Schlicher bill runs into roadblock

Nathan Schlicher’s bill to hold down Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls had sailed through the Senate with nearly unanimous support, until Tuesday afternoon. By a 25-24 party-line vote, SB 5592 was prevented from reaching the floor for a full Senate vote. It died Wednesday, the last day to consider bills in their house of origin.
The bill would have dictated that bridge management costs account for no more than 2 percent of all expenditures, not including adjudication, toll operator contracts or insurance. Currently, they’re at about 4 percent, Schlicher says. The department, however, says the cost of administration has declined every year.
The bill was passed out of the Transportation and Rules committees with near-unanimous votes, and had been waiting to be placed on the floor calendar. On Tuesday, it was denied. Members of the Majority Coalition who supported the bill earlier changed their votes.
“I have to ask what the Republican majority has against a bill that would limit administrative costs on the Tacoma Narrows and help keep tolls low for our citizens,” said Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor.
Majority Floor Leader Joe Fain didn’t comment on the bill’s merits, and said Tuesday there’s a day and a half remaining to consider it.
“If he’s a man of his word, it goes to the ‘Order of Consideration’ today,” Schlicher said.
Schlicher approached Senate leadership Tuesday to ask if there was gamesmanship going on, but they walked away, he said.
“I think the implication is there,” said Schicher, who was appointed to Derek Kilmer’s post and will run in an election for it in November.
Lean management is setting a goal and letting the experts in the agencies work toward it, not trying to make the cuts for them, Schlicher said.
“Unfortunately, this is one area where the don’t think we need lean management, and I don’t get that,” he said.
The bridge toll is expected to be increased 25 cents on July 1.


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