Pedestrians near Westlake Plaza in Seattle, by SDOT, used with a creative commons license.
The short 2020 legislative session ends this Thursday, March 12. With Sine Die only days away, we are thrilled that Don’t Block the Box is on its way to the Governor’s desk and closely following final budget negotiations. Here is the latest as we push through the last few days:  Don’t Block the Box — The legislation has passed both chambers! After a successful hearing last week, SB 5789 passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee only to stall in the Rules Committee. Legislative leaders, including Senator Marko Liias and Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, worked together and ultimately decided to push forward on HB 1793 (which had passed the House early in session, but needed to be amended to reflect the final agreement with multiple stakeholders). With the final amendments added, the bill passed the Senate on Saturday, with the House voting to concur on the final version Monday afternoon. It’s now headed to Governor Inslee’s desk for his signature! Please join us in sending a note of thanks for the efforts of Representatives Fitzgibbon and Fey in the House as well as the work of Senators Liias, Saldaña, and Nguyen. Their tireless efforts over the past two sessions was key to passing this legislation. We would also like to thank the City of Seattle, Rooted in Rights, and other stakeholders for continuing to prioritize and push this legislation. Following many iterations from the original bill, here is a snapshot of the final version: 
  • Authorizes a two-year pilot of using automated traffic safety cameras to cite private vehicles stopping while obstructing traffic, within intersections or crosswalks, in bus lanes or other restricted lanes, in places reserved for emergency vehicles, and at entry or exit locations for public transportation vehicles including ferries
  • First-time infractions are a warning; after that, it’s a $75 citation
  • Geographic scope includes downtown/commercial areas, and non-interstate freeways that feed into these areas (such as the West Seattle Bridge and Aurora)
  • Cameras cannot capture a driver’s face, only the license plate number
  • Bus operators will not be at risk for hits to their driving records (as it pertains to King County Metro requirements) if they accidentally block the box due to traffic cutting across an intersection 
  • All tickets issued must be reviewed by a commissioned officer and there is an administrative appeals process for truck operators that accidentally block the box due to traffic cutting across an intersection 
  • The legislature will receive a report on the impacts of the pilot, including a racial equity assessment
Budgets — The House and Senate have both passed their respective budgets. On Monday, March 9th, both the House and Senate have requested a conference as they look to finalize the budget in the coming days. We continue to push for fully funding transit as the constitutionality of Initiative 976 is decided by the courts. We are optimistic that both provisos we support, including a pilot evaluation of transportation projects and funds for an equity analysis on Road Usage Charge policy, will be included in the final budget.  Sound Transit Funding — Though not officially “dead,” the two chambers cannot agree on how to move SB 6606 forward. As it would need a ⅔ vote from both the Senate and House to move forward, we believe this bill has a very slim chance of moving before the end of session.  For a snapshot of all the legislation we’re tracking, check out our 2020 Bill Tracker.
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