Andrew Austin, Policy Associate for Transportation Choices Coalition, is in Olympia today and reports that HB 2855, which would have provided new taxing authority to maintain transit service in King and Snohomish Counties, was not put to a vote by the House leadership. (Seattle representative Frank Chopp is the Speaker of the House.)

Bills had to pass out of their originating house by 5 pm today, so the bill’s failure to advance means means there will be no relief this session. We’ll have more in the coming days.

42 Replies to “HB 2855 Dies Without Floor Vote”

    1. Democrat Voters: Remember, no matter how little Dem-X does for you they aren’t Republicans!

      Republican Voters: Remember, no matter how little Rep-Y does for you they aren’t Democrats!

      You have your marching orders!

      1. At least at the state/local level I’m perfectly willing to vote for a pro-transit Republican. Doubly so if the Democrat they are running against is either a transit opponent or a fair-weather friend.

        However the pro-transit Republican seems to be a fairly rare breed, at least among candidates for offices around Puget Sound or for statewide races.

      2. This is not necessarily true. A pro-transit rural legislator is a rare breed. Back on the east coast, there are many pro-transit Republicans. Transit is an urban issue, it makes no sense in rural areas. It only appears that Republicans are anti-transit because there are virtually no urban Republicans in the state legislature.

        However, I am not confident that the Republicans are the problem, or the rural legislators. The real stumbling block for transit seems to be the (mostly Democratic) legislators from the suburbs. Transit funding is local, so if represent Yakima County, granting King County the local taxing authority to fund transit doesn’t affect your constituents, but if you represent suburban or rural King County, then granting King County the authority to raise local taxes basically amounts to a guaranteed tax increase on your suburban or rural constituents to pay for transit in Seattle.

        This is the problem with making the County responsible for transit rather than leaving it to the City. If the taxing authority to fund transit could be limited to Seattle, the suburban and rural reps from east and south King County wouldn’t worry so much about it.

        The second problem is that Seattle’s legislators are asleep at the wheel when it comes to transportation. The suburbs run the show because they focus their efforts on transportation while Seattle’s reps worry about gay marriage, health care and saving the whales. Not that those things are not important, but the cost of focusing on those issues is that the suburbs run the show on transportation.

      3. @Tony–Problem is, in Washington State there’s an unhealthy and largely artificial rural disdain for Urban Puget Sound, especially Seattle. And rural, typically conservative politicians in Washington State get a lot of voter mileage out of being “against the ‘wets'”, or just plain anti-Seattle/King County. The perception in rural Washington, especially in ag and forestry country is that “Seattle” controls “their” local issues from afar leading to the base of their resentment. Cognitive dissonance (among other even less rational behaviors and responses) prevents them from accepting simple facts such as how much of their basic and infrastructure services are subsidized by Seattle and Puget Sound counties. And thus we’re left with legislators like Margaret Haugan who’ll gladly vote pro-transit in every rural instance, all while stiffing King County, Seattle, ST, among others.

      1. When I looked at the Northwest Transit PAC website it seems to focus on rail services, not funding for bus systems. Is that the case?

        While I support light rail expansion, keeping bus service on the street is a top priority for me.

      2. It does indeed focus on rail services.

        I’m really not concerned about bus advocacy. As you say, your top priority is keeping bus service on the street – and it’s a top priority for many groups. As you can see from this bill, from the King County Council’s task force, and from all the press bus cuts are getting, there’s plenty of support for keeping them. I don’t think there’s a big advocacy hole there.

        What we didn’t see in the legislature this year was any discussion about longer-term transit planning. But we DID see some discussion about longer-term highway planning, and that’s what we have to counter.

        We can never say to the legislature “we think you should add more bus service instead of expanding this highway,” but we can say “we think you should build a rail line here instead of expanding this highway”. The legislature really isn’t in the business of operating buses – they make capital investments.

        Part of the reason we’re in the bad situation we’re in with local transit is that every year for decades, transit advocates said “Okay, this year we’re going to work on getting more bus service, and not plan for the long term.” Every year they did that, they created a bigger problem for the next generation. I didn’t start a PAC to continue that thinking – I started it to stop thinking about next year, and start thinking about what we want to be doing five years from now.

      3. it takes a while to even find the site online. you need to put a link to it up on this blog, and get some donation things worked out, as Brent comments on below

      4. I thinks it’s pretty new. Hopefully once Ben gets all the kinks worked out, there will be a big announcement both here and at other Pro Transit (I had ‘Progressive’ there, but there could be some conservative pro-transit sites out there) websites.

  1. I think the issue of transit cuts tends to be invisible to the public until it actually happens – like in Snohomish County right now. The issue just doesn’t get much attention until crisis time. And when cuts do happen, riders tend to blame the transit agency, rather than the state legislature & Governor who control the purse strings.

    We need a grassroots movement of transit riders to push for sustainable funding for Metro, among other improvements.

    1. Actually, we need to cut off the suburbs and give Seattle unlimited taxing authority within the city limits to fund urban transit.

      1. This is actually a great idea. Lets make funding more local. One way to do it is to split up King County. I think it is time for this.

