This Washington

Vulnerable User Bill Ahead of Last Year's Schedule

By Erica C. Barnett February 16, 2011

David Hiller, lobbyist for the Cascade Bicycle Club, says the prospects for this year's vulnerable user bill---legislation increasing penalties for negligent drivers who kill or seriously injure cyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable roadway users---are looking somewhat better than last year's, when the bill died before the cutoff date for bills to pass out of their house of origin. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34) in the House and Sen. Adam Kline (D-37) in the Senate.

Last year, the bill died after languishing on the senate floor. This year, the bill is right where it died last time---but this time around, supporters have eight more days to get it done. "What's great about this year is that we're eight days ahead of where we were last year," Hiller says. "There's a critical mass, so to speak, of legislators who are supportive of the bill."

The hangup, Hiller says, is that the bill costs money. Initially, the bill was estimated to cost $175,000, including some one-time costs. "In normal economic times, nobody would have even blinked at a $175,000 fiscal note. But that's currently enough to kill a bill." Through a series of "administrative tweaks," Hiller says, supporters got the price tag down to $44,000.

Cutoff is February 28.

Also yesterday, another bill we've covered that would allow cities and counties to adopt more stringent transportation guidelines based on federal standards---requiring more emphasis on bike and pedestrian facilities than state law mandates---was voted out of the house transportation committee.
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