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March 15, 2006

Transportation Highlights from the Legislative Session

The crew at Transportation Choices Coalition offer their wrap-up of a very successful legislative session.   The highlights: 

  • A big win on commute trip reduction
  • Another big win on biofuels
  • More good news on regional transit solutions for Puget Sound

Details below the fold.

        We couldn't have asked for a bigger win on this issue. We got everything - that's right - everything we wanted! This very successful program, which removes about 20,000 cars from our roads each day using employee and employer incentives, received some innovative changes to improve even  further its efficiency and effectiveness with our lobbyist Genesee Adkins leading the charge. Now we can focus CTR resources in the areas that need them most. Final bonus: we got nearly all of the funding  we wanted for these improvements - $3.9 million for new vanpool vans and $750,000 for local government assistance! We would like to thank…everyone!  All 147 senators and representatives voted yes on this important bill!
        BIOFUELS - WIN!
        A broad coalition of agricultural, environmental, and labor voices came together in support of a Renewable Fuel Standard and it passed with bi-partisan support. The State of Washington will now sell 2% of our diesel as biodiesel and 2% of our gas as ethanol. This also creates jobs for  Eastern Washington farmers and reduces air pollution. Thank you to Governor  Gregoire - who showed strong leadership on this issue, and to all the legislators who supported this bill. In particular, Representative Jenea         Holmquist, prime sponsor in the House; Senator Marilyn Rasmussen, prime  sponsor in the Senate; and Senator Eric Poulsen, chair of the Senate Water, Energy and Environment Committee.
        This was the biggest, most complicated bill we wrestled with all session! After all the dust settled, we got some great pieces out of a regional transportation reform bill.
        1. What's the biggest need we're going to have when all our roads and bridges are getting repaired? MORE TRANSIT! And that's exactly what we're going to get! The previously road-heavy Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) will now have to fund transit and the region will have the opportunity to continue that service after our 10 years of construction are complete.
        2. We'll also see a regional governance commission developed this summer         and fall to evaluate the coordination of our transportation agencies  and provide recommendations for the 2007 session (yep - we're already thinking about it).
        3. We've also secured a reduction in the amount of sales tax the region can collect for big road projects. Sales tax shouldn't be paying for new highways!
        There is one issue we didn't win on in ESHB 2871, namely the timing and         manner of a vote for Sound Transit. We are on record as OPPOSING the         conditional ballot measure, which means that while both ST2 & RTID are on the ballot separately, both must pass in order for either to pass; however, that was indeed the outcome. We are also disappointed that Sound Transit will not be able to bring voters their ST2 package in 2006, but we will continue to work closely with ST on a package that voters can support in 2007. We may have lost on this issue in the short term, but in the long term we'll have MORE transit service coming through both ST2 AND the RTID.

Our biggest thank-you of all, for his relentless dedication to transportation reform, goes to Representative Ed Murray. We applaud his leadership and tremendous support of transit. We also thank Senators Mary Margaret Haugen, Brian Weinstein, and Eric Poulsen, as well as Representatives Dave Upthegrove, Fred Jarrett, Mary Lou Dickerson, and Geoff Simpson for all their great work. Finally, we thank Governor Gregoire for having the courage to break the political gridlock that has plagued transportation issues for many years and setting us on a path towards regional transportation solutions. For more details on the specifics of ESHB 2871, please email rachel@transportationchoices.org.

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 15, 2006 at 07:11 AM in Policy | Permalink


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