By all accounts, the 2012 legislative session has been unusually busy due in part because legislators are already up-to-speed on many of the pressing fiscal concerns due to the special session held in November and December of 2011. Unfortunately, the second week's weather slowed the legislature's previous fast pace, resulting in the cancellation of several committee meetings. Heading into week 3, the Bicycle Alliance will be watching to see this delay will affect the progress of bills we support and monitor in Olympia.
Bicycle Alliance Legislative Priorities:
- Neighborhood Safe Speeds (SHB 1217) – We are optimistic that in week 3 of session this legislation will be moved forward from its position in third reading and will then go on to a full House vote. As soon as we learn more, the Bicycle Alliance will be working to alert supporters about dates to provide testimony and support, as needed. We recently wrote about the bill on our blog: http://bicyclealliance.blogspot.com/2012/01/paving-way-for-safer-neighborhood.html and also made a call out to members to remind their House representatives to vote again for the bill: http://bicyclealliance.blogspot.com/2012/01/alert-remind-your-state-legislators.html
- Flexible Design Standards (HB 1700) – The Flexible Design Standards bill was moved on Friday from the House Rules Committee to the floor. We expect it will be put to a floor vote in the House in week 3. For more legislative information on the bill see: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1700
- Health as a Transportation Policy Goal (HB 2370) – This bill that would add a health policy goal to the existing state transportation system policy goals was dropped last week. Its first hearing is slated in the House Transportation Committee at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25. For more legislative information on the bill see: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2370&year=2011
Governor's Transportation Package. During the first week of session the Governor, in her State of the State speech, proposed a $3.6 billion transportation package. The legislation, introduced yesterday, will use fees to fund the package (as we understand it, the chance of a transportation package going on a November ballot is now slim). It is slated for hearings in the House and Senate Transportation Committees concurrently at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24.
The Bicycle Alliance has concerns about the current legislation, but is hopeful it can be improved. In brief, the proposal is heavily weighted in favor of operations and maintenance for roads and ferries (good in that it generally takes a 'fix it first' approach), includes some money for transit, and provides some (at present, the limitations are concerning for active transportation interests) money for local governments. Notably, it fails to include funding for bicycle mobility, safety, or education (including the Safe Routes to School Program). In the coming weeks we will be working to convey the import of a more balanced package that includes the active transportation and public safety elements, as well as more freedom for local government revenue options, necessary for a balanced transportation package.
Programmatic Threats and Opportunities. In addition to the Governor's transportation package, the Bicycle Alliance is closely following the funding conversation both around existing funding and exploring potential new revenue streams for Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian mobility, to fund the currently unfunded Complete Streets Grant Program (passed last year as HB 1071), as well as issues around future funding for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program. As we better understand these situations, and if and when future issues arise, we will be alerting our partners and membership.
Transportation Advocacy Day. We have set an ambitious goal for over 200 participants to make it down to the January 31 event where you can meet legislators, get to know fellow advocates, and make a difference in growing bicycling in Washington. The Bicycle Alliance is coordinating with our transportation partners on making sure the event is a huge success. Please join us on January 31 and spread the word to friends and colleagues! RSVP for the all-day event here: http://transportationchoices.org/action/transportation-advocacy-day-2012