AGC's 2012 Legislative Recap

The following bills passed the Legislature.

EHB 2660 - Transportation Revenue

AGC: Supported

Summary: This legislation was originally introduced as the Governor’s request bill to generate new revenue for transportation which included the proposed $1.50 per/barrel of oil fee. The bill passed out of House Transportation Committee to the Rules Committee; where it languished. It had become apparent that the barrel fee could not pass the Senate.

The other fee bill ESSB 6455 had passed out of the Senate to the House and was amended by the House. When ESSB 6455 came up on the Senate calendar for concurrence a challenge was raised as to whether a $10 state parks RV sanitation waste disposal charge was a fee or a tax. It was ruled a tax which would require a 2/3 vote to pass. The bill was set down.

The House then pulled EHB 2660 to the floor and amended all of the original provisions of ESSB 6455 onto EHB 2660 as a striker less the language that was deemed a tax and passed the newly amended version back to the Senate. The Senate concurred and passed the bill.

EHB 2660 as amended increases the fee for an abstract of driving record vehicle certificate of ownership certain vehicle license plates title transfer penalties and vehicle dealer licenses. Establishes a $100 annual license fee for electric vehicles.

Removes the current expiration date of June 30 2014 for the allowable fee for vehicle documentary service of $150 charged by vehicle dealers when a vehicle is purchased and makes the fee permanent.

Also creates the public transportation grant program account in the state treasury; requires expenditures from the account be used only for grants to aid transit authorities with operations. This particular language was not supported by the AGC but the additional revenue provisions were.

ESSB 6150 - Addressing the Drivers License Permit and Identicard System Including the Administration of a Facial Recognition Matching System

AGC: Supported

Summary: Authorizes Department of Licensing to implement a facial recognition matching system for all driver licenses permits and identicards to determine whether the person has been issued identification under different name or names. This system is defined as a system that compares biometric template derived from an image of an applicant or holder of a driver license permit or identicard with biometric templates derived from the images in DOL’s negative file (the picture that is taken when an individual applies for or renews any of the above). There is a lot more detail to this system that is too lengthy to describe in this report.

Beginning July 1 2013 driver licenses permits and identicards will now be valid for six years. The current fees that are charged by DOL for the issuance of driver’s licenses permits identicards and commercial driver’s licenses are all increased as well as motorcycle endorsements.

In addition the fees for driver’s instruction permit applications and renewals are increased; as are drivers license examinations and for replacement of all of the above if lost stolen or damaged. All of the increased revenues from the fee increases have been incorporated into the 2012 supplemental transportation budget.

SHB 2190 - 2011-2013 Supplemental Transportation Budget

AGC: Supported

Summary: The 2011-2013 biennial Transportation Budget is amended to reflect a decline in state revenues since enactment of the budget bill the need to issue additional bonds for the SR 520 bridge replacement and HOV project the receipt of additional federal funds reduced spending expectations resulting from lower inflationary projections a reprogramming of unfinished work from the previous fiscal biennium changes in the schedule of some projects and emergent operating expenses.

Net spending authority is increased by about $930 million with much of the increase going to the WSDOT Improvements Program to allow the issuance of the remaining bonds and potential receipt of the TIFIA funds authorized for the SR 520 bridge replacement and HOV project.

The budget is also amended to provide expenditure authority for new revenue attributable to increases in fees in other legislation. Appropriations connected with the increases in various drivers’ and vehicle fees are provided to: $9.5 million to WSP; WSDOT ferry system for operations; to WSDOT for road preservation and maintenance; $9 million for transit operations; for Safe Routes to Schools program; to Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board (FMSIB); for construction of a new 144-car class ferry boat vessel; for the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB); and County Road Administration Board (CRAB).

WSDOT is provided $8 million to begin design preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition on several projects in anticipation of the next major transportation revenue investment package. The North-South Corridor in Spokane receives additional funding this biennium; and the Red Mountain interchange in Benton City receives funding for initial design.

Legislative Expenditure Plan for Additive Transportation Revenues

Uses of Funds (Millions of $)

2011‐13 Biennium

2013‐15 Biennium

Washington State Patrol

9.5

28.8

Highway Maintenance

3.5

10.0

Transit Operation Grants

9.0

26.0

Ferry Operations

7.0

35.0

Transportation Improvement Board

3.5

10.0

2nd 144 Car Ferry (debt service)

6.5

20.5

Safe Routes to Schools

2.3

6.8

Freight Mobility State Investment Board

.8

2.3

WSDOT Preliminary Design/Rights‐of‐Way

8.0

25.0

Total

57.0

183.5

EHB 2814 - Replacement of Certain Elements of the SR 520 Corridor

AGC: Supported

Summary: Establishes construction authorization and conditioning provisions for the replacement of the floating bridge and landings on SR 520. Prevents the WSDOT from engaging in construction on any portion of the SR 520 corridor between the western landing of the floating bridge and I-5 until the Legislature has authorized the imposition of tolls on I-90 and/or other funding sufficient to complete the construction of the SR 520 bridge replacement and high occupancy vehicle project; declares an emergency.

