Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are just nine days away from the close of the 2017 regular legislative session. House floor action was center stage this week. Our agenda was filled with House floor action voting on Senate bills and passing the House transportation and capital budgets. Here are some highlights from Week 14.
Gov. Jay Inslee signs bill giving youth courts jurisdiction over transit infractions
Let's talk transportation!
Congestion relief study
Transportation issues are one of my top legislative priorities. Our district needs relief from the heavy traffic congestion on Highway 410. A component of the House transportation budget proposal, which passed the House this week, is funding for a traffic study. This study would identify the problems to current travel times and conditions. Once the study is complete, we would be able to use the data to make proper improvements to the highway. The study will focus on the stretch of Highway 410 between Bonney Lake and Enumclaw. This is the first step in the right direction for long overdue congestion relief for our region.
The fight continues: Sound Transit 3
This week, the House passed HB 2201. This bill would bring a small amount of relief to the Sound Transit 3 debacle by creating an adjustment program to the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET). This would give people a small tax rebate on their car tabs. For example, currently a 2017 Honda Accord would pay around $207 for its car tabs. Under HB 2201, the car tabs would be $176. Per one of the amendments offered to the bill, it would take the price down to $129. I was a reluctant 'yes' on passing this bill. Here's why. This bill doesn't go far enough to bring the relief everyone affected by this massive tax nightmare deserves. We introduced several amendments to make this bill a better solution. The House majority party rejected all of them. Even though our solutions weren't accepted, I still believe some relief is better than no relief, and voted in favor of the bill.
During final passage of the House transportation budget, we offered several additional amendments to try to incorporate the needed relief. I sponsored an amendment that would allow cities and counties to opt-out of the transit authority altogether. Pierce County crushed the ST3 measure. We shouldn't have to pay massive taxes on a measure we said 'no' to. Allowing an opt-out is a viable solution. The amendment was rejected. You can read more about it here. I will continue to bring pressure to this issue until we find a solution to reform Sound Transit. The fight is not over.
Keeping an eye on our major highway lifelines
I have heard from many of you asking about the status of the Chinook-Cayuse passes. As we all know, this was an unprecedented winter. Even though we are starting to see signs of spring all around – from the cherry blossom trees blooming, to the daffodils and tulips popping up – there is still a lot of snow on our mountain passes. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews are working hard to clear the 15 feet, or so, of snow still on the roadways over these passes. The goal is to open both passes on Memorial Day weekend. I know these roads are an instrumental lifeline, not only to travel, but also for the vitality of many local businesses. I'm working hand-in-hand with WSDOT as they continue to clear the snow and ensure the roadways are safe for travel. I will keep you posted on their efforts. Stay tuned!
It was an honor to spend time with this year's Daffodil Princesses. The Daffodil Court is comprised of bright young ladies from high schools throughout Pierce County. They were visiting Olympia to promote their festival, and share their goals for the future.
It's an honor to serve you.