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WSLC: Lose poison pills, pass ‘clean’ transportation package

johnson-jeff-13(March 3, 2015) — The following statement was released today by Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO:

Yesterday the Senate passed a transportation funding package and project list with a vote composition unlike any we have seen in the past — 20 Republicans and seven Democrats voting “yes” and 16 Democrats and six Republicans voting “no.”

The reason for this uncharacteristic vote was the poison pills embedded in SB 5987. The bill holds transit funding hostage to there being no Executive Orders by any Governor over the next 16 years dealing with clean fuel standards or other carbon reduction efforts. This is a reckless denial of the serious effects of a worsening climate-change crisis and pits the growing need for multi-modal transportation choices against the need for clean air. SB 5987 also makes the transportation package contingent on passing the package of transportation “reform” bills that further redirect and weaken environmental and labor priorities.

The journey of SB 5987 ended up with a ruling from the Lt. Governor that the Senate rule requiring a two-thirds majority vote to bring any new taxes to the Senate floor for a vote on final passage, which was adopted on the first day of the 2015 legislative session, was unconstitutional. Senators Cleveland and Hobbs initiated the motions that led to this decision.

The transportation package now goes to the House for discussion and deliberation. Given our state’s need for improving our transportation infrastructure, the Washington State Labor Council is hopeful that substantive negotiations will take place that result in a clean transportation package that meets our needs for completing key economic corridors; maintaining and preserving our roads, highways, and bridges; improving public safety; increasing funding for transit and multi-modal forms of transportation; and cleaning up our environment, while leaving in place the tools we need as a state to address the disruptive impacts of climate change.

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