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Morning Wire: Rep. Slatter, Dr. Ann Diamond Q&A, Update on I-1631 and labor

You may not know it, but California has its primary today. Like Washington, it has a top two primary model that has created a series of interesting challenges there. We’ll have our own interesting issues in Washington State given our primary model, though here it may mean Independents rise to the General Election. We feature that and a few other stories from our independent reporting on Washington State’s politics, personalities, and political economy.

With help from Emily Boerger and Marjie High

1. Rep. Slatter on the future of work in Washington

From artificial intelligence and automation to the rise of the gig economy, the way Washingtonians work is transforming. During the 2018 session, the legislature established the Future of Work Task Force to study the future of labor, identify factors driving transformation, and to develop recommendations to help Washington businesses and workers adapt.

Representative Vandana Slatter was recently selected to serve on the Future of Work Task Force. We spoke with Rep. Slatter about the workforce’s widening skills gap, the importance of continued education, and the government’s response in preparing for the future of work in the state.

2. Q&A with Independent candidate, Dr. Ann Diamond

There’s been increased focus on the Independent candidates running for office this year and their potential advantage should they make it through the primaries. However, there hasn’t been an Independent in the state legislature for over 100 years and progressing to the general election is no small task without the backing of a major party.

Dr. Ann Diamond, a physician from Okanogan County, is currently running for the open House seat in the 12th Legislative District as an Independent candidate. With endorsements from Washington Independents and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, Diamond is perhaps the candidate with the best chance of breaking that 100 year mark. In this Q&A with Diamond, we discuss party lines, bringing Washington politics back toward the center, and the impact of the state’s top two primary system.

3.  Update and correction on labor and I-1631

We recently reported that the Washington State Labor Council did not endorse I-1631, the carbon tax initiative. It failed to get the two-thirds support required for an endorsement with only 60.2% of the vote. I noted that the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, the group sponsoring the initiative, still had a number of labor organizations engaged in the work and supporting the initiative.  But, apparently being engaged in the Alliance does not necessarily translate into support for the carbon tax.

I received this note from the Executive Secretary of the Building Trades, Mark Riker, in follow up to our coverage:  “While I appreciate the difficulties in knowing which groups are pro and which groups are con regarding I-1631 within the Labor Movement, it is inaccurate to state that the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council will be dedicating resources in any form in support of I-1631. In it’s current form we are opposed to the Initiative.”  Riker said the Building Trade Council would remain on the Steering Committee at the Alliance in spite of its opposition to the initiative the Alliance is sponsoring: “We intend to stay engaged moving forward.”

4.  Study: Twenty counties generate half of post-recession new businesses; WA is average

During the recovery period following the Great Recession, the United States’ economic growth was consolidated to a very small portion of the country. During this period, 20 counties alone generated half of the United States’ new businesses, and half of the country’s job growth occurred in just 2 percent of US counties.

This geographic disparity in economic growth has created huge areas of the country with a “missing generation of enterprise.” This is also true in Washington where only 49 percent of residents lived in counties where job growth matched the national average and 53 percent lived in counties where new startups matched the U.S. average. The continued economic decline in many areas of the state leave many counties vulnerable to economic downturns. A full report on the details of economic growth after the Great Recession can be found here.

5. Montana calls out WA as a “blockade” in international trade

Republican lawmakers and industry leaders called out Washington State as a “blockade” to international trade during the 2018 Montana Energy Summit. During a discussion on local energy projects, BNSF Railway Chairman Matt Rose, pointed to Washington’s refusal to grant permits for the Millennium Bulk coal terminal in Longview as a threat to the country’s ability to be a global energy leader. He said, “I’ve never seen such an aggressive approach to prevent world trade out of this country by going after the permit-ability of localized projects.”

Similarly, Everett King, President and CEO of Lighthouse Resources (parent company of Millennium Bulk) said, “The permitting process has unfortunately been weaponized. It can be used as a weapon to choose and pick winners and losers…You can’t have one state, saying to the rest of the country, this is what’s acceptable, and this is what isn’t.”

6. Supreme Court’s limited ruling leaves door open for Washington State discrimination case

We’ve added a new voice at the Wire:  Marjie High brings 20 years of legal work and a JD from Notre Dame to our team just in time for a run of US Supreme Court decisions.  The Court’s narrow ruling on Monday in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Human Rights Commission is on a same-sex marriage discrimination case tied closely to Arlene’s Flowers v. the State of Washington. Both cases challenge a state’s ability to enforce anti-discrimination statutes when they run up against individuals’ exercise of free speech and free exercise of religion – specifically, providing services to members of the LGBT community.

Arlene’s Flowers is still pending review by the Supreme Court, but the ruling in Cakeshop raises the question of whether it, or a similar case will be heard to give the Court the opportunity to directly address the liberty issues at stake. In the meantime, because of the limited ruling, the Washington Supreme Court decision protecting same-sex couples from discrimination remains in force in our state.

7.  Ferguson campaign finance lawsuits

“In the last decade, Washington candidates and political committees reported about $3.4 million in payments to Facebook and $1.5 million to Google related to advertising.”  In a lawsuit from AG Bob Ferguson yesterday, none of those payments were made available to the public by Google or Facebook, a disclosure rule that all advertisers must follow.

The cynic in me says it was only a matter of time before a lawsuit like this one came out from Washington State’s Attorney General.  On the one hand, Oklahoma is not going to figure out these disclosure rules before a state like Washington.  So, it’s sort of incumbent on states with a history of disclosure laws and a culture of technology to address these questions.  On the other hand, with the string of high profile lawsuits, one might think that Ferguson was running for something