Sen. Liias lands key role in state transportation policy

He’ll chair a transportation committee that decides how billions of dollars are spent on roads, bridges, buses and more.

Marko Liias

Marko Liias

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Marko Liias was chosen Thursday as the new chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, giving him a central role in deciding how the state spends billions of dollars on transportation each year.

Liias, a Democrat from south Everett, was selected in an internal vote by the Senate Democratic Caucus. As a result of the decision, he is expected to give up his post as the majority party’s floor leader. He fills a vacancy created by the departure of the last chairman, former Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens, who became secretary of state.

The transportation chair is a powerful position as the committee oversees state spending on transportation, Washington State Ferries and the Washington State Patrol. As chairman, Liias will decide what bills the committee will consider and vote on in the upcoming 60-day legislative session.

He’ll also work with his Democratic counterpart in the House to craft a supplemental transportation budget that could steer a few additional dollars to road and transit projects in Snohomish County and elsewhere in Washington.

And he’ll be in the center of negotiations between the two chambers and Gov. Jay Inslee on a potential multi-year, multi-billion dollar transportation package. Lawmakers secured pillars of a package in two climate change bills last session, only to see Inslee knock them out with vetoes. Those vetoes could still be challenged in court.

“It is an honor that my colleagues trust me with this responsibility and have selected me for this position,” Liias said in a statement. “As we face dramatic changes to transportation revenue and mobility options, this is our moment to write a visionary, equitable, climate-focused transportation package that invests in our shared priorities while respecting our real and unique local needs.”

Liias, a former Mukilteo City Council member, was appointed to a vacant state House seat in the 21st Legislative District in 2008 and moved to the Senate in 2014. He served as vice chair of the House Transportation Committee and helped negotiate the 2015 transportation revenue package approved by the Legislature.

The 2022 legislative session will begin Jan. 10.

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Registered nurse Estella Wilmarth tends to a patient in the acute care unit of Harborview Medical Center, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Seattle. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is deploying 100 members of the state National Guard to hospitals across the state amid staff shortages due to an omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Inslee announced Thursday that teams will be deployed to assist four overcrowded emergency departments at hospitals in Everett, Yakima, Wenatchee and Spokane, and that testing teams will be based at hospitals in Olympia, Richland, Seattle and Tacoma. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Past the omicron peak? Snohomish County’s COVID cases declining

Hospitalizations are still a concern, however, and infections in Eastern Washington and Idaho could have ripple effects here.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Despite Arizona move, Everett leaders expect Funko HQ to stay

The toymaker is closing Everett warehouses. But a recent “HQ2” expansion has the city confident Funko will remain rooted here.

Lynnwood Public Works employees on the snow plow crew sit in front of one of the city's two plows that will be named based on results of an online public vote. (City of Lynnwood)
Lynnwood snow plow names: Snowbi Wan Kenobi, Plowy McPlowface

They got the two highest votes in an online public survey by Lynnwood Public Works.

2021 survey results from the State Broadband Survey for Snohomish County. (Washington State Department of Commerce)
$16M grant to speed up broadband to north Snohomish County

In Darrington and elsewhere, rural residents have struggled to work remotely during the pandemic. A new project aims to help.

Police looking for Mukilteo bank robber, seeking tips

The man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, slender, about 5-foot-8, with dark blond hair.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Everett in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Woman’s foot burned in south Everett apartment fire

Everyone escaped the fire that scorched a third-floor unit Monday night.

Michelle Roth is a registered nurse in the Providence Emergency Department on Sunday, January 23, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Nurses face burnout as hospital staffing shortage continues

‘It feels like there has been a mass exodus in the last two to three months.’

Christa Meyer, residential physical therapist in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, plays Wordle daily. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
What in the world is Wordle? It’s an online game C-R-A-Z-E

Solving the daily five-letter brain teaser in six tries is the latest social media obsession.

Police: Everett man left family member with life-threatening injuries

An Everett man, 23, was in jail on $100,000 bail after being accused of confronting women and attacking a relative.

Most Read