As we move into the 6th week of the 2019 legislative session an important date is barreling towards us – the first major policy cutoff. On Friday, February 22, all bills need to be out of their policy committee of origin. If they do not make it past that deadline, they are considered dead.

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Many of the bills I track have fiscal committees of origin (transportation, capital budget, etc.) and they get a few extra days of life. Their cutoff is next Friday, March 1. This means a busy couple of weeks ahead with continued committee bill hearings, but also a lot of time dedicated to executive session.

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Those bills that are scheduled for hearing and are of particular interest to us include:

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HB 1897/SB 5830, Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia) and Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima), would allow for greater vehicle combinations on public highways (i.e. truck cabs). Specifically, HB 1897 and SB 5830 direct the Washington State Department of Transportation to conduct a pilot project where vehicle combinations on public highways may be extended to no more than three vehicles. By January 1 of each year until 2024 the WSDOT must submit a status and performance report to the Legislature on the implementation of the pilot project.

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WSACE has concerns with this policy, particularly with the impact it could have on the condition of our roadways. Both bills are scheduled for public hearing on February 20 in their respective House and Senate Transportation Committees.

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HB 1712/SB 5883Rep. Mary Dye (R-Pomeroy) and Sen Curtis King (R-Yakima), would authorize vehicles or combinations of vehicles carrying farm products to exceed gross weight limits by 2,000 pounds. As with HB 1897/SB 5830, WSACE has concerns with any policies that add more weight loads to our roads.

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HB 1712 is scheduled for public hearing in the House Transportation Committee on February 21 and SB 5883 is scheduled for public hearing in Senate Transportation on February 20.

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HB 1951/SB 5923Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) and Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), would establish an emergency loan program within the County Road Administration Board (CRAB). This loan fund would be available when damage to county road infrastructure occurs during times of emergency and disaster. The program would be established as a revolving loan fund that would be self-supporting. Loans would be available to counties after April 1, 2019, with populations less than 800,000.

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WSACE is very supportive of these bills. HB 1951 is scheduled for public hearing in the House Transportation Committee on February 21. The Senate companion does not have a hearing scheduled at this time.

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HB 1793/SB 5789, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle), Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood), would provide for additional uses of automatic traffic cameras, including violations for not stopping at intersections or crosswalks, public transportation only lane violations, and stopping, standing, or parking violations at locations restricted for emergency response vehicles. HB 1793 is scheduled for public hearing in House Transportation on February 18, and SB 5789 is scheduled for public hearing in Senate Transportation on February 18.

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SB 5743Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn). Currently, tax revenues that are collected on the retail sale of vehicles are transmitted to the operating budget. SB 5743 would redirect those funds to the transportation budget to be used exclusively for highway purposes. “Highway purposes” includes preservation and would be available for use on county roads and bridges.

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Counties are very supportive of this measure. SB 5743 is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on February 19, 2019.