The legislative session moves fast! Last week, bills had to be passed out of their respective policy committees to keep moving, and by the end of tomorrow, February 13, they must be voted out of their House of Origin (either the House or the Senate) to move on to the other chamber and stay alive this year.
We’re very excited that our Free to Walk bill to reform Washington’s jaywalking laws was voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee, pulled from the Rules Committee, and is on the Senate floor calendar. But the Senate needs to vote on SB 5383 by end-of-day tomorrow in order to move it to the House, and we need your help to make that happen!
Please act now: Tell your senator to vote for SB 5383.
We’re also excited to report that the Senate passed a bill to extend the Sandy Williams Connecting Communities Program last week. Now on to the House!
This week, we also anticipate that a proposed supplemental transportation budget will be released. Stay tuned for more details about what’s in it.
Read on for more updates and actions you can take, and check out our Bill Tracker to see the status of bills we’re keeping an eye on this Session.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE THIS WEEK
Help end harmful jaywalking enforcement
Jaywalking enforcement doesn’t protect people from getting hit by cars, disproportionately impacts Black and unhoused individuals, and is an inefficient use of public resources.
Senator Saldaña’s Free to Walk bill reduces police discretion as to when they can enforce jaywalking laws. Instead of selectively using jaywalking as a pretextual stop, officers would only be able to stop pedestrians for jaywalking if they create a danger to themselves or others. Lawmakers amended the bill to apply only to roadways of 35 MPH or less, but our analysis shows that currently about four-fifths of jaywalking stops occur on these roads, so it would still be a big step forward in reducing the harms of enforcement.
Expand the kinds of transportation a border fuel tax can fund
Funding multimodal transportation in Washington is notoriously difficult, in part because the State’s gas tax revenues are constitutionally limited to funding roadways. But other fuel taxes could be used more broadly – and that’s what SB 6017 aims to do for one particular border area in Washington with unique geographic challenges.
SB 6017 is a bill to expand the use of a voter-approved border fuel tax to be able to fund high capacity transportation and public transportation.
This bill passed the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Transportation Committee on Feb. 15 at 4 PM.
OTHER BILLS WE’RE TRACKING
Transit-oriented development bill
We need affordable housing to be built near transit, to ensure that people of all income levels can access safe, equitable, and low-carbon transportation.
HB 2160 is a bill promoting community and transit-oriented housing development. A recent amendment got rid of a provision that would have decreased parking by ending parking minimums. Parking minimums are bad urban policy that require a certain amount of parking to be built as part of new developments. We’re advocating for provisions that end parking minimums to be added back to the bill. Transit-oriented development also means transitioning away from car-oriented development.
This bill is currently on the House floor calendar.
A bill to expedite the completion of pedestrian and bike trails
If you walk, bike, or roll, you know how frustrating it can be to encounter a gap in a safe and protected trail. Legislators are trying to make it easier to fill in those gaps, by streamlining regulatory decisions about the development or extension of certain trails or paths.
SB 6010 would exempt certain limited trails from State Environmental Policy Act appeals.
This bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.
WHAT ELSE HAPPENED LAST WEEK
The Senate passed a bill to extend the Sandy Williams Connecting Communities Program
The Sandy Williams Connecting Communities Program funds critical investments in active transportation in communities that are most impacted by environmental health disparities and barriers to opportunities. The program name honors Sandy Williams, a Black community activist who worked tirelessly to reconnect her Spokane neighborhood after the construction of Interstate 90 split it in half.
SB 6283 would remove the July 1, 2027, expiration date for this program.
The Senate unanimously voted to pass this bill, which means it’s moving on to the House!
A bill for gas price transparency died
Gas prices in Washington are among the highest in the nation – and it’s difficult to tell how much of that is oil companies passing the buck for polluting to consumers while raking in record profits.
SB 6052 would have ensured better oversight of petroleum markets.
This bill unfortunately did not make it out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee.