Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is Day 47 of the scheduled 105-day regular session and there are many things happening at the state Capitol as we near the halfway point next Wednesday. Last Friday, Feb. 17, was the house-of-origin policy cutoff. Bills not approved in their respective policy committees are considered “dead” for the session. Today is house-of-origin fiscal cutoff. Bills not passed out of their fiscal committees by today are also considered “dead” for the session. The exceptions are bills necessary to implement the budget. Of course, no bill is completely dead until the final gavel falls. Here's a list of my bills that you can review to see their status.
Got an extra three grand to give to the government?
The House majority party voted to approve an education policy bill Wednesday that would raise taxes the equivalent of $3,000 on a family of four each year. That's $11.7 billion total, ($7.2 billion over four years and then $6.5 billion per biennium thereafter). While supporters of House Bill 1843 are proposing ample funding, they fail to show how they would pay for their bill. It has no funding, no sideboards and no reforms. The measure passed off the House floor on a strict party line vote, 50-47. It is intellectually dishonest to craft a budget with historic tax increases without telling the public where the new tax money is going to come from. We need to end the “calculator-free” zone in Olympia.
Committee skips bipartisan, bi-state corridor congestion relief measure to vote on narrowly-focused parking lot bridge bill
The Interstate 5 (I-5) bridges between Vancouver and Portland are already parking lots. We don't need a nicer parking lot across the Columbia River! Yet, that's what House Bill 2095 would accomplish. The measure passed Wednesday from the House Transportation Committee.
I'm sorely disappointed the committee had a better choice to help relieve transportation congestion in our Southwest I-5 corridor with House Bill 1222, but chose to advance a political project bill instead.
I introduced House Bill 1222 with three Democrats and three other Republican sponsors. The bill would have directed Washington and Oregon legislators to work cooperatively to address our current transportation crisis by identifying solutions that included new corridors, not just the current I-5 corridor. My bill received a hearing in the House Transportation Committee and citizens from three legislative districts in Clark County testified in support. It also has the support of the Washington Trucking Association, Northwest Washington and Idaho District Council of Laborers, the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, the International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 302, Fred Meyer Stores, and the Longview-Kelso Building and Construction Trades.
Unfortunately, the committee chair moved for a vote on House Bill 2095 and left my bill to die. I did not support the other bill because it is clear to me that Oregon's I-5 corridor is failing. Any new bridge built in the same corridor that dumps freight haulers and commuters into the existing Portland traffic morass would do nothing to fix congestion. It would waste precious tax dollars and result in a nicer parking lot leading south on I-5.
It is worth noting, not one Republican voted for House Bill 2095. It was approved on a strictly party-line vote, with 14 Democrats voting yes and all 10 Republicans voting NO. I'm pretty sure that ends all discussions about that bill being “bipartisan.”
A story of expensive and wasteful wants versus common-sense needs
Recently, someone shared the following story with me, which I believe is a great parallel of why a “third option” of identifying new corridor solutions beyond the old I-5 bridges would be the best way to relieve congestion for our area. Enjoy!
“We are a very busy family of five. Both adults work and the children are teenagers who one by one, are getting their driver's licenses to get them to school, work and social events. Currently, we have two cars, a midsized SUV and a beautiful, very dependable vintage car that has been passed down in our family.
Our family does not agree on the solution for our growing family automobile needs. Some want to replace the beautiful, dependable vintage car with a new very expensive foreign race car with all of the bells and whistles that we can't afford, but the cost does not seem to enter into the discussion. Others think that a new, very dependable and affordable third car is the answer.
True, the vintage car does not have all of the safety features incorporated into today's automobiles, but it is made of steel, it is safe and reliable, it gets the job done and we own it. As with any other vehicle, it needs gas, oil and other maintenance that all cars need.
To replace the vintage car with a top-of-the-line luxury car would not solve the urgent and growing transportation needs of the family. Yes, it's very cool and, yes, it is new, and yes, friends and neighbors would be envious, and yes, it would actually hold more people. But we can't afford it, and we would still have only two cars. The vintage car has no resale value and it would probably be expensive to dispose of it.
The advocates of the luxury car are relentless. They bring it up at breakfast every day! They hold the power and the purse strings, but do not listen to the rest of the family, despite the fact they are in the minority. Some of the family question the motives of those in the minority. It is clear that the rest of the family doesn't agree, but they seem to play the “safety” card every time and use their position to push forward without consensus.
The family can afford a new third car with a car loan. It would be a stretch, but it would be more fuel efficient than the high performance show car, the insurance would be less, and they would have three cars! They would select an efficient, safe station wagon/SUV with extra seats for the growing needs of the family and would not have to retrofit the garage to accommodate the new luxury car.
Some are baffled by why they would pay three times more for the luxury car and still have only two cars to get everyone to their destinations and back again. If one of the two cars breaks down, they would still be very busy family of five with no transportation options and a large debt.”
It is insanity to believe that if we keep trying to revive the same old failed Columbia River Crossing project over and over, the results would be different. That's why I believe we should seek more affordable, reasonable, forward-thinking corridor solutions that would be much more effective in solving our traffic congestion problems. I invite you to read my opinion-editorial on this issue.
I welcome your comments.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"