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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we complete the fifth week of the 2015 legislative session, we continue to hear and vote on bills in committee. We have also started some floor action with the full House of Representatives voting on bills and sending them over to the Senate. We passed a bipartisan supplemental operating budget by a vote of 89-8 this week. This supplemental budget completes the state's spending plan for the remainder of the 2013-2015 biennium, ending in June. The plan taps into the state's Budget Stabilization Account (referred to as the rainy day fund) to allocate emergency funds to the communities devastated by the Highway 530 landslide and the Carlton Complex wildfires. This is exactly what the rainy day fund is for, as we needed to address the costs of these catastrophic events. The budget also contained a provision that replaces the March revenue forecast with a February forecast that will assist us in getting our work done on time as we turn our full attention to the biennial budget. For these reasons I supported the supplemental budget.
The Senate announced a bipartisan transportation plan on Thursday. It includes funds for the completion of Highway 167 from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma, my top transportation priority. While I have been advocating for the completion of 167 since I came to the Legislature, I have also argued that a transportation package must be accompanied by transportation reforms. There are agreements on some reforms, but negotiations over other reforms are still underway. I continue to work on two reform bills, House Bill 1219 which would fast track the replacement of deficient bridges by shortening timelines for contracting and permitting, and House Bill 1218, which would implement public-private partnership best practice models for non-toll transportation projects. Both bills have been passed by the House Transportation Committee. I originally sponsored HB 1219 after the collapse of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge because of my concern for the Meridian Street Puyallup River Bridge. The Washington State Department of Transportation currently identifies 130 bridges as structurally deficient. I am hopeful that these reforms will be included in a final transportation reform agreement.
On Wednesday, the full House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill I introduced that would revise lien collections of sewer charges by counties. Under current law, cities can wait six months before recording a lien for delinquent sewer payments. House Bill 1317 would extend the same policy to counties. This would allow them to save on administrative costs and allow delinquent customers time to pay their sewer charges before having to pay recording fees.
Next week will be another full week of committee hearings. We will be reaching our first cutoff date of the legislative session. Friday, Feb. 20, is the last day policy committees can pass bills out of committee otherwise they are likely “dead” for the session.
Keep in touch.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000