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Morning Wire: Coronavirus, Pence-Inslee, Cap and Invest


It’s the last week of the short session with “go home” budgets close to being put to bed. The biggest question marks may be the gap between the transportation budgets, though even those are unlikely to drag on past Thursday.

So, with a legislative pause on the horizon, we are tracking a few other non-legislative matters, including today’s election. 

As always, thank you for reading our stuff!

With help from Michael Goldberg
and Emily Boerger

1. Coronavirus has entered a new phase

“Seattle is effectively in the position that Wuhan was on Jan. 1… Three weeks later, on Jan. 21, China imposed the most draconian quarantine measures ever deployed in modern times.” That was last Thursday. On Sunday, Gov. Inslee said his team was considering “mandatory measures” to contain the virus. On Monday, the Seattle City Council got a presentation that included a “cordon sanitaire” as a possible option – meaning an Italy-like quarantine of the region. National figures have started calling for Seattle-specific mitigation steps, in what appears to be a growing targeting of the area by East Coast pundits.

Senior health care executives tell me they are planning for a massive wave of folks presenting with respiratory issues in the next 2-4 weeks in the Puget Sound region. You should have a plan for what that will mean for you. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. This is the best, most comprehensive compilation on the subject I’ve seen on the web. I suggest you read it.

2. Obama-Christie, Pence-Inslee, and sadly, Trump


I was ready (eager really) to call this an Obama-Christie moment. Gov. Inslee and VP Pence set aside differences for the benefit of our state during a VP coordination trip in the same way Pres. Obama and NJ Gov. Christie worked together during Hurricane Sandy. We talked about it in our staff meeting on Friday morning, but by Friday night, Pres. Trump had chosen partisan rancor over healing grace, calling Inslee a “snake” rather than conveying empathy about what our state is enduring.

Danny Westneat at the Seattle Times says “this is the start of Trump blaming us for the coronavirus outbreak.” It might be Trump’s best way out of these politics of a pandemic: to blame what he might call the “Dirty, filthy sanctuary cities like Seattle where this disease is out of control,” a quote I imagine him saying, rather than something he has actually said. But, it’s not a stretch to hear that from him, is it?

3.  Poll: Broad support for Hobbs’s “Cap and Invest” 

new poll out by the Washington Business Alliance shows 63% of likely voters in November support a “Cap and Invest” approach to carbon. This is a key piece of Senate Transportation Chair Steve Hobbs’s transportation package, which is in the final days of negotiation with the House as the session ends. Public polling like this is often used to help demonstrate public support for ideas legislators are locked in negotiation on.

The model is similar to “Cap and Trade,” where organizations would be limited by permit to the amount of carbon they could produce. The state would then use the resultant funds from the permit sales to direct investments into energy efficiency projects. 

4. To vote Bernie, or not to vote Bernie

In what appeared to be Bernie Sanders’s election to run away with a week ago, Joe Biden has surged into first place in polling ahead of today’s presidential primary. Biden wasn’t over 15% a week ago. In the last few weeks, the central question has really been whether to support Bernie Sanders or not. It was far less about Biden, or anyone else, than it was about Bernie.

It would appear the “Consensus Democrats” that are so important in Washington State finally made up their minds and broke for an institutionalist rather than a revolutionary. In our shop, we’re of multiple minds, of course. Michael Goldberg makes the argument that this time in America calls for Bernie Sanders. I’m bordering on starting the “Never Bernie” club.

5.  Sex education bill roils the Legislature 

 A bill requiring comprehensive sexual education in K through 12 schools has been the subject of one of the fiercest debates this session. Despite a spirited effort from Republicans, who introduced over 200 amendments in the hopes of keeping the bill from coming up for a vote, Senate Democrats managed to pass the legislation last week.

While advocates for the bill expect that the curriculum will build gradually as students progress to higher grade levels, Republicans have raised concerns that the lessons start in kindergarten. A petition to stop Gov. Inslee from signing from the bill has garnered over 25,000 signatures on Change.org.