This Washington

Late Afternoon Fizz: Republicans for Transit Funding

By Erica C. Barnett February 8, 2011

King County Council Republican Jane Hague will drive down to Olympia with her Democratic council colleague, former state Sen. Joe McDermott, tomorrow to testify on behalf of state Rep. Marko Liias' (D-21) bill to allow local governments to pass a temporary (two-year) $30 vehicle-license fee $30 fee to fund transit. King County Executive Dow Constantine, a Democrat, will also support the legislation.

The bill accomplished a small bipartisan coup when it won the support of Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-12), the ranking Republican on the transportation committee. However, it ran into a bit of trouble when Armstrong insisted on attaching to the $30 fee the condition that it be put up for a local vote---in other words, that it can't simply be passed by local governments like the King County Council.

PubliCola contacted the council's four Republicans to find out where they stand on the bill. So far, we've only heard back from Pete Von Reichbauer---who says he hasn't seen the bill and doesn't have any opinion on it---and Hague, who volunteered that she's going down to testify in its favor.

"It's a local option and it was one of the directions we wanted to go as a result of the Regional Transit Task Force," which recommended that the county ask the legislature for emergency funding to prevent drastic cuts to Metro service. "I think we have such a good story to tell about Metro Transit and the fact that the Eastside is benefiting so much from transit service." However, Hague adds, she doesn't know if she'll support the $30 fee, should the county get the authority to pass one without a public vote. "I want the option," she said.

The house transportation committee will hold a hearing on Liias' bill tomorrow at 3:30.
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