The legislature concluded its historic all-remote session Sunday, April 25. Though we did not see a new transportation package pass the finish line, a new statewide cap-and-trade system will bring in revenue for transportation strategies that reduce carbon emissions, and we saw proposals support significantly more investment in multimodal funding and transportation equity.
Wins from 2021
We’re thrilled to have advanced many of our bills and goals for transportation this legislative session! Here are are top wins from 2021:
- HB 1301 signed into law — Prior to this bill, Sound Transit was required by State law to issue civil infractions for fare non-payment. This could result in trips to court, and harmful interactions with the court system. Thanks to this bill, the agency is now free to reform its fare enforcement program: It can divorce from the court system, lower its fees, create alternative resolution pathways and more.
- HEAL Act signed into law — The Healthy Environments for All (HEAL) act, championed by our partners Front & Centered, will embed environmental justice into state agencies, including the Washington State Department of Transportation.
- Improved the biennial budget — Though the biennial budget largely reflects past transportation packages (and their roads-heavy investments) we saw many of our priorities reflected in different budget provisos, and some additional funding beyond maintenance level for multimodal grants:
- $10 million for bicycle and pedestrian programs
- $5 million for regional transit grants
- $3.8 million for special needs transportation
- $10 million for green transportation investments to transit agencies
- A Joint Transportation Committee work group study championed by Senator Nobles recommending new options for payment of vehicle fees or taxes due at the time of application of vehicle registration
- A Joint Transportation Committee study on the impacts of current and historical city transportation investments — the study must identify and measure the true costs of underinvestment of accessible transportation for designated populations, including the secondary impacts to public health, economic opportunity, educational access, and environmental risk factors.
- A directive to WSDOT to submit a report “examining the feasibility of doing performance-based evaluations for projects,” a continuation of our Transportation for All work from the 2020 legislative session.
- Ensured carbon revenue will be dedicated to carbon reduction — When proposals to spend carbon pricing revenue building new roads came up this session we fought back along with our partners from the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. Thankfully our advocacy worked, creating the Carbon Emissions Reduction account within SB 5126, which ensures that any carbon revenue dedicated to transportation goes towards strategies that reduce carbon emissions.
- Mobilized for Clean & Just Transportation — Together with partners representing a diverse coalition, we spoke up for a paradigm shift in transportation, focused on accessibility, sustainability and undoing past harms. Collectively we sent thousands of letters to legislators, authored op-eds, organized and participated in town halls, and lifted up stories about mobility access across Washington. Our message was more cohesive, more organized, and more unified than ever before and we can see the beginning of a shift, laying the groundwork for further changes.
- Set a floor for transit, pedestrian & bicycle investments for the future — While a Clean and Just Transportation package was not achieved, our collective advocacy prior to and during session resulted in historic proposals for multimodal and clean transportation issues. We changed the narrative, and set a new floor for the level of transit, pedestrian, bicycle and clean investments that are acceptable. Equity and the environment are now priority issues for a new transportation package. We have built momentum with allies in the legislature, and people across Washington who are demanding safe, reliable, accessible and sustainable transportation options. There is more to do, and we look forward to passing a transportation package that reflects the needs of Washingtonians from all life experiences.
With the passing of the Climate Commitment Act and Clean Fuel Standard, major climate components that have been tied to a new transportation package are now in place. We feel hopeful that with this momentum, legislators will be working hard during the interim to advance conversations around a transportation package. We don’t believe a special session is out of the question at this point! We will be closely watching for action at the federal level related to new infrastructure investments, and how that might influence local decision making and new investments at the State.
If you sent a letter, called your legislators, spoke up at a town hall, or told a story about why Clean and Just transportation matters in your community or your life, thank you. Your efforts are what it takes to build a coalition of support, and we are incredibly grateful for your support and participation.
There is more work to do, and we know that together we will go farther in achieving more and better transportation choices and a sustainable future for us all.
Celebrate the end of session!
We’re celebrating the end of the legislative session and hope you will too! We’re taking a moment to rest and reflect, but are also looking ahead to what’s next. Donate to power the effort as this chapter ends and our next one begins.