The House Ag & Natural Resources committee heard HB 2902, fish habitat/barrier removal, which provides $50 million in funding for fish barrier removals for the remainder of the biennium.  The bill had several people testify in strong support. The bill is scheduled for executive session for February 1st. If you support this bill, please let the committee chair, Rep. Bryan Blake, and ranking member, Re. Vincent Beys, know. If the bill makes it out of committee, it will next go to the Appropriations Committee where funding is uncertain.  Hearing from counties could make a difference.

SB 6530, which codifies Connecting Washington funding allocations to CRAB, FMSIB, and TIB, is scheduled for hearing on Jan. 29th.  Its companion bill, HB 2896, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. Currently, the funds promised to these agencies in Connecting Washington need biennial appropriations.

HB 2337, regarding construction in state waters, has not been scheduled for executive session and looks like it might not move forward.

Several bills of interest have moved or are scheduled to move out of their respective committees. SB 6490, local real estate tax/GMA, was passed out of the Senate Local Government Committee with a title amendment that makes it clearer that counties that opt into GMA planning would be able to councilmanically adopt REET 2. The original bill title only referred to cities.  The House companion bill, HB 2876, is scheduled for hearing on Jan. 30th.

HB 2749 (Orcutt) allowing rural counties to impose an additional .05% sales tax for rural broadband infrastructure, is scheduled for an executive session this week.

SSB 6152, regarding vacation of roads abutting water, was scaled back to address a specific issue related situations involving mainline railroads.

SB 5288, allows certain public transit benefit areas to increase the sales tax by an additional .3%, was introduced in 2017, but died in the Rules Committee.  The Rules Committee has now moved the bill to second reading for a floor vote. The bill would only affect the Thurston County PTBA, Intercity Transit.

HB 2594, studying the feasibility of a statewide infrastructure authority, sets up a joint select committee on infrastructure made up of legislators, to study infrastructure needs. The bill focuses on broadband, high-speed rail, and air cargo, but has broad authority to include all infrastructure.  The bill’s only testimony came from the bill sponsor, Rep. Morris, who also chairs the committee in which it was heard.

SHB 2737, studying constitutional and statutory obligations and tax revenue of local governments, was passed out of committee with the scope reduced to only county government. The bill provides funding to the Department of Commerce to do the study, which will focus on general government responsibilities. This bill is a WSAC priority legislative request.

Gary is currently the Managing Director of WACE (Washington Association of County Engineers).He has extensive background in the policy areas of Transportation and Public Works.