With luck, today will be the last day of the 2017 legislative session, giving us a whopping 12 days before the August primary. We’ve got a few data points for you, both qualitative and quantitative, on the session and the ballot box in this edition of the Morning Wire.
As always, thanks for reading our stuff.
1. Longest, least productive session on record
Today is the 195th day of the 2017 legislative session, making this year’s convening easily the longest single year session in the history of Washington State, ever. The average number of session days per year since 1889 is 82. Since the 1979 constitutional amendment moving to rotating sessions of 105 and 60 days, the average has been 104 days.
This is also the least productive session since records were kept. With 377 bills to the governor’s desk, this session averaged 1.9 bills passed per legislative day. Since 1991, the average has been 4.0 bills to the governor per legislative day.
With 60 days in session next year, the legislature is on track to pass 493 bills over the two year legislature. Since 1991, the average two year bill total is 772.
2. The impasse over water and capital budget
Press releases were flying yesterday saying that agreement had been reached on the Capital Budget ahead of the last day of session. Yet, it looks like Senate Republican leadership will still not allow the budget to come to a vote absent a deal on Hirst.
Democrats have offered to provide a 2-year stay of implementing the changes as mandated by the court, arguing that any fix would likely be found illegal by the courts absent a more comprehensive fix to be found over time. Senate Republicans said no, wanting a permanent fix. However, environmental groups, tribes, and many Democrats think the decision to further regulate water wells was the right one.
Democrats don’t have the same incentive to yield to Republican “hard ball” as they did on the Operating Budget. And, with media almost uniformly against linking Hirst to the Capital budget, Senate Republicans need to be careful not to overplay their hand this time.
3. The most impressive candidate of 2017?
Last night, Edie Gillis and Zach Silk hosted a fundraiser for Ryan Calkins, a candidate for the Port Commission. Gillis ran Clinton’s 2016 campaign in Washington State. Silk ran the marriage equality initiative a few years ago. They are a progressive power couple, and Calkins is the only candidate they’ve hosted something for this year – a strong endorsement.
Calkins also won the endorsements of The Stranger and the Seattle Weekly, meaning he’s earning the respect of a range of perspectives in a somewhat crowded field with an incumbent. Calkins has a well developed set of ideas related to economic development, automation’s impact on jobs, and the consequences of climate change.
As one attendee put it last night, Calkins “might be the most impressive candidate of 2017.” I was at his fundraiser and made a contribution, so perhaps I’ve grown biased, but I’m telling you: this guy has a political future if he wants it.
4. “Opportunity hoarding” and the upper middle class
Richard Reeves is out with an important book called “Dream Hoarders” where he argues that the upper middle class – the top 20% rather than the top 1% – do more to protect their class position than any other class in the world. In other words, the decaying social mobility in America is driven in significant part because of tax breaks (529s, mortgage interest) and economic tools (internships, zoning) that the top 20% have come to rely on and defend.
There’s a lot to his argument, though much importance as a result of its “look in the mirror” feel. In a recent NY Times column, Reeves says: “Most of the people on the highest rung in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty.”
There is certainly some “pop economics” to his argument, but his conclusion is no less sound: you can’t create upwards economic mobility without allowing for greater downward mobility as well.
5. Survey of videos for Seattle mayor race
The primary is in full swing. So, we thought we’d review some of the TV commercials that are out in the Seattle mayor’s race, and offer them for you to check out.
Of the five we reviewed, Nikkita Oliver’s stands out the most. There is great imagery of Oliver suiting up to enter a boxing ring, where she then spars with a partner. It’s a metaphor that plays out in the rest of the video: she’ll be a fighter for a Seattle that voters want. It’s a good ad, but the question is how broadly will it get seen. At 90 seconds, it’s not made for TV, but it’s been seen 20k times on Facebook so far.
Notable also: don’t tweet from the strip club, particularly when you’re a man being critical of a woman. That’s the lesson from this fellow found in the #nikkitabecause hashtag, an otherwise smart organizing tactic for GOTV by Oliver’s campaign.
6. One fun thing: Sen. Fain and a messy burrito
Twitter was all worked up last with the MacGyver skills of Sen. Joe Fain. Managing kids and a legislative gig isn’t always easy or clean. Diapers and eating in the car are commonplace. That’s where #dadhacks come in.
When a burrito started leaking a bit while Sen. Fain was in the car, he improvised. “My breakfast burrito is leaking and I don’t have any napkins in the car. #dadhacks” It’s a good reminder that this is a citizen legislature. And, that this was one of the toughest sessions in which to be both a legislator and parent in recent memory.