Gregoire OKs gang crackdown, tolls for 520 bridge
Gov. Christine Gregoire, responding to chronic gang problems across Washington, on Monday approved state assistance for local enforcement...
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Gov. Christine Gregoire, responding to chronic gang problems across Washington, on Monday approved state assistance for local enforcement agencies in preventing and combating street crime.
The governor also approved the use of tolls to help finance a new $4 billion floating bridge across Lake Washington.
She also signed into law a variety of government fees, totaling about $6 million, with little impact on the average person. The state budget, which Gregoire is to sign today, includes an additional $68 million worth of fees, involving state agencies and higher education.
Gregoire legally has until Saturday to complete work on the hundreds of bills sent to her by lawmakers, but her staff said she expects to complete that work today. Two of the final measures deal with banning toxic toys and providing future tax relief to people who qualify for the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit.
The gang bill is an outgrowth of a work group that conducted community meetings across the state last year to pull together a broad plan for dealing with the problem. The panel included legislators, law enforcement, defense attorneys, prosecutors, gang experts and juvenile-justice experts.
The legislation authorizes the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to provide grants to local law enforcement for combating street-gang activity and dealing with "tagging" and other graffiti.
The legislation also creates a gang database to help track gang activity statewide. It makes it a crime for adults to involve juveniles in a felony offense and adds extra jail time for gang-related crime.
The budget has $2.4 million in startup money.
The governor also approved the use of tolls to pay about half the cost of a new $4 billion Highway 520 bridge linking Seattle and the Eastside. Federal and state highway dollars would cover the remainder.
The tolls have not been set, nor has the state decided whether to charge tolls for the nearby Interstate 90 crossing of the lake. Tolls on the existing 520 bridge could start next year, although a new bridge isn't expected to open before 2014.
The state has to decide by fall 2009 whether to accept a $139 million grant from the federal government's Congestion Initiative. That grant requires a toll on the bridge — more expensive during peak hours to draw some motorists to mass transit or to off-peak auto use.
The new legislation creates a three-member panel to propose the actual tolls to the Legislature by January.
A recent study suggested between $5 and $10 round trip during rush hour, in 2007 dollars, once the new bridge opens. If applied next year, the toll could be $6 or $7 round trip during peak-hour commutes. Tolls would be cheaper during off-peak hours.
Gregoire also signed a bill giving newspapers a tax break, worth about $2.7 million per biennium, for their online advertising.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
NEW - 07:13 AM
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is writing memoir
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.