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Transportation and Public Works Legislative Report

The 2017-19 capital budget remains the biggest unresolved issue from the last session.  The capital budget was held up over exempt well issues brought about by the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision.  There has been talk of a compromise on that issue after which the capital budget will be passed in much the same form that was agreed on in 2017.  The details of the capital budget can be found in SB 6095 and on the website.

A couple of bills have been introduced affecting vacating roads abutting bodies of water.  HB 2521, adds an additional purpose of protection of public safety as a reason for vacating roads abutting water.  SB 6106, similarly adds if “the county road is hazardous or creates a significant risk to public safety” as a reason for vacating these roads.  Both bills are scheduled for hearings on Jan. 16th.

HB 2337, regarding construction in state waters, gives the Department of Fish & Wildlife the authority to issue penalties for violations up to $10,000 per violation, and the ability to issue stop work orders under certain conditions.  The new authority to issue penalties is limited to violations below the ordinary high water line.  WSAC opposed legislation in 2017 that included this new authority, and has expressed concerns over the new bill, as well.

SB 6187, concerning electrification of transportation, authorizes the Utilities and Transportation Commission to allow incentives for investments in electrical supply for electric powered vehicles.  On the other hand SB 6080, with the same title – concerning the electrification of transportation – addresses purchasing of electric and other alternative fuel vehicles.  The bill establishes requirements for state and local agencies to purchase alternative fueled vehicles certain conditions exist.  The bill also renews and updates incentives for purchases of electric vehicles.

Two bills, HB 2194 and HB 2407, both require reporting of out-of-state materials for certain public projects.  HB 2194 requires a contractor to report to the project owner where out-of-state material comes from, along with cost comparisons, estimated carbon emissions, labor costs, and other factors.  The public owner, in turn, is required to report this information to the legislature each year. Public projects affected are those over 5,000 SF and funded through the state capital budget.

The second bill, HB 2194, has similar requirements, but instead requires the public owner to collect the information on out-of-state purchases for steel and concrete.  Public projects affected are projects over 5,000 SF funded out of the capital budget and road and bridge projects over $1,000,000 funded out of the state transportation budget.

Several bills related to all terrain vehicles have been introduced.  First, HB 2723 modifies types of off-road vehicles subject to local regulations.  RCW 46.09.360 allows counties to decide if any county roads could be available for off-road vehicles.  Currently this statute does not include wheeled all-terrain vehicles, and this bill would change that.  Second, HB 2756 authorizes a pilot program to provide wheeled all-terrain vehicle tourism routes.  The tourism routes can be over state, local, and other non-highway routes designated by certain counties (Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas, Grays Harbor, Pierce, and Lewis).

Lastly, HB 2596 adds a new vehicle type of “narrow track vehicle” including “short narrow track vehicle” as part of the overall motor vehicle class.  The bill adds narrow track vehicles in several statutes which give authority for designating certain lanes, parking, etc., similar to uses by motorcycles.  It’s unclear how this legislation affects all-terrain vehicles statutes.

For more information contact Gary Rowe at