2021 Session – General Legislative Recap: Week of April 2, 2021

Legislative Session, WBPA News,

This is the 82nd day of the 105-day session.

We are only 23 days away from the end of the first virtual Legislative Session.

Friday, April 2 was the cutoff for bills to pass the Opposite House Fiscal Committee; Sunday April 11 is the cutoff for bills to pass out of the Opposite House; and finally the last day of the 2021 legislative session is on Sunday, April 25.  From April 12 to April 25 the Operating, Capital and Transportation budgets will be further negotiated and finalized, and bills will be concurred that passed with amendments in the opposite House. 

Even though Friday was the last day to pass bills out of committee and read them into the record on the floor from fiscal committees, technically, however, if a bill is NTIB, or "needed to implement budget," which fiscal bills often are, then such legislation can come up at any time. 

Below is a summary of what occurred this week for your general update.  To view this as a PDF click here.

“Miles Ahead Washington House Transportation Investment Package"

On Wednesday, March 31 the House Transportation Chair Rep. Jake Fey (D-27) released three documents including his “title only” HB 1564 which consists of “a blanket provision specifying that additive transportation funding is adopted.”  The other two documents released that same day included a proposed spending plan of $22.3 billion over 16 years with sizable investments into carbon emissions reduction initiatives.  HB 1564 was heard in House Transportation where it received about 3 hours of testimony from different individuals and groups advocating for their projects and concerns.  All documents can be found on the LEAP site linked here.

Major Investments Proposed

The I-5 Columbia River Bridge with $1 billion allocated in funding was the largest investment this transportation package prioritized.  This would go towards replacing the I-5 bridge connecting Vancouver, Washington to Portland, Oregon to fund a replacement bridge that has been in discussions for well over a decade. It has come close to fruition in the past, but the Washington State Legislature would not fund the then called “Columbia River Crossing” after disagreements surrounding certain issues including the cost of the project, proposed light rail services, and tolling.  The current bridge is over 100 years old and causes traffic congestion when vehicles are required to stop when the bridge lifts up to allow large vessels to pass under it. 

Other major investments in the project include investments made towards improving I-5’s HOV lanes in the Tacoma and Lakewood area, US 2 Trestle Capacity Improvements & Westbound Trestle Replacement, and investments in Statewide Freight Corridors.