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Morning Wire: Capital gains, K-12 funding, Public safety bills

A big thank you to Keep Washington Rolling and to Early Start Washington for sponsoring this edition. Because of their support, the support of our members, and the support of others who we have listed here in previous weeks, we are moving to two editions per week of Morning Wire for the remaining six weeks of the session. 

So, thanks for reading our stuff and putting wind in our sails here at the Wire!

With help from Michael Goldberg

1.  Proponents and opponents of capital gains tax testify in House hearing

Of the 4,002 people who signed in to testify on the capital gains tax bill at yesterday’s House Finance Committee hearing, about 2,380 (60%) were in favor of the measure. But opponents touted a petition against the bill circulated by Washington Policy Center, which had 13,688 signatures as of Monday. Among the first to testify was internet entrepreneur Dan Price, who has been making the rounds on progressive media outlets advocating for the capital gains tax and recounting his decision to institute a $70,000 minimum wage at his company.

Congressman Dan Newhouse voiced his opposition to the bill on both substantive and procedural grounds, saying that the IRS told him in 2018 that “capital gains are treated as income under the tax code, and taxed as such.” Sakara Remmu of the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance said even amid the police reform protests of 2020, a capital gains tax was the first policy change requested by the Seattle chapter: “This is about the whole of Black life and the resources that have been stripped from our community.”

2. Public safety bills teed up this week

This morning, the House Public Safety Committee will hear E2SSB 5259 from Sen. T’wina Nobles, a bill which mandates the collection of data on police uses of force. Then, the Civil Rights & Judiciary committee will hear ESSB 5038 from Sen. Patty Kuderer, which prohibits the open carry of certain weapons at public permitted demonstrations and the state capitol. The Nobles bill passed the Senate 46 – 2 while the Kuderer bill was almost a party line 28 – 20 vote.

In the Senate, the Law & Justice Committee will hear testimony on Rep. Jesse Johnson’s E2SHB 1310, which seeks to establish a civil standard for use of force. Some advocates are upset that a provision in the bill which removed criminal liability protections for officers using deadly force did not survive the floor vote in the House. Yesterday, the Committee heard testimony for Rep. Debra Entenman’s ESHB 1267 which would create an Office of Independent Investigations (OII) for investigations of use of force incidents. Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said “this bill is the top priority of the 2021 session for the city of Tacoma.”

3. Breaking down the incoming federal funds for K-12 schools 

Washington’s public K–12 schools will receive $1.85 billion from American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. Of that, $1.66 billion will go to school districts and $185.3 million will go to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), according to a new write up by the Washington Research Council. Of the school district funding, $333.5 million must be used to address learning loss. Additionally, $92.6 million of the funding for OSPI must be used to address learning loss.

OSPI has an estimate of how much each school district will receive. Combined allocations (across the three rounds) range from $17,137 for the Almira School District to $145.1 million for the Seattle School District. the ARP Act includes $43.7 million for private schools in Washington, down from the $46.3 million included December 2020 federal relief bill. With the third round of the elementary and secondary school emergency relief (ESSER) included, Washington school districts will have received $2.89 billion in federal relief funding. 

4. Series: What a K-shaped recovery looks like

Sometimes in the legislative session, we can get wrapped up in process or theory. So, with votes on capital gains and economic recovery, we wanted to cut through that to tell stories of Washingtonians and their struggle in the economy. In our new series published next week titled titled “What a K-shaped recovery looks like,” we will hear from a hotelier, physicians, laborers, service employees, a wine maker, agricultural workers and a restauranteur.  

We will also bring you some of our unique analysis, including a review of taxation by demographic and a survey of how the Washington State safety compares to other state safety nets.

If you think about it, after a full year of COVID, how many stories have you seen told about regular people in this economy, and what their struggle is like? How many about Washingtonians and their struggle in the economy? Whatever that number is, it’s probably not enough. We’re hoping these stories help to inform policy making as votes on tax and budget matters come to a head in Olympia. 

5.  DOH rolls out new environmental health equity tools for utilities

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), in collaboration with the University of Washington, announced Monday new interactive mapping tools to help utilities improve environmental health equity as they transition to cleaner energy generation. An analysis done by DOH shows that 54 out of 64 electrical utilities in Washington contain communities that are highly impacted by fossil fuel pollution and other risk factors. 

Communities are highly impacted if they rank a nine or ten on the Environmental Health Disparities map. Large chunks of South Seattle, Tacoma, Yakima, Kennewick are above that threshold, meaning they face a high risk from multiple environmental hazards. The map measures the degree to which a community is more vulnerable to those hazards because of sociodemographic factors.

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