Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope you’re able to get away with friends and family this week, and de-tox a bit from the election season. The session is right around the corner.
I’ll be clamming on the Olympic coast and hiking out on the peninsula. We’d love to hear how you spend your long weekend! Send pics and tips and we may feature them next week!
With help from Emily Boerger and Sara Gentzler
1. Senate Republicans announce affordable-housing bills
With the number of people experiencing homelessness in Washington State on the rise, addressing homelessness is going to be a major issue taken up during the 2019 legislative session. In preparation for this, last week Senators Randi Becker, Shelly Short, and Hans Zeiger announced a series of proposals aimed at improving housing affordability in the state.
The proposed bills include legislation to give local jurisdictions more flexibility in their land use, legislation to loosen tiny-house regulations, and legislation giving a valuation freeze and state property-tax exemption to disabled veterans, senior citizens, and disabled individuals in certain circumstances. Video of the press conference is on the Republican Caucus’ Facebook page.
At our Re-Wire Policy Conference on December 13th, we’ll be discussing current and novel policy approaches to homelessness with panelists that include Rep. Nicole Macri and City of Spokane Regional Project Manager Ariane Schmidt.
2. Challenges to I-1639 emerge
When Washington voters approved I-1639, the state’s expansive gun safety initiative, by nearly 60 percent, it seemed it was only a matter of time before it faced backlash. In the week following election day, pushback on the initiative is coming from multiple angles.
Last Thursday, the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of portions of the initiative. A petition to the White House asking for the abolishment of the initiative has garnered 37,432 signatures. In Republic, Washington, Police Chief Loren Culp has proposed a city ordinance to turn Republic into a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City.” More cities/counties may follow Culp’s lead. Stevens County Commissioner Don Dashiell commented on the Facebook post, writing, “We’ve been working on something similar in Stevens County.”
3. Billig & Schoesler discuss tax reform in 2019
On a recent episode of Inside Olympia, Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler and newly-elected Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig spoke with host Austin Jenkins about tax reform in the 2019 legislative session. While both senators discussed addressing Washington’s regressive tax structure, unsurprisingly, the two leaders had very different outlooks for what they hope to see in the upcoming session.
During their interviews, Billig discussed the possibility of a capital gains tax and a holistic approach to addressing tax fairness. On the other hand, Schoesler said the answer to tax fairness isn’t new taxes, and instead suggested reducing the state sales tax. Our rundown on their comments can be found here.
At Re-Wire in three weeks, one panel takes this up directly at 10:30 am: “Will a Democratic Majority Address the Tax Structure?”
4. Washington’s horse-racing industry braces for possible sports-betting regulations
At the Washington State House Commerce & Gaming Committee work session last week, stakeholders voiced input and concerns about possible sports-betting regulations. In this piece, we focused on the perspective of Washington’s horse-racing industry, which has gotten progressively smaller over the years as new types of gambling have been introduced.
In his presentation to the committee, the Washington Horse Racing Commission’s Doug Moore suggested that the industry may disappear upon the introduction of sports betting, unless it receives part of future sports-betting revenue. These types of decisions were put into the hands of individual states earlier this year, when the U.S. Supreme Court held the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional.
5. Model workplace sexual harassment documents are open for comment
From now until November 30, stakeholders can comment on model policy, procedures, and best practices for preventing and handling sexual harassment in Washington workplaces. The documents are a result of several work group meetings that have taken place in different areas of the state since July of this year.
Laura Lindstrand, policy analyst at the Washington State Human Rights Commission, presented on the work group’s progress to the Washington State Senate Labor & Commerce Committee last week. She said the work has been especially exciting given its timing, which coincides with the #MeToo movement. The documents were mandated by Senate Bill 6471 earlier this year.
In December, we’ll be talking with panelists — including Labor & Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Karen Keiser, who sponsored SB 6471 — about how the #MeToo movement continues to impact legislators in Olympia and politics at-large.