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Legislators busy sending bills forward

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

State lawmakers from the 31st Legislative District completed their first two weeks of a busy session Friday, a time marked by a simmering battle over the governor's race.

During the first week of the session, Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Lake Tapps, was elected to serve as chair of the Republican Caucus. She will be conducting the meetings and working with leadership.

As caucus chair, Shabro will be in the thick of the fun as the Republicans jockey for position in the House, which is controlled by the Democrats, as are both the Senate chambers and governor's mansion.

High on Shabro's to-do list is a HOT lane pilot project she is sponsoring, House Bill 1179. HOT is an acronym for high-occupancy toll lane.

The idea is to allow single-occupied vehicle to enter HOV or high-occupancy vehicle lanes for a fee. The fee would depend on congestion and would be collected electronically. A transponder located on the highway would read a card attached to a vehicle's windshield.

"This is an idea that uses existing infrastructure," Shabro said. "It is a wise use of our tax dollars. This HOT lane program is so popular in San Diego they are expanding it."

If the bill passes, the program would be introduced on state Route 167 between Auburn and Renton.

Along with her caucus leadership role, Shabro serves on the Transportation, Education and State Government committees.

Rep. Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, has also been busy in leadership, committee work and introducing legislation.

Roach is the ranking minority member of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and he serves on the House Capital Budget and House Finance Committees.

Heading up Roach's first two weeks is a series of land-use bills in response to critical area ordinances passed in Pierce and King counties.

Roach is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1165, which would require the government to compensate landowners based on projected loss of value due to critical area ordinances.

"Washington's Constitution states private property cannot be taken or damaged without fair compensation," Roach said. "This bill allows compensation to property owners."

According to Roach, the bill is in response to critical area ordinances passed in Pierce and King counties preventing rural landowners from clearing up to 65 percent of their land.

Roach also intends to introduce HB 1162 and 1164, making critical area ordinances subject to a citizen referendum.

HB 1163 would reduce property tax assessments when land has been affected adversely by an ordinance.

During the first week of the session, Democrats swatted down a Republican effort to block Gov. Christine Gregoire's certification, which sent the electoral challenge meandering through the courts. The controversy created a plethora of election reform bills.

Right in the middle of this donnybrook is Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who is the ranking member of the Government Operations and Elections Committee.

Roach has introduced Senate Bill 5079, seeking a revote in the governor's race, and Senate Bill 5082, mandating absentee ballots reach the auditor's office by election day, except for military or out-of-state voters.

The senator also is the prime sponsor of a SB 5078, requiring voters in Washington to re-register in an effort to clean up voter registration rolls.

Roach also serves on two other committees, International Trade and Economic Development and Ways and Means.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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