Priority legislation is starting to drop, and budget talks are progressing.
What happened last week:
Washington passes a new budget every two years and — this being a budget year — the legislature is beginning to consider the Governor’s proposed budgets. The House Transportation Committee, led by Representative Jake Fey, held a preliminary hearing on the transportation appropriations budget this week. TCC testified in strong support of increasing investments in transit, biking, walking, as well as in the State’s Commute Trip Reduction program, and advocated to fund a Health Impact Assessment related to the State’s autonomous vehicle work, as well as a low-income tolling study. Members of the House showed interested in both proposals.
In addition, Representative Fitzgibbon introduced HB 1793, which would allow cities in Washington State to use automated enforcement (photographs) to help keep bus lanes clear for buses, crosswalks clear for people, and ensure traffic can flow through intersections when the light turns green. We strongly support this legislation because when drivers block intersections, and weave in and out of bus lanes, it makes the streets more dangerous for everyone and increases congestion and delay. Rooted in Rights, part of Disability Rights Washington, joined us in lifting up this bill by producing a film called “Don’t Block the Box.” The video, which looks at the impacts of blocked intersections on people who use wheelchairs, went viral on Twitter, with close to 500 retweets in just two days. We will continue to work with partners like Rooted in Rights to ensure legislators know the benefits of this legislation.
Work continues by our partners at Front and Centered to gather support for SB 5489, the Healthy Environments for All, or HEAL, Act. This bill looks upstream and would focus multiple state agencies’ planning, policy development, enforcement and grantmaking on reducing health disparities among communities facing disproportionate environmental burdens. The bill was read in the Senate on Jan. 23, but no new hearing is scheduled. In the meantime, TCC has signed on to officially endorse this bill. Other organizations can also endorse it, using this form.
What’s happening this week:
The Senate will hear SB 5763 on Thursday, Feb. 7, which would allow transit agencies to manage the parking at park-and-ride lots owned by WSDOT. Currently, if WSDOT owns the lot, there is no mechanism for local jurisdictions to enforce the parking, even if someone has been parked for days on end. We support this legislation as it will allow agencies to better manage parking and provide broader access to transit. In addition, the revenues can be put back into improving all types of access to park-and-rides. TCC has advocated for better managed parking here in King County, and this would allow areas such as Kitsap — where the park-and-rides are at highest capacity in the state — to manage its lots as well.
Talks are continuing on a Green Transportation Package focused on electrification coming out of the House, but no official legislation is available yet. TCC will continue to follow this conversation, as well as the Senate’s discussion around a new transportation package.
For quick updates, check out our bill tracker.