14 years ago today this was the scene in downtown Seattle as the Kingdome was brought to its knees:
Since then the Seahawks have made 2 Super Bowl appearances, winning one, and taxpayers have paid nearly $135 million to retire debt on the imploded Kingdome ($25.8 million for original construction and $109 million for repairs has been paid for debt service since 2001 to date).
Who was really underneath those black masks violent protestors wore during the 1999 WTO riots in Seattle? The founder of the Rainforest Action Network Randy Hayes thinks they may have been Seattle police.
With seven minutes to spare, lawmakers adjourned at 11:53 p.m. on the last day of the 60 day 2014 Legislative Session, avoiding for the first time in several years going into a special session. Among the bills passed was a 2014 supplemental operating budget (SB 6002). Unlike previous years, when major re-writes of the budget were needed, SB 6002 was a true supplemental budget making minor changes to state spending.
In newly-released figures, Metro officials announced they received record-breaking levels of tax revenue in 2013, reporting they collected more money from the public in taxes than at any time in the agency’s history.
The state’s largest public transit agency collected $442,731,128 in tax revenue the last calendar year, surpassing pre-recession revenue levels.
Recently the people of Washington enacted the most significant advance in education reform our state has seen in 30 years, Initiative 1240, to allow 40 charter schools to open over five years. Charter schools are independent community-based public schools that are popular with parents. They have been successful in helping some the hardest-to-teach students get a good public education. Nationally over two million students attend 6,200 charter schools, with another 600,000 children on waiting lists.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.