Washington Policy Blog

Supplemental budget, veteran and homeless bills pass as session ends. Bills on other big issues fail

March 17, 2014 in Blog

The House and Senate gavels came down simultaneously at seven minutes to Midnight on Thursday, as the legislature adjourned “sine die” (Latin for “no more meeting days”) to the cheers of lawmakers and staff who had been working at a fast pace to finalize and pass legislation.

Sunshine Week legislative update

March 17, 2014 in Blog

This Sunshine Week forecast is brought to you by the 2014 Legislative Session: Your right to know is partly cloudy. When the just concluded session began there was the opportunity for brilliant sunshine but at least we avoided any severe secret storm warnings. 

Below is a look back on some of the open government actions (or lack thereof) during the 2014 Legislative Session.

Public notice

How close were lawmakers to passing a transportation tax package?

March 14, 2014 in Blog

In response to Governor Inslee’s press conference, Senator King (R-Yakima), Co-Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said in a press release today that the MCC continued to move closer to the House’s proposal, and said the governor violated a confidentiality agreement on transportation negotiations.

A High Minimum Wage Doesn’t Always Kill Jobs, but It Does Kill Job Opportunities for Teens

March 14, 2014 in Blog

Just one day after running an article on a study that claims increasing the minimum wage “doesn’t have a drastic, negative impact on employment,” The Seattle Times featured a study that shows the employment rates for teens in Washington and Seattle are in steep decline.

King County’s plan: to punish the poor with regressive tax increases, or hurt the poor with bus cuts

March 13, 2014 in Blog

King County Councilmember Larry Phillips says he plans 600,000 hours of bus service cuts, many targeted at people living in poor neighborhoods, unless voters agree to increase some of the county’s most regressive taxes.  Councilmember Phillips wants to increase the sales tax and impose a $60-a-year fee on every vehicle registered in King County.

WEA union says losing federal funds is OK, because school districts have “huge amount of money”

March 11, 2014 in Blog

The Olympian reports today on the conflict between the federal government and Washington lawmakers over Washington’s teacher evaluation law.

Public transit ridership is at 1956 levels, as people choose non-transit travel 97.7% of the time

March 11, 2014 in Blog

An Associated Press story appearing in newspapers across the country trumpets that ridership on public transportation is about the same as it was in the 1950s, leading to enthusiastic “Transit ridership highest since 1956!” headlines.  However, the study failed to account for the growth in population, or to look at public transportation’s market share, the percentage of daily trips that are on transit.

Big issues, including transportation, pending as 2014 session winds down to adjournment

March 11, 2014 in Blog

State senate lawmakers put in some overtime on Saturday to clear their concurrence calendar—actions on bills that were passed with changes by the opposite chamber. They also passed SB 5887 to merge the state’s medical marijuana system with the use of recreational marijuana as approved by voters in Initiative 502. The bill would reduce the amount of marijuana and the number of plants patients can possess, does away with collective gardens and establishes a patient registry.

Update on Health Savings Accounts

March 10, 2014 in Blog

The current version of health savings accounts (HSA) began in 2003, so we now have 10 years of experience with them. The Devenir Group recently published an update on HSA utilization through the end of 2013. The popularity of these plans continues to grow in spite of the limitations placed on them by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

WPC launches Young Professionals Club at the University of Washington

March 9, 2014 in Blog

Washington Policy Center, a non-profit, independent research organization based in Seattle, launched an extension of its Young Professionals group with an official University of Washington Club, WPC Young Professionals @ UW, last night in the University District.

WPC’s Young Professionals group engages and educates future leaders about public policy issues facing our state and works to get young people involved in policy. The group launched in the spring of 2010 and boasts a membership upwards of 200 people in their 20s and 30s.

Renewing your tabs may become more expensive to pay for ferry construction and operations

March 7, 2014 in Blog

If Governor Inslee signs Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1129, prepare to possibly pay more to renew your tabs or transfer a vehicle’s title.

Currently, when you go to renew your tabs or transfer a title you can choose whether to renew through the Department of Licensing (DOL) or go to an authorized subagent (a private company that operates on behalf of the DOL in many communities).

How much of proposed teacher COLA would be directed to union bank accounts?

March 7, 2014 in Blog

On March 4, the House amended the Senate supplemental budget bill, SB 6002, to add a $51.2 million appropriation to be sent to school districts as a teacher Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).  The Senate-passed budget does not make this appropriation, so budget negotiators in Olympia will have to hammer out this and other differences before the session ends next week.  

House passes $236 million Supplemental Operating Budget. Tax increases to fund it passed out of committee.

March 6, 2014 in Blog

The state House of Representatives on Tuesday passed its version of the 2014 supplemental operating budget, seeking to spend an additional $236 million over the $33.6 billion 2013-15 budget approved last year. The vote was 53-44, along party lines, with one Democrat and all Republicans voting against the bill.

Economists at Beacon Hill Institute respond to Rep. Ross Hunter’s criticism of economic model

March 6, 2014 in Blog

Economists at the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston have responded to Rep. Ross Hunter’s recent criticism of their economic model.  The model analyzed the impact on Washington residents of Superintendent Dorn’s proposal to increase the state sales tax and state property taxes.  Economic results show that Superintendent Dorn’s plan to increase taxes by $7.5 billion would hurt working families and weaken the economy by costing 18,500 jobs.  Rep. Hunter dismissed the finding as “unlikely to say anything interesting” and “not trustworthy.”