Ferry procurement bill passes House, heads to Senate for consideration

OLYMPIA— Washington State Ferries (WSF) has an aging fleet. Many of the vessels are between 30 to 50 years old, and one boat is even 64 years old. Fixing these vessels is difficult, expensive, or even next-to-impossible.

“This isn’t acceptable,” said Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), who introduced  HB 1846 a few weeks ago. It was heard on the House floor today and passed with a vote of 93-4. It now heads to the Senate for immediate consideration.

HB 1846 opens the procurement process for new vessels within the WSF fleet to national shipbuilders.

“We have an underlying procurement statute on the books right now that hampers our ability to acquire the vessels we need,” explained Fey. “This bill takes care of two things: 1) It sets up a competitive environment to solicit bids from boat builders across the country, and 2) “It offers a benefit to having ferries built here at home.”

HB 1846 offers Washington boatbuilders a 13 percent credit for proposals for vessels constructed in state. The 13 percent accounts for the economic benefits that come from building vessels within the state and the overall creation of additional jobs in our communities rather than somewhere else in the country.

“Many people know that the ferry system is a highway system,” said Fey. “WSF facilitates the movement of goods and services as well as people around our waterways. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had issues with the aging fleet, but this bill will get boats built and move people and goods and services to where they need to be. We can’t delay any longer.”