Northgate Link Construction
Northgate Link, which will relieve I-5 of tens of thousands of peak commuters, but is nevertheless not considered a “highway purpose”. A little negotiation on a bipartisan Constitutional Amendment could fix that.
Credit: Atomic Taco

Friday was the deadline for bills in Olympia to get out of the fiscal committees. Now, all the survivors have to get through their chamber’s Rules Committee, and get passed on 2nd/3rd reading on their chamber’s floor, by 5 pm on Wednesday, March 13.

The extremely user-friendly state legislative website lists bills that have made it out of each committee.

Among the 50 bills that got voted out of the House Transportation Committee, 13 substantially impact transit, bikes, and pedestrians:

  • Engrossed House Bill 1058, would allow multiple motorcycles to park in the same parking space. The bill has already zoomed unanimously out of the House. (See virtual companion SB 5653)
  • 2nd Substitute House Bill 1110, would set a schedule for limiting greenhouse gas emissions from fuels; would exempt exports, electricity, and fuel for aircrafts, vessels and railroads from the limits; and would exempt the 2015 Transportation Revenue Package from being impacted by the Clean Fuels Program goals. Its companion bill died in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology.
  • Substitute HB 1116, would increase the scope and cost of motorcycle education requirements, increase the fine for driving a motorcycle without a licence, and set up a need-based subsidy program. See its companion, SSB 5303.
  • SHB 1189 would allow WSDOT to adopt additional performance standards for Washington State Ferries, but would specify unfilled car spots as one of those measures. This bill has sailed to the Senate.
  • HB 1256 would increase the fines for driving while using a personal electronic device in a school zone, playground zone, crosswalk, or speed zone and direct the revenue to local communities for programs to improve safety in these zones. A few Republicans voted no in committee, despite nobody testifying in opposition.
  • SHB 1277 would remove the wattage limit on electric-assisted bicycles.
  • SHB 1325 would establish regulations for unstaffed personal delivery services on sidewalks and crosswalks. See companion bill SSB 5378.
  • SHB 1397 would set up a work group, under WSDOT, to study the potential for the electric aircraft industry for travel within the state. The bill has advanced to the House Floor second reading calendar.
  • SHB 1504 would make several changes to the punishments for impaired driving.
  • SHB 1723 would merge the pedestrian and bicycle safety councils into the Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council, with the support of all who testified. The bill has advanced to the second reading calendar. See companion bill SSB 5710.
  • SHB 1772 would set various regulations on motorized foot scooters, allow for other local regulations, and impose an insurance requirement on shared scooter operations. See companion bill SSB 5751.
  • SHB 1793 would allow automated traffic camera enforcement of HOV and bus lanes, crosswalks, box-blocking, and impediment of emergency vehicles. The substitute bill gives those caught a free warning. Its companion bill died in committee.
  • HB 1966 would make several changes to the laws regarding traffic behavior around cyclists and pedestrians, increase fines for violations, and create a Vulnerable Roadway User Account, using the revenue to educate about such laws. See companion SSB 5723.

Among the 48 bills that survived the Senate Transportation Committee are 14 substantially impacting transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians, along with 1 scary proposed Constitutional Amendment that might help doom humanity:

