Dear Friends and Neighbors,
For the past 10 days, we have spent long hours on the House floor considering hundreds of bills that came out of their respective committees. Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for all bills, except those necessary to implement the budget, to be passed from their house of origin. Bills that did not make the cutoff are considered “dead” for the year. Here is a list of major “dead and alive” bills.
As of today, 331 bills have passed the House and 352 have passed the Senate. Two of my bills passed the House and are now being considered in the Senate. More information on these bills can be found below.
Our focus now returns back to the committees where we will be hearing and voting on Senate bills.
Your input has been valuable to this process. Please continue to call, write or e-mail my Olympia office. You will find my contact information at the bottom of this e-newsletter.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!
Pike bills that have passed the House
I'm pleased to report these prime-sponsored bills are making progress:
- House Bill 1159 – Teen Driving Safety Act – This measure was amended to create a pilot project in Clark County. Under this measure, drivers under the age of 18 would affix a new driver emblem to their rear window, alerting other drivers they are sharing the roadway with inexperienced drivers. Young drivers comprise 11 percent of driving population, yet in Clark County they are involved in 35 percent of all auto fatalities and 45 percent of all serious injury accidents. The intent of this bill is to reduce these horrendous statistics. House Bill 1159 passed the House, 53-44, and is now in the Senate Transportation Committee.
- House Bill 1157 – Quick title fees. This bill would allow licensing subagents to keep a portion of fees collected when a “Quick Title” is issued. A Quick Title is a certificate of ownership for a vehicle or boat that a citizen can get immediately. House Bill 1157 passed the House, 97-0, and is now in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Supporting our law enforcement officers — for the right reasons
My heart goes out to the two law enforcement officers who were shot this past week in Ferguson, Missouri, and their families. It is a reminder of the difficult job every one of our law enforcement officers face as they put their lives on the line every day to protect us and our communities.
My support for our officers is one of the reasons I introduced, at their request, House Bill 1951, a measure that would have clarified the use of unmarked vehicles by local law enforcement agencies. This bill was backed by all six of my local law enforcement chiefs in the 18th District, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. That support included my local Camas Police Chief, Mitch Lackey, who wrote this letter to the editor in The Columbian to clarify the need for this bill. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it out of the House before cutoff.
I can accept that some constituents disagree with a few of my positions on the thousands of issues we deal with during an average legislative session. My support has nothing to do with endorsements by law enforcement officers, as some have suggested. It has everything to do with their protection of all of us. Every day when these officers leave their homes, there is no guarantee of their safe return to their family each night. And yes, there are lots of dangerous jobs, but I'm not sure there is another occupation where one has a larger target on their back, just for wearing the uniform.
Flying solutions to bridge the future
Following the demise of the failed Columbia River Crossing (CRC), Sen. Ann Rivers and I jump started a Bi-State Bridge Coalition last year because we were seeking positive solutions to move our community forward. We engaged legislators from both sides of the Columbia River to begin discussions about new cross-river solutions that would improve freight mobility and reduce traffic congestion. These discussions continue today.
In our duty to be responsive state legislators, we accepted all meeting requests over the past year with a variety of transportation engineers in the region who wished to share their professional opinions on a path forward for new cross-river solutions in the I-5 corridor. They contacted us because of our willingness to begin anew.
A strong federal component must be central to the financing of any new interstate project that is a critical piece of our federal highway system. Therefore we are respectfully urging our federal representatives' support for a transparent community discussion on all viable options and to bring a federal financial commitment to the table with the same type of bi-state agreement that ensured the successful construction of the I-205 bridge.
Brainstorming with engineers and other legislators, we are advancing informal project concepts that utilize a streamlined, practical design without tolls. It is our hope to begin facilitating a broader community discussion about a rough framework of an idea we are calling the I-5 Practical Design Fly-over (I-5 PDF). This idea has generated much excitement. A flyover design refers to an expressway that does not contain exits or off-ramps.
The I-5 PDF would launch from the Mill Plain/I-5 interchange and head straight south, bypassing main intersections at Marine Drive and Hayden Island. The existing I-5 bridge structures and freeway would remain and, upon completion of the new structure, the old spans would be converted to a local access frontage road and serve as exits/on-ramps from the new bridge structure for access to downtown Vancouver and the Hayden Island/Jantzen Beach areas. The repurposed I-5 spans could be modernized to create safer bike and pedestrian access, as well as wider lanes for local traffic.
Since this fly-over design would not include costly interchanges on Hayden Island (estimated to be approximately $1 billion of the former CRC cost), nor the $1 billion in light-rail costs, and no substantial interchange work would be needed for downtown Vancouver access, the I-5 PDF could be phased-in and paid for within existing transportation budgets using federal and state dollars over the next few years. Rough preliminary cost estimates range from $1 billion to $1.5 billion.
Rough mechanics for the fly-over include a concrete six-lane bridge located upstream from the existing structures and would flow in a straight line due south from Mill Plain toward Portland Meadows. The new structure would be toll free and would not contain light rail. The fly-over design would require very minimal right-of-way land acquisition since the bulk of the bridge is built in the air, with minimal pier landings on the ground. The new span would be high enough to allow for clearances at the existing lift span. Buses would provide the mass transit requirement to obtain federal funding. The initial phase could address seismic upgrades to the existing I-5 structures to make them earthquake-proof by installing drilled shafts next to the piers. These important seismic upgrades would extend the life of the current spans so they can provide many more decades of local service.
I want to underscore this is just one idea for our communities in Washington and Oregon to consider. I welcome any and all practical and affordable ideas that have a modicum of chance to gain broad community support.
Our citizens want forward-thinking leaders to find new and workable solutions for the future and to let go of the rejected and failed CRC project. I invite you to join us in this important discussion to relieve traffic congestion and improve freight mobility in the I-5 corridor.
Flyover bridge news coverage:
- KPAM AM 860 – Mark and Dave Show – Go to the 15-minute mark
- KOIN TV – New bridge plan from PDX to VXR in early stages
- The Columbian – Three lawmakers float new I-5 bridge plan
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"