    1. To the PAC? I’m avoiding online contributions due to the fees involved, but I’m happy to come pick up a check!

  2. The alternative is somebody who’s ideologically opposed to transit or taxes. Gregoire as been weak on taxes because she’s afraid of anti-tax voters. Dino “Eyman” Rossi opposes taxes because “taxation is theft”, and transit because “transit is socialist”. Better somebody who has a good vision and fails, than somebody who has a bad vision and succeeds.

    1. … not in this election system. The Louisiana primary (or top two) system is now the law of the land. It’s conceivable that the general election could feature a Democrat vs. a Democrat or Republican vs. Republican.

      The “spoiler” argument won’t work any more.

      1. We get as good as what we elect – time for a general house-cleaning next fall, starting w/ Frank Chopp.

      2. D vs. D and R vs. R races are not only conceivable, they are inevitable. The top two primary system is the best thing ever to happen to transit advocates, and progressives in general. Now, rather than being is bullet-proof seats, liberal Seattle legislators will have to guard against a serious challenge from the left, not sacrificial lamb from the right. Look at what happened in the seattle mayor’s race: a liberal Democrat incumbent was ousted in the primary by another liberal democrat and a tree-hugging radical, and in the general, the radical beat the liberal. The same can, and will happen in the state legislature.

      3. Actually the city offices have been nonpartisan for a while so you’ve had many cases of liberal vs. liberal, or even liberal vs. radical.

      4. So be it. The Democrats created this rule and maybe if they get locked out a few times they will change it to something that is more democratic.

      5. Wait, what is undemocratic about an Open Primary? I find state support for closed primaries (aka subsidizing the Big 2) to be much more undemocratic.

        The State should not be involved what-so-ever with political parties. If people which to organize themselves in such a way, fine, that is their right, recognized in the Constitution. However no special accommodations should be made for them, either by funding, by legislative procedure, by taxpayer subsidized Primaries, etc. To quote our State’s namesake:

        All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

    2. Mike Orr said:

      “The alternative is somebody who’s ideologically opposed to transit or taxes. Gregoire as been weak on taxes because she’s afraid of anti-tax voters. Dino “Eyman” Rossi opposes taxes because “taxation is theft”, and transit because “transit is socialist”. Better somebody who has a good vision and fails, than somebody who has a bad vision and succeeds.”

      Apparently she isn’t afraid of taxes, just transit taxes:

      http://www.publicola.net/2010/02/17/gov-gregoire-proposes-new-taxes/

  3. I’m a bit surprised that Frank Chopp is a Seattle representative – he’s MY representative. He doesn’t seem very concerned about Seattle issues.

  4. So we’re told that Franks Chopp’s new vision for 520 is all about transit. Yet Chopp can’t find a way to bring the biggest transit priority to a vote on the House floor. Not because there isn’t enough support. Just not leadership support according to the prime sponsor of the legislation.

    This is simply more proof that Chopp’s new “pro-transit” plan for 520 is simply the latest example of “transit washing” a dirty scheme. You can’t blame him or any other legislator representing the noisy minority in the 43rd district which thinks people are dumb enough to buy their latest obdurate scheme. You can blame people like McGinn who are fooled.

    There are more pro-transit votes in the state Senate than 3, which is how many supported Montlake today. The rest supported better transit generally, the environment, more jobs now, and lowering costs by calling a stop to delay.

    The failure of this transit measure to get through the state House this year is now a prime piece of evidence as to why transit advocates need to make sure 520 nonsense is behind us.

    1. I think Frank Chopp may be more vulnerable than people think. We’ve built up this image of him as an invincible power player, but this is the 43rd LD. The 43rd voted 80% for ST2. Half the electorate is under the age of 35. We have no loyalty to party or to a powerful incumbent. All a credible challenger would have to do is make transit, and Frank Chopp’s refusal to support it the central issue of the campaign and you’d have a real race. Even if the challenger lost, making Chopp sweat for reelection would make him seriously reconsider his priorities.

      1. That challenger should run as an independent. The only reason Chopp has been in power for so long is because we only have two choices when we vote. Bad Democrats, and bad republicans.

      2. With the top two primary the party of the challlenger doesn’t really matter. Though the chances of anyone who self-identifies as any sort of conservative are slim. The two biggest problems with challenging Chopp are finding someone credible to run against him and raising enough money. Anyone who runs against him will provoke the ire of the state, county, and city Democratic political establishment. Also since the legislature pays so poorly no-one from the city or county council likely wants the job.

      3. The party of the challenger has a lot to do with the ability to raise sufficient funds.

        Americans in general are so apathetic towards politics, and spend so little on campaigns, that the only way for most candidates to fund a campaign is to tap into existing funding networks from one major party or the other. Campaign finance regulations help enforce the ascendancy of the major parties by erecting further obstacles to challengers from outside the two-party structure.

        We spend more on advertising different brands of soap than we do on electing our representatives, and then we complain that they don’t clean up the system.

  5. One amendment that would make me willing to drop opposition to ESSB 6392 would be to dedicate 50% of the toll revenue to supplement construction of University/East Link. After all, that project serves the same corridor, if by a different path.

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