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2017 Sound Transit Bill Tracker

Here are the bills we are closely tracking relating to Sound Transit and Sound Transit 3 implementation, along with status and actions. To take action, click on the bill's number to comment on the Washington Legislature website, or contact your legislator.

We are listing the Senate bills (SB) and their House companions (HB) if applicable.

HB 2201: Concerning the collection of a motor vehicle excise tax approved by voters of a regional in 2016.
This bill would require Sound Transit to provide a tax rebate that is equivalent of the delta between the 1999 and 2006 MVET depreciation schedules. Sound Transit estimates that the bill will result in a $780 million revenue loss to the agency (over the long term, the accumulated loss would be about $2 billion due to financing impacts). This bill also identifies the order in which projects would be impacted for achieving cost savings: parking facility projects, commuter rail, bus projects, and light rail projects.

TCC Position: This bill is a good start to a compromise policy.
Status: In committee (public hearing in committee 4/10)
Talking Points:

  • We do not support efforts to change a voter-approved plan. ST3 won 54% of the vote in November and it is outrageous that legislators are trying to dismantle the plan.
  • However, we are sensitive to issues of tax payer fairness as it relates to low and middle income families in the region.
  • We view this bill as a good start to a compromise policy that would require tax payer fairness.
  • We will work closely with the agency and legislators to address these concerns and ensure that the broader ST3 plan is able to move forward.

 

SB 5001 (HB 1029) Modifying the election and authority of regional transit authority board members.
TCC Position: Opposed
Status: Passed Senate, House Companion Bill in committee
Talking Points:

  • Our system is regional in focus and scope, and the current board is structured to best serve all residents of the Puget Sound. If the Sound Transit board were to be directly elected, we are concerned that decisions would miss important opportunities for regional planning as board members would be beholden to a small part of the larger system.
  • Under this proposal, these new board positions would also receive stipends and paid staff, which would add additional costs for the region, taking resources away from building transit. Moreover, the time spent restructuring the board would be a distraction that could result in delayed projects.
  • Sound Transit currently has AAA bond ratings – we are concerned that confusion and unstable oversight of the board could compromise the agency’s bond rating, resulting in diversion of resources from transit, further delaying projects.

 

SB 5817 (HB 2166) & SB 5854 (HB 2167): Nullifying the imposition of certain taxes within regional transit authority boundaries.
TCC Position: Opposed
Status: In committee
Talking Points:

  • Voters within the Sound Transit taxing district approved Sound Transit 3 last November with 54% support.
  • Giving localities to opt out of investing in growing our regional transit system threatens Sound Transit’s ability to build out a regional system and undermines our region’s collective transportation future.

 

SB 5851 (HB 2132): Concerning the valuation of motor vehicles for purposes of determining excise taxes.
TCC Position: Opposed
Status: In committee
Talking Points:

  • The Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) is one of the more progressive taxes available in our state – because it is based on the value of your car rather than a flat rate.
  • Any effort to update Sound Transit’s MVET collection process should be done in a way that does not compromise project delivery and finances the way this bill does.

SB 5892: Concerning regional transit authority capital project reauthorization.
TCC Position: Opposed
Status: In committee
Talking Points:

  • With new uncertainty around federal funding, this bill would add an additional layer of instability that would threaten the ability of Sound Transit to deliver important voter-approved projects.
  • Under this bill, a number of projects could begin construction and wind up partially completed, which would be a waste of taxpayer money.
  • This is poor public policy that threatens complicated and critically important capital programs.

SB 5893 (HB 2168): Concerning the administration of motor vehicle excise taxes by regional transit authorities.
TCC Position: Opposed
Status: Passed Senate, House Companion Bill in committee
Talking Points:

  • Voters approved of a .8% increase in the MVET as a portion of the funding for Sound Transit 3. Sound Transit already collected .3% MVET as a part of previous voter-approved measures.
  • This legislation would have major impacts delivering on Sound Transit 3 projects resulting in up to $6 billion in lost revenue.

 

SB 5905 (HB 2147) Concerning taxpayer relief for persons subject to a motor vehicle excise tax imposed by a regional transit authority.
TCC Position: No Position. We need more detail on the financial impact to Sound Transit before we take a position on this bill.
Status: In committee

SB 5906 (HB 2148) Establishing a regional transit authority rebate program for low-income individuals.
TCC Position
: Supportive, with concerns. 
Status: In committee
Talking Points
:

  • We support the intent of this bill, which could provide tax-payer relief to low-income people in the Sound Transit District. However, we need to ensure the bill affects the intended communities and provides the appropriate level of tax relief without impacting the delivery and scope of ST3 voter approved projects.
  • We encourage the legislature, Sound Transit, and other stakeholders to work together to improve this legislation.

SB 5908 (HB 2149): Requiring a taxpayer accountability statement to be included with regional transit authority motor vehicle taxes.
TCC Position: Neutral
Status: In committee

SB 5907 (HB 2151): Prioritizing transit agency integration for regional mobility grants in counties with populations of seven hundred thousand or more.

TCC Position: Neutral
Status: In committee

SB 5909 (HB 2150): Requiring a taxpayer accountability statement to be included with regional transit authority property taxes.
TCC Position: Neutral
Status: In committee

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