FEBRUARY 10, 1997
News from the 55th Legislature
Bill proposes 2nd Tuesday in August for primary elections
With little time for counting ballots and more people voting absentee, more than 56 legislators and the Secretary of State are proposing primary elections be held the second Tuesday of August.
According to Rep. Dave Schmidt (R-Bothell), Washington is the late state in the country to have a September primary.
"Tradition is nice, but the current system is really creating hardships," said Schmidt, chair of the House Government Administration Committee. "We have so many people voting by absentee ballot now, and that puts a lot of pressure in our county auditors. They simply need more time."
Schmidt said the current system requires certification of ballots 10 days after the primary election and absentee ballots to be sent out 20 days prior to the next election, "leaving a narrow window of time for auditors to prepare the necessary materials."
"That's not much time, especially when you have close races, as we did this past year," he said, noting that the earlier date has not resulted in lower voter turnout in other states. "I don't think we'll have trouble building consensus on this issue," he added.
Bill proposes $75 million for two more lanes on SR-522
Co-sponsored by several area representatives, a bill forwarded to the State House Transportation Policy and Budget Committee asks for $75 million from the motor vehicle fund for two additional lanes on SR-522, also known as the "Highway of Death."
The lanes are proposed between Highway 9 and the Snohomish River bridge, including interchanges at Paradise Lake Road and Fales Road. The bill, first read Feb. 3, proposes a design-build procedure where the state Department of Transportation would contract for the work. The bill state the contract must be awarded by Dec. 31,1997.
Representatives Al O'Brien, Dave Schmidt, Bill Thompson, and Bill Backlund are listed as co-sponsors, as well as Reps. Koster, Dunshee, Kenney, Costa, Cooper, and Cole.