We are gearing up for our 2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference next week with one of the most impressive, bi-partisan lists of speakers of any conference we’re familiar with in Washington State.
So, since this newsletter is about some of the things we’re tracking in Washington State policy and politics – and since many of the smartest people we know will be in the room next week at our event – you’ll see some of the speakers and topics on our December 12th agenda highlighted below in this edition of your Morning Wire. Check it out.
1. Why aren’t we making progress on homelessness?
The Seattle City Council approved its $5.6 billion 2018 budget by an 8-1 vote. Among several noteworthy projects, funding for combating the homelessness crisis received a major boost. In total, $63 million was allocated to programs like the Navigation Team, enhanced shelter options, and places for homeless youth to receive education and employment opportunities. However, even though Seattle and King County declared a homelessness state of emergency in 2015, there are still nearly 4,000 people living without shelter in Seattle.
At our upcoming 2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference, we will have a panel dedicated to this topic at 1:45 pm titled, “Homelessness: Why Are We Not Having Success?” The panel will feature George Scarola, Director of Homelessness for the City of Seattle and Jonathan Martin, Assistant Metro Editor for The Seattle Times. You’ll also hear from Rep. Nicole Macri and Sen. Mark Miloscia who will offer insight into possible legislative responses to this crisis.
2. Podcast: In the weeds with Rep. Noel Frame
We sat down with Rep. Noel Frame from the 36th Legislative District last week in this podcast to talk through two of the most challenging issues facing Washington State: fully funding education and reforming our regressive tax code. Rep. Frame is the Vice Chair on the House Finance Committee. She’s also been a PTA mom, in addition to serving as the former head of Progressive Majority. So, she speaks both from political and personal experience on her various reform efforts.
“I get incrementalism, but somebody’s got to push. Somebody’s got to force us to be the best version of ourselves. I’m happy to play that role and also be a pragmatist and be the political organizer that I am and try to find success along the way.”
Rep. Frame will join us at the 2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference next week on the “Addressing Washington State’s Tax Structure” panel at 9:30am. She’ll be joined by Rep. Drew Stokesbary, a member of the House Finance Committee, and Andy Nicholas from the Washington Budget and Policy Center. If you’re a finance wonk, this is one panel you won’t want to miss.
3. The changing nature of energy in NW
Following the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council’s unanimous recommendation to reject Vancouver Energy’s $210 million oil shipping terminal, Sen. Tim Sheldon wrote, “The Inslee Administration has become a killing field for anything the Seattle environmental crowd opposes.” He says there is a bias by the state against major industrial energy projects in rural areas and references denied permits to the Millennium Bulk terminal in Longview as a further example of this bias.
New approvals of energy projects have sometimes been contentious in recent years, raising questions about the state’s regulatory framework. Is it supporting or stifling innovations? Are politics getting in the way of the practical?
At the Re-Wire Policy Conference, a panel will address these questions at our 10:30 am panel titled, “Coal, Solar, and the Changing Nature of NW Energy Delivery.” Our panel will feature Representative Jeff Morris, Chair of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee and Nancy Hirsh, the Executive Director of NW Energy Coalition. They will be joined by George Caan, Executive Director of the Washington Public Utility Districts Association. The WPUDA has been one of our Founding Sponsors of this year’s event.
4. Reforming public disclosure in the next session
Two recent announcements look to reform transparency laws in Washington. Earlier this month, King County Democrats Chair Bailey Stober and Republican Party Chair Lori Sotelo released a joint statement seeking public disclosure reform. Stober and Sotelo claim that laws originally created to ensure campaign transparency are now being exploited by a small group of individuals to “level political shots at one another.”
Representative Paul Graves also recently announced the Legislative Transparency Act ahead of the 2018 session. Grave’s proposal would remove an amendment in the Public Records Act that currently exempts state legislators from public records disclosure requirements that all other elected officials in the state are required to adhere to.
5. The policy and politics of climate change in 2018
Governor Inslee has repeatedly vowed to remain a voice of leadership in the fight against climate change even as the federal government steps away from the issue. On a national level, Washington is a leader in the science, research, and technological innovation contributing to a clean energy economy. But on a policy level, even in a state like Washington where there is broad agreement that something must be done, consensus is difficult to achieve.
Our panel, “Responding to Climate Change in Washington State” will bring together voices that will explore the policy topic and possible ideas for legislative action. Joining us is Sen. Guy Palumbo, Vice Chair of the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology committee, and Todd Myers, Director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center. The panel will also feature Kyle Murphy, Executive Director of Carbon Washington, who recently discussed the outlook for a 2018 climate initiative with The Wire.
6. Fake news, political polarization and the media
This graph is one of the most shocking images I saw this year. Here’s the takeaway: the business model for media is changing at a faster pace than anyone on the outside realizes. And, given the experiences of the 2016 election, our Convening Panel thought that elevating this discussion was among the most important panels of the day.
So, we pulled together a panel you won’t find anywhere else: Frank Blethen, publisher of the Seattle Times will be joined by Erica C. Barnett, a digital journalist following Puget Sound politics. They are joined by Renee Radcliff Sinclair, President of TVW and former Republican legislator, and Jim Boldt, public affairs consultant and former Democratic legislator.
This will be a special conversation, one I hope you will hear!