Update 1: Y’all wanted to know why Sen. Saldaña proposed her amendment exempting transit from citations. The answer is at the bottom of the post. I promise you won’t have to click 10 times to get to it.
Update 2: Sen. Saldaña has submitted a striker amendment, with the effects listed below.
Update 3: Sen. Saldaña has submitted a second striker amendment, with the effects listed below. The first four amdendments have all been pulled, leaving just the last two eligible for floor discussion and action.
Update 4: Sen. Hasegawa has submitted two amendments to Saldaña’s second striker to push Seattle to operate camera enforcement in-house. Those two make four that could come up on the Senate floor.
Final Update: The bill did not get brought up on the Senate floor by adjournment for the year, midnight Sunday. It goes back to the start line in 2020.
Both chambers of the State Legislature took the morning off while various conference committees (some formal and some informal) and party caucuses try to iron out disagreements on various bills, including biennial transportation appropriations (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1160). Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene in voting session at 2 pm. The session ends at midnight Sunday.
The bill to add additional allowed uses of automated camera enforcement for traffic violations, including bus lanes, crosswalks, and blocking the box (ESHB 1793), is 53rd – and last – on the Senate’s regular floor calendar, after having gotten voted out of the Senate Rules Committee at first asking yesterday.
Eight floor amendments to ESHB 1793 have been proposed:
- (PULLED) Sen. Mike Padden (R – Spokane Valley) has proposed that before a city (i.e. Seattle) can deploy camera enforcement of these new categories, it must pass a vote of the people in that city.
- (PULLED) Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D – Seattle) has proposed that buses and streetcars be exempted from the new categories, which is to say that buses could still be cited for blocking the intersection or crosswalk by street patrols, but not by automated cameras.
- (PULLED) Sen. Saldaña has submitted a striker amendment that would have the following “Effect”s compared to the original bill:
(1) Reduces the violations that may be detected by a camera in the pilot program to: Stopping at intersection or crosswalk violations; public transportation only lane violations; and stopping or traveling in restricted lane violations.
(2) Further limits the pilot program enforcement of intersection or crosswalk blocking violations to the 20 intersections at which the city would most like to address safety concerns.
(3) Exempts portions of roadways that serve as an on-ramp to an interstate from the pilot program.
(4) Requires that only a warning may be issued for violations until December 31, 2019.
(5) Authorizes the issuance of an infraction from January 1, 2020, to January 1, 2022.
(6) Limits the amount of the fine for the infraction to no more than $60.
(7) Public transportation vehicles may not be issued an infraction under the pilot program.
(8) Redirects the portion of the infraction penalties that are distributed to the state to the Multimodal Transportation Account instead of the Highway Safety Account.
The striker amendment would notably remove emergency vehicle access enforcement and lengthen the pilot program to three years from the two years in the bill as it passed the House.
- (PULLED) Sen. Padden has proposed an amendment to the striker amendment, textually identical to his amendment to the original bill.
- Sen. Saldaña has submitted a second striker amendment that makes the same changes as the first striker, but would also remove the first warning in 2020 and go straight to issuing infractions, and would direct all the profit to the state’s Multimodal Transportation Account.
- Sen. Padden has submitted an amendment to the second striker, textually identical to his other two amendments.
- Sen . Bob Hasegawa (D – Renton) has submitted an amendment to the second striker to bar contracting out operation of the camera enforcement system. The contracting out of camera enforcement by other jurisdictions is something Tim Eyman complained about during Wednesday’s committee hearing. Seattle, and many other cities that do or have done automated camera enforcement, contracted out to American Traffic Solutions to operate the program.
- Sen. Hasegawa then submitted a second amendment to the second striker to require Seattle to examine the resources necessary to wholly operate and administer the traffic safety camera program. This appears to be Plan B in case the City can’t get out of its existing contract with ATS.
Passage of any amendments to the bill would mean the bill then has to go back to the House for concurrence on those amendments. The bill could then die because the clock runs out. Or, the House could refuse to concur, and the clock would run out before the Senate could back down from its amendment(s).
The clock could very well run out before the bill even gets its first vote in the Senate. Moreover, every amendment that gets debated runs the clock out on other bills.
During testimony Wednesday in the Senate Transportation Committee, Tim Eyman gloated that he had helped referendum traffic cameras under the current uses (red lights and school zones), and defeat allowing such traffic cameras in several cities. He suggested automatic referendum language for ESHB 1793, but also hinted he might try to put the issue on the ballot, either in Seattle or statewide.
I asked Saldaña who had requested her amendment to exempt transit vehicles from being cited for blocking the sidewalk or box. She responded, “My proposed amendment that exempts public transit from the intersections is an agreement between the City of Seattle, ATU 587, and King County.”