What happened last week:
Budget season. It’s budget season in Olympia and the House and Senate passed their 2019-2021 biennium transportation budget proposals out of their respective chambers last week and started negotiations on Friday. The two budget proposals are around $10 billion and include similar items. The House version includes moving up vehicle weight fees to start earlier than the previously scheduled 2022 and using revenue toward culvert removal. Fiscal cutoff is April 9th, the fiscal committees have been working long hours to move bills along in the process, this includes bills referenced in budgets and other bills with a fiscal impact.
Block the box back from the dead. Initially this policy died when the House did not call HB 1793 for a vote before the house-of-origin cutoff. We then tried to move the policy forward through a budget proviso, which was voted down. We are trying again, with one more potential path forward: amending the original bill to make it “necessary to implement the budget,” or NTIB in Oly speak. When a bill is NTIB, it is not subject to any regular cutoffs and we can continue advocating for it until the very end of session. We have been working hard with Representative Fitzgibbon, Senator Nguyen and Senator Saldana, and our partners Rooted in Rights, the ACLU of Washington, and the City of Seattle to add an amendment that would make HB 1793 NTIB. This path means that a portion of revenue from the amended block the block bill would go towards pedestrian and bicycle safety through the Washington State Transportation Safety Commission. We are grateful for partners and advocates helping move this legislation forward. Block the box is getting close to passing and we will likely need your help to get it past the finish line, so stay tuned!
The Senate transportation committee heard HB 1110, the clean fuel standard bill, last week and TCC testified in support. We are working with our climate partners to continue to advance this legislation to reduce air pollution in our communities and advance our transportation climate goals.
What’s happening this week:
This week, fiscal cutoff is today, Tuesday April 9th and then both chambers move to the floor full time for the remaining two and a half weeks. The House and Senate will continue negotiations regarding the budgets. We will continue to fight to keep the block the box bill, extra funding for special needs transportation programming, and low-income toll study proviso in the transportation budget moving forward.