Washington Policy Blog

Bees, T-Shirts and Corn: Three Items on GMOs

December 1, 2013 in Blog

Last month, voters in Washington state rejected labeling biotechnology crops, known as "genetically modified organisms" or GMOs. The issue, however, isn't going away. Here are three bits of GMO news and information since the labelling initiative was turned down.

Bees and Bt Corn

As a beekeeper, I ran across this one in my winter reading.

Sound Transit’s third quarter ridership report ignores promises

November 27, 2013 in Blog

Sound Transit’s Q3 ridership report highlights Central Link’s performance. The light rail line experienced 10% growth in ridership both in the quarter and year-to-date.

New study describes how digital learning tools improve learning for children

November 27, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday Washington Policy Center released a new paper, "Review of Digital Learning in Private Schools and Public Charter Schools." This paper reviews 6 case studies of schools using new digital learning tools to ease teaching burdens, improve the management of school budgets, and most importantly, improve learning for students.  

2014 supplemental budget will need to keep state spending limit in mind

November 26, 2013 in Blog

After going through multiple special sessions to adopt the state's 2013-15 budget, the last thing lawmakers will want to do is fight about a 2014 supplemental budget. State agencies, however, have already submitted their 2014 supplemental budget wish list requesting a combined increase in spending of $895 million and 806 new FTEs.

Union demands threaten cuts to Seattle day care services for children

November 26, 2013 in Blog

Last week, in “Union directive a snag to universal preschool,” The Seattle Times reported that unions are using a City of Seattle daycare program to boost their dues-paying membership.  Outgoing Mayor Mike McGinn is requiring day care providers to give SEIU union organizers personal information about employees who work with children, including employee names and addresses. 

New AAA report out; but what's the real price of gas?

November 25, 2013 in Blog

Data just released from AAA reveals that Washington State’s gas prices are averaging $3.31 per gallon. Yet that’s not the real price. The real price of a gallon of gas at the pump is $2.75; the remaining 55.9¢ is the tax collector’s share, a 20% tax rate at the current price.

Consumers have a right to know exactly what they are paying in taxes. Utah, for example, posts the federal and state gas taxes on a sticker at the pump. It should also be a separate line item on the receipt.

Informative article about charter schools

November 25, 2013 in Blog

Donna Blankenship has a good article describing the parent and community-based groups that are working to expand education opportunities for children by opening a charter school in Washington. You can read the article here.

More Misinformation from L&I

November 25, 2013 in Blog

Last week representatives of the business community received a copy of the Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) snapshot comparison of workers’ compensation benefits and employer costs in Washington and five other aerospace states.  The L&I chart was presented in a legislative task force meeting on Boeing’s 777x. 

Local Two-Thirds Tax Limitation Working as Voters Intended

November 22, 2013 in Blog

When Spokane voters this year passed Proposition 2 – requiring a two-thirds vote of the city council or voter approval in order to raise taxes – opponents said the higher standard would make it impossible for to raise the revenue needed to run the city.  At the time, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said it would “kill government.”   A local left-wing newspaper columnist said it would

L&I Omits Key Fact in House Committee Work Session

November 22, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee held a work session on our state’s workers’ compensation program.  Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) Director Joel Sacks gave an overview and update of the state-run monopoly system, explaining to lawmakers the current financial state of the system, how the reforms passed in 2011 are

Union leaders brag about Hawthorne Elementary, a school with charter-like independence

November 21, 2013 in Blog

Dennis Van Roekel, president of National Education Association union, visited Seattle’s Hawthorne Elementary School this week in recognition of the dramatic gains students have made since 2010, when Hawthorne become one of Seattle’s six Creative Approach schools.

PEMCO's Solar Roof Five Years Later: $346.87 Of Environmental Benefit

November 21, 2013 in Blog

Today is the fifth anniversary of something many drivers stuck in Seattle traffic have become familiar with: the PEMCO solar panel reader board.

Vague and Contradictory Data Make State's Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test

November 18, 2013 in Blog

The state's Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) is examining policies designed to reduce the state's carbon emissions. The key tool in that process is supposed to be a report analyzing the effectiveness of those strategies. The report, however, provides very little useful information about what strategies are best.

Exempting transportation projects from sales tax finds some agreement in legislature

November 15, 2013 in Blog

According to the washingtonstatewire.com, Representative Judy Clibborn (D-41st), Chair of the House Transportation Committee, has said she would approve of exempting transportation projects from sales tax.

The state charges itself sales tax on transportation, and exemption could mean millions of dollars would cease being diverted into the general fund every year. There is still some opposition in the House, however.

One Day After WPC Conference on Right-to-Work, Lawmaker Calls for Right-to-Work Special Legislative Session

November 14, 2013 in Blog

One day after participating in Washington Policy Center’s back-to-back Solutions Summit statewide policy conferences discussing whether a “right-to-work” policy is right for Washington State, Senator Michael Baumgartner today called for Governor Inslee to convene a special session to make Washington a right-to-work state.