Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Morris ferry accountability bill passes key hurdle in the House

OLYMPIA – After weeks of negotiations, the House Transportation committee moved out a proposal by Rep. Jeff Morris (D – Mount Vernon) that shakes up the Washington Ferry System.

Morris worked with stakeholders, ferry management, and his fellow lawmakers to craft an amended version of his original bill, requiring WSF to meet certain performance targets or find themselves under new private management.

“It’s time to try something new,” Morris said. “We can either push management to realize some cost-savings, we can raise prices, or we can reduce service. Those are our choices.”

Morris’ bill sets timelines for meeting performance goals. If those aren’t met, then the public management team will be replaced with a private contractor. However, the bill, HB 1516, would not affect any collective bargaining rights or agreements for ferry workers serving on the vessels or ports.

The proposal still has a few hurdles to clear before becoming law but Morris is hopeful. “My colleagues in the Legislature are beginning to see what I’ve known for a long time,” added Morris. “Administrations at WSF have come and gone, but the culture of poor oversight and accountability has remained the same. Until they get a handle on it, we’ll continue to struggle with new vessel purchases and workforce issues.”

For more information on HB 1516, click here.