Update: Moving Ahead Washington Transportation Package

It was a very busy legislative week for transportation. Bills related to the Supplemental Transportation Budgets and Move Ahead Washington Transportation Package were all heard, and moving through their respective committees in both the House of Representatives and Senate, for consideration on the floor.

On Sunday night, the Senate Supplemental Transportation Budget was released, and the House released their Supplemental Budget Monday morning. Monday afternoon there were hearings on all four bills (House and Senate) related to the Supplemental Budgets and Transportation Package. Just like with the revenue bills heard last week, there was a great deal of interest this week and testimony ran into late afternoon.

The Washington State Association of County Engineers (WSACE) continues to have concerns with the lack of funding in the Package for the preservation and maintenance of our county road and bridge system; and WSAC worked with our other local government partners throughout the week to keep the conversation going with legislators hoping to get amendments to provide more funding for the County Road Administration Board (CRAB), Transportation Improvement Board (TIB), and the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board (FMSIB).

Monday’s hearings were followed by Executive Session action taken by each House and Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

In an important moment this session for local government, the House Transportation Committee, on recommendation from the Chair, amended the proposed Supplemental Budget to include increased funding for CRAB and TIB.

This amendment represents an increase of 18.7 million dollars in the House Supplemental Budget for local preservation purposes and Complete Streets Grants.

While this is great news for counties, efforts must now turn toward getting this critical amendment passed by the House and agreed to by the Senate to ensure these important resources make it to final passage.

Update: HB 1918, Transitioning to Zero-Emission Outdoor Power Equipment

Proposed SHB 2749.2 was heard in the House Finance Committee last week. The proposed Substitute bill was scheduled for Executive Session this morning, and while much improved, still presented concerns for local government. Specifically, the remaining requirement that after January 1, 2025, local jurisdictions would be required (with certain exceptions) to only purchase zero-emission power equipment under 25hp.

Fortunately, during Executive Session an amendment proposed by the Ranking Member was adopted and substantially changed the bill, removing Section 3, the mandated purchase requirement for local governments. This was good news for counties as the bill passed out of committee with the adopted amendment.

Update: Local Fish Barrier Removal Funding

As a reminder, the current Transportation Package lacks new investments for the removal of local fish barriers. While the Package does a great job of addressing state-owned fish barriers, allocating $2.4 billion to DOT, we remain concerned with the lack of investment to repair upstream and downstream local culverts.

This week, as an alternative to the Transportation Budgets, WSACE testified at the hearing for the Supplemental House Capital Budget to respectfully request more funding in the bill for the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board.