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The 9th Order

Could This be the Same Don Benton? — Correspondence Has Legislature Snorting With Laughter

By The 9th Order | Washington State Wire | 2 Comments

When state Sen. Don Benton wrote a blistering email the other day excoriating House Republicans who voted for a measure that would make it harder to run initiatives, he might have expected some form of retaliation. Well, he got it — in maybe the worst way possible, Brutal sarcasm. A letter of response from House Deputy Minority Leader Joel Kretz declares that someone must have hacked Benton’s account, because — well, you just have to read it. The entire Capitol was snorting with laughter over this one.

Business leaders gather to lay out new framework

By The 9th Order | 0 Comments

While legislative session is in full swing, over 100 business leaders are gathering this Thursday in Seattle to discuss policy and industry initiatives well into the future. The Washington Business Alliance will present the first version of its Plan Washington strategic framework. The event is sold-out, however space may still be available by contacting the organization directly.

McAuliffe Versus McAuliffe

By The 9th Order | Washington State Wire | 3 Comments

How soon they forget! Senate Democrats voted en masse against a teacher evaluation bill during a dramatic floor vote Tuesday night, after heavy lobbying from the Washington Education Association convinced them of the horrors of it all. Yet in olden times they actually thought the bill was a good idea. This was seven whole weeks ago. And it is always a convenient thing when both sides of the argument are advanced by the same person. While Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe’s speech Tuesday night might remind Washington State Wire of the sort of statements that come from prisoner-of-war camps, perhaps the best thing to do is to let McAuliffe debate herself. Here we present the press release that disappeared from McAuliffe’s website Thursday.

Democrat Rodney Tom Names Campaign Manager — and He’s a Republican

By The 9th Order | Washington State Wire | 0 Comments

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom has hired a campaign manager — a Republican. And not just any Republican, but the guy who until last week was the communications director for the state Republican Party. And from that we can draw an important conclusion. Not the one that will probably have Democrats chortling, but rather about the GOP’s plan for the 48th District Senate race. If you wanted an indication the Rs won’t be running anyone against Tom — well, he just hired someone who ought to know better.

Holmquist-Newbry Running for Congress; Decision Opens 13th-District Senate Seat

By The 9th Order | Washington State Wire | 0 Comments

That didn’t take long! State Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, says she’s running for the Central Washington congressional seat that will be vacated by U.S. Rep. Richard “Doc” Hastings in fall, just days after announcing the formation of an exploratory committee. By formally announcing her bid Wednesday, Holmquist-Newbry signals that the 4th-District race will be one of the hottest things going on the November 2014 ballot — and that there will be a vacant Senate seat in the 13th Legislative District this fall.


Session Wrap-Up: 2014 Supplemental Budget Avoids Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the room is the significant increase in funding that will be required to fully fund basic education by 2018. In the next biennium, at least $2 billion more will be needed for the next installment towards meeting McCleary. Yet, projected revenues are expected to fall short of simply maintaining current investments.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

The Cost of Doing Nothing on Transportation: $6.5 Billion, According to New Report

Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Washington motorists a total of $6.5 billion statewide due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic accidents and congestion-related delays according to a study released today by TRIP, a national transportation research group.

By Washington ACE (business)

Senate’s Education Funding Plan Doesn’t Add Up

Senate Bill 5881 is irresponsible and ignores the reality that additional resources are needed to truly meet our education funding challenges while maintaining other important investments.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

A High Minimum Wage Doesn’t Always Kill Jobs, but It Does Kill Job Opportunities for Teens

The general consensus of decades of minimum wage studies is that a 10% increase in the minimum wage reduces teen employment by 1 to 3%. The 60% increase headed to Seattle could mean an 18% decrease in the city’s already low 25% teen employment rate. That would be a drastic, negative impact on employment for teens.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Senate Bill 5881: The Wrong Approach to Funding Education

While we think it is important to have a long-term plan to fund education, we think this proposal takes the wrong approach for two reasons: 1.Revenue growth will not be enough in the next biennium to even cover the costs to continue what we do now, much less make the necessary investments in education. 2. This proposal would force deep and damaging cuts to other things kids need to be good learners, such as access to food, health care, and a stable home.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

House and Senate-Passed 2014 Supplemental Budgets Are Mostly Similar, But Present Distinct Options

The House- and Senate-passed 2014 supplemental operating budgets diverge on taxes, teacher COLAs and maintenance level estimates.
But those are two big differences. The COLAs are accompanied by $99.8 million in higher taxes, which the Senate has shown no appetite for. Indeed, the Senate reduces taxes, including by ex-tending a limited version of the high tech R&D credits.

By Washington Research Council (business)

House Budget Looks Towards the Future, Senate Budget Looks Away

The House’s budget, combined with their proposal to increase revenues by closing outdated tax breaks, would put the state in a much better position to meet the 2018 deadline of investing an additional $4.5 billion in basic education. But make no mistake, additional revenue will be needed in the next biennium, as the state will fall at least $2 billion short of what it needs to make the next installment in K-12 education.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

Update on Health Savings Accounts

The current version of health savings accounts (HSA) began in 2003, so we now have 10 years of experience with them. Last year, the number of accounts grew by 30% to 10.7 million and assests in the account grew by 25% to $19.3 billion.

