Today's winner: The state ferry system.

A bill proposed today by state Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-48) would dramatically increase fees for driver licenses, license renewals, license exams, and other driver license-related fees; the proceeds would go to the state patrol, special-needs transit programs  highway operations and maintenance, and local government and freight programs. The largest beneficiary would be the state ferry system, which would receive $25 million for operations and $144 million (from the "nickel tax" adopted by the legislature in 2003) for a new auto ferry.

[pullquote]The largest beneficiary would be the state ferry system, which would receive $25 million for operations and $144 million (from the "nickel tax" adopted by the legislature in 2003) for a new auto ferry.[/pullquote]

The fee for a new driver license would increase from $25 to $45; the fee for a license renewal would go from $25 to $40; and the fee for a license examination would go from $20 to $30. The cost to replace a lost license would increase from $15 to $20. The cost for enhanced driver licenses and ID cards for non-drivers would be even higher than the new driver license fees. Additionally, getting a commercial driver license would become more expensive, as would many other miscellaneous charges.

The fee increases would allow the ferry system to make fewer cuts than it otherwise would have had to make. Additionally, among other things, the higher fees would fund investigations into auto thefts; paratransit programs like Metro's Access service; new ferries and offsets to ferry fare increases; and pedestrian, bicycle, and safe routes to school programs. It's unclear where environmental groups will come down on the legislation; a representative for FutureWise said the group hasn't taken a position yet on the bill, but plans to do so before it gets a hearing in the house transportation committee Monday morning.

Today's losers: Washington State residents who don't drive but still need ID.

The cost for a Washington State ID card (which serves as legal identification but does not include the right to drive) would more than double under the bill, from $20 to $55, or $10 more than a regular license. That's the same cost as a US State Department-issued passport card, which confers the right to travel to Canada and Mexico.
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