Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Aug. 9, 2022

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Vancouver sees wins, losses from Legislature

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
3 Photos
A cyclist boards a C-Tran Vine bus at the Turtle Place Transit Center in downtown Vancouver in February 2021. Move Ahead Washington, a measure passed in the state's 2022 legislative session that contributes $17 billion in transportation funding, will aid infrastructure projects in Vancouver. Among them, C-Tran's third Vine bus route along Highway 99 is set to receive $5 million.
A cyclist boards a C-Tran Vine bus at the Turtle Place Transit Center in downtown Vancouver in February 2021. Move Ahead Washington, a measure passed in the state's 2022 legislative session that contributes $17 billion in transportation funding, will aid infrastructure projects in Vancouver. Among them, C-Tran's third Vine bus route along Highway 99 is set to receive $5 million. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

The Washington Legislature ended its 60-day session in March, resulting in triumphs for Vancouver spanning from infrastructure funding to clarified language in police use-of-force policy.

One of the meatiest and unparalleled bills, Move Ahead Washington, will contribute $17 billion in transportation funding over 16 years and $3 billion for infrastructure maintenance.

Legislators also adjourned the session with a $64 billion supplemental budget, which exceeded the anticipated amount. The budget invests in health, education and COVID-19 recovery; its reserves can be allocated for future emergency relief.

The Vancouver City Council and staff discussed the successes — and losses — of its adopted legislative priorities during a workshop Monday.

“I could not be more pleased by the engagement of the council and the results of the legislative delegation,” said Brian Enslow, from the city’s lobbying firm Arbutus Consulting.

Aside from securing $1 billion in funding for the Interstate 5 Bridge replacement, Move Ahead Washington also acquired money for other local infrastructure projects. However, it is unknown when funds will be dispersed for the projects because a biennium spending plan was not approved.

The package will provide $6 million for a multimodal overcrossing at the Northeast 54th Avenue and Northeast Stapleton Road interchange with Highway 500 in Vancouver. This will begin the second phase of the intersection project, which was originally implemented to reduce vehicle crashes in the area.

A sum of $700,000 will be invested in constructing an accessible sidewalk along Garrison Road between Mill Plain Boulevard and Northeast 14th Street. Another $5 million will be directed toward C-Tran’s plan to create a bus rapid transit line on Highway 99, its third Vine bus route.

Staff looked for support from the state to further its affordable housing and homeless response agenda. Vancouver can tap into preexisting budgets for maintaining encampments along state-owned rights of way, cleaning litter and aiding in rental assistance.

The Vancouver Fire Department’s Station 5 is set to receive $160,000 from the Legislature to help plan a climate-controlled storage building project. The city originally asked for $1 million.

Main Street policy, use-of-force clarity

Vancouver’s prime policy objective was to remain in the state’s Main Street Program, which helps communities develop strategies for economic growth in relation to its downtown district, Enslow said. Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, sponsored the bill that permanently grandfathers the city into the program, which goes into effect in early June.

The city’s initiative to improve police transparency and accountability inched forward as measures providing clarity on preexisting policies passed. There was a broad agenda presented by the law enforcement community, Enslow said, which provided new and altered language to establish more clarity regarding police officers’ use of force.

House Bill 2037 identified what physical force is, which was not previously defined, and when it’s appropriate to use when a suspect is fleeing. Now, officers can temporarily detain someone for questioning without probable cause. Legislators also revisited and supported officers’ use of equipment as a means of nonlethal intervention, such as shotguns that deploy bean bags.

Additional legislation, House Bill 1735, clarified when officers can apply force in behavioral health responses.

Planning for future priorities

The city of Vancouver backed a measure in the Legislature that would permit the city to use ranked choice voting in elections, which would enable voters to list candidates in order of preference. Despite having momentum from previous sessions, the ranked choice measure did not progress.

Vancouver was supportive of measures accommodating growth and density through developing middle housing, but they failed in the 2022 session. Enslow suggested that the council should revisit housing improvements during the next legislative session, as well as additional bills that would address climate, police reform and long-term care.

The council expects to view and discuss its 2023 legislative priorities in the fall and meet with its delegation of legislators before the holiday season. Council members addressed the need to convene with subject experts and representatives earlier in the year to craft more thorough policy goals.

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