Washington Policy Blog

80 plus years is long enough for a "temporary/emergency" tax

March 23, 2015 in Blog

On March 13 the House Finance Committee held a public hearing on HB 2150: Reforming the business and occupation tax to provide fairness and administrative simplicity. This proposal is a variation of the Single Business Tax reform that Washington Policy Center first proposed in a 2010 study.

Recent Transportation Commission decision on I-405 HOT lanes would not maximize traffic throughput

March 20, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this week, the State Transportation Commission approved a plan to toll Interstate 405 from Bellevue to Lynnwood. They plan to repurpose both an existing auxiliary lane, currently in operation as a general purpose lane between Bellevue and 124th Street but being extended to SR522, and the HOV lane from Bellevue to Lynnwood and designating both as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. The HOT lanes would allow free access to carpools with at least three people in the peak periods and will be tolled based on congestion in the adjacent general purpose lanes.

Oso landslide responder groups first to receive state Medal of Valor under new law

March 20, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers in the House and Senate this week focused on committee hearings to consider bills sent to them from the opposite chamber, following last week’s legislative cut-off date. Neither chamber held floor votes on legislation.

Members assembled for a joint session on Wednesday to honor people from communities that distinguished themselves during rescue efforts at the Oso landslide disaster one year ago.

How The Seattle Times got it wrong on our $15 minimum wage blog

March 20, 2015 in Blog

The Seattle Times got it wrong this week in an appearance of that self-appointed arbiter of veritas, “Truth Needle,” by food writer Bethany Jean Clement, about our blog on the $15 minimum wage law and restaurant closings in Seattle.  Here’s why.

Health Care Reforms in the U.S. Budget Proposals

March 19, 2015 in Blog

Republicans in both the U.S. House and Senate released proposed budgets this week. (Here) (Here)The  House version cuts spending by $5.5 trillion and balances the budget in nine years. The Senate proposal cuts $5.1 trillion in spending and balances the budget in ten years. There is currently controversy within the Republican Party based on the amount of defense spending. (Here)

Legislators work on budget, education and transportation bills, as “Vapers” and “Zombies” invade Olympia to lobby lawmakers

March 18, 2015 in Blog

After last week’s flurry of last-minute bill actions ahead of a major deadline, House and Senate lawmakers have settled down to a round of committee hearings on bills sent over by the opposite chamber. There are now 323 house bills before the Senate and 348 senate bills before the House. Lawmakers are also working on measures that were not subject to last Wednesday’s cut-off, because they are bills related to revenue and spending

The universal language of unintended consequences

March 17, 2015 in Blog

Research consistently shows that when the government forces employers to pay a higher minimum wage, employers rarely absorb the extra costs.  Employers simply cannot pay a worker more than the value of their output.  So forcing employers to pay workers an artificially high wage creates perverse incentives to find other ways to cut labor costs.  Usually it is in the form of charging higher prices for the goods and services they provide, reducing the size of their work force, reducing employee hours or eliminating non-mandated benefits.

Senator Nelson calls for “WPC Rule” for Senate hearings

March 17, 2015 in Blog

Yesterday Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson said she plans to ask for a Senate rule to require “fair and balanced” hearings.  She specifically cited the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, chaired by Senator Michael Baumgartner, as a primary offender.

When pressed for an example of why such a rule is needed, Senator Nelson said:

When you have a hearing it should be fair and balanced and both sides should be heard, versus having the WPC present on a bill and not have someone from the other side presenting on the same bill.”

More Evidence of the Unintended Consequences of Mandated Paid Sick Leave

March 16, 2015 in Blog

A recent article in The News Tribune (Tacoma) featured a headline declaring, “Businesses elsewhere report few problems with sick leave laws.”  The crux of the article is that business owners in Tacoma should not panic about that city’s impending paid sick leave law because some business owners in other cities with paid sick leave mandates say the regulat

Puget Sound Regional Council data reveals transit does not relieve traffic congestion

March 13, 2015 in Blog

An increase in transit use does not reduce traffic congestion, according to new information provided by the Puget Sound Regional Council. According to the PSRC report, transit agencies across the Puget Sound region logged an 11% boost in ridership between 2010 and 2014, yet delay on the region’s freeways increased a whopping 52% in the same time period.

See the PSRC report, “Stuck in Traffic: 2015 Report,” here.

Hundreds of bills die as key deadline passes; lawmakers turn to passing budget and transportation measures

March 13, 2015 in Blog

Lawmakers have introduced 2,338 bills this session.  After Wednesday’s deadline for passing bills out of their house of origin, 323 House Bills and 348 Senate Bills are still eligible for further consideration, not counting budget and transportation matters, which will be taken up later in the 105-day Regular Session that is scheduled to adjourn on April 26th. 

Payday loan bill, climate change amendment spark heated debate in state senate

March 11, 2015 in Blog

Though the session started quietly, state senators this week engaged in lengthy and often heated debates on bills brought to a vote in the full senate. Today is the last day for consideration of bills in their house of origin, except for budget and transportation matters.

New charter school to open in Kent

March 11, 2015 in Blog

Excitement is building in Kent as the opening day for the community’s first charter school approaches.

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.