Washington Policy Blog

Brian Sonntag releases Seattle pension study

January 22, 2014 in Blog

Former State Auditor Brian Sonntag released a study today highlighting the need for pension reform in Seattle. Sonntag worked on the study at the request of the Washington Policy Center.

In Olympia, Senate Committee considers worker protection bill, and two new House members take their seats

January 21, 2014 in Blog

In the Senate Monday, the Commerce and Labor Committee considered a bill, SB 6053, to protect state workers who choose to pay their union a representation fee rather than full union dues. Currently, workers must renew this choice every year, or their option automatically expires. SB 6053 would keep the worker’s choice in place year after year, until the worker initiates a change. The bill also protects workers who have a religious objection to forced union membership.

Activists Speculate MLK Would Support a $15 Minimum Wage…But Would He?

January 21, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday supporters of a $15 minimum wage used the observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to rally their cause in Seattle.  The chairman of Seattle’s MLK Celebration Committee, Seattle City Councilmember Larry Gossett, endorsed the hijacking of the MLK celebration event to promote a $15 minimum wage, speculating, “He [Martin Luther King Jr.] would fight for this…why wouldn’t he?”

Fast Moves in Olympia – the Legislature’s first week

January 20, 2014 in Blog

The 2014 session of the legislature convened on Monday, January 13th, and the House moved swiftly to take a rare first-day vote on HB 1817, the Washington State Dream Act. The bill passed by a vote of 71-23. It would provide access to financial aid to college students who were brought to the United States illegally as children. On Friday, the House passed HB 1043 by a vote of 90-1.This bill would prohibit state colleges from charging more tuition for certain programs, such as science, technology and math courses, than they do for less popular courses. 

Obamacare's Popularity Continues to Decrease

January 19, 2014 in Blog

January 1st marked the beginning of the real implementation of Obamacare. Both the Medicaid expansion and the new health insurance received through the state/federal exchanges all began on the 1st. How has the American public responded?

Charter school proposals draw hundreds of parents to public meeting

January 17, 2014 in Blog

Wednesday evening I attended a public forum in Renton to hear the proposals of three charter school applicants. More than 350 people showed up during the course of the evening, with standing-room-only the first hour.  Immigrant, low-income, middle-income and upper-income parents testified they hoped their children could attend one of the three proposed charter schools. 

Governor's Climate Report Estimates Low-Carbon Fuel Standard Would Add $1.17 Per Gallon

January 16, 2014 in Blog

According to The Seattle Times, Governor Inslee is upset at a Republican claim that a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) would increase the price of a gallon of gas by $1. Recently, some have expressed concern that the Governor will impose an LCFS using an executive order.

2014 cut-off dates – When and how bills will move this year

January 16, 2014 in Blog

Lawmakers introduced another 206 bills on Wednesday, bringing the total number of measures before them to 3,003, including carryovers from the 2013 session.  Many of these bills won’t see the light of day, which prompts the question:  Just how does the legislature manage such a large workload?  Here’s how it works.

The Governor Won’t Build a “Working Washington” with a 27% Minimum Wage Increase

January 16, 2014 in Blog

Last month Governor Inslee said it was time for Washington to “have a conversation” about increasing our state’s minimum wage, already the highest of any state in the nation.  At the time the Governor did not specify what the higher minimum wage should be, only that the current wage of $9.32 is not enough.

Governor Inslee and House and Senate leaders lay out their priorities for the 2014 legislative session.

January 15, 2014 in Blog

Day Two of the legislative session in Olympia saw more fast action as the House moved HB 1043, which limits the setting of different tuition rates for high demand college programs, to the floor calendar for an impending vote. The House passed the bill last February with a 95-1 vote.

Governor. Inslee’s State of the State address, however, captured the main attention of lawmakers and Olympia observers on Tuesday. The Governor highlighted three major objectives for the legislative session:

Raise the state minimum wage by as much as $ 2.50 up to $ 11.82 an hour.

House Bill 2133 would require report on collection and sharing of private student data

January 15, 2014 in Blog

House Bill 2133, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Scott (R-Monroe) and Representative Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), would require the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to prepare a report showing how the following agreements and laws require or permit the sharing of personally identifiable student data or student-level data from Washington state students, without the written consent of students or their parents or guardians:

Senate Ways & Means to act on revenue forecast reform

January 15, 2014 in Blog

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing yesterday on SB 5910: Providing that a quarterly revenue forecast is due on February 20th during both a long and short legislative session year. The committee is scheduled to take executive action on the bill later today. The proposal passed the Senate unanimously twice last year (April 28 and June 23) but was not acted on by the House.

A Victory for an Unfettered Internet

January 15, 2014 in Blog

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published an Op/Ed from guest columnist Robert McDowell at the Hudson Institute. McDowell supports the recent federal appeals court's denial of the Federal Communications Commission's privilege to regulate net neutrality among Internet service providers.

In Olympia, fast action on one bill plus a run-down on new members

January 14, 2014 in Blog

In Olympia the House started the session with an unusual first-day vote on HB 1817, the Washington Dream Act, passing it 71-23, with some Republicans joining majority Democrats. For the complete roll call vote, see washingtonvotes.org.

Lawmakers formally introduced 179 prefiled bills on Monday, with another 49 bills slated for introduction on Tuesday. HB 1817 was the only bill that saw significant action.