  • Substitute Senate Bill 5104 would ban most local governments, except port districts, from imposing tolls on local roads. It has advanced to the Senate Floor second reading calendar. The bill is primarily a response to Mayor Durkan’s call for congestion pricing.
  • SSB 5128 would lower the annual additional annual fee on electric motorcycles from $120 to $30.
  • SSB 5253 would require vehicles to be utilizing wheelchairs or other mobility equipment in order to be allowed to park in van accessible parking spaces. It was brought forth at the request of a constituent of Sen. Tim Sheldon. No other representatives of disability communities testified. The bill is on the second reading calendar.
  • SB 5254 would allow motorcycles to overtake within the same lane under certain conditions, and allow motorcycles on shoulder lanes that are open to public transit vehicles. The bill is on the second reading calendar.
  • SSB 5303 is the companion to SHB 1116. It has advanced to the second reading calendar.
  • SSB 5378 is the companion to SHB 1325.
  • SB 5653 would allow multiple motorcycles to park in the same parking space, like EHB 1058. It has zoomed unanimously out of the Senate.
  • SSB 5695 would impose escalating fines on HOV lane violators. Its companion bill died in committee.
  • SSB 5710 is the companion to SHB 1723.
  • SSB 5723 is the companion to SHB 1966.
  • SSB 5751 would update the definition of “motorized foot scooter”, allow local regulations, and establish insurance requirements for shared scooter operations. See companion SHB 1772.
  • SSB 5847 would create a process for designating a “transportation project of statewide significance” in order to expedite various major highway construction with more lanes. The bill throws in words like “safety” and “congestion reduction”, as if it these projects were really doing that. This bill begs for requiring climate impact statements on transportation bills, and a veto by our governor if he wants to “defeat climate change”.
  • SB 5881 would increase the penalties for unlawfully installing vehicle safety glazing or film sunscreening in a vehicle. The bill is basically a well-justified lashing out at illegal tinting by Sen. Curtis King after police complained that illegally dark tinting was impinging on their ability to enforce traffic laws, particularly HOV lanes.
  • SSB 5896 would add shared employer shuttles to the list of passenger transportation services that may be privately operated in King County, and would (more contentiously) require public transit park & rides to provide parking stalls for employer shuttles (not just the shared ones, if you read the bill language) regardless of whether the facility is at capacity, so long as some of the passengers are using public transit. A little conversation between profligate prime sponsor Sen. Guy Palumbo and the agencies about how to make this program easily admisterable would be a win-win, from my vantage point.
  • Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 8206 would propose an Amendment to the Washington State Constitution to require vehicle license fees and vehicle sales taxes to be used for “highway purposes”, just like with the gas tax. If the Constitutional Amendment were to name transit, protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and curb cuts as “highway purposes”, then the amendment would be a positive improvement. Barring that, it is just another accellerant of global warming and human extinction. A Constitutional Amendment requires a 2/3 majority in each chamber to propose, and then a simple majority of voters to pass, with no involvement by the governor.

Unless otherwise stated above, all of these bills are in their chamber’s Rules Committee at time of publication.

The budget bills and any bills deemed necessary to the budget are exempt from the deadlines.

19 Replies to “27 Multi-Modal/Climate Bills Survive Transportation Committees”

  1. Curious that no one wanted to reinstate the salestax exemption for the first $32,000 of electric vehicle sales of a car whose base model was under $45,000 (so Tesla Model 3 would be covered, but no Tesla Model S or X), since there is at least some desire to eliminate greenhouse gases. (the prior law expired a few years ago). It would seem less controversial than a carbon tax (Other states such as CO give a $5,000 rebate). Until the Seattle area’s craptacular transit system is augmented by ST3, we are still going to have SOVs.

    1. I was bummed out about that one too, but at least HB 1512 appears to still be alive. Even if EV purchases don’t get a tax break, it would be ideal to see the Puget Sound region blanketed in chargers to make the logistics of electric car sharing easier.

  2. It’s a bit amazing.

    We have a federal government that refuses to raise adequate transportation funding to support state and local transportation needs and yet also feels the need to restrict how state’s raise alternative forms of revenue to plug the federal gap.

    We have a state government that refused to raise adequate transportation funding to support local transportation needs and yet also feels the need to restrict how municipalities raise alternative forms of revenue to plug the federal and state gap. (and doing the same for education)

    We are systematically ensuring that our transportation (and educational) systems will fail. And they are.

    Who knew the democrats were so supportive of privatization of all government assets. I’m not sure what the alternative is without funding options.

  3. Does that amendment even have a chance of passing? Looks like there are no democratic sponsors unless you count Sheldon. Regardless I’ll be calling my senator to make sure he votes no.

    1. Yes. Every Democrat on the committee except for Lovelett voted to advance it. This even includes Saldana and Nguyen, both of whom represent part of Seattle.

      With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?

  4. Man, if this is the best “transportation plan” Democrats can come up with in a fairly Blue state, the world is well and thoroughly screwed. We need a highly infective and lethal strain of airborne Ebola NOW! Let’s hear it for the Sweating Sickness! Anybody for the Plague?

    There needs to be something to prune the over-abundance of a VERY dangerous and stupid species, because we seem Hell-bound to wreck the planet.

    1. Correct 2123 did not get out of committee

      Rep Noel Frame  got back to me specifically:

      “I’d also like to let you know that the bill in question, HB 2123, did not make it out of the House Transportation committee by the required deadline, so it is extremely unlikely to pass this year.”

      Happy about that!

    2. Yes, it appears HB 2123 did not get out of committee.

      Boo hiss!

