New MRSC Webpage Showcasing OPMA and PRA Practice Tips

PRA starting pointDuring my ten years as Shoreline assistant city attorney, I faced constant questions from staff and officials on the Public Records Act (PRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Two of my go-to resources for these questions were MRSC’s PRA and OPMA publications, both of which I found to be thorough and helpful. Now, MRSC, in partnership with the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) Local Government Performance Center, has developed even more resources on these two laws, all of which are available on the MRSC website: OPMA and PRA Checklists and Practice Tips. Continue reading

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Residency Requirements for City Employees – Is That OK?

A question we’re asked fairly often is whether a city may require that its employees reside within its jurisdiction?  The answer is that it depends on the form of government the city has and on which employees the requirement would apply to. Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Personnel | 2 Comments

Employee Satisfaction Pays

bigstock-Team-Of-Colleagues-Reaches-The-13986965This report on a recent CBS Sunday Morning broadcast offers more evidence in support of the proposition I made in a previous MRSC Insight blog post, Employee Satisfaction: What Goes Around Comes Around, that satisfied employees are good for your organization. In that post I described how dissatisfied employees negatively affect customer service and therefore your organization’s bottom line, whether it is reflected in its fiscal condition or in the case of public institutions, public support. This CBS Sunday Morning feature shares long-term research by Fortune magazine that demonstrates the inverse: the positive effect derived from satisfied employees. According to their research, the companies ranked as “best to work for” consistently outperform the S&P 500 and the Russell 3000 by a factor of nearly 2 to 1! Continue reading

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What Makes A Successful Ballot Measure? A Look at the Data

LBMD-350Since 2011, MRSC has collected data on the results of all ballot measures placed on the ballot by cities, counties, and the special districts we serve.  A review of the results of over 600 measures in our searchable ballot measure database shows some very interesting trends.  73% of all ballot measures succeed, but that only tells part of the story. Continue reading

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Does the Open Public Meetings Act Apply to County Finance Committees?

I was asked this specific question at each of the four regional trainings on the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and the Public Records Act (PRA) that I recently participated in and that were sponsored by the Washington Association of County Officials. So I decided it was worth writing a short blog to explain why the MRSC legal staff has concluded that meetings of county finance committees are subject to the requirements of the OPMA. Continue reading

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State Shared-Work Program Provides an Alternative to Layoffs

washington-employment-security-department-squarelogoFacing layoffs in this year’s budget? You may want to consider the Employment Security Department’s (ESD) Shared-Work Program. Through the program, employers can reduce the hours of permanent employees, who can then collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. Even better, the federal government will cover more than 92 percent of shared-work benefits through June 2015. Normally public employers have to pay all benefits back to the state when their laid off employees collect benefits, but this gives you a break. You can retain skilled staff while having a little breathing room to develop a long-term financial strategy. Even if you’re not facing layoffs, it may be a helpful program to publicize to businesses in the community, since the shared-work option is available to private businesses as well. For full program details, check out the ESD website.

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Privacy Rights, the Public Records Act, and Unanswered Questions

In a highly anticipated court decision that was issued recently, the Washington State Court of Appeals had an opportunity to address important unanswered questions related to what privacy rights a public official has under the Public Records Act (PRA). The decision is Nissen v. Pierce County, ___ Wn. App. ___ (Sept. 9, 2014). Unfortunately, the court passed on the privacy issues and sent the case back to the trial court for further fact-finding and consideration. Continue reading

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