1. State Sen. Jamie Pedersen's (D-43, Capitol Hill) prankster amendment—yesterday's unparalleled Afternoon Jolt—to make Medina property owners responsible for cost overruns on the 520 replacement project blew up the senate last night.
Pedersen successfully tacked the absurd amendment on to this year's supplemental transportation budget to make a wise-guy point about how ridiculous the "stick-it-to-Seattle" tunnel overruns provision is.
At first, his ploy backfired. Churlish Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-6, Spokane) successfully amended Pedersen's amendment, putting Seattle on the hook for 520 costs too.
And then, one-upping Pedersen, Baumgartner proposed another amendment—in the context of the Bertha tunneling machine fiasco—reiterating "that any cost overruns on the SR 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project that are not the responsibility of the contractor must be borne by the property owners in Seattle who benefited from the replacement of the viaduct with a tunnel."
Sufficiently freaked out about the Medina provision (the project needs another $170 million), state senate majority leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48), who's from Medina, pulled his Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus off the floor to figure out how to unwind Pedersen's gotcha.
Suddenly, Pedersen, a lawyer, looked like a legal genius.
Suddenly, Pedersen, a lawyer, looked like a legal genius. The Democrats would give Tom enough votes to repeal the Medina amendment if Tom could deliver enough Republican votes to shoot down Baumgartner's tunnel amendment. And if that happened, Pedersen told Fizz cheerfully as the drama was unfolding on the floor last night, the senate would be on record against the famous "stick-it-to-Seattle" provision, strengthening the case that the tunnel cost overruns provision currently on the books is unenforceable.
Baumgartner's amendment never came to a vote, though. In exchange for taking Medina (and Seattle) off the hook for the 520 project, Baumgartner simply agreed to withdraw his tunnel amendment.
2. Sen. Tom got back to us yesterday about why the Majority Coalition Caucus' (MCC) transportation funding proposal, which he's co-sponsoring with senate transportation committee co-chair Sen. Curtis King (R-14, Yakima), transposes the Democratic house legislation that had allocated 60 percent of a potential motor vehicle excise tax to saving Metro bus service and 40 percent to roads. Sen. Tom's version makes it 40 for buses and 60 for roads.
The problem with that? It doesn't raise enough money to prevent bus cuts.
Sen. Tom, whose Microsoft suburban constituency relies on Metro, told Fizz—as we thought he might—that his proposal simultaneously increases the amount of money from the Republicans' previous proposal that goes to transit (or multimodal projects) by about $200 million.
"I was told it makes Metro whole," he said. But his proposal's own project summary shows that the additional $275 million in transit spending—which includes a brand-new $130 million add for park-and-ride projects—is already allocated.
And ironically (see the double asterisk above), they got the extra money by taking it out of the "Direct Distribution" program that funds local transit projects—and the remaining money in that account was redefined in the MCC plan as being off limits to King County and Seattle.
Sen. Tracey Eide (D-30, Federal Way), the transportation committee co-chair, told Fizz that Sen. Tom was wrong that the new money would cover Metro. And she scoffed at the idea of new park-and-rides. "Like we're really going to build a park and ride? What are they thinking?"
Deanna Dawson, the director of the Sound Cities Association—a coalition of 36 smaller cities in King County (no Seattle and no Bellevue)—that came together last year around the 60/40 transit/roads split for King County's local option, also wonders what Sen. Tom is thinking.
Last year, when the legislature was contemplating a local option for King County, Dawson says: "Legislative leadership told [Sound Cities, which was internally split on roads and transit funding], 'you people need to figure this out yourselves and speak to us with one voice or else you'll get nothing.' And we took this admonition seriously. Everybody had their different perspective, but there was consensus, that we needed to fill this hole at Metro, and that was part of where the 60/40 dollar figure came from. It had to be sufficient to solve the need and not just be a patch. And enough for road projects too. Now, the troubling part is, we stuck together all this time with this coalition, this compromise, and advocated for that."Tom's 40/60 split would only leave $50 million for Metro bus service—not enough to prevent cuts.
3. State house Republicans tried to amend this year's budget by proposing that health care assistance in the state health care authority cannot provide "funding to Planned Parenthood and paying for abortions."
Go to the 01:07:15 mark to watch Rep. Jason Overstreet's (R-42, Blaine) heated attack on Planned Parenthood; Overstreet, in his words, was "ris[ing] in support of the unborn babies" and tied Planned Parenthood to "the late 19th century eugenics movement."
Rep. Overstreet was eventually cut off after Rep. Tami Green (D-28, Tacoma) objected to his tirade.
The amendment failed.