Dear Friends and Neighbors,
One of my friends this week said he was surprised that Rep. Vicki Kraft and I had so many people at our Transportation Solutions town hall meeting last Saturday in Vancouver — more than 150 attendees. I told him it didn't surprise me because it is an extremely important issue to my district.
You can learn more about our town hall meeting here:
A process now, not a failed resurrected project!
I want to thank all who attended and those who presented options and solutions for the future. As I mentioned last week in this email update and at the town hall meeting, we need to begin the transportation congestion relief with a process first, not a project. Three years ago, the failed Columbia River Crossing project ripped our community apart. Those wounds are slowly healing. Unfortunately, there are some who would like to resurrect that dead project and rip the scab off that old wound again.
It's apparent from the town hall meeting, from the letters, emails and other constituent correspondence, and from past voting that the citizens of my district do not wish to return to the past. They are looking for new solutions. That's why I introduced House Bill 1222, a visionary path forward to address the woefully inadequate transportation system between our two states. The measure would create a bi-state bridge legislative work group made up of eight Washington and eight Oregon legislators with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. The work group would address the I-5 corridor, identify new corridors, develop a 10-year plan, 25-year plan and 50-year plan, and report its recommendations to the Legislature. The measure is in the House Transportation Committee and I am working to advance either the bill or the policy to move us forward on this important issue.
Read more about my bi-state transportation legislation here:
Pike bills flourish, despite cutoff
I am thrilled that more of my prime-sponsored bills have passed their respective committees at this point in the session than any time in previous sessions. Today is the “house of origin policy cutoff.” Bills that have not passed from their policy committees by today are considered “dead” for the session. Next Friday is the cutoff for fiscal committees. Bills necessary to implement the budget are exempt from the legislative cutoffs. Of course, any bill could be “resurrected” to life and move forward while the Legislature is in session.
Here's a quick list of my bills that have passed their committees:
House Bill 1225 – Protection of mineral resource lands under the Growth Management Act (GMA): This measure would add the maintenance and enhancement of mineral resource lands to the natural resource goals of the state GMA. Washington's economy consumes about one dump truck of sand and gravel for every man, woman and child each year; that's 7.2 million dump trucks of sand and gravel every year in order to build and maintain our state's current infrastructure. This bill is necessary to protect the long-term significance for mineral extraction on our state's resource lands. An example of mineral resource lands include gravel, sand and rock pits. The measure passed the House Environment Committee on Tuesday and is now under consideration in the House Rules Committee. Watch an interesting video on mineral resources from Canada.
House Bill 1504 – Recognizing rail importance under GMA: This bipartisan measure would recognize freight rail-served land as a type of resource land within GMA “rural development” and “rural character” definitions. The bill is needed because in Clark County and all over the state, the availability of rail-served land is scarce. Columbia River Economic Development Council President Michael Bomar testified that each year, thousands of new manufacturing jobs are turned away because under the current GMA, these parcels don't exist. There are 22 short line railroads in our state. This bill would allow our short lines to work for us by attracting new manufacturing jobs and ensuring these new businesses have rail access in order to get their goods to market. The measure passed the House Environment Committee on Thursday.
House Bill 1606 – Transparency in Transportation Benefit Districts (TBDs): Cities/counties can establish a Transportation Benefit District with independent taxing authority to provide transportation improvements within that district. A number of constituents have complained to me that TBDs have very little transparency when it comes to voting for tax and fee increases. I believe it is imperative that TBDs hold public hearings to allow for citizen input BEFORE raising car tab fees and other new taxes that could be imposed with or without a public vote. That's what this bill would require. The measure passed the House Transportation Committee on Feb. 6 and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.
House Bill 1227 – Industrial insurance premiums on work-release inmates: In January 2016, agency bureaucrats at the Department of Corrections (DOC) changed the rules to force cities and non-profits utilizing inmate work release programs to pay for industrial insurance premiums. This new rule essentially gutted the inmate work-release program across the state. In Clark County, dozens of contracts were cancelled with Larch Corrections Center. It is widely accepted that inmate work-release programs reduce recidivism. Work-release programs provide valuable work experience to inmates and allow them to give back to their communities. Non-profits and cities gain a low-cost work force to help with constrained budgets. This bill would direct the Department of Corrections (DOC) to again pay for the premiums. The measure passed the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee on Monday. It is now under consideration in the House Appropriations Committee.
I want to hear from you!
If you are interested in more information about these bills or other measures pending in the state Legislature, or if I can help answer questions, feel free to contact my office. My contact information is below. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve and represent you!
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"