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February 24, 2011 at 4:45 PM

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NASCAR bill on slow track in the state Legislature

Posted by Queenie Wong

A bill that could put Washington on the map for NASCAR racing made its way back into the Legislature Thursday, but appears to be on the slow track.

Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, the lead sponsor of SB 5856, said he’s not optimistic that his bill will receive a hearing in his own committee this session but he wanted to put the idea back out there.

“I don’t think this rises to the level of urgency with all the things we’re considering this year,” said Hatfield, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Committee. “It will definitely get a hearing in my committee, but it may have to wait next year.”

Hatfield’s bill would authorize the creation of a public speedway authority in an area with a total population of at least 400,000. The authority, governed by a seven-member board of directors, could impose a sales tax and ticket taxes to cover the creation of the new raceway.

Hatfield proposed NASCAR legislation in 2007, but the bill failed to make it through the Senate.

That year, a Florida-based racetrack developer abandoned plans for a $368 million NASCAR speedway near Bremerton, where local opposition to the project was fierce. The project called for about $180 million in taxpayer-backed financing.

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