McCaslin bill to help preserve and maintain state roads and highways passes committee

Legislation to prioritize the preservation and maintenance of state roads and highways passed the House Transportation Committee today.

Rep. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane and prime sponsor of House Bill 1137 called it “the right bill, at the right time” as the state's backlog of highway maintenance projects continues to grow.

“When this bill didn't pass last year I was disappointed,” said McCaslin, who serves on the committee. “You drive just about anywhere in Eastern Washington, especially as you get into some of our rural areas, and the maintenance issues are very noticeable. But we worked again this year to really emphasize the jobs and employment aspect of this type of legislation. I think in this era of COVID where jobs are at a premium – it was just the right bill, at the right time.”

McCaslin's bill reorders the state's six transportation system policy goals, and adds resilience to the definition of stewardship in the statutes. It requires the state to perform their powers, duties and functions with preservation and safety as priorities among the state's transportation goals.

“I've always been a big believer in taking care of what you have before looking for more,” said McCaslin. “Folks on my side of the state look at gas taxes and increased fees with a very jaundiced eye as they drive around crumbling roads and highways that are, frankly, borderline unsafe.

“If you can't get goods to market, drive the speed limit safely, or maneuver a commercial vehicle on our state highways, we've got problems,” said McCaslin. “And that's the state some of our roads are in. Before we go looking at that next transportation mega project, let's take care of the infrastructure we have.”

Testimony was heard in committee by several union groups representing highway construction workers. McCaslin said their comments were compelling and probably a big part of why the committee approved his bill this year.

“Look, it's no secret that highway construction and maintenance jobs are good-paying jobs in our region,” said McCaslin. “Reliable, well-paying employment with good benefits are at a premium right now. Having those blue collar union representatives testify during committee was a bit of an eye opener for some, I think. It probably helped sway some committee members to vote in favor of the bill. I'm grateful they took the time to participate in our remote session and testify on this bill.”

As legislators move into the next phase of the 2021 session with nearly two weeks of floor action, it is possible for McCaslin's bill to be debated and voted on by the entire state House of Representatives. However, he is confident that if the bill were allowed to come up for a vote, it would receive favorable consideration.

“I can't say for sure if the bill will get pulled to the House floor, but I can say this: it's a hard bill to vote against! Who doesn't want better, safer roads and highways?” said McCaslin

The 105-day 2021 remote session is scheduled to end April 25.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov