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Morning Wire: filing week, I-940, artificial intelligence

Sometimes our Morning Wire gets out in the afternoon…  Today is one of those days!  But, we have lots for you today, including independent reporting and commentary from Olympia, Seattle, and Longview.

As always, you can sign up here for our Daily Wire email that is out M-F at 7:00 am.

With help from Emily Boerger and Kylie Walsh

1. Inslee’s psychiatric hospital plan

On Friday, Governor Inslee announced his five-year plan to transform the state’s mental health system. Beginning in 2023, Western and Eastern State Hospitals will become forensic-only facilities, housing patients who enter the mental health system through the courts. Civil patients will be treated in about a dozen new 16-bed psychiatric facilities spread across the state. Funding details will be included in the governor’s 2019-2021 budget proposal, but will likely be similar to the same request in the 2017-2019 budget proposal, which was not approved by the legislature.

This transformation will allow civil patients to be treated closer to their communities and alleviate the wait-list problems at Western and Eastern. According to DSHS Secretary Strange, Western has 233 patients waiting for forensic beds to become available and 234 civil patients ready to be discharged, but which have nowhere to go.

2.  What the head tax debate says about us today

This recent “head tax” debate was bigger than the Seattle City Council. To understand the opposition to the head tax, I think there is a perception that Seattle has a “spending efficiency problem.”  This perception was something that even Mayor Durkan acknowledged.  On the flip side, there is a sense that this economy is precarious. It may be the strongest economy in the nation, but some in our state argue a cynicism towards corporations is justified.

In direct terms, it will kick off a set of bills next session that Sen. Schoesler has already said he would begin.  Rep. Fitzgibbon addressed this in our recent podcast with him: “I would so much rather that the legislature just tackle this problem than the Seattle City Council. I just think the legislature has so many more tools.”

3.  Six states file brief in support of Longview coal terminals

In January, Millennium Bulk’s parent company, Lighthouse Resources Inc., filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Inslee and members of his administration over their decision to block progress on the company’s coal terminal project. They claim the state has discriminated against the project because it involves coal, and in the process has burdened interstate commerce.

Last week, Wyoming, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah filed a joint amicus brief in support of the project. In response to the six state’s support, Millennium’s CEO Bill Chapman told us, “Trade dependent states in the west are frustrated by arbitrary decision-making that has obstructed our project for more than six years. Six states joining a lawsuit against Washington should be a wakeup call to state regulators that ports like ours serve all the Western US not just the states in which they are located.”

4.  A question of judicial impartiality

Ten Republican state legislators filed a motion last week calling for the recusal of Justice Mary Yu from the McCleary case. The call for recusal stems from a speech Justice Yu gave to the Washington Education Association’s (WEA) political action committee. The motion claims that the speech, combined with social media evidence that she met with WEA members at the event, casts doubt on her ability to be impartial in the McCleary ruling. For the same reasons, at the end of April Sen. Baumgartner also called on Yu to recuse herself from the state’s charter school case.

According to the Judicial Code of Conduct (Rule 2.11) a judge should be recused if “the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Is Justice Yu’s impartiality being reasonable questioned? Or does this motion stem from legislators’ past frustrations over judicial “overreach” in the McCleary case?

5.  De-Escalate WA & WACOPS discuss deadly force initiative

Last month a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled that the legislature’s passage of HB 3003 and De-Escalate Washington’s deadly use of force initiative (I-940) violated the state constitution. Lawyers for the legislature quickly moved to appeal the decision in the state Supreme Court.

If the lower court’s ruling stands, I-940 will appear on the ballot without the modifications of HB 3003 – a move that breaks the consensus reached by De-Escalate and several law enforcement groups during the 2018 session. De-Escalate continues to strongly support I-940, while other groups like the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS) say they oppose the initiative on its own. We spoke with WACOPS Executive Director Teresa Taylor who says WACOPS may get involved in the legislature’s appeal by joining WASPC in filing an amicus brief.

6. The gap between AI technology and policy makers

The last few weeks have provided a new clarity about how far the gap is between artificial intelligence and technology today and the public policy discussions that would regulate the sector.  Mark Zuckerberg’s performance before Congress was the prime example, but these three instances make the point just as well.

Google Duplex is a new service that relies on natural language to make its artificial intelligence indiscernible from a human over the phone.  Boston Dynamics’s famous robot, Atlas, can now run with the same mechanics as a human.  And, autonomous vehicles have to make a decision about when to run something over and when not to, with sometimes fatal consequences.  Watch the videos in the post and try to imagine a city council or legislative body dealing with these issues proactively and thoughtfully.  That seems like a long way off.

7. Highlights from day 1 of filing week

Candidates officially have four more days to file for one of the 596 offices that are up for election this year.  On the first day of filing week, 204 candidates filed for 139 offices for state and U.S. positions. So far, all U.S. Representative incumbents have filed for re-election except for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (and Rep. Dave Reichert). Also missing from the filing list is Sen. Maria Cantwell whose Senate seat already has 10 candidates, two of which are listed as independents.

The online filing period opened Monday morning at 9:00 am, and Rep. David Sawyer filed for Representative of the 29th LD at 9:03 am.  This after the House Democratic Caucus voted to suspend his committee chairmanship last week. Women are well represented as candidates throughout the state, but particularly in the 26th LD.  There, six of the seven candidates who filed for positions in the 26th LD are women. Candidates are able to file until 5pm Friday. You can track the continually updating list of candidates here.

8. One fun thing, one ironic thing

One fun thing:  Rep. Morgan Irwin (R-Enumclaw) serves as a Seattle police officer.  Last week, he and fellow officer Mark Rawlins “commandeered” a jet ski to rescue two kayakers. Check out the video released by Seattle Police Public Affairs, featuring the Baywatch theme song.

One ironic thing:  Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant has a new book coming out titled “American Socialist.”  You can pre-order it on Amazon.