City council eyes 2024 with approval of State Legislative Priorities

Seven major issues are emblazoned on the city of Mercer Island’s 2024 State Legislative Priorities final document, which city council adopted on the consent agenda at its Nov. 7 regular meeting.

The document outlines the city’s legislative needs for the next year, and it will advocate for these myriad issues:

Increase resources for behavior health and substance use disorder treatment and prevention; support for affordable housing; support public safety measures on auto theft and property crime; capital and grant support for essential public services; preserving and protecting the environment; opposition to expansion of tort law liability; and revising the property tax cap.

“Establishing these priorities allows the city to engage with legislators directly, quickly and efficiently on issues that impact Mercer Island and our region,” the city noted.

Also noted in the document, the city will provide priorities support for its partnering organizations the Association of Washington Cities and the Washington Cities Insurance Authority. The city also partners with A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH).

“We work with other organizations in developing legislative asks. It helps strengthen our asks and it helps when we work together toward a common goal,” said Merrill Thomas-Schadt, the city’s senior management analyst, at council’s Oct. 17 regular meeting during a review of the draft legislative strategy.

Here’s a brief rundown of a few of the city’s approved priorities, which can be viewed in full at:

The city advocates for increased prevention and intervention resources targeting fentanyl and other substances. On Oct. 4, Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (YFS) hosted the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “One Pill Can Kill” presentation focused on fentanyl awareness.

In a previous Reporter article, YFS Administrator Derek Franklin noted: “I have heard from parents of kids of all ages with legitimate concern about fentanyl and recommend they attend this event to educate themselves about the risks and to learn how to address them.”

In the law enforcement realm, the city is focused on further expanding the list of eligible offenses for pursuits, including auto theft and some property crimes.

With a pair of Mercer Island Police Department Marine Patrol vessels nearing the end of their useful lives, the city seeks $1.2 million in state funding as an estimated cost to replace the boats.

On the environmental preservation and protection front, the city “encourages solar power usage, equipment and fleet vehicle electrification and other legislation, partnerships, and funding that incentivizes and supports the city’s adopted Climate Action Plan,” according to the document.

At city council’s Oct. 17 meeting, City Manager Jessi Bon informed council that upon adoption of the priorities, they will be distributed to partners and legislators in late November or early December.