As a result of Manka Dhingra’s election, giving Democrats a solid majority in the State Senate (with Sen. Tim Sheldon caucusing with the Republicans), the Senate Democratic Caucus has had to choose new Senate leadership and committee leadership, and redo committee assignments. The new assignments were announced on November 14:

Of particular interest to all matters transit, Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens) will take the reigns of the Senate Transportation Committee from Curtis King (R – Yakima). Rebecca Saldaña (D – Seattle) has been promoted to Vice Chair of the committee. Marko Liias (D – Lynnwood) remains on the committee, where he has been a hard-core supporter of Sound Transit. He is giving up the second-ranking Democrat position on the committee due to being elected by his caucus to serve as Floor Leader.

Other Democrats continuing on the Transportation Committee include Annette Cleveland (D – Vancouver) and Dean Takko (D – Longview)

New Democrats on the committee include Maralyn Chase (D – Edmonds), John McCoy (D – Tulalip), Lisa Wellman (D – Mercer Island), and Dhingra (D – Redmond).

Kevin Van de Wege (D – Sequim) is the only member of the caucus who will be exiting the Transportation Committee.

18 Replies to “Senate Dems, Back in Charge, Announce New Committee Assignments”

  1. Congratulations to all of them. It’ll be good my own District’s representatives will finally be part of a solid majority, all of whose offices are about a 20 minute walk from where I live. Not much longer on IT.

    The way I look at it, though, my car tabs also put the whole State of Washington in the Sound Transit District.Which also includes every government in the Central Puget Sound Region, which I consider my own transit district, De facto now, de jure soon.

    Definitely-temporarily-not my own Grandfathers’ railroad. Though they would’ve both (combatively!) bought our tabs and attended every Operations Committee meeting. So right now, ST’s Admission Date to their present District depends completely on how we personally run our system.

    Of the two of them, my mother’s father, a Russian socialist from whom I almost inherited a half dozen revolvers, will make a better Chairman for the ST board.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “my car tabs also put the whole State of Washington in the Sound Transit District.”

      You pay ST’s car tabs? If the entire state of Washington is interested in ST’s car tabs, then it means that people are offended that people in other counties have tax surcharges. That’s why it’s not good that a statewide initiative might abolish such taxes and blow up ST3.

    2. Olympia pays NOTHING for Sound Transit. They just authorize the agency to exist and give them taxing authority (which they must also get from the voters who LIVE IN THE RTA which you do not). So unless you visit the RTA, you’re not affected.

      1. Mike, that’s just the point. Remember what Tim Eyman convinced our State’s voters all the way to the Idaho line to do to Sound- and everything else with Transit in its title? We’re nowhere near over it yet.

        So best disaster prevention might be to develop the best possible relations with the people of the whole rest of the State. An increasing number of whom just arrived from Seattle.

        Maybe the only good thing to float out of Seattle’s globally-overheated financial tusunami is that these next years’ waves of refugees will join Walla Walla’s voter rolls.

        No joke in the face of a little noticed national trend that present migratory directions leaves ever more elected officials keeping same power while serving ever fewer voters. And vice versa. Already explains a recently-demonstrated lot.

        And John, you’ve just made my point for me. Who’s got the “off” switch by their desk, your neighbors or mine? Though positive for both of us. Giving me a voting chance to put another county in ST’s next constituency. And before I had to flee like a rat, I already voted for Sound Transit, about which I now can’t do anything regardless how bad it ticks me off on my visiting schedule.

        Which probably gives me more seat-time on LINK than most of my former co-voters. For proof, I save the paper tickets I presently have to buy before every riding day since my last Fare Inspector warning means $125 next time I tap on after forgetting I didn’t tap off. After my ORCA card rats me out, monthly pass and all.

        Look, what this is about is that politically, every fight in the world goes to the side that both thinks and reaches the farthest into both the future and its enemies’ voting rolls.

        My own call is also that the younger Chambers of Commerce (which really brought law, order, and democracy to the West) are going to be seeking the younger clientele they will need to replace the present one when it dies.

        Great time to publish a poll: Even accounting for the pathetic faces in the gunsights of the brutal Hungarian border guards manning the barbed wire atop Steilacoom’s really cute wall- which way is the average kid running- Seattle or Yakima?

        Thanks for the welcome, you guys! This is gonna be great.


    3. How much were car tabs before Initiative 695? Since I’ve never had a car I’ve only heard anecdotally secondhand. My unerstanding is they varied with the value of the car and were typically $100-200. Then Initiative 695 cut them to $30, and they remained there for several years, and then gradually went up again with various ST and Metro surcharges to now typically $80-160. Is that accurate? What I’m trying to get at is, when people say the current level is high or unaffordable, how new or unusual is this level? How long was it at a similar level before 695? How does our level compare to other states?