The construction authorization does not preclude the Shorelines Hearing Board from concluding that the project or any element of the project is inconsistent with the goals and policies of the Shorelines Management Act or the applicable master program. This authorization and conditioning provisions expire on June 30 2014 and apply to appeals filed after Jan. 1 2012.

EHB 2328 - Job Order Contracting

AGC: Supported

Summary: This bill extends Job Order Contracting authority to the regional universities and Sound Transit.

SSB 6421 - Statement of Intent to Pay Prevailing Wages on Public Works (FOBO)

AGC: Supported

Summary: This bill permits general contractors or upper tier subcontractors to file affidavits of wages paid on behalf of subcontractors who were no longer available or unwilling to file an affidavit of wages paid. This will close out projects faster and result in the release of retention to all other contractors.

SSB 6406 - HPA (Hydraulic Project Approval)

AGC: Opposed

Summary: This bill is comprised of three sections. Part 1 introduces a fee ($150.00) for the first time to the HPA permit program but does not provide any reforms. The AGC opposed the bill because this Part violated our “no fees without reforms” position. Part 2 of the bill merges the HPA program in forested areas with the Forest Practices Act (FPA). Part 3 of the bill involves both SEPA and municipal stormwater permits under the Clean Water Act. The Department of Ecology is directed to examine increases to the categorical exemptions for SEPA and is further directed to delay implementation of certain aspects of the new NPDES municipal permit that will be issued this summer.

Infrastructure Investment

ESB 6074 - Capital Budget

ESB 5127 - Bond Bill

ESSJR 8221 - Constitutional Amendment

AGC: Supported

Summary: Among the last actions taken by the 2012 Legislature early in the morning after pulling an all-nighter bleary-eyed Legislators passed the Infrastructure/Jobs Supplemental Capital Budget package of two bills and a proposed Constitutional Amendment. A top AGC priority for 2012 the $1.08 billion legislative package fast-tracks construction of public projects that would otherwise have been built over the next several years. State projects will be bid while construction prices are still very competitive and the construction industry gets a shot-in-the arm to bounce back from economic conditions that have kept industry unemployment near 20%.

Project categories include $320 for higher education including UW Bothell and WSU Medical Center projects; $216 for natural resource and environmental projects including storm and floodwater control fish hatcheries. Also included are $108 million for energy efficiency and weatherization projects; $72 million for safe drinking water projects; $67 for housing needs; $37 million for nine new K-12 school Skills Centers emphasizing vocational education; and $153 million for Public Works Trust Fund projects.

For a complete list of projects funded by the measures click 2012 Capital Budget Projects List.

In a letter to Governor Gregoire encouraging her to approve the legislation AGC President Steve Isenhart encouraged her to act as soon as possible. Early approval of these bills will help get workers back to work building needed infrastructure for the State and its communities Isenhart said in the letter. The $1.08 billion invested in these projects will generate more than $2.1 billion in economic activity; increase household earnings by $690 million; and support 17000 to 20000 jobs across the state.

Half of the package is funded with general obligation bonds. ESB 5127 authorizes $500.5 million in new general obligation bond sales. The bill also contains appropriations for the projects supported by those sales. ESB 6074 addresses the other half of the package paying for projects with cash account appropriations ($378.1 million) and certificates of participation ($189.8 million) mostly for higher education projects.

As part of the overall budget negotiations legislative Republicans lead the effort to transfer revenues away from the construction budget to fund normal government operations.   Led by chief budget negotiator Senator Joe Zarelli (R-18 Ridgefield) revenues generated by Solid Waste Collection taxes were diverted from the Public Works Trust Fund into the State General Fund for a period of 7 years; through FY 2018.  These revenues generate about 18% of the total PWTF revenue stream and the transfer amounts to at least $190 million less available for loans to community projects to repair or replace failing infrastructure. 

Another key element in the Capital Budget/Jobs Package negotiations was the Senate Republican Caucus insistence that the State Constitution be amended to lower the allowable debt ratio.  In 2011 AGC and a broad coalition opposed this change.  It became clear that in 2012 agreement on a Jobs Package would not be possible without action on this proposal.  ESSJR 8221 would amend the State Constitution addressing general obligation debt provisions used to finance construction projects.  General obligation bonds pledge the full faith credit and taxing power of the state for payment of debt service (principal and interest payments).

ESSJR 8221 will appear on the November 2012 General Election Ballot.

If approved by voters the current debt limit (9% of average general state revenues) would be lowered in steps to 8 percent by July 1 2034. It is set at 8.5 percent starting July 1 2014 8.25 percent starting July 1 2016 and 8 percent starting July 1 2034.  At the same time the Constitution would also be amended to expand the base against which the percentage debt limit is applied to include state property taxes deposited in the State General Fund.   The calculation window would be based on the average of general state revenues for the previous six fiscal years instead of the current three-year average.