Washington Policy Blog

House Bill 1939 would establish congestion relief as a goal of transportation policy

February 10, 2015 in Blog

Congestion relief is not a priority when state officials spend transportation dollars, but that may soon change. House Bill 1939 would re-establish congestion relief as a transportation policy goal, creating an official relationship between spending and relieving traffic congestion.

Prior to 2007, lawmakers had implemented very specific performance measures that tied spending to measurable benchmarks to provide congestion relief. They were:

Repealing the build-in-Washington-only law would get the state a brand-new ferry for free

February 9, 2015 in Blog

It may be the best deal state officials choose to pass up this session, buy two ferries and get one free. It all depends on whether state lawmakers want to leave money on the table when it comes to ferry purchases. According to the Washington State Auditor, Washington taxpayers pay some of the highest costs in the nation to build ferries.

Senate bill would codify U.S. Supreme Court union ruling

February 9, 2015 in Blog

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee held a public hearing today on SB 5671: Addressing the payment of union dues by partial public employees. The bill would fully implement the ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court last June in its Harris v. Quinn decision.

Senate Bill 5550 would make things easier for rideshare drivers and their customers

February 7, 2015 in Blog

Senate Bill 5550, introduced by State Senators Cyrus Habib (D-48th district) and Joe Fain (R-47th district), would establish state-level regulations on the rideshare industry. Currently, local municipalities regulate the taxicab, for-hire, and rideshare industries, while the state has oversight over limousine services.

Senate energy bill proposes incentives to reduce carbon emissions

February 6, 2015 in Blog

State Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), chairman of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, announced an energy bill Wednesday to encourage carbon emission reductions, while creating jobs and avoiding new taxes.

Five senators, three Republicans and two Democrats, joined Senator Ericksen in a news conference announcing the new bill.  

Will the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Correct Its Legislative Testimony?

February 6, 2015 in Blog

Craig Kenworthy, the Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) should correct comments he made to the legislature last week.

During hearings before the House Environment committee, Kenworthy urged the committee to adopt the Governor's cap-and-trade plan, saying that cutting carbon emissions would provide "co-benefits" such as reducing traditional air pollution like particulate matter. To make the point, however, he said something that is inaccurate.

Should fiscal impact of initiatives be described in ballot title?

February 6, 2015 in Blog

Last November voters narrowly approved I-1351 to reduce class sizes. Although the policies proposed by I-1351 are estimated to cost $4.7 billion over the next few years, the ballot measure included no funding source to implement the policy.

Washington’s Teen Unemployment Rate is 10th Highest in the Nation…Idaho’s is 10th Lowest

February 5, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee heard testimony on two bills addressing our state’s high teen unemployment rate. 

Washington has struggled for over a decade with one of the nation’s highest teen unemployment rates.  Since 2002, well before the recession, in all but one year Washington ranked among the top ten states with the highest teen unemployment.  Washington also has had the nation’s highest minimum wage.  A multitude of studies show there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

Equal Pay Bill Would Put Employers in Cross Hairs

February 5, 2015 in Blog

In my previous blog, “Do Women Really Earn Less than Men for the Same Work?” I explained why claims that women earn 80% less than men are inaccurate.

Once other factors are considered, such as hours worked, extended absences from work and type of employment, women actually earn 97-cents for every dollar earned by their male counterpart.  And single women with no children actually earn 8% more than men.

Do Women Really Earn Less than Men for the Same Work?

February 5, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this week, I was invited to testify before the House Labor Committee on HB 1646, legislation enacting the “Equal Pay Opportunity Act.” 

Supporters of HB 1646 claim women who work full-time earn 80% less than men working the same job.

But this claim does not take into consideration a number of factors that influence male and female wages.  

State Health Benefit Exchange Numbers Significantly Below Predicted

February 5, 2015 in Blog

The Washington State Health Benefit Exchange released the latest sign-up numbers for 2015. The goal was 213,000 total private-plan enrollees this year, which would include the 140,000 enrollees from 2014 and 83,000 new enrollees. The deadline for applications is February 15.

The numbers are not even close. To date, only 87,000 people (62%) have re-enrolled and only 40,000 individuals are new enrollees this year (48% of the anticipated). In other words the state exchange is 40% below the predicted enrollment.

SB 5393 would give high-performing public schools educational flexibility

February 4, 2015 in Blog

Senator Litzow and several other senators have introduced SB 5393.  The bill would free public schools with the highest rank, “Exemplary,” on the state’s School Achievement Index from 38 of the Common School regulation’s 72 chapters.

Bills on abortion rules, marijuana regulation and childhood vaccinations to see committee action this week

February 4, 2015 in Blog

After a series of floor votes on budget matters, lawmakers in the House and Senate shifted their attention to committee action, with public hearings scheduled on several prominent issues.

WPC testifies before House Transportation Committee on increasing tax authority for Sound Transit

February 4, 2015 in Blog

WPC was invited to testify in front of the House Transportation Committee on January 28th to provide analysis on House Bill 1180. Under HB 1180, Sound Transit officials would gain authority to impose a 0.5% sales tax rate increase, a 0.8% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax increase, and raise property taxes within their taxing district. A video of our testimony can be found below.