Today, members of the Republican-dominated majority caucus voted to block a bill sponsored by Sen. Nathan Schlicher from coming to the floor for debate and a vote.
Senate Bill 5592 would have sought to keep toll increases and operating costs on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in check by limiting the amount of toll revenues spent on administration and oversight. This bill would have helped residents and commuters to the Kitsap Peninsula who have long shouldered the rising costs of bridge tolls.
This bill would have helped our state’s tourism industry, which suffers when tolls rise. It would have encouraged efficiency in bridge operations at a time when LEAN management is needed. This bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on a near-unanimous, bipartisan vote and passed out of the Senate Rules Committee last week.
Yet for days, Republican leadership has refused to bring the bill to the floor in advance of a critical legislative cutoff deadline. In response to the failure to act, Senate Democrats forced Republicans to show their hand and take a vote to bring the bill to the floor. As a result of this attempt, all 25 members of the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus voted against bringing the bill to the floor.
Sen. Curtis King, Sen. Joe Fain, Sen. Don Benton, Sen. Sharon Brown, Sen. Doug Erickson, Sen. Mike Carrell, Sen. Steve Litzow, and Sen. Tim Sheldon — are all members of the Senate Transportation Committee who had voted to support the bill before flip-flopping today and voting against it.
Also included in the parade of “no” votes was Sen. Rodney Tom, the architect of the self-proclaimed “bipartisan and collaborative” Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. A coalition that claimed it was all about building bridges across the aisle. Instead, by their actions today they have shown that delaying legislation which would manage the cost of bridge tolls is apparently more important than working to lessen the burden on our working families.
Why? Why would these members vote against a bill they had supported just days ago? Why would they vote against putting it to a vote on the floor of the Washington State Senate?
Perhaps their constituents and those who drive across the bridge should ask them.