Deadline passes on ferry bills
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:19 AM
"Over the last two months, the 57th Legislature has introduced and held hearings on a slew of ferry-related measures in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.Only problem is, legislators don't have forever to hash out any particular measure, so the committees tasked with hearing and reviewing bills are also handed deadlines.March 8 marked the last day of the session when committees in the House or Senate considering ferry-related measures could approve or disapprove those bills and pass them on for further consideration.Although this last Thursday was designated as a cut-off for measures under consideration effectively killing any chance for its continued survival, there's still no telling what could happen in the weeks ahead.As Sen. Betti Sheldon, D-23rd District would tell you, exceptions can be made for bills that don't meet deadlines.Especially if the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation advanced those measures, or they could level some fiscal impact on the state.The following House and Senate bills focus entirely on the ferry system and are sponsored by one or more of the Kitsap legislators.Here is how they fared after the March 8 deadline.* HB 1012 was approved by the House Transportation Committee and would allow the WSF fares to be increased in excess of the fiscal growth factor, or the Initiative 601 state spending limits. * HB 1176 and its companion bill SB 5513, would compensate highway and ferry workers for motorist assaults. These measures create a supplementary program to reimburse employees for assaults, so long as certain criteria are met. While HB 1176 didn't pass muster before the deadline, SB 5513 was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and advanced for further consideration.* HB 1459, which requires the Transportation Commission to report annually to the legislature the extent to which ferry ticket revenues pay for the cost of operating the overall WSF system, didn't move out of the House Transportation Committee. Operating costs, according to the measure, don't include maintenance costs. * HB 1693 would allow the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) to grant 10-mile crossing restriction waivers to commercial ferry operators that plan to set up shop near other state routes. This bill apparently didn't pass out of the House Transportation Committee in time.* HB 1701 would require the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Transportation Commission to account for several public-benefit factors before determining passenger-only fares. The DOT and the commission would be required to consider the long-term environmental and economic benefits of the POF system, as well as the potential savings to the state, the reduction in traffic congestion and the necessity of up-front investments to build the POF system. This bill never received a hearing and apparently died on the vine in the House Transportation Committee.* HB 1987 and SB 6010 call for procuring four replacement auto ferries as recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation. HB 1987 passed out of the House Transportation Committee, but SB 6010 didn't pass out of the corresponding Senate committee on time.* HB 2103, which didn't pass out of the House Transportation Committee, would allow private vendors already offering goods for sale to provide commuters with ferry tickets, so long as that vendor is also within easy reach of a significant number of ferry commuters. * HB 2113 calls for installing a 25-cent surcharge on all tickets sold on WSF. According to the bill, the proceeds of that surcharge would be split equally among the local government jurisdictions in which the ferry operates. The fund would be earmarked to mitigate local road and parking impacts caused by ferry vehicle traffic. That measure never made it out of the House Transportation Committee.* HB 2123 calls for boosting the amount of the existing gas tax currently dedicated to ferries by more than three and one-half cents per gallon. Three of those cents would go toward ferry capital, which could produce about $200 million each biennium. The remaining six-tenths could go appropriate $40 million to operations each biennium. That means the bill, if passed, could provide the level of funding recommended by the Joint Task Force on ferries. The measure would also create a separate Washington State Ferries Department. The measure apparently didn't make it out of the House Transportation Committee.* HB 2139 and its companion measure SB 5091 call for stricter rules relating to how drivers line up their cars outside Washington State Ferries (WSF) terminals. Under the measures, if drivers block residential driveways or cut in front of another vehicle in line, WSF employees could direct those erring motorists to the back of the line. Other traffic penalties could also apply.While the House bill never made it out of committee, the Senate version advanced to the Senate Rules committee for further consideration.* HB 2186, which apparently died in the House Transportation Committee, calls for allowing other entities besides the WSF system to sell ferry tickets in order to better serve commuters who don't want to depend on overburdened ticket booths at the terminal.* SB 5277, would absolutely prohibit the sale of alcohol on all Washington State Ferries. That measure apparently died in committee as well.* SB 5740 and its companion measure HB 1682, would allow a person or private corporation to operate a local public passenger transportation service - whether bus or ferry - within a public transportation benefit area. The house bill didn't survive and neither did the senate measure.* SB 5752 and its companion bill HB 1691 both never made it out of their respective committees. The bills would require the state Department of Transportation, in cooperation with local governments, to direct a baseline allocation of funding to operations, maintenance, preservation and safety functions for state highways, county roads, city streets, transit, ferries and alternate modes of transportation. * SB 5753 and HB 1689 would require the state Department of Transportation, cities, counties and transit systems to prove to the legislature every year they have met certain quality of service benchmarks before receiving additional state transportation funding. Both died in committee. "