Washington State’s legislative session starts next Monday, January 14. Here’s what you need to know.
A new legislature kicks off: Who will be our leaders on transportation issues?
Democrats gained seats in both houses, and will enter the 2019 regular 105-day session with a 28-21 majority in the Senate and 57-41 lead in the house.
TCC is thrilled to have strong returning champions, as well as a cohort of progressive, energetic and diverse freshmen joining the transportation committees of both chambers:
Steve Hobbs (44th) — Chair
Rebecca Saldaña (37th) — Vice Chair
Marko Liias (21st)
Mona Das (47th)
Joe Nguyen (34th)
Emily Randall (26th)
Jake Fey (27th) — Chair
Sharon Wylie (49th) — 1st Vice Chair
Vandana Slatter (48th) — 2nd Vice Chair
Javier Valdez (46th) — 2nd Vice Chair
Beth Doglio (22nd)
Mia Gregerson (33rd)
Shelley Kloba (1st)
Mike Pellicciotti (30th)
Marcus Riccelli (3rd)
Debra Entenman (47th)
Jared Mead (44th)
Bill Ramos (5th)
Sharon Shewmake (42nd)
Hot issues for 2019
A cleaner transportation system
After the defeat of I-1631 at the ballot box, environmental, climate and social justice advocates, as well as electeds, are pursuing legislative options to build a cleaner, healthier state. Policies like a low-carbon fuel standard, a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, or a legislated fee on carbon are already circulating as potential options for legislators to champion.
House Transportation Chair Jake Fey has stated an intention to pass a “green transportation” bill. In December he pulled together a variety of transportation, utility and industry stakeholders to discuss ideas. TCC will look to ensure this effort supports growing transit, transit electrification, and uses an equity lens.
A more just environment
With many strong progressive legislators, including new legislators of color, there is momentum to advance equity policies at the state level. Representative Mia Gregerson is leading the charge, with a bill that would create a new Office of Equity within the Office of the Governor to improve state services and improve outcomes across issues like health, education, and environment.
Senator Saldaña, along with our partners at Front & Centered, are specifically targeting environmental justice with a bill that would create a governing council to embed environmental justice principles into state agencies, including transportation. From the placement of roads and highways, to how stormwater is managed, the transportation sector has significant environmental impacts that disproportionately impact some communities over others — this bill is taking a step to recognize and correct for this.
A new transportation package
Finally, legislators and advocates will begin discussions around a new transportation package. The State’s last transportation package, Connecting Washington, passed in 2015. How to create a cleaner transportation system will continue to be a key theme of discussions around a new transportation package. TCC will look to grow investments for the multimodal account, which funds transit, walking and biking projects, and important grant programs like Safe Routes to School and special needs transit.
The State of Washington passes a new budget every two years, and this is a budget year. In late 2018, TCC advocated for increased investment in the State’s Commute Trip Reduction program, active transportation, and I-5 corridor planning. Governor Jay Inslee released his initial budget in December, reflecting several of our asks. The legislature will now take up budget deliberations, with opportunities to advocate for additional investments and policy direction. TCC’s top-of-mind is to ensure any work or planning involving new technologies (like autonomous and connected vehicles) studies the impacts on health and safety.
In addition to engaging in the big discussions around environment, equity, and funding this session, we’ll be supporting several other bills to help keep transit moving and better manage our current system:
- Bolstering High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) enforcement through increased penalties, in order to maximize efficiency of these lanes and ensure reliable trips for transit and carpools
- Expanding traffic camera statutes to include automatic enforcement of bus lanes and crosswalks (especially important for the Seattle Squeeze)
- Authorizing tolls on 405 and 167 to help manage congestion, improve transit reliability, and raise revenue for facility improvements
Here are ways to stay engaged and participate in our state’s policy-making process.
- TCC Bill Tracker.The bills we are closely tracking along with status updates and actions.
- Sign up for our Action Alerts.Be the first to know when a bill is at risk and take action to keep our transportation moving.