January 27, 2012 in City

More portable Discover Pass aim of bills

By The Spokesman-Review

OLYMPIA – Washington residents quickly discovered something they didn’t like about the Discover Pass when it was introduced last year to raise money for parks and other state lands: It was only good on one vehicle.

So if you drove your pickup to go hunting on state range lands but your SUV to take the family camping at a state park, you needed two of the $30 passes. Fly from Seattle to Spokane and rent a car for your outdoor excursion? Buy another pass.

The Discover Pass, which is good for a year, and the $10 day pass were created by the Legislature in 2011 to help replace money cut from the parks, fish and wildlife and natural resouces agencies. Those agencies sell passes at their offices and online; sporting goods stores and other dealers also sell them.

The driver of a vehicle parked on designated state lands for more than a short period without a pass faces a $99 fine, although they can get it reduced to $59 if they buy a pass within 15 days. Hundreds of citations have been written since the law went into effect last summer, state officials said.

A Senate committee has passed one proposal to allow a Discover Pass to cover two vehicles by having lines for two different license plates on the pass. It could come to a vote in the Senate as early as today.

The House General Government Oversight and Appropriations Committee considered five different proposals Thursday to expand the Discover Pass. Some would allow the pass to be used on two vehicles, like the Senate proposal; others would allow the passes to be used by people living at the same address, like passes for National Parks. State officials said that proposal wouldn’t be as easy to enforce as license plate numbers written on the pass.

Parks officials said restricting the pass to a single vehicle probably hurts sales. And because revenue from the passes are the main source of revenue for those agencies, “it’s absolutely essential to move forward” with some modification, said Peter Reid of the State Parks Commission.

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