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Tag: Marko Liias


Transportation taxes go down to rare failure on House floor

The number of “yes” votes on the House voting screen ticked upward, then hovered at 49 for a long and dramatic few seconds — but couldn’t get to 50 and the majority needed to pass.

And with that, a transportation revenue package whose centerpiece is a 10.5 cent gas tax increase fell short, a rare defeat on the House floor, where vote counts usually keep doomed proposals from even showing up.

Backers of road projects, mass transit and ferries had taken a leap of faith only to fall short.

One of the supporters, Rep. Marko Liias,

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Budget would add van pools for base congestion

The $8.9 billion House transportation budget plan unveiled today includes $520,000 to buy 20 new vans to be driven by soldiers and civilian employees commuting to work at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

It’s one of several nods by the House Transportation Committee to the congestion on Interstate 5 around the base. The budget proposal also directs just more than $100,000 in mostly federal money to finish outfitting northbound I-5 on-ramps with stop-and-go traffic signals. And it directs the Department of Transportation to work with local agencies to figure out how to reduce vehicle use around the base, including through the use of public transportation.

But the budget Democrats and Republicans released doesn’t contain any money for that planning, and it doesn’t include $6 million that WSDOT has said it would need to study the cost of major improvements to I-5 around the base.

Rep. Marko Liias said WSDOT already has a good idea of the road improvements needed around the base. “The real money to solve that problem is going to have to come from our federal partners,” said Liias, D-Mukilteo, “and also from potentially new revenue as we move forward.”

And that is the story of this House budget plan, which GOP Rep. Mike Armstrong called “bare-bones.” There is very little money for new projects, and lawmakers say voters will have to approve new taxes before the state can address its transportation needs.

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New fees and taxes sought for buses, trains

Could this end up as Pierce Transit’s Plan B?

Transit advocates and Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, are unveiling a bill today that would offer a series of new funding sources for buses and trains.

Right now, county transit agencies can ask voters to raise their sales taxes. But King and Snohomish counties have reached their sales- tax ceilings, and on Tuesday Pierce County voters rejected an increase.

So agencies may see new hope in this bill, which offers ideas for permanent taxing authority that would build on a temporary authority that Liias had previously proposed.

Asked about the possibility,

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Bill by Rep. Liias would end coal-fired electricity in state by 2015

Rep. Marko Liias wants Washington to stop using coal, and he wants it to stop soon.

The Mukilteo Democrat introduced a bill Wednesday that would require the TransAlta power plant in Centralia, Washington’s only coal-fired electricity generator, to start using cleaner energy sources by Dec. 31, 2015, ten years earlier than it would have to under a 2009 executive order from Gov. Chris Gregoire.

“It frankly doesn’t fit our commitment at the state level to clean, renewable energy,” said Liias of coal-fired energy.

He said the purpose of his proposal, House Bill 1825, was to get legislators talking about coal power in the state and how to phase it out as quickly as possible. He said he wasn’t committed to the 2015 date if there were technical obstacles to meeting that deadline.

Ecology Department spokesman Seth Preston said cutting the state off coal would significantly cut air pollution and emissions of the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.

“If you’re not burning coal, you’re not going to have that amount of airborne mercury going into the atmosphere and you’re not going to have that greenhouse gas pollution,” said Preston.

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Last chance missed for transit tax

Lawmakers have probably missed their last chance to do something to bail out  struggling transit agencies.

Pierce Transit and its Snohomish County counterpart, Community Transit, say they need funding to stave off cuts to bus service. They want authority to levy a $20 fee on vehicles in the county without voter approval, or a bigger fee if voters permit.

There was a last-minute push in the House to temporarily give them that power, which counties and cities have now.

But the Senate this afternoon rejected a House amendment to provide the authority for car-tab fees. Rep. Marko Liias said

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