Rules In Flux While in the middle of possible revisions to the proposed recreational cannabis use regulations, Washington State Liquor Control Board’s (LCB) lead attorney, Ingrid Mungia, will be available for questions and clarifications during Seattle’s next big cannabis seminar. The LCB is responsible for implementing Washington’s recreational cannabis law, I-502. The initiative, passed last More »
The Task At Hand It’s called working “up hill” or “down hill”. When you or the issue command the high ground, your work is down hill. You have momentum or gravity with you. It is always more difficult to change the words than to have them in the first version of a law, or rule, More »
Too Cute? In an effort to be helpful, we think, the WSLCB might be a little too cute. The LCB, presently sorting through reams of comments about its proposed rules for recreational cannabis seed-to-sale regulatory platform has issued a top ten actions or considerations a potential licensee should check through. Is it just ten? Really? More »
The biggest ballot measure you’ve never heard of appears to be advancing toward the November ballot as a labor-backed campaign for the nation’s highest minimum wage presents signatures to SeaTac elections officials. Some 2,500 signatures, more than enough to make the November ballot, have been submitted for the SeaTac Good Jobs Initiative, which would impose the highest minimum wage in the country, $15 an hour, on Sea-Tac International Airport and surrounding hotels and related businesses. Watch for this one to stir national attention.
Former Attorney General Rob McKenna, last year’s Republican candidate for governor and still an influential figure in statewide GOP politics, is launching a website he says will aim to identify breaking trends in public-policy and government reform. Lest anyone think he’s running for something, however, the former GOP standard-bearer says he is planning to sit out the 2016 election cycle. Of course the youngster of 50 points out that eight years from now, he will be still be younger than Democrat Jay Inslee was when he threw his hat into the ring. And you can take that hint for what you will.
Amid all the talk of gun control, drunk-driving legislation, abortion rights and tax loopholes, it’s a little easy to forget that there was a big liquor issue on the Legislature’s radar screen when this year’s session began — and there is still a chance it might surface when lawmakers roll up their sleeves in the current special session and get down to business. The restaurant-and-retail coalition seeks to overturn state liquor control board decisionmaking that protects distributors’ market share. And the distributors, with an announcement Monday, are pointing out that Initiative 1183 requires them to make a whopping payment to the state. They just cut the check: It’s $105 million. Here’s their announcement.
The Associated Press carried the astounding news over the weekend that some 2 million people around the globe attended simultaneous rallies to denounce genetically engineered crops — a worldwide ‘March Against Monsanto.’ But if turnout in Olympia was any indication — and we have good reason to believe it was — it didn’t come anywhere close. Somehow a story with Seattle roots has gone ’round the world, and it just goes to show how easy it is to snooker us credulous souls in the news media.
Comparisons of the 1977 Seattle electorate with today’s electorate offer other reasons why the ground game is out of favor in Seattle’s municipal elections. The electoral pickings at the door in 1977 were much greater than they are today.
By Bob Royer | The Cascadia Corner
On Wednesday the Employment Security Department announced that Washington’s average annual wage was $51,595 in 2012. That’s up from $49,894 in 2011. Both unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits are calculated using the average annual wage.
By Washington Research Council
The following open letter to the State Legislature opposing SB 5127, the Republican-controlled Senate bill that would expand lump-sum settlements in Washington’s workers’ compensation system, was co-signed by dozens of labor organizations, community groups and individual advocates for injured workers and their families.
By WSLC Stand
Importantly, the Senate invests $322 million less than the House, but both budgets lack the necessary revenue to give Washington’s economy, children, families, and businesses the opportunities they need to thrive.
By Kim Justice and Lori Pfingst | Washington Budget & Policy Center
The House version would spend $322.2 million more than the Senate in terms of near general fund-state plus opportunity pathways.
By Washington Research Council
Surprisingly, refiners in high-tax California fare better than their Washington counterparts. In fact, the Washington Research Council found that the tax burden in Washington is more than four times the burden in California.
By Don Brunell | Columbian Op=Ed
In the short-run, some of the Senate’s proposed tax breaks may or may not encourage economic activity. But it’s important to remember that low taxation in itself doesn’t fuel economic growth. A favorable business climate requires more, including an educated workforce, critical infrastructure, and a healthy populous.
By Economic Policy Institute
We need Social Security more than ever today. Half of private sector workers work for employers who don’t have any retirement plans. Only three percent of workers in the private sector have a defined benefit pension. A typical worker between the ages of 55 and 64 with a deferred contribution account has $40,000 in that account. That’s good for a monthly payment of about $280!
By John Burbank | WSLC Stand
The House Democrats’ have released a new proposal, which Rep. Pat Sullivan called a “substantial compromise.” The proposal would increase near general fund-state plus opportunity pathways spending by $2.453 billion over 2011-13 and leave $606 million in reserves.
By Washington Research Council
Today’s proposal is a sharp departure from the budget that was originally proposed by the House. The new proposal invests over $800 million less in public priorities, falling far short of what Washingtonians truly need to prosper. The proposal fails to extend a 0.3 percentage-point B&O surcharge applied to business services ($534 million) and fails to extend a surcharge on breweries and other beer distributors ($58 million).
