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Legislative Update – Week 7

The Senate transportation package was brought to the floor for passage this past Friday. The eight transportation reform bills were brought up first. Six of the reform bills, SB 5992-SB 5997, were passed on a bipartisan basis. The most controversial bill, SB 5990, shifting sales tax on transportation projects from the general fund to the transportation account , passed only with majority coalition votes, 26-23. Similarly, SB 5991, dedicating a portion of the environmental legacy stewardship account to transportation, passed by a 27-22 margin.

The new revenue bill, SB 5987, was brought to the floor, debated, and amended, but when it was time to vote a point of order was raised over whether the vote was a “new” tax. Under a rule adopted by the Senate this year, any new tax requires a 2/3 majority vote. Transportation revenue advocates argued that the increases in motor vehicle fuel tax and vehicle and license fees were not new taxes but increases to existing taxes. Due to time constraints the Senate adjourned and is expected to have a ruling on the point of order and subsequent votes on the remaining transportation revenue bills on Monday.

Several bills survived the Feb. 27th cutoff including HB 1757, which allows a transportation benefit district to adopt up to $50 vehicle fee councilmanically. SHB 1851, providing a SEPA exemption for local transportation repairs and replacement projects has moved out of rules and on to the floor calendar.  Two bad bills, HB 1601, venue for actions by or against a county, and SHB 1695, concrete aggregate recycling, made it past the cutoff. WSAC is working to kill HB 1601 and is working with the bill sponsor to limit SHB 1695’s impact to counties.

A complete list of bills being tracked can be found here.

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