[UPDATE: As a commenter points out, Frank Chopp never sponsors bills of any substance, so his absence from the list isn’t notable.]
[UPDATE 2: I didn’t read the bill correctly. Numerous revisions below, plus a correction in the next post.]
[UPDATE 3: 5 more representatives have been added to the sponsorship list. Just go to the website.]
Sen. Scott White (D-46, North Seattle) is rapidly emerging as the pro-transit star of the Senate. PubliCola reports that he joined with transit stalwart Rep. Marko Liias (D-11, Edmonds), 10 other Senators, and 14 9 other Representatives to introduce bills HB 2016 and SB 5874, a part of Futurewise and Transportation Choices Coalition’s new Transportation for Washington campaign.
Both bills would expand the taxing options for Transit agencies beyond the vehicle license fee and sales tax, but for transit purposes only. The list of tools that would be available to local jurisdictions and voters:
- for TBDs, tolling, which already was allowed but with some procedural obstacles removed;
- a vehicle excise tax based on fuel efficiency;
- partial repeal of the sales tax exemption for gasoline to fund transit;
- a motor vehicle excise tax, based on the value of the vehicle and therefore more progressive than a straight license fee.
I can’t believe this has great chances so late in the session, but if it passes this year or in 2012, it absolutely changes the game for cash-strapped transit agencies the big Seattle transit ballot measure that might appear that year. Serious city-funded rail investment is suddenly in scope with all of these tools, limited only by the willingness of voters and the timidity of the City Council.
At times we criticize the Seattle-area delegation for largely being AWOL on transit issues, so I applaud them for showing up in force on the sponsorship list. If you live in these districts (below the jump) let these legislators know you applaud their continued efforts to make this happen.
Who’s absent: Republicans (predictably, but sadly), anyone at all from the Eastside, and Speaker Frank Chopp, representing the densest, most pro-transit district in the State.
District 1 (Bothell/Mountlake Terrace): Luis Moscoso
District 11 (Renton/Tukwila): Margarita Prentice
District 21 (Edmonds): Marko Liias
District 23 (Bainbridge Island): Sherry Appleton
District 29 (S. Tacoma/Lakewood/Parkland): Steve Conway
District 33 (Kent/Seatac/Des Moines): Karen Keiser
District 49 (Vancouver): Jim Moeller