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Transportation & Public Works Legislative Update (4-4-17)

The legislative session passed another cutoff last week (3-29-17) when policy bills passed by either the House or Senate had to be passed out of committee in the opposite chamber. The next cutoff for fiscal bills is today, March 4th, at which time fiscal bills must be reported out of committee. Bills necessary to implement the budget can be brought up for consideration after these cutoffs.

The HPA bill, SHB 1428, still sits in the House Rules Committee while the Department of Fish & Wildlife continue to work with stakeholders on compromise language.  The bill is considered necessary to implement the budget, so is still active.  Another bill related to HPAs, SSB 5228, which establishes a joint legislative task force to review HPA jurisdiction, did not survive last week’s cutoff and is dead for the session.

Infrastructure financing bills continue to move through the process.  The House proposal, SHB 1677, has beer reported out of the House Capital Budget Committee on to the Rules Committee and awaits floor action.  The bill reorganizes the Public Works Board and its loan programs and is supported in the House operating budget with no transfer of public works assistance account funds to support education.  The Senate passed ESSB 5033, which focuses on establishing bond pooling programs to replace the public works assistance account.  Their bill establishes a bond pooling program funded with state-backed bonds, which also requires a constitutional amendment.  The bill also includes a bond-pooling program through the Housing Finance Commission, which relies on revenue from loan repayments to fund projects.  ESSB 5033, passed out of the Senate and was heard in the House Capital Budget Committee today.  The Senate provides $100 million in one-time funding for 2017-19 and a commitment at the same level for 2019-21, for Public Works Board projects, but no commitment thereafter.  Several people testified in opposition to the Senate bill, primarily because the permanent transfer of public works assistance account revenue sources.

The House Capital Budget Committee is set to come out tomorrow and will be heard on Thursday, April 6th.  The Senate passed their capital budget last week.  Details of the capital budget can be found here.  The Senate budget provides $20 million for a new fish barrier removal program developed by the Fish Barrier Removal Board.  Hopefully the House will provide a similar amount.  Both the House and Senate have passed their respective transportation budgets out of committee and await floor action.  Both budgets provide funding at levels promised with adoption of the Connecting Washington Act.  The transportation budgets focused on making adjustments to the projects funded by Connecting Washington and previous revenue packages.  The House transportation budget was receptive to funding requests for fish barrier removal and provides $5 million to coordinate local projects with state projects.

A list of bills being tracked can be found here.  Please contact me if you have any questions.