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Dispatch from Olympia: PTBAs & Bicycle Safety Council
It’s a busy week in Olympia as legislators are staring down the house of origin policy committee cutoff.
February 17 is the last day to pass bills out of the committee they originated in and to read them into the record on the House and Senate floors. Bills that do not meet this deadline will be considered “dead” and have no chance of becoming law this year.*
We are paying close attention to a couple of bills this week:
HB 1860, concerning population-based representation on the governing boards of transit agencies. This bill would require that certain transit agency boards (determined by population thresholds, so it only applies to C-Tran in Vancouver, Pierce Transit and Spokane Transit for now) have representation proportional to the population size of the areas they serve.
For example, the Pierce Transit board has two board members from Tacoma out of a total of nine, even though Tacoma pays the largest proportion of taxes in the transit district and receives the largest share of service. Thus, transit agency boards are composed such that communities that receive most of the transit service are underrepresented.
HB 1860 bill fixes this imbalance by requiring population-based representation on the transit governing boards. We are optimistic this bill will move out of committee to be debated on the House floor.
The House Transportation Committee will also hold a public hearing this week on HB 1795, legislation aimed at making streets safer for bicyclists. The bill establishes a bicycle safety advisory council, comprised of planners, traffic engineers, emergency medical technicians, advocates, and other stakeholders.
The council will review bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries, and make recommendations for improving bicyclist safety. (The Senate version of this bill, SB 5402, was heard last week in the Senate Transportation Committee. It is scheduled for executive session this week.)
* However, there are a few exceptions: Bills deemed necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) are not subject to the regular cutoff calendar.