Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Last Friday, Feb. 5, was the final day for House committees to consider bills introduced in the House, except for transportation and fiscal committees which have until tomorrow, Feb. 9. After those dates, our routine is reversed and we devote our time to final action by the full House on those bills that have won committee approval.
Next stop for bills that earn a committee OK is the Rules Committee, of which I am a member. This committee approves each measure to be scheduled for final floor action. All 98 members then have an opportunity to amend, approve or reject the proposed legislation. And that's just the first leg of the journey.
We have 31 days remaining to complete the people's business. Tomorrow is the halfway point of the scheduled 60-day session.
Here's a quick update. Please contact my office if you have questions or comments.
In your service,
I-405 toll lanes affecting 39th District commuters
We knew coming into the legislative session last month there would be lots of work needed on education funding, addressing the issue of charter schools, and drafting a supplemental budget. Those continue to be ongoing issues. But another that has emerged is the effects of the new I-405 express toll lanes on commuter traffic between Kirkland and Lynnwood.
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) launched the toll lanes -- two each way between Bellevue and Bothell and one from Bothell to Lynnwood -- on September 27. Toll rates start as low as 75 cents, but have increase to as high as $10 due to congestion. Since September, lawmakers have heard directly from hundreds of constituents, and online from thousands more, with issues ranging from congestion, to traffic safety and technical glitches with paying the tolls.
The new toll-lanes not only affect those on I-405, but they have made the State Route 522 interchange near Bothell a complete disaster. That's the highway used by a large portion of constituents who live in the 39th District and commute between King and Snohomish counties. Traffic is backed up severely on the interchange, and buses using the shoulder and trying to cross lanes of travel block it even more.
WSDOT has defended the decision to add the toll lanes, asking people to "give it more time." But congestion has only grown worse. Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to provide some relief by directing WSDOT to use only one express toll lane each way throughout the corridor and to open all lanes to unrestricted use not subject to tolls between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. and on state holidays. Unfortunately, the chair of the House Transportation Committee has blocked the proposed House bill from moving forward. Instead, she and House Democrats have sent a letter to WSDOT asking that night, weekend and holiday tolls be repealed.
It remains to be seen what happens from here, especially now that WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson was ousted last week, partially because of this entire I-405 tolling debacle.
SR 522 commuters calling for relief
In addition to the I-405 mess, one of the biggest traffic headaches for commuters who live in the 39th Legislative District is the State Route 522 bottleneck through the 1st Legislative District. Next week, I will dedicate this e-newsletter and my video update to discussing that issue.
This week in Olympia
Here are some select House committee hearings going on this week at the John L. O'Brien Building, across from the state Capitol. Because we have just passed the committee cutoffs, the schedule is light. However, there are some important hearings taking place. Please note that the listing below is strictly for informational purposes and does not mean I am advocating for or against any of the bills below.
For a full agenda of the House committees, go here. To learn how to testify in committee, go here. Click here if you are planning to come to the Washington State Legislature in Olympia. If you'd like to look up a bill, go to the Legislature's Bill Information Page. Finally, you can track bills by creating an account and going to the tracking page here.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 10
Health Care and Wellness Committee - House Hearing Room A - 8:30 a.m.
Health effects of pesticide drift - Work session
39th Legislative District
(360) 786-7967 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000