There are two important bills we’ve identified for transit funding this session:
HB 2855 would restore the $20 vehicle license fee for transit that Governor Gregoire vetoed last session. Since this already passed the legislature last year, you have to like its chances if it’s given the time in what should be a busy session.
Section 9 has a provision to form a panel of stakeholders to create a “blueprint for public transportation services”:
The blueprint should, at a minimum, serve to guide investments in public transportation and establish a plan to significantly improve connectivity between transportation providers and across jurisdictional boundaries.
There’s a little concern that this could be an effort at the hated “governance reform,” which we bash here and here, but a source in Olympia tells me that that isn’t a threat in this case. Rep. Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), one of the sponsors, did not reply to a request for comment on this provision.
HB 1591 would change the law governing Transportation Benefit Districts (TBDs). Currently, they are limited to 10 years of tax collection on a single ballot measure. The bill would extend the period to allow standard 30-year bonding, meaning that the overall size of the package could more than double. A TBD could be a big part of whatever plan Mike McGinn puts together to build light rail, so this bill would dramatically improve the chances of doing something worthwhile.
There’s also an amendment by STB favorite Geoff Simpson that would loosen limits on having overlapping TBDs, and specify that at least 50% of any amount over $20 per year must be used for transit.
My Olympia source says this bill “has momentum” in the House; prospects in the Senate are not as bright, but Senate Transportation Chair Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) is for it.
In other news, Publicola has a good writeup on various bike bills to which I don’t have anything to add.