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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.