There is some confusion about the status of transportation funding at this time. It is true that the two-year transportation operational budget was passed at the tail end of the regular session and signed by the governor. However, the ten-year transportation package for capital and other expenses has not been passed. It is likely that it will be considered in the House tomorrow or Tuesday. Rep. Larry Seaquist has asked the Ferry Community Partnership (FCP) to beat the bushes to find people to send emails to all state reps to encourage passage of this package. The information sent this morning from the FCP is below. It is true that Kris Lytton and Jeff Morris support this legislation, but they need to be able to say they’ve heard from ‘X’ number of constituents who have expressed support. So please read the info below and act. I’m including the list of email addresses that FCP sent so you don’t have to click elsewhere to find them. Thanks!
I don’t have an agenda yet, but am going to publish the formal invitation to Saturday’s Ferry Community Partnership meeting in Bremerton. If you can, I hope you will attend. If it’s not possible to go to Bremerton, the instructions for being included in a Skype call are in the invitation.
Dear Ferry Riders,
2013 has come and so has our annual meeting to plan, set goals, and
get ready for the new Legislative Session. As you have probably read,
this will be an interesting session with the leadership of Senate in
flux, many new members in the House, and a new Governor taking office.
We will meeting in the downstairs chambers of the Norm Dicks
Government Center at 345 6th Street in Bremerton at Noon. Free
Parking is available on the Parking Lot just west of the building, on
the spots marked “City of Bremerton” on 5th Street, or in the City
Parking Garage on Washington Ave.
We will be discussing among other things, integration of the
long-term capital plan with the WSDOT Budget, a possible LNG
Conversion, a Bill on Accident/Incident Investigations, a 3rd or 4th
Olympic Class Boat, and a possible new Tariff Review Committee. Then
we will discuss our plan for moving ferry legislation through the
House and Senate. Anyone is free to leave at any time during the
proceedings, but everyone will be given an opportunity to have their
We will have water and coffee, and we’ll ‘pass the hat’ for a donation
for “Ferries are Marine Highways” Buttons. Feel free to support local
business like Cornerstone Coffee on 5th or Rimnan Thai and Larry &
Kristy’s Bakery just across the Manette Bridge before the meeting or
during a break..
For those wishing to Skype, please contact Kevin Matthew at
(360)473-5293 <firstname.lastname@example.org> by 3pm Friday to make
arrangements. This one may be different as it will be our first Skype
in the Chambers Downstairs.
We hope to see you there at Noon on Saturday to help save the ferries
for this and future generations.
Adam C. Brockus
Bremerton City Councilman
Last Tuesday, State Senators Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) and Curtis King (R-Yakima) were interviewed by Jessica Gao regarding transportation concerns, including the ferry system. The 14-minute interview can be viewed here. The first 6 minutes will be of particular interest to residents of ferry-served communities.
Thanks to FAC members Howie Rosenfeld and John Whetten for passing along this link.
Leaders of the Ferry Community Partnership are doing a great job in terms of posting updates on what’s happening in Olympia and in getting people there to testify before various committees and/or meet with individual legislators. Here is the most recent update from Adam Brockus.
We had a great day in Olympia. It started out with the news that the Senate passed a couple of Fee Packages that included enough funding for both the 2nd 144-car boat and Ferry Operations until at least 2015.
The Senate passed the fee bill last night with very little fanfare,
which includes enough money for the last boat and sustained service for the short-term. The ferry advisory committee bill is dead, but we have enough information now to really work on it over the interim (pre-2013). And we’re gaining a little steam on POF [passenger-only ferry] issues. I’d have preferred 10 year service stability, but we bought some time to focus on that next year.
We’ll see, when the Transportation Budget is released, whether we’re going to be ok. Then, you guys can activate… I’d consider it a job well done. At least for the next 4 days…
There is another transportation fee bill making its way through the House which appears to offer some short-term budget relief. We will continue to keep our readers posted on the progress of these bills and other transportation funding news.
The Senate Transportation Committee has put forth two bills which will, if passed, provide additional transportation revenue.
According to bill co-sponsor Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, the fee increases could provide “preliminary estimates of about $52M for the remainder of the current biennium and about $165M in the 2013-15 biennium.” However, there are no details yet about what the additional revenue will go to fund—specifically, how much would go to ferries. We will let our readers know more as we get specific information.
In any case, time is of the essence. If you haven’t yet written to our representatives, now is the time to do it.
According to San Juan Islands FAC member Howie Rosenfeld, “Supplemental Transportation Budget ESHB2878: According to Sen. Ranker it won’t be released for 2 weeks. It is supposed to be discussed in executive sessions of the transportation committees today [February 7]. They will try to incorporate some of the fees from last year’s 2053 enough to build another 144. According to [WSF Secretary] Moseley this patch will hopefully be enough to get WSF through the 13-15 biennium.”
Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (Senate Transportation Committee Chair)
Representative Judy Clibborn (House Transportation Committee Chair)
The San Juan FAC website has a good overview of the ferry funding situation on their Updates page: Ferry Advisory Committee Updates.
Another important piece of legislation being considered in this session concerns a proposal to reorganize the Ferry Advisory Committee on Tariffs (FACT). This is a message from Walt Elliot, FAC Executive Council Co-chair:
The Executive Council has reviewed and strongly supports this bill [SB 3451]. Please advise us on anything that we can do to help its success. Below is a summary comments that we have and a marked up version of the bill is attached. In making these comments we fully understand that you may consider some or all will of them may reduce the bill’s chances for success and need to be changed or eliminated. We fully trust your judgment on this matter.
Summary of proposed changes to S-3451
- We identify the legislative intent to recognize the respective roles of the FAC Executive Committee and the Ferry Advisory Committee on Tariffs. As Sen Haugen and Rep Clibborn were both involved in the formation of the FAC-T, we want to make it clear this is what we’re talking about and that this bill is consistent with those discussions. When the FAC-T was formed with legislative participation we and WSF commented that it needed some experience before being incorporated into legislation. Now that it has had that experience the legislation is appropriate and in our view needed. We also deferred on the role of reviewing WSF cost data and savings trade-offs, as at the time the FAC-T was untried and needed to focus on its tariff role. Again now that the role appropriate and needed by both the Council and FAC-T.
- We clean up some previous language to reflect how the FACs and Council currently function in the areas of reviews of system performance, number of members , Council name, frequency of meetings, and the existence of the mutually agreed charter of operations that we currently have with WSF.
- We include the capital budget in the items that the Exec Council and FAC-T review.
- We recommend eliminating the statement requiring participation be a local government planning body or staff. As we are appointed by and accountable to our locally elected officials we think this is sufficient. We think that putting this member on the FAC places a large unfunded burden on County staff at a time of greatly reduced resources. On or Kingston FAC we do have a Planning Commission Member however given the frequency of commission meetings that she must attend adding the FAC to that is a large burden for a volunteer.
- We limit the amount the commission can raise fare revenue to that which is assumed in the biennial budget. In this way the Commission is clearly following what the legislature has voted upon per I-1053 and the Attorney General’s opinion.
- We include Council and FACT review of ferry rider survey questions relating to operations, service, fares, fare policy, media policy. We think that this is necessary if the legislature is to have confidence in survey results. This review had previously been done with WSF rider surveys and the review significantly improved survey quality by identifying where questions were confusion or ambiguous. While the Commission allowed a review of the first part of their first survey they have not since.
Here is a link to the draft bill, with comments added: FAC Exec. Council comments on S- 3541.doc