By Kim Justice | Washington Budget & Policy Center
The Association of Washington Business has always said that tax incentives should be periodically reviewed to see what works, and our state has established a process to do just that. However, blindly targeting business tax incentives just to get some quick cash is irresponsible and shortsighted. Bottom line: This is not the time to eliminate tax exemptions and make it more expensive to do business in Washington.
By Don Brunell | AWB
Legislators were unable to come to agreement on a state budget, which resulted in Governor Inslee calling a “special” session that will stretch into mid-June. The Sierra Club has been hard at work throughout, defending against a number of bills which would have dismantled state water laws as well as promoting legislation to reduce climate impacts. Here is a brief overview of our work thus far.
By Sierra Club
Right now, two out of every five workers in Tacoma lack the ability to take time off work to care for their own or their families’ health needs or to get a protection order if they are in a domestic violence situation. The Healthy Tacoma Coalition is holding its kick-off event Thursday, May 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the main hall of the IBEW Local 76 building, 3049 S. 36th St. in Tacoma.
By DAVID GROVES | WSLC Stand
A late-night deal that plugged a $160 million hole in Washington’s estate tax at the very last possible second also forced compromise on a key environmental bill before this year’s Legislature – and showed lawmakers still may be able to reason together, despite all of the shouting and namecalling of the last week. It may not have looked like cooperation, as the Senate demanded action on an environmental bill before it took action on the estate-tax measure. But games of leverage are the way of the Legislature.
(Updated Friday 6 a.m.)-Just before the Department of Revenue began mailing multi-million-dollar refund checks to the estates of some of the wealthiest dead people in Washington, lawmakers came to an agreement that will keep that money in state coffers. The deal on the estate tax came after a late-night, down-to the wire finish that had the Senate executing a complicated deal for one of its major pieces of reform legislation in return — a bill that will require the state to steer more money toward hazardous-waste cleanups.
In a performance worthy of Congress, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee announces that he will call the Legislature back into session Wednesday morning, and says the reason the Legislature hasn’t finished its work is spelled G-O-P. All problems can be laid at the feet of the Republicans who dominate the Senate, he insists. No above-it-all concilation here. Though actual differences are small, the state is hurtling toward a June 30 drop-dead date for passage of a budget, and while the Ds accuse the Rs of brinksmanship, that cuts both ways. Will cooler heads prevail?
The pieces started falling in place for a session-ending deal on the state budget as the Senate advanced three big pieces of legislation its leaders say must be considered as part of a compromise with the Democrats who control the state House. The Republican-leaning Senate majority wants big reforms on worker’s comp and management of K-12 schools, and it wants to put the emphasis on public education in future spending decisions. These may not be the full list, but it’s a start, and the Senate action this weekend shows what it is going to take to strike a deal.
Spokane Spokesman-Review columnist Shawn Vestal, from a vantage point 350 miles from the state capital, manages to capture the nature of the Legislature’s current blame game: “You can wind around this pole forever, trading examples back and forth of who is to blame. There’ll be more than a little of that, surely, before a budget deal is reached. And that will happen, undoubtedly, right before time runs out, because that’s when it always happens.” You have to hope..
Apparently it’s all about how you ask the question. Two wildly contradictory polls were released Monday regarding the Legislature’s current debate over a transportation tax increase. Pollster Stuart Elway, emphasizing taxes, concludes the public turns thumbs down 54-40. But a poll from EMC Research, probing voter concerns in the wake of the Skagit River Bridge catastrophe, shows voters think passage is important, by a whopping 69-29 margin. Both are sure to figure in the high-stakes argument, which comes to a head this month.
It’s all the Senate’s fault, says Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, in a piece that articulates labor’s position in the current standoff between House and Senate. And in a line of argument that has been surfacing from the Democratic side in recent days, he argues that the Senate Majority’s demands for reform legislation cannot be distinguished from the stalemate we see in a polarized Congress. Labor emphasizes its objections to the workers’ comp reform legislation being pushed by the Senate.
It was a wild debate in the Senate Saturday as the Republican-leaning Majority Coalition advanced its latest budget proposal. The new plan is a response to a split-it-down-the-middle offer from House Democrats, and at least on first glance it doesn’t seem to have changed much. But there is more movement toward compromise than may seem apparent, and the Republican-leaning Senate Majority Coalition seems to be signaling its willingness to accept some new taxes, if the House Dems are willing to accept sweeping government reforms.
House Democrats sent their split-the-difference budget proposal sailing in the direction of the Senate Thursday night as they passed their $33.6 billion tax-and-spending plan on a largely party-line vote, taking the dealmaking out of the negotiating rooms and putting it on the public stage. The bold move by the House Dems might be seen as an end-run on the normally secretive budget negotiations, and sets up a public conflict with the tax-averse Senate, but it certainly has shaken things loose during a sleepy special session.
So much for the cone of silence! After a month of apparent inactivity in budget negotiations, House Democrats are going public with a plan to split the difference with the Republican Senate. Think of it as a unilateral compromise. They’ll be running it on the floor perhaps as soon as today. The Dems have backed off considerably on their plans for tax hikes, but plenty of argument remains ahead over their plans to raise oil taxes and take on the high-tech industry. Although one might think the end-run on the budget negotiations is a bid for public support, Dems say they are just trying to get things done fast.