      I’m reminded of something that Dan Ryan wrote in a comment in a recent thread specifically discussing this piece of legislation:

      “That’s where the clock ran out last year. To more cynical observers, it looked like the Dems went through the motions last year of seeming to develop a bill and were happy to see it fail at the end of session once they could blame the Republicans for last minute obstruction. Maybe fair, maybe not. But it’ll be hard to defend a repeat this session after they’ve had the entire year to work on this.”

      Count me in as one of those cynical observers.

  5. Global warming is not going to cause human extinction. It may cause many humans to die early, but it won’t come even close to causing extinction.

    1. We’re already well into mass-extinction territory from our own actions. Climate Change is just the plant swinging into it. If we don’t stop billowing carbon into the atmosphere and drastically curtail our environmental destruction, we will all die out over the next century or so from ecosystem collapse.

    2. Total human extinction is unlikely, but since we don’t know everything that will happen we can’t rule it out. Polar bears don’t care as whether their species goes extinct but rather whether they’ll be stuck on an iceberg with no food. To many, the loss of civilization and reverting to a few scattered tribes struggling daily for survival is about as bad as extinction.

      1. Indeed – I doubt we’ll go extinct too, but I’d really love to avoid any amount of human suffering from preventable causes.

  6. SHB 1277 would remove the wattage limit on electric-assisted bicycles.

    Damn, they already rammed through SB 6434, which unleashed the horde of e-bikes on unprepared state and local infrastructure that no one asked for. Now they want to make our trails even more unsafe? Why?

    Is there significant e-bike manufacturer/sales lobbying or where do these bills keep coming from?

    I’m excited for the followup bill that removes the “electric assist” requirement.

  7. I’m not sure why amending Section 40 of the constitution to include alternative vehicle usage fees is the end of the world. Unless I’m mistaken, our state already restricts license, registration, and vehicle excise tax revenue to “highway” funding. At least that’s how I read the current section 40.

    1. I made a mistake. I read the substitute bill and thought it was the only change being made. That said, I still think this amendment is redundant if monies being collected are already supposed to be used for highways. Adding a section that says they should be exclusively used for highways seems unnecessary.

      Is this an attempt to provide a more robust legal basis for challenging funding mechanisms used by Sound Transit and other municipalities for projects someone thinks don’t qualify as being related to “highways”?

  8. HB2123 – I thought I read that the bill might be deemed “budget-related” in which case it would be exempt from Friday’s deadline.

    SJR8206 – I’m confused by this. Reading the bill the only change seems to be adding “Any state revenue collected from a road usage charge, vehicle miles traveled fee, or other similar type of comparable charge, must be used exclusively for highway purpose.”

    So wouldn’t that just be tolls and congestion charges? And seeing near unanimous approval in the transportation committee makes me think this isn’t as huge a deal as this site implies.

    SB5971 is interesting. It would establish a $15/ton carbon tax, but would seemingly direct much of that carbon tax to highway projects. On the 1 hand, not the best use of a carbon tax. But on the other hand, it’d get the carbon tax foot in the door.

    1. I’m extremely worried about SJR8206. It’s very possible it just got through because there was no *organized* opposition, and there was no news coverage. Search for it — this story is the only one I can find on this bill. I haven’t seen any alerts from The Urbanist or Seattle Subway or the likes asking us to call or e-mail our legislators about it.

      But this is incredibly dangerous. We’ve seen that if you put a question on the ballot with a question restricting the use of taxes, statewide voters seem keen to approve. And once you’ve put something like this in, it become a 3rd rail that nobody wants to touch, like CA Prop 13 or WA 18th amendment. Once drivers and/or rich people acquire a privilege, they never want to give it up.

      In all fairness, some of the Senators who I would expect the strongest opposition from (Carlyle, Liias, Pedersen) aren’t on this committee.

      But it’s inexcusable for Democrats to be going along with this. Nobody is making them do it. There’s no Tim Eyman initiative out there pushing for this, and Democrats have a majority. If they’re worried about losing the majority…given that a 2/3 vote is required, you could kill it while still letting Senators from more marginal districts, like Hobbs, Takko, and Randall, vote in favor.

    2. “HB2123 – I thought I read that the bill might be deemed “budget-related” in which case it would be exempt from Friday’s deadline.”

      It is budget-related and therefore exempt. The readout from Olympia seems to be that while it’s technically alive, the impasse makes it less likely to come back.

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