E-NEWSLETTER: Committee passes bill keeping Narrows Bridge tolls in check

We are now into Week 5 of the 2018 legislative session. Last Friday was a key deadline: It was the last day for Senate policy committees to pass bills that were introduced in the Senate. The bills that cleared the committee hurdle are still alive, but those measures that failed to be approved are considered dead for the session.

This week we’re changing gears by devoting several hours a day (and a few hours at night and maybe more this weekend) to Senate floor sessions in which we debate and vote on bills that survived the committee cutoff. We’ll also meet with our respective caucuses to discuss bills before us. Feb. 14 is the last day for the Senate to vote on its own bills.

I appreciate all of the feedback on bills before the Legislature or issues concerning state government. If you have questions, comments or ideas, please call, e-mail or write my office. I value your opinion!

Committee passes Narrows Bridge debt-plan bill

Many of our 26th District residents are tired of paying skyrocketing tolls to drive across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I’m pleased to announce that a solution is moving ahead that would allow our bridge-using constituents to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.

This session I’ve joined Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, in sponsoring SB 6547, which would solve the problem of escalating tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The bill would freeze the tolls at a fixed rate and then borrow funds from the multimodal transportation account to cover the amount needed to pay the expected difference between toll revenue and rising debt service until the bonds are fully paid off. The tolls will end with debt repayment.

Sen. O’Ban and I testified on the bridge toll bill before the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday. Late yesterday the Transportation Committee passed the bill out of committee.

This bill comes after I served on an interim task force – the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Refinance Work Group – that focused on Narrows Bridge debt service issues. Here is the final report issued by the work group. I have worked for years to try to effect lower toll rates that can be sustained – this bill does that over the remaining period of the debt service.  I’m optimistic that SB 6547 will be passed to the full Senate for a vote. I will keep you posted on the bill’s status in upcoming e-newsletters.

Update on my bills this session

I’m pleased to see several of my bills are moving forward this session:

SB 6059 would provide the Office of the Insurance Commissioner with better insight into the corporate governance framework of an insurer or insurance group, to allow for more frequent review and assessment. This would allow OIC to be able to better assess whether existing governance structures are in place to protect consumers in our state. The Senate passed SB 6059 last week with a 47-2 vote. It will receive a public hearing tomorrow in the House Business and Financial Services Committee.

SB 6324 was requested by the County Clerks and would lengthen the time period – to 10 years, from the current six – during which court exhibits can’t be destroyed, or turned over to a county sheriff by a county clerk. The bill would allow a county clerk to offer, to the state archivist, court exhibits deemed by the clerk to have historical value. The Senate Law and Justice Committee approved the bill last week and the Rules Committee advanced it yesterday, so I anticipate it will receive a full Senate vote sometime in the next week.

SB 6462 would help make residential property buyers aware of the Washington Pollution Liability Insurance Agency’s Residential Heating Oil Insurance Program, which provides insurance coverage at no cost to owners of active heating oil tanks. The Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee passed it, so it’s now in the Rules Committee.

Gig Harbor student serves as Senate page

Every session I have the honor and privilege of sponsoring students from our district to serve as Senate pages. Last week Tanner Stiefel came to Olympia and worked as a page. Tanner, an eighth-grader at Harbor Ridge Middle School, is the son of Justin and Jennifer Stiefel of Gig Harbor. Thanks for your terrific work, Tanner!

The Senate Page Program provides an opportunity for Washington students to spend a week working at the Legislature. Students transport documents between offices, as well as deliver messages and mail. Pages spend time in the Senate chamber and attend page school to learn about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process. Students also draft their own bills and engage in a mock session.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve as your state senator!

Sincerely,

CONTACT ME

Phone: (360) 786-7650                       Email: Jan.Angel@leg.wa.gov