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Local reps pushing toll-relief bills

Two local legislators are backing a pair of bills that won’t prevent drivers on the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge from having to pay tolls, but are designed to put a little more money in their wallets before and after they stop at the booths.

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-26th District, is the prime sponsor of two bills seeking to relieve taxpayers of some of the burden for funding the new bridge, according to the Democratic House Caucus.

The first, HB-1865, would eliminate the collection of the state sales tax on construction of the new Narrows Bridge — effectively shaving off $45 million from the cost of the bridge for tollpayers.

The second bill, HB-1864, would guarantee stronger representation for those most affected by the bridge on the citizen committee that will advise on future toll collections.

It also empowers that committee to consider discounts to frequent users, senior citizens, or students.

“All we want is a fair deal for the people who will be most affected by this project,” Kilmer said in a prepared statement. “At this point, the residents of Gig Harbor, the Key Peninsula and South Kitsap will be picking up a large share of the tab for an essential piece of the state’s highway infrastructure. These bills, if passed, will lower the tolls and will raise our voices with regard to how tolls are set.”

Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, fellow democrat and 26th District representative, is co-sponsoring both bills.

“Getting a new committee in place that more accurately reflects the (community that will be most affected) is a continuation of what I have been working on for the past six years,” she said.

Both bills are currently awaiting a hearing in the House Transportation Committee.

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