Washington Policy Blog

Seattle's $15 wage law a factor in restaurant closings

March 11, 2015 in Blog

As the implementation date for Seattle’s strict $15 per hour minimum wage law approaches, the city is experiencing a rising trend in restaurant closures.  The tough new law goes into effect April 1st.

The closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.

Tri-City Herald Editorial Hits the Nail on the Minimum Wage Head

March 10, 2015 in Blog

Today the Tri-City Herald published an excellent editorial warning against legislation (HB 1355) that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.

In the opening salvo, the editorial notes that Washington state has some “drawbacks,” with “one big problem” being that “we are not business friendly.”

The Cadillac Tax will Impact Government Employees and Taxpayers

March 10, 2015 in Blog

Local taxpayers could face a large tax increase when the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “Cadillac Tax” on health insurance plans begins in 2018. This new tax will impose a 40 percent excise tax on health insurance plans the ACA sees as too generous, defined as $10,200 per year for an individual and $27,500 per year for a family. The cost of a health insurance plan above those amounts will be subject to the 40 percent tax.

Is a One Percent Reduction in Air Pollution Next Decade Worth Blocking Transportation Package?

March 10, 2015 in Blog

"What does that mean for real people? For a start, it imperils the health of Washington state residents." That is the way Sen. Pramila Jayapal described clauses in the Senate transportation package requiring legislative approval for a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).

Senate Committee Passes Out Most Significant Labor Reform in Decades

March 9, 2015 in Blog

During the first two months of this legislative session, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee passed out a series of bills that represent the most significant labor reform in decades. 

Enough Never Is for the Minimum Wage Movement

March 9, 2015 in Blog

It has been one week since the state House passed legislation (HB 1355) to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 over four years (with an exemption for unions, of course) and still there is grumbling that workers need more.

Why is $72 million electric trolley suddenly missing from transit campaign in Spokane?

March 6, 2015 in Blog

Spokane Transit officials want voters to provide them with $300 million in new revenue via a major sales tax increase in a proposed ballot measure this April. The proposal is part of STA’s “Moving Forward” package. If passed, the sales tax would increase from 8.7% to 9% for most purchases, a rate that approaches the sales tax officials charge in Seattle. 

Legislature reaches halfway mark in quiet session so far. Lawmakers busy passing bills before next deadline on March 11th.

March 6, 2015 in Blog

Washington’s legislative session reached its midpoint this week on Thursday, the 53rd day of this year’s scheduled 105-day regular session. Major issues, such as education funding, a final transportation plan, and the state’s operating budget for 2015-17 still lie ahead. In the meantime lawmakers are moving legislation on other topics forward at a rapid pace.

Chris Vance describes levy swap idea

March 5, 2015 in Blog

The levy-swap concept, in which state lawmakers would take local levy funds in return for lower local property tax rates, is being debated in Olympia as one way to increase state funding for public education under the McCleary decision.

The Columbian Opines that Right to Work = Freedom

March 5, 2015 in Blog

Today The Columbian published a strongly worded editorial in favor of making Washington a right-to-work state.   The editorial begins by declaring that “the debate over right-to-work laws essentially comes down to a matter of individual freedom.  It is a freedom that Washington state should embrace.”

Senate passes transportation bills after controversial ruling. House passes minimum-wage increase

March 4, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers are working to act on dozens of bills this week ahead of the next deadline coming up March 11, the last day on which each chamber can consider its own bills.

Excited parents and children gather for Washington state’s first charter school lottery

March 3, 2015 in Blog

Photo: Brenda McDonald, principal of PRIDE Prep charter school draws the names to fill one 
of 150 spaces available for enrollment

King versus Burwell; The Next Hurdle for Obamacare

March 3, 2015 in Blog

Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear another case dealing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. This case, King versus Burwell, deals with the legality of the Internal Revenue Service giving subsidies to people who purchase health insurance in the federal health insurance exchange. Thirty six states either chose to use the federal exchange or were unsuccessful in establishing their own exchange.

"Choose Washington" - no capital gains taxes

March 3, 2015 in Blog

To help market the state of Washington to potential businesses the Department of Commerce runs a website called "Choose Washington." Under the tab "Why Washington" you can select "Our Strengths." Under that tab you will find a page called "Pro-Business."

Will the Senate vote to enforce its rules?

March 3, 2015 in Blog

On the first day of session the Senate, using the powers granted to it by Article 2, Section 9 of the state Constitution, adopted rules to govern its proceedings. Among the rules adopted was Rule 64 to require a supermajority vote to move a bill creating a new tax from second to third reading.