Virtual Conversation | Recapping the 2021 Session: Legislative Republicans, May 18, 2021 Register

Morning Wire: I-1631, I-1600, I-1621

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With help from Emily Boerger and Kylie Walsh

1.  Carbon ballot title approved in win for proponents

Last week, a Thurston County judge approved the ballot title language for I-1631, this year’s carbon initiative heading towards the November ballot.  The decision was a huge win for initiative proponents in that it frames the question in terms of addressing “pollution” rather than carbon dioxide. Here is how the ballot title reads:

“This measure would charge pollution fees on sources of greenhouse gas pollutants and use the revenue to reduce pollution, promote clean energy, and address climate impacts, under oversight of a public board.”

That’s a compelling proposition that, in a year shaping up as a “blue wave,” could find significant voter support.

2.  Cook Political Report downgrades two congressional races

The Cook Political Report is a long time independent congressional campaign tracker. In their latest ratings out last week, it currently lists 29 Republican congressional seats as tipping Democratic or in a “toss up” category. WA-08, Reichert’s district, is listed as a toss up, a status it’s had for months.

What’s new in last week’s report is that WA-05, McMorris Rodgers’ (CMR) district, has now shifted leftward to “lean Republican.”  The Spokesman Review reports CMR had the largest crowd of supporters she’s ever had at a campaign kickoff event with 1,000 attendees.

WA-03, Jaime Herrera Beutler’s (JHB) district, has also moved, resting now in the “likely Republican” column, rather than considered safe. But a local poll released by JHB’s Democratic opponent shows any competition still has a long ways to go to knock JHB off.

3. Wire Insider: Colleen McAleer, Washington Business Alliance

Colleen McAleer is the President of the Washington Business Alliance and President of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Port Angeles. She was the first female Commissioner elected and is a decorated combat veteran who served 10 years in the US Army. She joins us in this edition of “Wire Insider” to discuss achieving prosperity across the entire state.

“One of the barriers that exists is that the way the state statute is written for engineering and architectural contracts that are created through public contracts…is that that contract must be awarded to the most qualified bidder. And so what ends up happening is if big business responds to a request for qualifications, they always win.”

4.  Impact of Trump’s tariffs on Washington State

The tit-for-tat escalation of tariffs between China and the US has people in the Northwest worried. Last week, following China’s first round of tariffs which included a 15 percent tariff on fruits and wine, Brookings Institution created a map of the counties in the US with the highest concentration of industries impacted by these tariffs. Eastern Washington, with its high concentration of jobs related to tree crops, stands out.

The Trump Administration quickly fired back with tariffs on China’s technology and aerospace sectors, after which China announced a new round of tariffs on aircrafts (which include some Boeing 747 models) and Washington-grown wheat. Washington is one of the most trade-dependent states with 40 percent of jobs dependent on international trade.

5. I-1621:  Concealed carry on school grounds

Initiative 1621 would allow teachers and school employees with concealed carry permits to carry pistols on public and private school grounds. The initiative would also give individual school districts the authority to require their employees go through firearms safety programs before bringing their pistol to school, but doesn’t require it.

The initiative is currently in the signature gathering phase and will need to collect about 259,000 signatures by July in order to make it on the November ballot. Several recent polls shows that the majority of Americans and teachers oppose arming teachers. If the initiative makes it onto the ballot, it will likely face a tough battle.

6. I-1600:  Washington’s single-payer initiative

Whole Washington, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing health care to all Washington residents, filed an initiative in January to bring single-payer healthcare to the state.The initiative builds off of HB 1026, a single-payer House bill with 19 co-sponsors that got stuck in committee.

We spoke with Erin Georgen, Chair of Whole Washington’s Initiative Writing Committee, for a Q&A about the initiative. We discussed the group’s mission, the ways the initiative differs from single-payer bills in the legislature, and broke down how funding healthcare for all Washingtonians would work.

7. Takeaways from King County Dem Chair resignation

Following a 13-hour meeting, King County Chair Bailey Stober stepped down as King County Chair.  Interim Chair Sharon Mast will take the helm in his stead. Sharon is a long time party stalwart who has served in multiple elected positions at the LD, county and state party level. She is steady and well respected. For Dems, this, too, shall pass with very little impact to the fall elections. There might be some speed bumps in terms of how money is moved within the party as a result of this, but none of that will be visible to the electorate.

What’s most important about this is the role local reporting played here.  Specifically, Erica C. Barnett covered this issue prominently at her site “The C is for Crank.” Her coverage spurred reporting by the Seattle Times and the Seattle PI. It’s an example of where the media system is healthy – rather than suffering – if we have a willingness to see what’s working rather than focus on what’s not.

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