The Senate devolved into a drawn-out parliamentary standstill Friday as the Republicans and three conservative Democrats attempted to push through their own version of the state budget.
The result, however, is that any bill passed previously by the House that was awaiting a Senate vote (and is not necessary to implement the budget) will not be heard this year. The cutoff was 5 p.m. Among those bills is SHB 1217, which would have given municipalities the option of lowering speed limits on non-arterial streets without the need for an expensive engineering study. The bill passed the House unanimously 96-0, passed the Senate Transportation Committee and was on the list for a Senate floor vote when the takeover happened.
The Republican action was basically to ensure that none of the bills (even the ones they liked, such SHB 1217) could be passed. Democracy at its finest.
From the Bicycle Alliance:
Today, the Washington State Senate did not vote on the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB1217) prior to the 5 p.m. cutoff for considering bills from the opposite chamber. After being listed on the Order of Consideration on Wednesday, it was held and passed over. The Senate’s failure to take action on it today means it is no longer under consideration for the 2011-2012 biennium.
SHB 1217 would have made safer streets and neighborhoods by allowing cities and towns the authority to set speed limits to 20 miles per hour on non-arterial streets. It did not mandate any change, it simply would have provided cities and towns the authority to do so.
The Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill garnered support from over 35 statewide organizations, boards, cities, and towns. In its January 30, 2012 vote, it received unanimous support from the State House of Representatives; and during its 2012 Senate Transportation Committee hearing, which featured Seattle City Council President Sally Clark, Spokane Councilmember Jon Snyder, and former WSDOT Secretary Doug MacDonald, it received no opposition by organizations in testimony or otherwise.
“Based on the strong bipartisan and statewide support we’ve seen, it’s puzzling why the Senate didn’t take action on this bill,” says Bicycle Alliance of Washington statewide policy director Blake Trask.
The statewide support for this bill included the Washington State PTA, AARP-Washington, AAA-Washington, Washington Fire Chiefs, the cities of Spokane, Bellingham, Seattle and, Kirkland, as well as the Town of Winthrop.
“Communities are asking lawmakers to give them more cost-saving tools and local options instead of mandates,” says, prime sponsor, Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32). “Given the tight budget times we face, this bill would have helped local governments across the state. It aimed to remove an expensive state mandate that deters communities from lowering speed limits on non-arterial roads even when they recognize that lower speeds would make people safer or promote local businesses and jobs. I look forward to working on promoting these issues in the future.”
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington worked closely with the Representative to develop and support the bill.
“We are disappointed by the outcome, which will retain the state’s unnecessary hurdles for cities and towns to create safer non-arterial streets. But given the large coalition built to support this legislation, we are optimistic that Washingtonians will continue to demand safer streets,” says Bicycle Alliance of Washington Executive Director Barbara Culp.
This legislation is especially germane to more vulnerable populations, including children. As Washington State PTA wrote in its letter of support, “we believe that SHB 1217 will give local communities a way to make neighborhoods safer places for children to bike, walk and play. “ Similarly, AARP-Washington wrote, “Older pedestrians because of their increased fragility particularly benefit from low-speed environments.”