Washington state Senate Bill 5806 passed through the House of Representatives with a 59-37 vote last week.
Sponsors for the bill include Senators Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver.
The bill first passed the Senate with a 45-4 vote, but according to a joint news release from Senate Democrats and Republicans, “a few technical aspects were amended by the House prior to passage. The differences must now be reconciled between the two chambers.”
If the reconciliation goes smoothly, the bill will soon find its way to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.
House Bill 2095, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, and Brandon Vick, R-Felida, is the bill’s companion.
The two bills have drawn endorsements from Washougal, Camas, Vancouver, Ridgefield and Battle Ground along with support from seven out of nine Southwest Washington legislators.
SB 5806 would establish a joint Oregon-Washington legislative action committee to work on, among other things, the start of a process toward developing a new bridge.
Part of the legislation involves appropriating $350,000 for the Washington State Department of Transportation to collect data previously used in the CRC project so the funding used on that project would not be wasted.
“We have valuable existing data that can expedite our efforts to move forward with a new bridge,” Cleveland said in the press release. “Culling this data can get us off to a running start as opposed to starting from scratch.
“We all agreed that as legislators the only successful course was to take a bipartisan approach and lead on this process. Our challenge is to develop a process that will allow for the best, most efficient and sensible solution.”
Wilson, of District 17, said in the release, “We’ve worked together to set clear rules on how any discussion of a project should proceed. This is an important step for an open and collaborative process. We want to make sure any project is carefully and deliberately discussed before any commitment is made to a specific plan.”
Rivers talked about how the bill will allow lawmakers in both states a fresh start.
“This legislation represents an opportunity to wipe off the slate and take a new look, together with Oregon, at what might be possible,” Rivers said in the release. “What this does not do is lock anyone into a project. The joint committee this bill creates would act as a sort of ‘bridge authority,’ in my view, that is free to consider other crossings or investments to meet regional transportation needs. As someone who has long thought a third-crossing option deserves serious consideration, I wouldn’t have supported this legislation if it didn’t allow that kind of flexibility.”
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