Last Wednesday was the final day to consider bills in their house of origin. We are now narrowing our focus on remaining priorities. This Friday, February 28th, is policy cutoff to pass bills out of committee from the opposite house. Fiscal bills need to be voted out of committee by March 2nd.
What happened last week:
SB 6606, which would change the vehicle valuation methodology that Sound Transit uses to calculate current Motor Vehicle Excise Taxes, did not pass the Senate floor, but due to the potential impact of overturning Initiative 976 it has a direct impact on the budget and could still move forward. We will track closely to ensure that any cuts to Sound Transit projects have a plan for backfilling the funds to keep projects on track.
What’s happening this week:
The Senate and House transportation budgets will be released this week. The House released their budget today at noon and will hold a hearing today at 3:30 pm in House Transportation Committee. The Senate will then follow with a release of their budget and a hearing is scheduled in Senate Transportation for Wednesday the 26th at 3:30 pm.
We are working with partners to include a Transportation for All proviso in the budget. The proviso would implement pieces of the original bills, including a required evaluation for any transportation projects under consideration for funding. This would help legislators understand if funding certain transportation projects was aligned with our State Transportation Policy goals. We will monitor the budget and ensure we maintain and increase funding for multimodal investments, as well as prioritize and protect transit funding to repair damage done by I-976 and backfill projects.
Our priority this week is to get the Block the Box bill out of the House and Senate Transportation Committees before cutoff on March 2nd. We will be down in Olympia testifying the House version of the bill in the Senate on Monday, February 24th, and the Senate version in the House on Saturday, February 29th. We believe the best path forward is the Senate bill, which addresses privacy concerns. Our priority is to keep both bills alive and moving.