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Reps go high tech to keep voters informed
A small group of area Chamber of Commerce members grilled Rep. Beverly Woods, R-Poulsbo, and Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, during a Monday video-conference between Olympia and Bremerton.
Woods and Lantz both know the current legislature will be judged on how they tackle state transportation issues.
Woods and Lantz will be holding teleconferences with chamber members from Poulsbo, Bremerton, Port Orchard and Gig Harbor. Inclement weather meant only Bremerton and Port Orchard reps made the conference chamber members were at Bremerton High School, while Woods and Lantz were in Olympia.
Woods said she will do everything to ensure Kitsap taxpayers dollars are targeted properly.
I want it to be, that for every dollar you put in, you are getting a dollars worth of roads or a dollars worth of ferries back, Woods said. That is very important in terms of getting your trust.
Woods said this week will be crucial as both the House and Senate wrestle with separate transportation bills House Bill 2359, sponsored by powerful Rep. Ruth Fisher, D-Tacoma, and Senate Bill 6140, sponsored by Sen. Dan McDonald, R-Bellevue.
We like a lot of things in the Fisher BIll and a lot of things in the McDonald Bill, Woods said. Wed like to blend the best of them together.
Woods was asked if moving the ferries system out from the State Department was a good idea.
I really think it is important that the state keep ferries under the state (umbrella), Woods said. Woods said if Snohomish, King and Pierce county were allowed to regionalize transportation, Kitsap would be hurt.
Woods said Kitsap County is currently under a triple transportation burden:
Ferry fares are going up with no increase or improvement in service.
Tolls will be placed on a possible new second Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Gov. Gary Locke is pushing for a major gas tax increase.
Still she credited local chambers with doing a good job of selling the ferry system here in Olympia.
Woods believes Western Washington chambers lobbying efforts have been so successful its bound to have an effect in Eastern Washington.
I dont think I have ever seen support for the ferry system higher than it is right now from Eastern Washington, Woods said. I have more trouble with Bellevue-405 folks than Moses Lake or Spokane area people.
She encouraged another ferry rally on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia to mirror one held last year.
I think that was very effective, she said.
Rep. Lantz, spoke about momentum gathering for the Second Tacoma Narrows Bridge. She said a House bill funding the project was wending its way through the Legislature.
It is my faith that it is going to get through the House this week, Lantz said. It is the only show in town and it is absolutely the right thing to do.
Lantz and Woods both expressed anger at rumors that the State would not be paying for road approaches to the massive bridge project.
Lantz said potential tolls on the bridge should be designated for building the second bridge, refitting the original bridge and building one toll plaza.
The approaches must come out of state funding, Lantz said.
Woods said the bridge project must get on track and stay on track in this session.
Woods said when the project was envisioned, tolls were going to be $3 for the first five years. Late estimates put the $3 holding for only one year.
Both legislators said it was unfair, but perhaps inevitable, that only state residents using the bridge will pay for it, instead of it being a statewide project.
Its just us, Lantz said, Its not justice.