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Welcome to AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles and other updates.

Published on Friday, July 31, 2015

Legislature (finally) adopts a comprehensive transportation package

One of the bright spots of this legislative session was the Legislature’s bipartisan action on a statewide comprehensive transportation package. Cities have been actively working towards this for at least four years and their public support of legislators kept momentum for the package even when its prospects seemed bleak. Cities fared well under this transportation package. For a chart summarizing components of the package that are important to cities click here. For direct distribution amounts your city should expect (above what you already receive now) click here. The first distribution from this package will arrive around the end of September and will occur quarterly after that. More details on the package, including project lists, a balance sheet, and text of the bills can be found here under “New Law Budget”.

Oil train safety

Another successful bipartisan effort this session resulted in passing significant legislation aimed at reducing the public safety risks associated with the transport of oil by rail. The House and Senate were able to reach agreement on a bill during the regular legislative session in the form of ESHB 1449.

The bill is long and multi-faceted. Bill highlights include:

  • Requires railroads to create contingency plans for transporting crude oil and to submit information to the state about whether the railroad is able to pay for damages for an oil spill or accident;
  • Requires local planning organizations to submit hazardous materials plans and allows some funds to be made available for local planning efforts;
  • Establishes grants (subject to legislative appropriation) for oil spill and hazardous materials response and equipment;
  • Increases regulatory fees paid by railroad companies to the Utilities & Transportation Commission (UTC) for more inspectors and increases their authority to conduct hazardous materials inspections;
  • Allows first class cities to participate in the UTC’s crossing safety inspection program;
  • Requires advance notice to specified agencies of crude oil transported by rail; and
  • Extends the tax applied to crude oil received at a terminal in the state to oil transported by rail.

Several agencies are involved in implementing this bill and we have already reached out to them to offer any assistance. We will be monitoring implementation over the coming months.

Study on road-rail conflicts

The current transportation budget contains a proviso directing the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) to conduct a study in 2016 to “identify prominent road-rail conflicts, recommend a corridor-based prioritization process for addressing the impacts of projected increases in rail traffic”. We have already met with JTC staff in anticipation of assistance with this study by providing existing, and gathering additional information on the work cities have done to identify troublesome at-grade rail crossings and other road-rail conflicts. We anticipate reaching out to cities with rail lines with a brief survey later this fall.

BillTracker Bill # Descriptive title Final status
  ESHB 1449 Changing regulatory programs covering the overland and over-water transportation of oil Law; Effective 7/1/2015
  ESHB 1695 Establishing a priority for the use, reuse, and recycling of construction aggregate and recycled concrete materials Law; Effective 1/1/2016
  SHB 1851 Creating an expedited permitting and contracting process for bridges owned by local governments that are deemed structurally deficient Law; Effective 7/24/2015
  SB 5314 Expanding the use of local stormwater charges paid by the Department of Transportation. Law; Effective 6/30/2015
  ESSB 5550 Regulating providers of commercial transportation services Law; Effective 7/24/2015
  2ESSB 5987 Transportation package: revenue bill Law; Effective 7/15/2015
  ESSB 5988 Transportation package: budget bill (appropriations) Law; Effective 7/15/2015
  SSB 5989 Transportation package: bond bill Law; Effective 7/15/2015
  2ESSB 5996 Transportation package: project delivery Law; Effective 7/6/2015
  EHB 1443 Requiring notice and limiting fees that commercial parking facilities may charge Failed
  HB 1593/SB 5813 Local transportation revenue options Failed