Changes on the horizon for Washington’s public sector unions, head tax repeal efforts, and new midterm election polling results are all featured in this week’s edition of the Morning Wire. We also have a save the date for our upcoming Re-Wire Policy Conference on December 13th.
As always, thanks for reading!
1. Changes on the horizon for Washington unions
A ruling in Janus v. AFSCME is expected to be issued sometime in the next few weeks – a decision that will impact public sector employees across the nation, particularly in the 22 states (including Washington) that are not currently “right to work” states.
In Washington State, an initiative seeks to make collective bargaining negotiations between government agencies and unions open to the public. The Association of Washington Business, former Attorney General Rob McKenna, and former State Auditor Brian Sonntag all recently announced their endorsement of the initiative.
2. Head tax repeal gathering bi-partisan support
A referendum to repeal Seattle’s head tax is likely headed to the ballot, where Sen. Guy Palumbo says he is confident it will succeed. Recent poll results show 54 percent of Seattle voters opposing the head tax. Palumbo, a Democrat, also says that outside of the referendum there is interest on both sides of the aisle to support legislation that would enact a statewide ban on employee hours taxes. Palumbo says he, along with Democratic Senators Mullet and Hobbs, have all expressed interest in this kind of legislation.
Last week Sen. Steve O’Ban also took a shot against the Seattle head tax when he put forth a “head tax credit” proposal. The proposal would offer a $275 tax credit for employers who create qualifying jobs in counties with unemployment rates at least 25 percent higher than the state rate.
3. Congressional races polling results
New poll results show Senator Cantwell with a 16-point lead over potential Republican challenger Susan Hutchison. On Thursday, Public Policy Polling released a poll sponsored by the Northwest Progressive Institute asking Washington voters about a potential Cantwell, Hutchison match-up. Results show Cantwell with 52 percent of the vote, Hutchison with 36 percent, and 12 percent reported they are unsure.
For the U.S. House races, The Economist recently launched their predictive model examining the likelihood of a shift in the House majority. According to their model, in Washington House races, all congressional districts with Democratic representatives are considered “safe.” For congressional districts with Republican representatives, the 4th (Newhouse) is considered 100 percent safe, the 3rd (Herrera Beutler) is considered “solid” at 93 percent, and the 5th (McMorris Rodgers) is considered “likely” to stay Republican at 89 percent. In the 8th CD, the seat currently held by Reichert is listed as “leaning” left with a 73 percent chance of a Democratic gain.
4. Responses to gun violence
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s Initiative 1639 recently received a major funding boost with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer both donating $1 million to the campaign. However, signature gathering has yet to begin for the initiative as four parties are currently challenging the wording of the initiative’s ballot description and summary.
Following the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, two Republican legislators called for a special legislative session to address reducing the risk of school shootings – a move Gov. Inslee’s Executive Director of Communications Jaime Smith calls a “political stunt.”
And in an example where public policy meets the economy, Bellevue-based game company, Valve, drew intense criticism from inside and outside of the gaming industry this weekend when it announced the launch of the virtual reality game, “Active Shooter,” which features a school shooting simulation option.
5. Save the date: Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec. 13
Save the date for our 2018 Re-Wire Policy Conference taking place on December 13th at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center! This conference is a non-partisan, policy agnostic platform bringing together the left and right, the public and private sector, for a day of civic discourse on policy, politics, and political economy ahead of the 2019 legislative session. Check out our video from last year to see why this event can’t be missed.
Take a look at our convening panel to see some of the leaders helping drive our agenda setting process and feel free to drop us a note with any feedback or ideas you have for the event. You can also register for the conference here.