Author Archives: Pam James

About Pam James

Pam’s 27 years of varied experience in local government law includes working for both city and county governments, in addition to MRSC. At MRSC, she has written extensively on appearance of fairness, adult entertainment, and general government law.

Goodbye and Thanks

Time flies when you’re having fun. That’s exactly how I feel about my 20+ years at Municipal Research and Services Center. My work with local governments has been both rewarding and fun. It has also been a privilege. Why am … Continue reading

Posted in General | 5 Comments

Access to Justice – State Courts Must Waive All Fees for Indigent Civil Litigants

Several years ago, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a court rule (General Rule (GR) 34) that abolished court fees for low-income people.  After enactment of GR 34, state courts waived filing fees for indigent litigants. However, some courts imposed … Continue reading

Posted in Legal

Sidewalk Trip and Fall . . . Who is at Fault? Who Pays?

Many damage claims are brought against municipalities as a result of someone slipping, tripping, or falling on a sidewalk. If a jurisdiction fails to keep its sidewalks in a reasonable state of repair, free of dangerous and unsafe conditions, the results … Continue reading

Posted in Legal | 3 Comments

New Building Codes Go Into Effect on July 1, 2013

The Washington State Building Code Council has adopted, with amendments, the newest versions (2012) of the various codes that make up the Washington State Building Code, chapter 19.27 RCW, which contains the minimum construction requirements for the state of Washington. … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Public Works

Remote/Video Attendance at Meetings

As a grandmother with grandchildren 3,000 miles away, I’m a big fan of Skype. It’s a reliable and free internet service that allows me to video chat whenever the kids are willing to sit still for a few minutes. We … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Open Meetings

The Election Is Over — When Can I Take Office?

You received the most votes and the results have been certified; now what? Before you can begin your tenure as an elected official, you will need to complete the final steps to be “qualified” to assume office.

Posted in Elections, Legal

It’s Election Time Again! It’s a Good Idea to Review Your Regulations Regarding Election-Related Political Signs.

It’s election season — the time when planting strips and roadsides bristle with campaign signs, and your city or county is getting calls asking what your local regulations are for political signs. Here’s a quick refresher on the dos and … Continue reading

Posted in Elections, Legal | 2 Comments

Still out to Lunch? Brush up on State Rules Regarding Rest and Meal Breaks.

MRSC consultants are frequently asked to provide information on the legal requirements regarding work breaks. Here are some common questions and answers:

Posted in Legal, Personnel

Running for Re-Election? Here’s a Quick Refresher on the Use of Public Facilities for Campaign Purposes.

The primary rule is that facilities of your public office cannot be used in election campaigns or in support of or in opposition to ballot measures.  See RCW 42.17A.555 (formerly RCW 42.17.130).

Posted in Elections, Legal

New Attorney General Opinion on Binding Future Local Government Legislative Bodies

In a formal opinion issued on May 15, 2012, the office of the attorney general addressed an issue that MRSC attorneys have been asked about, and have wrestled with, for many years –  when may a current local government legislative body contractually bind … Continue reading

Posted in Governance, Legal