So, there’s this State of the Union speech tonight. If you’re looking for a drinking game to make the evening more entertaining, Twitter has a solution for you regardless of your party preference.
While Olympia politics sometimes seem frustrating, there is always Washington DC to help us collectively feel better about ourselves in Washington State.
1. Q&A with Sen. Keiser on #metoo, sexual harassment
Senator Karen Keiser serves as Chair of the Senate Labor and & Commerce Committee as well as the Vice Chair of the Rules Committee. She sat down with The Wire to discuss sexual harassment in the workplace, the public’s growing awareness, and the three specific bills she is sponsoring to address this issue (SB 5996, SB 6471, and SB 6313). In this Q&A, Sen. Keiser talks about the importance of public policy and breaking the silence that has surrounded sexual harassment for far too long.
“I think the biggest problem we all have had is silence. We’ve just kept it in the closet. We’ve just dealt with it. And we need to talk about it, we need to grapple with it, and we need to change. And that’s what I’m trying to do with these bills.”
2. Wire Insider: Wendy Hutchinson, Millennium Bulk
Wendy Hutchinson is the Vice President of Public Affairs at Millennium Bulk. Millennium Bulk’s parent company Lighthouse Resources recently filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Inslee, the Director of Ecology, and the Public Lands Commissioner for blocking Millennium Bulk’s proposed coal terminal in Longview. Hutchinson joins us as a “Wire Insider” to talk about economic development in rural areas.
“I think my advice for those who represent urban communities versus rural communities is to understand the economies of those rural communities cannot be changed to become the economy of Seattle. And that some people don’t want their communities to become Seattle. Seattle’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong, and a lot of good opportunities there. But rural communities sometimes want to stay just what they are, which have good family-wage jobs and a lesser amount of people. And they want to embrace whatever industries and business that they have with them today. And so that whatever opportunities that we can give those communities to advance in their own way, we should give them.”
3. Bills regulating ride-sharing companies
There are two bills in play related to a statewide regulation of ride share companies, like Uber and Lyft. In legal-speak, they are called “transportation network companies” (TNCs). Uber has worked to build a coalition around SB 6043, a bill sponsored by Sen. Hobbs. It’s matched against a bill sponsored by Sen. Saldana drawing on a coalition led by Teamsters 117.
Washington State is one of five states that has yet to adopt a statewide regulatory framework for these companies. We got input from both Uber and the Teamsters about the competing bills. The House has a hearing later this week on that chamber’s versions. Because these bills are in Transportation Committees, one of the bills must move out of committee by February 6th to remain in play.
4. “There is only 1 man in this parade.”
Gov. Jay Inslee joined a panel at Davos last week where he was featured as “one of the most influential politicians” in America on climate change and carbon. Even the most hard core Inslee opponents concede this is a good platform for him. He was featured by the World Economic Forum as one of the highlights of Day 3 from across the entire event.
He explained that 8 Republicans voted for Gov. Jerry Brown’s cap and trade bill. Inslee visited with them and asked them why. Their response: “This generation coming up behind us is 99% in favor of doing something about this (climate change). So if you want to have a viable political party, you need to start engaging in a solution.”
5. Addressing DACA implication at state level
Immigration is expected to be a central topic in tonight’s State of the Union address. With DACA expiring on March 5th, it leaves the federal government little time to get its act together before thousands of DACA permits expire and DACA recipients are no longer eligible to work legally in the United States.
In Olympia, Rep. Drew Hansen is moving a bill that will protect the financial aid eligibility for DACA students, regardless of what happens to the program at the federal level. HB 1488 also expands access to the College Bound Scholarship program for certain undocumented students. The bill was passed out of the House Higher Education Committee last Wednesday by a 7-2 vote and has been referred to Appropriations.
6. The end of new “traditional” energy projects?
In a letter, Gov. Jay Inslee agreed with a decision to deny Tesoro a permit to site the Vancouver Energy Oil terminal. According to Sightline, “the facility would have been North America’s biggest oil train depot, drawing at least 5 dangerous oil trains each day.”
It made me wonder again: will we ever see a “traditional” energy project (coal, hydro, oil, nuclear) sited in Washington State again? Have we crossed into an energy space where only “new” energy will be produced here (wind, solar, wave)?
I asked Eric de Place this question. He authored the link and analysis above. His take: “My strong sense is that new fossil fuel project proposals in Washington are a dead letter at this point — and I think that goes double when the products they would handle are not primarily for consumption in our state.
7. Podcast: Olympia insiders on the 2018 session
We recorded this podcast of Olympia insiders at our Re-Wire Policy Conference last month before the session started. But we think their observations of what we can expect from this session are still spot on. We hear from Adrienne Thompson, who has since left her position at PTE Local 17 to work in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office, Patrick Connor from the National Federation of Independent Business, Isaac Kastama from Water Street Public Affairs, and Matt Steuerwalt from Insight Strategic Partners.
These insiders touch on business and labor issues, social issues, and the role of moderates on both sides of the aisle during this time of single party rule. Take a listen here and be sure to subscribe!
8. Rep. Graves gets Rising Star award at Roanoke
Rep. Paul Graves was awarded the Slade Gorton Rising Star Award at this weekend’s Roanoke Conference. The gathering has become the most prominent annual gathering of grass roots Republicans in the state.
We hosted Graves on a recent Wire Insider video interview. Graves is in his first term as a legislator, but has already proven his effectiveness from the minority getting two bills signed into law in 2017. Last session, he was rated “most independent” legislator by one outlet, WhipStat. His Eastside King County district will be a target in a likely Democratic year this fall. But, if he can find a way through to re-election this year, it’s not a stretch to take his family political connections, his political smarts, and the reality of the party’s bench and conclude that Graves could make a compelling candidate for statewide office.