Pedestrians near Westlake Plaza in Seattle, by SDOT, used with a creative commons license.

Budget discussions dominated the transportation space in Olympia this week, and our top priority, Transportation for All, gained momentum with great sponsors from both chambers.

What happened last week

Governor Inslee’s proposal, to limit cuts and delays of I-976 by using bonds , was met with scepticism from legislators, including Senate Transportation Chair Steve Hobbs. However, Transportation Choices testified in support of ideas to protect the multimodal account by moving eligible programs and projects to the motor vehicle account. Overall we sent a strong message to fulfill commitments to public transportation and bike and pedestrian infrastructure, which in total received only 6% of investments in the 2015 Connecting Washington package.

Though the passing of I-976 is undoubtedly bad for Washington, it has spurred broader discussion around how we fund our transportation system, as well as what we invest in. For additional insights into how legislators are approaching this, we recommend viewing this Inside Olympia interview with House Transportation Chair Representative Jake Fey and Ranking Member, Representative Andrew Barkis. For a refresher on State transportation funding, you can always review our pre-session Transit Talk featuring Senator Joe Nguyen.

Our top priority, updating the State’s transportation goals via the Transportation for All bill, gained momentum this week, picking up excellent sponsors from both chambers. We are thrilled that SB 6398 will be championed by Senators Saldaña, Nguyen, Lovelett, Liias, and Wilson, C. and HB 2688 will be led by Representatives Shewmake, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Macri, Doglio, Peterson, Stonier, and Riccelli. We are working with our partners in the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, as well as other transportation stakeholders, to ensure these bills get a hearing and discussion at committee. 

Two bills related to policy goals updates were also introduced this week. HB 2461, led by our partners at Washington Bikes, would update State transportation goals to consider health implications and encourage active transportation. We are strongly aligned with this effort and will be providing support. HB 2285 also dropped this week. This bill elevates road maintenance and preservation in transportation planning. While TCC strongly supports this in theory, we have concerns about the bill language that prioritizes highways and undercuts support for transit. 

What’s happening this week

There is a hearing for the Transportation for All bill, HB 2688 on Wednesday, January 22 in the House Transportation Committee. HB 2688 will be heard along with the other bills that look at updating transportation policy goals, like HB 2461 and HB 2285 mentioned above. We will be down in Olympia on Wednesday to testify in support of HB 2688 – stay tuned!

As Seattle continues to experience the Seattle Squeeze, a period of development and increased congestion in the downtown area, it is critical to ensure we can enforce bus lanes and intersections to keep people moving and pedestrians safe. We are excited to continue working this session to pass HB 1793, the “don’t block the box” and “don’t block the bus” bill. We are working with Rooted in Rights and other partners to pass HB 1793 out of the House as soon as possible. 

Our partners at Washington Bikes are leading on a new legislation SB 6208/HB 2358 that will give people riding bikes the right to yield at a stop sign. This will increase safety at intersections and allow people riding bicycles to avoid waiting in the blind spots of cars. We support this legislation and will continue monitoring it as it moves through session. 

We are also excited about other Climate Alliance priority bills, the Climate Pollution Limits Bill (HB 2311 / SB 6272), Buy Clean and Buy Fair Bill (HB 2744), and Healthy Forests & Wildfire Preparedness Bill (HB 2413).  

For a snapshot of all the legislation we’re tracking, check out our 2020 Bill Tracker.

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