’s and women’s restrooms and kitchen at the Tacoma Dome.


Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) Priorities


Tacoma Power

Carbon Reduction Policies

Washington lawmakers have indicated that they will continue to focus on legislative solutions aimed at decarbonizing Washington State’s economy. TPU will actively engage in and seek to support proposals that decarbonize the economy at reasonable costs to customers and that appropriately acknowledge and credit hydropower as a carbon-free generating resource. 


Support Equal Treatment of Hydropower

Tacoma Power customers have invested in renewable, carbon-free hydroelectric generating facilities for decades. These facilities will continue to require significant reinvestment to ensure their future safe and reliable operation. During the 2019 Legislative Session, other renewable generating resources were given special tax treatment. TPU will continue to advocate for consistent tax treatment or alternative approaches that support equal treatment of all renewable, carbon-free resources.

Tacoma Water

Support the Public Works Trust Fund

More than 6.2 million Washington State residents, 85 percent of the state's population, get their drinking water from public water systems. Nationally, $4.8 trillion needs to be invested over the next 20 years to support a resilient system and keep up with aging water infrastructure. The Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) is a crucial funding program for many communities around our state providing low-interest loans to help maintain vital public infrastructure.  TPU supports public water systems and city partners in their request to fully restore funding to the PWTF.


Support Improvements to the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act

The Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act, also referred to as the "Call Before You Dig Law," governs safe excavation practices near underground utility facilities. TPU supports the interim work of the Dig Law Safety Committee to bring forward four changes to update the current law.


Tacoma Rail

Support Funding for East End Locomotive Facility 

The State of Washington administers both a grant program and a loan program designed to support freight rail capital needs. Tacoma Rail has applied for one project under the Freight Rail Assistance Program. If awarded, the funds would be used to help update the East End Locomotive Facility.