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Dispatch from Olympia: Week 4
We are one month into the legislative session and have good news to report! Here's a link to our legislative agenda, so you can keep track of TCC's priorities this legislative session.
Last week, the House Finance Committee passed Intercity Transit’s bill, a TCC priority, with bipartisan support. The legislation provides the Thurston County transit agency authority to ask voters to approve a local sales tax increase for expanded bus and paratransit service. The bill (HB 1410) is expected to advance to the House Rules Committee soon. We will continue to monitor and advocate for the legislation’s final passage. Thurston County's population is expected to increase by 20,000 people over the next 20 years and the increased authority is crucial for Intercity Transit to meet this growing demand.
There’s more progress to come this week as the Senate and House Transportation Committees hold public hearings on a bill (SB 5289) to update distracted driving laws. We strongly support the legislation, as distracted driving endangers all road users, from drivers and passengers to pedestrians and bicyclists. The current law is outdated and does not reflect how drivers interact with today’s sophisticated smartphones. This bill will broaden the definition of distracted driving to include holding a mobile device while operating a vehicle. Anyone holding a smartphone while driving will be guilty of a traffic infraction and must pay a fine.
The Senate Transportation Committee will also hold a public hearing on legislation aimed at making streets safer for bicyclists. The bill (SB 5402) 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.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to work with our advocacy and legislative partners to ensure the passage of these important policies.