Washington Policy Blog

Is Governor Inslee Right About the Impact of Coal Exports on Puget Sound?

June 27, 2014 in Blog

Would you consider a change of 0.083 percent "unparalleled" and "significant"? Apparently, Governor Jay Inslee does.

Two weeks ago, Governor Inslee visited the Vancouver Columbian editorial board and defended his proposal to require an unprecedented level of analysis regarding proposed export terminals. His process, known as "expanded SEPA," has never been done before and would attempt to analyze the environmental impact not only of the terminal but of all the products being exported.

$15 Minimum Wage Won't Help Seattle’s High Teen Unemployment Rate

June 26, 2014 in Blog

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has unveiled a series of proposals to reduce crime in the city.  Calling it a “crisis of confidence” in public safety, Murray identified the city’s high youth unemployment rate as a contributing factor to crime.

OFM to agencies: Take 2015-17 budget requests off auto-pilot

June 26, 2014 in Blog

For many Washingtonians, summer is the time to wind down and enjoy much needed R&R. Not so for budget writers at state agencies and the Office of Financial Management (OFM). This is the time of year that the framework for the Governor's 2015-17 budget proposal is put into place. To facilitate these efforts OFM sent agencies budget instructions which lay out several directives that agencies are to follow when submitting their budget requests.

Is Climate Change Killing Honeybees?

June 23, 2014 in Blog

Last week, for National Pollinator Week, the President released a fact sheet announcing new efforts to save honeybees.

As a beekeeper, I can certainly attest to the value of bees for a whole range of reasons. I was speaking last week in Bellingham and one farmer/beekeeper in the audience noted that bees increase yields at his orchard by 40-50 percent. Others, like me, like the honey and simply enjoy keeping bees.

Secret budget meeting to be held at Thurston County Fairgrounds

June 23, 2014 in Blog

The latest in a series of secret summer sessions is scheduled for tomorrow in the Expo Center at the Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road, in Lacey, according to the Washington State Federation of Employees (WFSE).

The clandestine budget meeting begins at 9:00 am Tuesday, and deliberations are to wrap-up by 5:00 pm Wednesday.  Members of the public, the media, even state lawmakers, are barred from attending or observing the high-level talks.

“As it stands now, Seattle is not in our discussions for future growth or expansion.”

June 23, 2014 in Blog

Today The Seattle Times featured business owners who are grappling with how to deal with Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage law.  While sobering, none of the business owners’ reactions to the mandated high wage are surprising.

The owner of a small, family-run hotel said he plans to raise room rates and reduce workers’ hours (but not their job duties):

Secretary Peterson to drivers: Get ready to live with endless traffic jams

June 23, 2014 in Blog

State officials tell the public that the gas taxes and other driver fees they collect are user fees, deposited into a special trust fund to maintain and expand the state’s road network to provide a quicker trip. It’s a promise to use taxpayer money and make things better. Yet, traffic congestion levels continue to rise.  In an October 2013 poll, 63% of respondents said they were unimpressed with public officials’ performance on relieving traffic congestion.  People’s frustration is understandable.

Obamacare Tax on Drug Manufacturers Will Result in Fewer or More Costly Drugs

June 19, 2014 in Blog

Part of the funding for Obamacare comes from a $2.3 billion per year tax on drug manufacturers. The tax is assessed based on the share of all drug sales for each company that specific year. The money to pay this tax will either come from higher drug prices passed on to consumers or will come from research and development budgets.

A big win for consumers - Seattle's Mayor deregulates rideshare services

June 19, 2014 in Blog

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to deregulate rideshare services and reduce the taxi monopoly is a big win for the traveling public.

63% of voters want local supermajority for taxes protections

June 18, 2014 in Blog

Based on the results of a May 2014 statewide poll, Washingtonians' support for taxpayer protections has not waned since they approved I-1185 in 2012. You may recall that approval of I-1185 was the fifth time that voters had adopted a supermajority vote for tax increases requirement. It passed statewide with a 64 percent “yes” vote and with majority approval in 44 of the state’s 49 legislative districts and in every county of the state. This policy received more votes statewide than either President Obama or Governor Inslee.

Seattle's rising labor cost leads other cities to try to attract Seattle workers and businesses

June 17, 2014 in Blog

When the Seattle City Council joyfully voted to increase the mandatory minimum wage (the city's price control on labor) to $15 an hour, it didn't take long for leaders in other cities to spot an opportunity.  Editors at the Tri-City Herald say they have one word for Seattle businesses: “Welcome.”  They even provide a confidential phone number. With brazen impertinence, they’re cooing...

“Why not bring your business here?

Editorial cartoon - painful operation to cut King County Metro bus service no longer needed

June 16, 2014 in Blog

In a masterpiece of clarity and concision, The Seattle Times has posted Frank Shiers’ cartoon that gets at the heart of the reason behind the coming cuts in King County Metro bus service.  County Executive Dow Constantine, despite Councilmember Rod Dembowski’s plan that would save 95% of current bus service, is pushing ahead with a painful operation that is no longer necessary.  As Councilmember Larry Phillips put it, “There’s no action more regressive than gutt

Union Boss Calls Small Business Owners Opposed to Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage “Right-Wing Ideologues”

June 11, 2014 in Blog

An organization representing small business owners in Seattle has filed a charter amendment to undo the City’s recently passed $15 minimum wage law and replace it with a less aggressive and less complicated minimum wage increase.

Franchise Owners File Lawsuit to Block Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage

June 11, 2014 in Blog

Today the International Franchise Association filed a lawsuit asking a court to block implementation of Seattle’s newly passed $15 minimum wage law. The law received unanimous support from the Seattle City Council and is scheduled to go into effect April 1, 2015.

Gov. Inslee touts ranking showing no income tax is good for Washington

June 11, 2014 in Blog

Governor Jay Inslee today praised a national ranking by Forbes that shows Washington state is the best state in which to make a living.  The ranking lists “no income tax” as one of the primary reasons for Washington’s high standing.