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Transportation efficiencies bill clears House

OLYMPIA ––The first transportation bill of the 2002 Legislative session, HB 2304, was approved on Friday by the House, which voted along party lines 51-46.

Rep. Bev Woods (R), Poulsbo, expressed deep disappointment and voted against the bill which she felt was rushed through the approval process with virtually no bipartisan support.

“It adds up to big heartburn for me,” Woods said.

“I can’t go back to the citizens in my district and tell them they’ll see more efficient investments as a result of this, when it isn’t true.”

When the bill was heard by Transportation Committee on Wednesday, Woods successfully proposed an amendment that would expand apprenticeship opportunities to include not only union shops, but non-union shops and interested business organizations.

“I came to Olympia hoping we could build on the bipartisan progress from last year, and wanting to vote on a bill that would bring real reforms to transportation,” Woods said. “This is not true reform, no matter what the bill title says.

Rep. Phil Rockefeller (D), Bainbridge Island, strongly disagrees agree with Woods and spoke for the bill in committee. Rockefeller believes the bill to be true to the Blue Ribbon Transportation Committee’s recommendations that were developed a year ago.

“A year ago, we started hearing bill after bill that picked up on some of our recommendations, but this bill rolls them together from four areas as a package,” Rockefeller said.

“This bill was endorsed by every party who came to the table and testified,” he said. “Business, general contractors, industry, Boeing, software, labor and environmental leaders all had a hand in shaping it over a two-year period,” according to Rockefeller.

“The recommendations were balanced recommendations that had a consensus that was very diverse,” Rockefeller said.

Woods sees the bill quite differently.

“Efficiencies are supposed to save money, but this bill will cost taxpayers $25 million with no identifiable savings in return,” Woods said. “The supporters of this bill tried saying this is what state government would do if it operated like a business. The difference is, our citizens don’t have the option of returning this defective bill and asking for a full $25 million refund.”

When asked for specifics about her concerns, Woods cited a section of the bill that requires counties to submit maintenance and preservation plans and survey all their roads.

“In some ways that’s good, we want to know what they’re planning, knowing 10 years down the road how we’re going to put the money out there for them. I’m all for that, it’s a good efficiency. But for some counties that currently don’t do this, or don’t have the resources to do it, it’s an unfunded mandate,” Woods explained.

“We promised our cities and counties that we wouldn’t agree to unfounded mandates,” she said.

“Our Transportation Committee has always worked so well in a bipartisan effort. That whole spirit came to a screeching halt on this bill. Why are we acting that way?,” Woods commented.

HB 2304 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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