The Washington State Legislature’s 2022 all-remote session kicked off last week, and hearings got under way for many of the issues legislators will consider this session.

Between now and the end of session in March, we’ll be advocating for bills in seven priority areas: expanding transit service, creating a Road Usage Charge, changing jaywalking laws, improving and strengthening local options, and supporting transit workers. We are also continuing our work advocating for a transformative transportation package.

You — yes YOU! — can testify during remote session!

This session is once again all-remote, which means Washington residents can testify from anywhere. You can also sign in to hearings as “yay” or “nay” to express your support or opposition more simply without having to testify. This twitter thread offers some tips for great remote testimony.

What happened last week

First hearing on SB 5528 — This bill would give regional transit authorities like Sound Transit and others the ability to establish sub-areas called “enhanced service zones” that could levy and collect additional revenues to fund additional system improvements. TCC lobbyist Bryce Yadon testified in support of this bill, which is a creative way to help fund transit with more progressive local options. However, we know that this is not a substitute for direct transit funding from the state for ALL agencies, and want to ensure that we move towards better baseline transit service statewide to avoid two-tiered systems.

Budget hearings — Both the House and Senate Transportation Committees held hearings on the governor’s supplemental budget. The supplemental budget is a significant investment in our priorities. There’s $400,000 for a non-driver study, removal of punitive charges levied against Sound Transit, $10 million in Climate Commitment Act funding for transit access, and Climate Commitment Act funding for pedestrian and bicycle safety programs and safe routes to schools! We are also requesting an additional budget proviso to study the issue of jaywalking in Washington, as well as funding a pilot program for Washington State Ferries to implement ORCA LIFT.

State of Washington’s Transportation System — WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar gave an update on the state of our transportation system. He stressed the need for a resilient system and the need for greater investments in transit, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and maintenance and preservation. He also shared with both the Senate and House Transportation Committees the worrying increase in fatalities and serious injuries on public roadways despite vehicle miles traveled going down. In addition, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities continue to increase despite the state’s goal of reducing them.

Coming up this week

Senate Transportation Committee — Tuesday, January 18 @ 4:00pm
On SB 5707“Extending additional uses for automated traffic safety cameras for traffic congestion reduction and increased safety.”
As traffic returns to downtown-adjacent neighborhoods, this bill aims to reduce cars illegally blocking bus lanes, crosswalks, and intersections. We’re excited to learn more from the extended pilot program about the effectiveness and equity impacts of this intervention.

On SB 5687 — “Addressing certain traffic safety improvements.”
Also to be heard this afternoon at 4pm, this bill would authorize maximum speeds of 20 MPH without undergoing an engineering and traffic study, allow a person walking in or along the roadway to exercise “due care” to avoid a collision with a vehicle, removes requirements for traveling on a sidewalk or shoulder when streets are closed to vehicular traffic, and expands the location around a school where automated traffic safety cameras are authorized.

House Public Safety Committee — Tuesday, January 18 @ 8:00am
On HB 1788“Concerning vehicular pursuits.”
Having advocated for reduced police involvement in routine traffic stops, we were pleased to support HB 1054 last session, which restricted vehicle pursuits to only when police officers have probable cause. We’ll be watching this new bill to make sure it doesn’t undo the progress we made last year.

House Local Government Committee — January 18 @ 10:00am
On HB 1782“Creating additional middle housing near transit and in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached housing.”
Land use and transportation are two sides of the same coin. We’ll testify in favor of this bill to encourage more equitable development near transit.

Senate Transportation Committee — Thursday, January 20 @ 4:00pm
On SB 5510“Concerning renewal of the sales and use tax for transportation benefit districts.”
This bill would remove some limits on voter-approved Transportation Benefit Districts, one of very few local tax options that can be spent on transit operations! We strongly support.

Join us for Lobby Days, January 25-27

Want to talk about all these bills and more with your elected leaders? Join us next week for Environmental Lobby Days! On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday January 25, 26, and 27 we’ll be meeting virtually with legislators from across the state to voice our support for transformative transportation. Sign up to join us:

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