Friends and Neighbors,
We are now past the midway point of the 60-day legislative session. It has been a long, busy week in the Washington State House of Representatives – with floor action continuing tomorrow and possibly Sunday. State lawmakers have already passed policy and fiscal committee cutoffs, respectively, and are working toward house of origin cutoff on Tuesday. Beginning Wednesday, the Legislature will settle back into committee work and consider bills passed by the opposite chamber.
Democrats' transportation plan
The Democrats finally unveiled their transportation plan on day 30. They attempted to find agreement on a package last year but could not do so in time. Their new, 16-year, $16.8 billion plan is called Move Ahead Washington and includes a lot of fee and tax increases, in addition to revenue from their cap-and-trade legislation (Climate Commitment Act) from last year. You can find more details here.
Having served as ranking member on the House Transportation Committee, I have been directly involved with bipartisan efforts to develop a transportation package. It is time-consuming, detailed-oriented work. I was also in office when two other packages were developed and passed. All three packages had meaningful bipartisan input.
Unfortunately, this year, the process was purely partisan. The minority party was not consulted. That's disappointing. Transportation should not be a partisan issue. Republicans will be involved from this point forward, offering amendments and solutions, but we'll have to see if Democrats are open to our ideas.
Beyond the process, my concerns with the proposal are its fee increases, reliance on higher costs of fuel to consumers, and the distribution of the funds. There should be no added fees or higher regulatory costs, instead it should use existing funds such as surplus general fund dollars. And more money should go to benefit drivers who will be paying the majority of the costs of this package.
House Republican transportation solutions
Last December, my House Republican colleagues unveiled a package of transportation legislation – including eight bills – focused on preservation and maintenance of infrastructure, improving safety on roadways, recruiting ferry workers, fish passage, and creating a new, sustainable transportation funding model that does not raise taxes or fees. Our motto this legislative session is “Real Solutions.” And real solutions are what we've proposed for our transportation system.
Tow truck safety
Safety on our roadways is important, including those who assist motorists when there is an emergency or accident. Over the last few years, we've seen tragic circumstances in which tow truck operators were injured or killed while assisting someone in need. These operators often have very little room to work alongside fast-moving traffic and the conditions are dangerous. It's important that we alert drivers, so they slow down and move over.
With that in mind, I prime sponsored House Bill 1709. The legislation would allow emergency tow truck operators to use revolving red lights when approaching to a scene of an emergency or accident and use a rear-facing blue light when they are at the scene. It would also require any driver on a road with a speed limit of 60 mph or more approaching any emergency or work zone who are unable to move away or change lanes to reduce speed to 50 mph or lower.
I'm hopeful this bill comes to the House floor in the next few days. I discuss this issue in a video I taped last week. You can watch it here.
Zoom town hall meeting
I would like to thank all of you who attended our 20th District Zoom town hall meeting on February 1. It was a great hour of updates, questions, and exchange of ideas. A total of 90 people joined in. If you missed this one, I hope you join us for one in the future.
The last half of the legislative session
Several major decisions will be made in the last half of the legislative session. Your input is important as I consider various amendments, bills, and budgets. I welcome your calls, emails, and letters. Please don't hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, ideas, or concerns.