By Washington Policy Center (BUSINESS)

2014 Workers’ Rights Manual Now Available

The Washington State Labor Education and Research Center is proud to announce the release of the third edition of the Washington State Workers’ Rights Manual. Covering topics such as wage theft, privacy at work, immigrant worker rights, independent contractor misclassification, leave laws, and much more, the manual serves as an easy-to-use guide to workplace rights under federal, state and local laws.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

Senate’s Proposed Tax Breaks Would Cost Big In The Long Run

Despite a looming deadline from the State Supreme Court to invest an additional $4.5 billion per two-year budget cycle in Washington state schools by 2018, last week the Senate put forward a supplemental budget plan that included 18 costly new or extended tax breaks.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

A Fond Farewell to the Legislative Life

By Erik Smith | Washington State Wire | 17 Comments

What can you say when you’re about to leave a place where you’ve played virtually your entire adult life? Where you lived and loved and learned and basically grew up? Today I bid Washington State Wire adieu on my way to the Seattle Times editorial board. And I leave the Legislature in which I have worked as a statehouse reporter, off and on, pretty much from the day I graduated from college. It is one of the few moments in my career I think it proper to talk about myself — and what it’s been like working and living the legislative life.

Fish-Consumption Decision Being Kicked Upstairs – Governor’s Office Will Make Call on Controversial Water Quality Rule

By Erik Smith | Washington State Wire | 2 Comments

One of the biggest environmental questions in ages is being kicked upstairs to the governor’s office — how much fish does Washington eat? A silly thing for government to decide, you might think, but the question is driving an enormous debate over water quality regulation. Washington appears poised to go down the Oregon Trail, adopting a fish-consumption estimate like the Beaver State that will force new regs 25 times more stringent than current standards. Compliance costs will be in the billions, and it’s not clear what good it will do. Sometime in the next two months, all hell breaks loose.

Get Serious on School Funding

By Richard Davis | Washington Research Council

In this column, Richard Davis, president of the Washington Research Council, argues that it’s time for lawmakers to get serious about meeting the multi-billion-dollar obligation imposed by the state Supreme Court in the McCleary K-12 funding case. The levy swap would be a good place to start.

Did You Ever Think Republicans Would Long for Christine Gregoire? – Some Say Transportation Failure Starts at Top

By Erik Smith | Washington State Wire | 2 Comments

You heard it here first: After the big breakdown on transportation in the just-finished session, Republicans are saying the failure starts in the governor’s office, and Jay Inslee is making former Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire look good. Squabbling and fingerpointing reached an extreme in the session’s final days, but a gas-tax deal might have been had if people had really wanted it. Might be years before another opportunity. Critics say the real failure was one of leadership, and that the governor’s combative attitude was the single most important factor in this year’s biggest kerthump.

After All the Fuss and Bother, an Unremarkable Session Comes to an End

By Erik Smith | Washington State Wire | 6 Comments

You can say the 2014 legislative session started with low expectations, and it lived right up to them. Washington lawmakers ended their 60-day session just before midnight Thursday after passing a do-no-harm budget and a handful of policy bills of mostly modest import. As two months of caterwauling, fingerpointing and partisan debate finally came to an end, they could point to one big achievement: They managed to wrap it all up on schedule, with seven minutes to spare. Now the big problem. How do you sum up a session in which nothing much really happened?

2014 Legislature: A Discouraging Performance

By Editorial | The News Tribune

Conventional wisdom holds that it’s almost impossible for lawmakers to do anything important in an election year. The 2014 Legislature did not fail to disappoint.
Lawmakers arrived in Olympia in January with three big, urgent issues in front of them: public education, transportation and legal marijuana. They fumbled all three, letting festering problems fester.

Legislature Met its Expectations (Very Low Ones)

By Peter Callaghan

Well, whaddya know? Peter Callaghan summed up the session pretty much the same way we did at Washington State Wire. And no, there was no comparing of notes beforehand.

In Our View: Do-Little Legislature

By Editorial | The (Vancouver) Columbian

When the Congress or the Legislature actually do something, that normally means money out of taxpayers’ pockets, so a lack of activity in Olympia could be viewed as a positive development for the state. But there are many pressing issues facing Washington that did not receive adequate attention during the session that concluded late Thursday night, and there are several examples of legislators turning out the lights on topics that will require illumination in the near future.

Legislature’s Inaction Leaves Medical Pot System in Legal Haze

By Bob Young | Seattle Times

The future of medical marijuana in the state is in question after legislators failed to agree on regulations. Western Washington’s federal prosecutor now says all dispensaries are illegal and violators could be prosecuted according to priorities outlined by the Justice Department.

House Poised to Shut Down Medical-Marijuana Biz – Would Solve Complex Problem by Just Saying No

By Erik Smith | Washington State Wire | 61 Comments

On the Legislature’s final day, a stunning turnabout on a medical-marijuana bill is causing jaws to drop in the state House. It started as a bill that aimed to save the state’s medical-marijuana biz. Now it would shut the whole thing down. It is a matter of sausage-making at its best, but for the 150,000 or so patients who rely on medical marijuana, it is going to come as quite a surprise.