Washington Policy Blog

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historic meeting the Commission approved the first charter schools that will open their doors to students, since voters repealed the state’s charter school ban in 2012.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. 

Seattle’s Costly Dark Fiber Deal is Dead

January 30, 2014 in Blog

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.

Supermajority for tax increases, local option for marijuana use subject of legislative committee hearings this week.

January 27, 2014 in Blog

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.

Senator McAuliffe signals support for charter schools

January 27, 2014 in Blog

In an interview Thursday with Austin Jenkins on Inside Olympia, Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell) signaled her support for charter schools.  

Will voters get sixth shot at supermajority for taxes?

January 27, 2014 in Blog

How would you define the undisputed will of voters? Is it passing in every county of the state? Is it passing in 44 of the state's 49 legislative districts (90%)?

Adverse Risk Selection Continues in the Washington State Health Insurance Exchange

January 26, 2014 in Blog

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.

Seattle educators seek to open charter school for homeless children

January 24, 2014 in Blog

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.

Exploring Social Impact Bonds

January 24, 2014 in Blog

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.

House Labor & Workforce Development Committee to act on workplace bills

January 23, 2014 in Blog

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.