State transportation leaders reckon with cuts due to car tab initiative

by <a href="">Logan Bahr</a>, <a href="">Maggie Carol</a> | Mar 27, 2020
This legislative session was a difficult one as policymakers responded to decreases in revenue from the passage of Initiative 976.

This legislative session was a difficult one as policymakers responded to decreases in revenue from the passage of Initiative 976. The transportation budget had to reflect loses of approximately $450 million in the 2019-21 biennium. The final transportation budget balanced due to many one-time measures; program underruns, reductions in appropriations, and fund shifts. Direct distributions to local governments remain untouched but the Transportation Improvement Board and Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board both saw reductions to their budgets. The initiative is currently being litigated but, if it passes muster with the court and remains on the books, there will be even larger cuts coming to the transportation budget in upcoming biennia.

Sen. Steve Hobbs’ (D–Lake Stevens) transportation revenue package was heard in the Senate but, like last year, the package failed to progress. Given the passage of I-976, there was not much momentum for a new revenue package this year. However, there is still significant interest in a new package and Rep. Jake Fey (D–Tacoma) intends to release his own package next year. It is currently unclear how the COVID-19 crisis will impact the discussion for a new revenue package.

There were a number of notable policy bills that passed this year through the Transportation Committees:

  • In response to growing development of autonomous vehicles, HB 2676 passed creating more robust regulations around testing of these vehicles. The bill includes a requirement that cities be informed of any such activity occurring within their boundaries;
  • The “Safety Stop” bill also passed, SB 6208, which allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs; and
  • SB 6565 passed and clarifies how motorcycles may be parked on streets (parallel and angled).

While AWC’s priority local revenue option bills did not pass (HB 2362 and SB 6652), both bills received hearings and we are well positioned for next year. We are thankful to Rep. Bill Ramos (D–Issaquah) and Sen. Joe Nguyen (D–Seattle) for showing leadership on local issues by sponsoring these bills. The conversation on new local government revenue options will continue through the interim via the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) study currently underway which will assess state and local government transportation needs and potential resources.

Transportation-icon-75City priorities – Outcomes

The Legislature:

PRO: Passed a supplemental transportation budget that provides funding for projects previously paused by the Governor. The Legislature balanced the budget largely through one-time measures, including reductions based on historical underspending. Although the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) appropriations were reduced by $9 million, this was a more modest reduction than what could have occurred.

CON: Failed to pass HB 2362 and SB 6652 creating additional local government transportation revenue options.


Bill #



HB 1793/SB 5789

Establishes a pilot program for the City of Seattle to use automated traffic safety cameras to issue penalties to drivers under certain circumstances

HB 1793 delivered to Governor. If signed, effective June 11, 2020.

HB 2322/SB 6497

Transportation supplemental budget

HB 2322 delivered to Governor. If signed, effective immediately.

HB 2641

Authorizes cities to provide passenger-only ferry service

Delivered to Governor. If signed, effective June 11, 2020.

HB 2676/SB 6659

Establishes minimum requirements for autonomous vehicle (AV) testing

HB 2676 delivered to Governor. If signed, effective June 11, 2020, except for sections 2 and 3 (relating to AV testing information sharing) which take effect October 1, 2021.

SB 6084/HB 2245

Directs how long/wide vehicles approach and use roundabouts

SB 6084 delivered to Governor. If signed, effective June 11, 2020.

SB 6208/HB 2358

Modifies stop sign requirements for bicyclists

SB 6208 is law; effective October 1, 2020.

SB 6565

Updates to permissible methods to park motorcycles

Law; effective June 11, 2020.

HB 2186

Changes to requirements to secure loose loads in a vehicle to prevent debris from escaping and causing safety hazard to other road users

Did not pass

HB 2285

Makes preservation and safety the preeminent state transportation goals

Did not pass

HB 2461/SB 6452

Adds health to state transportation policy goals

Did not pass

HB 2684/SB 6466

Clarifies the use of traffic control signals specific to bicyclists

Did not pass

HB 2923/SB 6675

Prohibits railroad companies from blocking railroad intersections when crew has become aware of law enforcement or emergency vehicles approaching the intersection

Did not pass

SB 6031/HB 2227

Reimposes provisions of Initiative 976

Did not pass

SB 6245

Reimposes provisions of Initiative 976

Did not pass

SB 6350/HB 2659

Reimposes provisions of Initiative 946

Did not pass

SB 6586

Institutes a per-mile charge on electric and hybrid vehicle

Did not pass

SB 6652/HB 2362

Increases local revenue options to support and fund city and county transportation systems

Did not pass

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