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historic meeting the Commission approved the first charter schools that will open their doors to students, since voters repealed the state’s charter school ban in 2012.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The government-sponsored, high-speed internet pet project of former Mayor Mike McGinn has finally died. The ambitious endeavor, a feature of the Seattle Broadband Partnership, sought to use the city’s 500 miles of unused fiber cable, known as “dark fiber,” to provide 12 Seattle neighborhoods with fast fiber-to-the-home internet service. The dormant fiber optic cable system was expensively installed under Seattle’s streets during the 1990s tech boom and then quietly abandoned.
The minimum wage bill unveiled by House Democrats late last week received extensive news coverage, but no hearing on the bill is scheduled for this week. On Tuesday, January 28th, the Senate Ways and Means Committee will consider SJR 8213, a proposal to amend the state constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature, or simple majority support from voters, to raise taxes.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange just released the latest enrollment numbers. (Here) These were the enrollment figures from December 23rd, which was the deadline for coverage that began on January 1, 2014. Although somewhat improved over the November data, the numbers still reflect a serious adverse selection problem.
Educators at First Place School have applied to open a public charter school in Seattle under Washington’s voter-approved charter school law. In November 2012, Washington became the 42nd state to authorize the popular independent public schools.
As budget writers continue to face growing demands for increased spending with limited resources, alternative ways of delivering services are being explored. One potential option worthy of consideration are "Social Impact Bonds," or pay-for-performance contracts with non-profits/private businesses to help deliver certain social programs.
Thursday’s agenda of the House Labor and Workforce Committee calls for possible executive action on a package of bills that proponents say would deal with workplace fairness issues such as misclassifying employees as independent contractors, underpaying wages, or retaliating against workers who file complaints. The bills are:
• HB 2331, which would require employers to submit certified payroll records to prove they met prevailing wage requirements for public works projects before they are paid by the state.
Last week Governor Inslee sent a letter to the legislature, reproaching them for comments about the potential cost to consumers of a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. Since he has not outlined his plan, he argued, it is impossible to estimate costs.
He also said it was "offensive" to imply that, "I have in some way been hiding my intentions." He suggested, "If in the future you have questions about my intentions, I suggest you ask me."