Thursday, April 19, 2007

One Vote Shall Rule

Submitted by Paul Ellis

On Tuesday, the Washington State Legislature approved a key bill that will keep the Roads & Transit measure moving to the ballot in November. HB1396 passed the Senate on a vote of 44-4, having earlier passed the House 96-1. The bill simplifies the ballot measure, presenting voters with a single question on which to vote.

The single-ballot legislation enables voters throughout the region to vote on an integrated package, eliminating the previous framework under which separate Sound Transit and Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) packages would be presented. The legislation effectively requires that voters now have to pass both packages for either to take effect.

Under the bill’s improved framework, votes on a single Roads & Transit ballot measure will be counted once within the Sound Transit District and once within the RTID District, which extends farther north into Snohomish County. The measure will take effect if it passes in both districts. The area that falls outside the Sound Transit district will only pay for the roads projects.

Extensive public input and surveys show that people want an integrated and coordinated plan that makes improvements to the region's transportation system. The integrated ballot measure was supported by RAMP but opposed by the Sierra Club.

The legislation now moves forward for action by Governor Christine Gregoire.

Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community's largest transportation planning effort.

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