Podcast | Inside one powerful lobbying group influencing WA laws

Politics reporter Joseph O’Sullivan details the Association of Washington Cities’ sway over the Legislature.

Legislators at work in the Washington State Capitol

Washington state legislators gather for Gov. Jay Inslee’s “State of the State” address at the Washington State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

One of the most powerful lobbying forces in Olympia is the Association of Washington Cities, a nonprofit that represents the state’s 281 cities and towns. It has influenced lawmakers, defeated bills, and even written its own legislation — and often gets its way.

Crosscut state politics reporter Joseph O’Sullivan has explored the many ways the Association has recently wielded its power. In collaboration with McClatchy reporter Shauna Sowersby, O’Sullivan looked at the influence of the Association through major legislation that came up in this year’s session.  

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Legislation like the “missing middle” housing bill, which passed this year only because of an unprecedented bipartisan push, had been blocked by the Association for years, for example. And this session, the organization drafted a bill that would make it harder for citizens to obtain government records, arguing that overfrequent records requests, made by a small number of individuals, waste staff time and money.

For this episode of Crosscut Reports, host Sara Bernard talks with O’Sullivan about the Association; how this level of influence is par for the course for many Olympia lobbyists; and the Association’s attempts to chip away at Washington’s Public Records Act, which, if successful, could make our view of state government more opaque.

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