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Tag: mike armstrong


Legislature approves ‘Discover Pass’ for state lands

Lawmakers wrapped up work today on one piece of their budget puzzle.

They agreed to charge $30 a year to drive into state parks and forests and other state lands, sending SB 5622 to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature on a party-line House vote. The governor has supported the concept and included it in her budget plan.

Her legislative director, Jim Justin, said Gregoire needs to take a look at changes made by the Legislature but that she’s pleased the bill has passed.

The annual pass and a $10 day pass for those who don’t buy it would raise $64 million, with $54 million going to state parks and the rest divided between two other agencies that manage state lands, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Read more »


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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Cell phone ban remains whole

The proposed cell phone ban for drivers weaved around an attempt to dilute it today in the House Transportation Committee.

Rep. Dan Roach proposed eliminating the part of the bill that allows police to pull people over for talking on a handheld phone while driving. Drivers now can’t be ticketed for phone use unless they have been pulled over for another violation, like speeding.

Roach said a cell phone conversation is no different from talking to a passenger, eating or putting on lipstick, all of which are legal.

The committee rejected the amendment on a voice vote, then

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