Washington Policy Blog

Halftime in Olympia: a look at the numbers and what’s next

February 11, 2014 in Blog

Today, February 11th is the 30th day or halfway point in this year’s 60-day legislative session. The deadline for committee action on policy bills in the house of origin hit Friday, February 7th, and the next deadline is Tuesday, February 18th, the last day each house can act on its own policy bills.

Leave Mandates Would Cost Businesses Over $1 Billion Annually

February 10, 2014 in Blog

During this Legislative Session, lawmakers in the House of Representatives considered two bills that would require employers to offer paid leave to workers. 

HB 1313 would require employers with 5 or more employees to pay employees for 5, 7 or 9 days of sick leave per year, depending on the size of the company.  This bill passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

Time for Legislature to live by open government rules

February 10, 2014 in Blog

With policy cutoff behind us the list of living and walking dead bills (nothing is really dead till sine die) is being compiled. Among the proposals that didn't even receive a hearing, however, is a bill based on WPC's recommendation for the Legislature to truly provide Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in the legislative debate while also ensuring lawmakers live by the same open government rules the rest of the state's public officials operate under.

Mandatory abortion coverage, supermajority to raise taxes, minimum wage bills headline this week’s action in the Legislature.

February 7, 2014 in Blog

In floor action on Wednesday, the House passed HB 2148, to require insurers who offer maternity coverage to also cover elective abortions, by a mostly party-line vote of 54-44, with one Republican voting for it, and two Democrats voting against. To see who voted “Yes” and who voted “No,”  go to www.washingtonvotes.org and type in the bill number. The bill next goes to the Senate, but observers say chances for further action on the bill are slim.

House bill seeks to modernize taxicab and rideshare regulations, benefit consumers

February 7, 2014 in Blog

House Bill 2782, introduced by Representatives Tarleton (D-36th) and Habib (D-48th) yesterday, would direct the Joint Transportation Committee to study the taxi, limousine, and rideshare industry and make recommendations regarding a state regulatory framework. The study would do the following:

Senate rejects supermajority for taxes constitutional amendment

February 5, 2014 in Blog

The Senate voted today to reject SJR 8213: Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. The proposal failed to receive the votes necessary for passage with a 25-21 vote (33 votes were needed).

Governor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction call for tax increases.

February 3, 2014 in Blog

Governor Jay Inslee last week proposed to spend an additional $600 million on K-12 education over the next three years by ending a number of tax breaks that are currently in effect. The targeted tax exemptions include a use-tax break on waste fuels from refineries; sales taxes on bottled water; a sales-tax break for out of state shoppers; a tax break on used-car trade-ins worth over $10,000; a sales-tax break for janitorial services; and a preferential business tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs.

Giving the Rich a Tax Break on Electric Cars Creates $1 of Environmental Benefit for Every $304 Spent

February 3, 2014 in Blog

Amid the talk about closing tax loopholes, there is one loophole some in Olympia want to protect in the name of the environment. Currently, Washington state waives the sales tax on electric vehicles, like the $90,000 Tesla Model S.

The goal of this loophole is to reduce carbon emissions. The impact of the loophole, however, is probably very small and wastes huge amounts of money for tiny environmental benefit.

Long-standing WPC recommendation to add congestion relief as a goal gets public hearing

February 1, 2014 in Blog

Congestion relief is not a goal when public officials decide to build roads, but that may soon change. House Bill 2123 would re-establish congestion relief as a transportation policy goal, creating an official relationship between spending and relieving traffic congestion.

Washington currently has six transportation goals. They are:

Washington’s first charter schools to open in Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Highline and Spokane; 3,565 children to be served, 4,900 children asked to wait

January 31, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday, at West Seattle’s Bethaday Community Center, I attended an important meeting of the Washington State Charter School Commission.  At this historic meeting the Commission approved the first charter schools that will open their doors to students, since voters repealed the state’s charter school ban in 2012.

Lawmakers Consider Teen Training Wage

January 31, 2014 in Blog

On Wednesday I testified on two bills that would help alleviate our state’s high teen unemployment rate.  SB 6495 and SB 6471 would extend the current law that allows businesses to pay 14-15 year old workers a sub-minimum wage, to 16-19 year olds.

Competing gun initiatives draw large crowd to House Judiciary Committee hearing

January 30, 2014 in Blog

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, drew heavy media attention when they spoke briefly before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday on competing gun-related measures, proposed initiatives 594 and 591.

Hundreds more lined up to be heard, and the overflow crowd was moved to the hallways and eventually to the House chamber where the hearing was broadcast on large video screens. The Senate Law and Justice Committee held a hearing on the two initiatives on Wednesday.

Governor/Speaker receive open government awards

January 30, 2014 in Blog

Governor Inslee and Speaker Chopp received awards from the Washington Coalition for Open Government this week (WPC serves on the WCOG board). Inslee received the Key Award for his pledge not to use executive privilege to deny public records requests.

Lawmakers Call for Passage of “Jobs Now” bills

January 30, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday Washington Policy Center was invited to participate in a press conference at the Capitol highlighting the “Jobs Now” package of bills introduced in the House and Senate that would improve the state’s small business climate.  Many of the bills highlighted in the press conference reflect long-standing WPC recommendations. 

Microsoft's international digital privacy survey: who is responsible?

January 30, 2014 in Blog

This week, Geekwire published an interview with Brendon Lynch, Microsoft Privacy Chief, discussing Microsoft's recent international polling data on internet privacy as well as Lynch's thoughts on personal versus corporate responsibility for the safe handling of personal information.