      1. Before 695, tabs for a new, but not fancy car were often over $500 per year. I had colleagues at work who were paying over $700/year for their car tabs. Most of them knew that $30/year was a ridiculously low number for car tabs, but when given a choice of $700/year or $30/year, it’s not hard to see why 695 was overwhelmingly approved.

      2. No, they’re higher now than $80-$160, closer to twice that. Sound Transit 3 was a significant increase.

  2. Anyone who follows Olympia have a breakdown of where these people fall on transit and other urbanist issues?

  3. Just hope they don’t set the US Senate as an example and block all dissent from Republicans and the DINO Tim Sheldon. Well, maybe they should because they were doing the same to the Democrats in the state Senate.

    1. Exactly, we have a situation where only one party is being responsible and holding up the center on its own. In the Eisenhower and Dan Evans eras both parties did. and you could choose the best individuals from either party to govern and get things done. Now you’ve got one party whose members more or less want to burn the house down, who think government is the problem, cutting taxes to zero is the solution, the major problems the public is facing like rising housing costs and healthcare and climate resiliance are unimportant or not the government’s concern, and who divide people into “us vs them” with us being respectable people and them being the poor, criminals, immigrants, non-Christians, women, and dark-skinned people. Then they go on with calling the truth “fake news” to discredit it like their real fake news, and continue to parrot trickle-down economics even though it failed in the 80s and 00s and in Kansas recently, and they gerrymander districts and pass voter-suppression laws to keep themselves in power. Not all of that is happening in Washington state thankfully, but it’s happening around the country, and it could come here if some legislators get jerked around by their party.

  4. I just emailed all of the senators in the Transportation Committee to adopt new Transportation budget to prioritize rail transportation spending. I made of list of potential projects ranging from high-speed rail to regional rail important to reducing congestion, traffic fatalities, freight truck congestion, and immobility of youth, elderly and poor.

    I suggest others do the same.

    1. Thanks for doing this, Andrew. But a couple of thoughts about the beneficial effects you mention. For general purpose traffic, especially commuting, most anti-transit groups’ first promise is always to “reduce congestion.” Meaning adding more lanes for cars to run on.Tying up the whole discussion into scouring pads of projected numerical statistics.

      Have yet to see a single automobile-related measure of any kind that keeps car traffic moving freely for more than a few years. Bringing demands to add more transit lanes to the new ones already jammed. Also left out is that since the vast majority of cars carry once person each, average traffic jam contains relatively few people for the space and and blockage it causes.

      So transit’s best best promise re: congestion is to reserve slow and unpleasant driving for those who choose to be stuck in it.

      But what transit needs most is to underlay every effort with advance plans to start changing the seventy years worth of living patterns where sheer number of cars is now main obstacle to personal freedom itself. In early stages, for instance, necessitating a lot of both elevating and tunneling, but good effects worth the price.

      Also, the easiest block of voters to convert to pro-transit will be working-age people whose transit choices have gone with the jobs they use to ride to. Whose best chance at return is the return to these people the necessary updates of the work they’ve lost.

      Which as a transit motivation,is worth Seattle’s and King County’s investment to help them get. But above all, I’d suggest that all everybody campaigning pro-transit develop as much technical understanding as possible about transit’s construction and operations.

      Most important of all, giving political leaders the understanding to present voters with a transit system that at least looks like it will work.


    2. Remember that idea of painting 3rd Avenue red? That would also work for I-5 lanes. And it would be inexpensive.

      1. Yes, absolutely. This is probably the easiest, cheapest way to improve transit mobility in the region. Just pass a bill based on the federal standard. If an HOV lane is not moving at the required average, then bump the number. In some cases, the road is fine as HOV 2. But in many other cases, it should be moved to HOV-3. Of course there will be some backlash, but in many instances, more people will come out ahead and thus support the change. In the areas where traffic is really moving slowly, the two person carpool folks won’t be that upset, because traffic isn’t moving much faster anyway. A lot of them — the ones that really are carpooling — will probably go ahead and find someone else to join them.

        Another change is to allow for automated enforcement of bus only lanes. Bases on the discussion a while back, there is no technical reason this can’t be done. Figuring out how many people are in the car is tricky, but figuring out if a car is not where it should be is easy. Right now enforcing bus only lanes is a legal problem, not an engineering one.

      2. It’s not that simple. Sometimes, an HOV-2 lane is moving at 5 mph, while the other lanes are moving at 2 mph. While 5 mph is still horrifically slow for a freeway, that’s still more than double the speed of 2 mph and, yes, the parents taking their kid to school (which is technically a two-person carpool, under the law) would object.

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