This from Andrew at the NPI:
An under-the-radar bill that would profoundly alter Sound Transit and other municipal agencies currently tasked with planning, building, and operating transportation systems throughout Puget Sound is quickly moving through the state Senate[.]
SSB 5803 originates from an idea proposed years ago by the Discovery Institute, anti-transit ideologues, and conservative billionaire John Stanton, who was a key Dino Rossi supporter in 2004.
What SSB 5803 does is complicate and confuse the existing decision making process, which is already hard for many citizens to understand. The proposed law would stomp all over home rule and local control by essentially consolidating existing transportation agencies into one larger entity.
Basically, all of our regional transportation projects would be routed through this new mega-agency. Projects like light rail expansion or lane additions to I-405 would go through these new transportation gatekeepers. The board members would be elected from super-districts:
These new districts would be much larger than county council districts. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for candidates with grassroots campaigns to compete. But the elections would be a bonanza for big business, which would have an opportunity to try and sell handpicked loyalists to voters.
The positions would all be nonpartisan, allowing right wing ideologues to stealthily mask what they actually stand for in the hopes of getting on the commission. And once on, they wouldn’t have to worry about listening to constituents – the terms are six years, except for at the very beginning, when three commissioners would serve two year terms and another three would serve four year terms.
And with unanimous consent of the commission required for forwarding any future plans on to voters, one or two right wing, anti-transit members could refuse to sign on to any proposal not to their liking.
I don’t see this policy shift as benefiting transit. I see it as a calculated shift to balance the recent surge in transit support in the region. There’s a reason the RTID folks tied their roads package to Sound Transit 2: transit is actually more popular than roads these days.
Today the bill passed the Senate. Maybe Murray can explain why this change will benefit his district, a district that wants more transit, not less.