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2017 Legislative Session Recap
The third and final 30-day special session concluded last Thursday, July 20th. The only outstanding item the legislature was expected to take up during this special session was passing a capital budget, which funds construction of schools, parks, social services facilities, etc. While there was a capital budget agreement, passage of the bill was blocked over disagreement on how to address the Hirst decision, a court case ruling that prevents landowners from digging new wells without proving they won’t threaten nearby stream levels needed for fish.
TCC secured its priorities during the regular session as part of the transportation budget and as stand-alone bills. TCC successfully won several important transportation victories, including:
- Securing new revenue for an innovative congestion relief pilot program that will target reducing trips throughout our state’s most congested roads outside of the morning and evening work-related commutes. This is an important victory, as it is the first time in many years that additional money was secured for trip reduction strategies.
- Maintaining funding commitments to bike, pedestrian, and transit investments, including the Safe Routes to School program and public transportation programs throughout the state.
- Authorizing federal funding for the Washington State Transportation Commission to conduct a pilot study on an innovative pay-per-mile usage fee that could provide the level and flexibility of revenue needed to ensure our transportation system is well maintained and that Washington State can pursue a wide variety of transportation solutions.
- Defeating attacks on Sound Transit and on the ST3 voter-approved initiative.
In addition, TCC and our partners successfully advocated for capital budget language to ensure Volkswagen Clean Air Mitigation funds are invested in solutions that benefit transit and improve air quality – especially in communities that have historically borne higher levels of air pollution. The final capital budget contains this language, but it won’t go into effect until the final passage of the capital budget, likely in the 2018 legislative session.
Until then, TCC is hard at work protecting transit funding. We continue to keep a close watch on the baseless allegations that Sound Transit deliberately misled voters on Sound Transit 3. Senator Mike Padden, chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, will hold a work session to investigate the false claims. The first work session is scheduled for September 26 in Kent and another for October 5 in Everett. Stay posted as TCC develops our advocacy strategy around these work sessions.