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Updates from Olympia

As the legislative session reaches its seventh week, advocating for GSI’s 2015 State Legislative Priority Agenda continues here at home and in Olympia. Maintaining a consistent presence in the public-policy process to ensure continual progress of the local and statewide business climate is one of our top priorities, and so, here’s an update on the goings-on in Olympia:

Transportation, medical education and tax issues continue to be the center of attention for GSI. Since the start of session, more than 2,300 bills have been introduced. Last Friday was the last day for bills to be reported out of a policy committee or they’d be considered dead for this session – more than 1,400 of them made it.

Transportation: The transportation package in front of legislators during this session is vital to improving the quality of our roads, and providing critical road maintenance, upgrades and preservation of our area’s infrastructure. The Senate Transportation Committee marked up the Senate’s package of reforms, budget with projects, and revenue. Seven bills address a variety of reforms offered. The budget bill is drafted so that if the Governor signs an executive order to impose a low-carbon fuel standard, all multi-modal transportation funding would be void. Specific GSI regional priority projects in this bill are $862 million for the North Spokane Corridor; $21 million for I-90 from Barker to Harvard Roads; and $23.6 million for the Medical Lake/Geiger interchange. Also important to the region is a $10 million appropriation for STA’s Central City Line. GSI representatives testified and offered strong support. Despite considerable momentum on this package, it is likely the House will put this bill on the shelf until they deal with the McCleary decision since both will consider tax increases.

Medical Education: GSI fully supports the expansion of medical education and we’re keeping a close eye on these developments in Olympia. Last week SB 5487 (Baumgartner), authorizing WSU to seek an accredited med school passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The House companion bill, HB 1559 (Riccelli) received a public hearing in the House Committee on Appropriations, Wednesday February 25. We will share more information on the progress of these bills as it becomes available.

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