Inclement weather in Olympia slowed the legislative process last week, even as the first policy cutoff approached.
What happened last week:
Heavy snowfall in Washington slowed work in Olympia last week. Our Olympia staff reported a quiet capitol, with legislators, staff and advocates immobilized due to dangerous road and sidewalk conditions.
Though many bill hearings were cancelled — including the “block-the-box” legislation (HB 1793/SB 5789), which was scheduled in both chambers last week — the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology committee still convened Wednesday morning for the first hearing of the Healthy Environments for All (HEAL) Act (SB 5489). TCC signed in to support this bill, which would define and enforce environmental justice across multiple state agencies.
What’s happening this week:
Rescheduled hearings — On Monday, Feb. 18, at 3:30 p.m., the Senate and House transportation committees will kick off the week with hearings on automated enforcement legislation, also known as “block-the-box” legislation (HB 1793/SB 5789). TCC is helping organize advocates, including Rooted in Rights, Feet First and Transit Riders Union, to testify in support of this bill, which would allow automated enforcement of crosswalks, intersections and transit lanes.
At the same meeting, legislators will hear re-scheduled active transportation bills led by Washington Bikes, including SB 5710/HB 1723, which support continued work by the bicycle and pedestrian safety councils, and SB 5723, focused on increasing safety on roadways for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other roadway users through increased penalties to vehicle operators.
Policy cutoff is Friday — Friday, Feb. 22, is the first policy cutoff of session. This means policy bills without a fiscal component, such as impacts to the budget or creating a new revenue stream, must pass out of committees by Friday in order to be considered in the next step of the process. Bills with a fiscal component have an additional week to pass out of their assigned committees. Policy and fiscal bills that are passed out of their original committees go onto the Rules Committee, where they may or may not be passed on to the Senate or House floor for consideration. We are working hard to make sure our priorities continue along in the process and move out of committees prior to cutoff.
Special Preview for Next Week:
We anticipate two major committee hearings next week, so stay tuned for action alerts! The Senate will likely hear a lineup of Sound Transit-related legislation, as well as hear testimony related to Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 to the legislature, a proposal that would devastate transportation projects and improvements in communities across the state. In the House, Transportation Committee Chair Jake Fey plans to hold a hearing for a “Green Transportation” bill, including plans for vehicle and transit electrification.