Upcoming Conference | 2021 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 15, 2021 Register

Morning Wire: Inslee’s budget, WA media landscape, Rep. Adam Smith

We are getting back in the saddle after slowing our roll a bit ahead of our annual conference. We’ve featured a few of those conversations for you below, as well as our independent reporting covering the politics, policies and personalities of Washington State.

Thank you to Steve Sundquist, Dennis Townsend, Jenny Gibson, Brian Considine, and Barton Bacigalupi for your recent financial contributions to the Wire. Contributions from readers like you has made all of the difference this year as we have navigated COVID. 

And, to Joan, who writes this morning about our “crap list for ‘programing’ from far left bull deep state marxists.” Thanks for keeping it real. 

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Inslee’s budget would spend $5.5 billion more than 2019-2021 plan 

Governor Inslee’s 2021 – 2023 biennial budget proposal would spend about $5.5 billion more than the two-year spending plan he signed in 2019. The governor’s budget staff estimates that the cost of maintaining existing programs has risen by about $4 billion since then. The $57.6 billion proposal includes a new capital gains tax and a tax on health insurers – a total of $1.3 billion in new taxes – to increase public health funding, build affordable housing units, expand rental assistance, and increase funding for unemployment benefits and homelessness programs. 

Progressive groups are already at work attempting to buttress public support for pursuing new revenue sources. Early critics include Rep. Drew Stokesbary who said that it is “unconscionable” to propose new taxes while not funding the Working Families Tax Credit passed over a decade ago. 

2. Adam Smith discusses policy making in the Biden administration

At Re-Wire last week, I was joined by US Rep. Adam Smith (9th CD) for a discussion on the Biden transition. Many in Washington State may not know what many in Washington DC appreciate: that Smith serves as the Chair of the powerful House Armed Services Committee. Smith also offered his thoughts on what issues Biden should prioritize, the specific ways in which Biden will depart from Trump on foreign policy, and his thoughts on political extremism.

Smith is at the center of responding to the Russia cyber attack, what some are describing as the most damaging cyberattack in our country’s history. Smith is also a key influencer in the debate regarding the Pentagon’s effort to split off U.S. Cyber Command from the National Security Agency. He’ll figure into whether Defense Secretary-designate Lloyd Austin receives a waiver required for generals to lead the Pentagon. 

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3. The changing media landscape in America

The national and local media ecosystem continues to be buffeted by social, financial and political pressures. From social media eroding revenue to claims of “fake news” from the White House, this is a unique time for the media landscape. So, where does this all lead?

I was pleased to moderate a conversation at Re-Wire between four of the smartest media professionals in Washington State. Frank Blethen (Publisher, Seattle Times), Mark Baumgarten, (Managing Editor, Crosscut), Ross Reynolds (Executive Producer for Community Engagement, KUOW) and Betsy Cowles (Chairman, Cowles Company) discussed the evolving media landscape in America, and what that evolution has meant for Washington State.

Simply put, it was a one-of-a-kind conversation that you’ll only find at Re-Wire. But, we’ve made it public for folks to watch at our site. You should take a look, if you’re into this sort of thing…

4. Meet your new legislators

Eight soon-to-be legislators joined us at Re-Wire to discuss their respective backgrounds, reflections from the campaign trail, and plans for the upcoming legislative session. The conversations took place in two panels that introduced these new members of Legislature’s incoming freshman class.

Reporter Michael Goldberg moderated the first panel with Members-Elect David Hackney (11th LD), Peter Abbarno (20th LD), April Berg (44th LD), Greg Gilday (10th LD), Mark Klicker (16th LD). Reporter Shawna De La Rosa moderated the second panel with Rep. Emily Wicks (38th LD) and Members-Elect T’wina Nobles (28th LD) and Alicia Rule (42nd LD).

Both are now publicly available for your review. I hope you’ll find it useful to hear from some of our new policy makers directly. 

5. How to offset all GHG from Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue

I dug into the final environmental impact statement related to the proposed methanol facility in Kalama. The proposed facility will refine methanol for use in advanced manufacturing of carbon and plastic products. 

The DOE wanted a re-do of a review of the environmental impacts to be able to review all green house gas emissions in Washington State and globally from this project. It’s a big document at 240 pages. But, the bottom line takeaway was that the offsets globally would be about the same amount as all GHGs contributed by Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue combined. The offsets locally from the refinery would be offset to create a net neutral GHG footprint. 

6. Far-right group threatens to occupy the Capitol

A far-right group based in Washington State has announced plans to occupy capitol facilities at the upcoming legislative session, which is scheduled to begin on January 11th. In an email to supporters, Washington State Three Percenters founder Matt Marshall outlined the group’s plan to “station themselves” at the capitol in a “Legislative Lockout.”

The goal driving these plans is to make the legislative session “as uncomfortable as possible” until in-person access to the buildings is restored, according to the founder. Marshall says that the group does not plan on taking “violent offensive action of any kind,” but that they would “be prepared to defend ourselves while demanding the State follow the Constitution.” On a Facebook page for the event, 66 people currently say they are going and 338 say they are interested.

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