Legislative Update – Week 2

Legislation was introduced to provide additional local transportation funding options.  HB 1593 (McBride) gives cities the authority to establish transportation utilities, subject to voter approval.  A city transportation utility would be able to assess properties based on trip generation.  The bill also allows cities and counties to adopt a motor vehicle fee up to $50 councilmanically or up to 2/10% sales tax (except for areas included in a regional transportation authority).

The Governor’s transportation revenue bill, HB 1300/SB 5358 has been introduced, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

HB 1393/SB 5326 (Ortiz-Self, Liias) authorizes Community Transit to impose an additional .5% sales tax if approved by voters.

HJR 4205 (Pike) sets up a referendum for a constitutional amendment which would require taxes and revenues for the state public works assistance account be used exclusively for funding local government public works projects. A constitutional amendment requires 2/3 approval by the legislature and is then referred to voters for approval.

Public hearings have been set for the two local ferry reimbursement bills, HB 1318 and SB 5307.  The companion bills increase the deficit reimbursement for the Whatcom, Skagit, and Pierce County ferries from $1 million to $1.8 million.

SB 5411 (Roach) extends the wheeled all-terrain vehicle liability release to counties, cities, and towns.  Current law only provides the liability protection to the state.

For counties that charge WSDOT storm water fees, SB 5314 (Benton) allows expenditures off state highways and eliminates annual reporting requirements.

A list of bills being tracked can be found here.

Please contact Gary Rowe if you would like more information about any bills.

Legislative Update – Week 1

For the past three legislative sessions transportation funding has been identified as a high priority. Governor Inslee got the transportation funding discussion started with his own proposal this past December.  Governor Inslee proposes funding transportation with revenue generated by a new carbon cap-and-trade program.  The Governor’s proposal provides $12 billion over 12 years with $4.8 billion coming from a new carbon pollution fee, $4 billion in vehicle fees, and $3.1 billion in bonds.  The Governor’s proposal provides funding for finishing several state mega-projects, maintenance and operations for state transportation programs, and clean transportation/multimodal programs.  Funding increases for county road maintenance and preservation was only $5 million per year in the Governor’s proposal.

Legislation has also been introduced to fund Sound Transit’s third round of projects dubbed “ST3”.  Legislation would allow regional transit agencies (Sound Transit) to impose a .8 percent motor vehicle excise tax (MVET), .5 cent sales tax, and 25 cents per thousand property tax for the district – all subject to voter approval. Sound Transit currently imposes a .3% MVET. The legislation also allows other transit agencies to impose up to .8 percent MVET after voter approval.

In response to the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge, HB 1219 was introduced allowing state-owned structurally obsolete bridges to avoid SEPA as well as state and local permits.  The Oso landslide has also prompted legislation, SB 5088, that would require the DNR to use LIDAR to detect slide hazards and to coordinate with local governments on sharing geologic hazard information.

Pierce, Skagit, and Whatcom counties could see an increase in funding support for county ferries under HB 1318/SB 5307.  The bill increases support for ferries from $1 million to $1.8 million.

A list of bills being tracked can be found here.

Please contact Gary Rowe if you would like more information about any bills.

2015 Legislative Session Begins


The 64th Legislative Session begins tomorrow, Monday, January 12. The 105 day session runs until April 26th, unless the Governor calls them into special session. The legislature will be facing a number of issues with funding education at the top. The Tacoma News Tribune provides a good overview of issues in this article.

During the session you will receive weekly updates on legislative matters from both WSAC and WSACE with the updates posted on the website for reference.  WSAC and WSACE members can contact WSACE Managing Director, Gary Rowe, if they have any questions about specific legislation.

Washington State Association of County Engineers