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Dispatch: Special Session Update
The Washington State legislature continues in overtime with at least one 30-day special session for lawmakers to find agreement on a capital and operating budget. As reported in our last Dispatch, the legislature passed the 2017-2019 transportation budget just before the regular session adjourned. We are proud that it included a number of TCC priorities, which we fought for and won with your support.
As legislators are focused on finalizing capital and operating budgets, we don’t expect much action on transportation policy during special session. However, during this period all previously introduced bills are technically alive again. For this reason, we continue to closely monitor the legislature’s actions and will provide you with relevant updates.
Last week the Republican-led Senate again passed two anti-Sound Transit bills that it previously passed during the regular session:
- SSB 5001 would require Sound Transit board members to be directly elected instead of appointed as they currently are. Republicans claim that a directly-elected board would be more responsive to the public. TCC, social justice, environmental, and land use advocates believe this bill would undermine the coordination required in planning and constructing a large regional public transportation network like ST3, and would ultimately lead to project delays and a less integrated and effective transit system for the central Puget Sound region. For this reason we and our partners strongly oppose SSB 5001.
- 2ESB 5893 would cap the ST3 MVET (car tabs) at 0.5% of vehicle valuation based on the Kelly Blue Book or National Automotive Dealers Association values, whichever is lower. This bill would reduce the voter-approved ST3 financial package by $12 billion, resulting in cancellations and delays of critically important ST3 projects – fundamentally dismantling what voters overwhelmingly asked for in a regional public transportation network. For this reason, we and our partners strongly oppose 2ESB 5893.
The good news is that Republicans are kicking up old dust. Both of these bills died during the regular session and it seems that their current chances of passing the Democratic-led House are quite low.
Please visit our 2017 Sound Transit Bill Tracker for more information on Sound Transit legislation that was introduced this year and our positions on those bills.