The state’s House Ways and Means Committee has approved a bill amendment from Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor that would restore the power to set ferry fares and bridge tolls to the Washington Transportation Commission. This means adjustments could be made without needing a 2/3 vote in the state legislation. More information is available in this article published in the Kitsap Sun on January 19.
The following was sent to the FCP last week. It’s interesting reading and worth sharing.
Taking a Sober Look at Washington State Ferries
By Dan Twohig, North Bend, WA
Submitted on January 11, 2011
I am a deck officer working for Washington State Ferries and a member of two maritime unions, The Inland Boatman’s Union (IBU) and the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P).
Columnist Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times asks this question in a recent column, “Eyman’s star rising at a cost.” Westneat poses a number of questions that citizens of Washington need to consider, discuss, and resolve.
The column is available here.
Despite the decision that the 2.5% fare increase that was approved by WSTC last November can begin on January 1, we apparently haven’t had the last discussion about who can set fares moving forward.
The Kitsap Sun recently published an article which explains some of the questions that still need to be sorted out related to I-1053 and which also predicts a that resolution won’t be reached without a battle. Click here to read the full article.
Apparently I-1053 does not impact the 2.5% fare increase approved by the WSTC last November. Here is an update from the Kitsap Sun, published 12/22/10.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state attorney general’s office says that the state can move ahead with ferry fare increases because they were approved before a voter-approved initiative dealing with taxes and fees took effect.
A legal memo sent to state officials Wednesday says that Initiative 1053 has no affect on fare increases approved by the state Transportation Commission on Nov. 15.
The memo clarified an informal opinion issued earlier by the attorney general’s office that said the commission couldn’t raise ferry fares or impose or raise tolls without a legislative vote.
I-1053 requires the Legislature to get a majority vote on fee increases and two-thirds majority on tax-hike votes rather than the simple majority required for most legislation. It took effect Dec. 2.
The Seattle Times reports that, in an informal opinion released on 12/20/10, the state Attorney General’s office announced that WSTC cannot put the 2.5% fare increase it approved just after the election because of the passage of I-1053 sponsored by Tim Eyman. This initiative requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise any taxes or fees.
If this opinion stands, the result will be that the already grim fiscal problems facing WSF will worsen.
The following message was shared by John Whetten. It was originally sent to some members of the Ferry Community Partnership. I don’t know the history of I-695, but have heard it mentioned in conjunction with diminishing funds for ferries. Do any of you have additional information you’d be willing to share? If so, please add a comment. Thanks!