Dispatch from Olympia: HB 1793 Passes the House & Sound Transit Defense
We’ve been busy attending hearings, testifying and tracking new bills as they drop. The first of many key deadlines to keep bills moving is policy cut off on February 7th. This means bills must move out of the policy committees and either to Rules or a Fiscal Committee to be considered moving forward. Fiscal cutoff comes up fast as the second key deadline on February 11th.
What happened last week:
This week, the Block the Box (HB 1793 / SB 5789) saw a lot of action. On Wednesday that bill had a powerful hearing in the Senate Transportation committee, with partners like Rooted in Rights and Queen Anne Greenways joining forces with officials from Seattle Fire, and Seattle Police Department to tell Senators why automated traffic camera enforcement is urgently needed to keep people safe and buses moving.
The following day, almost before we knew it, the House called its version of the bill to the floor — and it passed! Though the bill passed the House last year, this year’s early vote, was slightly unexpected. This welcomed event means we will continue pushing forward with the house version of the bill, providing additional time to pass it through the Senate. We are very appreciative to everyone who has spoken up for this bill, especially Representative Joe Fitzgibbon who has been its champion in the House.
In addition, several other bills we are tracking were heard in committee or saw some action:
Transportation for All (HB 2688 / SB 6398) — The bill was heard by the Senate Transportation Committee. Senators raised many of the same concerns we heard from Representatives last week, so we are working with partners to update the bill language to try to keep it moving.
Road Usage Charge (SB 6586) — This bill was also heard by the Senate Transportation Committee. We stood with partner organizations to advocate that any new revenue sources not be limited by the 18th amendment; and that any RUC program consider equity impacts. We also saw many advocating to restrict the funding to highway spending; and we anticipate this will be a big and ongoing fight that will flow into discussions around a new transportation package.
Modifying Stop Signs for Bicyclists (SB 6208 / HB 2358) and Parking Cash Out Program (HB 2748) — Both of these bills passed out of committee! Washington Bikes’ priority bill was passed out with bipartisan support. We are excited to see these common-sense bills move forward!
What’s happening this week:
This week feels familiar: As in sessions past, we’ll be focused on playing defense to a host of bills that would strip funding from Sound Transit projects. The Senate Transportation Committee will hold its Tuesday, Feb. 4, hearing on multiple pieces of legislation that vary from codifying I-976 to immediately implementing a new valuation schedule to removing Pierce County from the Sound Transit taxing district. For a full rundown of the bills, please refer to this analysis.
TCC and partners will be testifying that any cuts to Sound Transit projects must also include a plan for backfilling the funds to keep projects on track. You can help RIGHT NOW by sending an email to your senator today (see action alert below!)
The day after this big hearing, Senator Hobbs will host a “working session” to begin discussing his ideas for a new transportation package. The proposal is identical to last year’s proposal in the investments provided with slightly different revenue sources. You can find details on the proposed balance sheet here. TCC will be testifying that any new spending should be aligned with the goals and values we are advocating for as part of the Transportation for All bill, and include support for programs impacted under Initiative 976. It should be an interesting day in committee!
Action Alert: Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit Projects are Under Attack
A host of bills have been introduced that would strip Sound Transit of revenue and put essential transit projects at risk for cuts or delay.
Please stand up with us to keep light rail and rapid bus projects fully funded and on track!
Let your legislators know that you support transit and want to see Sound Transit projects delivered on time.