1. Sen. Schoesler on 2019 legislative priorities
Senator Mark Schoesler is the Senate Minority Leader and is a member of both the Senate Ways & Means and Rules Committees. He recently spoke with the Washington State Wire about some of the most pressing current events taking place in the state.
In this Q&A, Senator Schoesler discusses the impact of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision on Washington as well his opinion on who is to blame for Western State Hospital’s loss of federal funding. Schoesler also discusses his legislative priorities for 2019 and offers his take on a potential Inslee presidential run in 2020.
2. Three takeaways on child reunification efforts
This week Janet Gwilym, managing attorney of the Seattle Kids In Need of Defense(KIND) told the Washington State Wire about the chaotic efforts to reunite the separated children that are here in Washington State. This comes as Governor Inslee joined five Democratic governors in a letter to the federal government calling for answers as to why family reunification is being handled so poorly.
As the separations drag on, three important facts are becoming apparent: the federal government began “testing” family separations before April; different arms of the government do not talk to each other making finding, let alone reuniting, children difficult; and there is no concerted plan for reunification. Meanwhile, a federal court denied a Justice Department motion filed Friday asking for more time to match up children and parents. During an interview on MSNBC over the weekend Governor Inslee chided, “I’ve seen coat-check windows with a better system.”
3. Three likely initiatives in November
Three big money initiatives filed signatures Friday to make it to the November ballot. I-1631, the “pollution fee” initiative, has the support of key politicians including Governor Inslee, but has drawn criticism for masquerading a “tax” as a “fee”. I-1634 aims to stop local jurisdictions from taxing sugary drinks. Finally, I-1639 is the people’s attempt at passing the gun safety legislation that stalled during this year’s legislative session.
These races should prove to be a battle of fundraising dollars and wills as each successful initiative has raised over $2.3 million, with the pro-I-1634 lobby raising upward of $4.75 million to defeat soda taxes. Notable failed initiatives include I-1600, a grass-roots effort to bring single-payer health care to Washington, and I-1608, which aimed to open up public union negotiations.
4. Use of deadly force initiative arguments
The Secretary of State’s office is currently in the process of approving three initiatives for the November ballot, but a Supreme Court decision will decide if there will be a fourth… or perhaps a fifth. The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on the legislature’s passage of I-940 (an initiative related to police deadly-force laws) and HB 3003 (a bill that modifies the initiative).
In April, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled that the legislature’s passage of I-940/HB 3003 violated the constitution and ordered I-940 to the ballot. Now, the Supreme Court can uphold the lower court’s ruling, send the original I-940 and the version with changes introduced by HB 3003 to the ballot, or rule that the legislature acted legally when they passed the initiative during session. You can read our full coverage of the oral arguments here.
5. New report on childhood well-being in WA
Washington ranks 15th in the nation for childhood well-being according to a new KIDS COUNT report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report ranks childhood well-being for all 50 states based on measurements of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Washington ranks 5th in the nation for health, where it outperforms the national average in terms of low rates of uninsured children, low birth weight babies, and less child/teen deaths. However, Washington’s lowest ranking is in education where it did not make it into the top half of states (ranked 26th). Full data from the report and state by state comparisons can be found here.
6. The World Cup semi-finals
Admittedly, this isn’t directly related to Washington State politics, but one of the most important things happening this week is the World Cup semi-finals. For those of you who haven’t been following the tournament, France and Belgium play today at 11am PST and England plays Croatia tomorrow at 11am PST.
Forbes called this World Cup “one of the wildest and weirdest in the competition’s history.” The US failed to qualify. Russia surprised everyone and raised a few eyebrows by making it to the quarter-finals. The final four teams are all European but favored Germany was eliminated early. Some of the world’s best players had disappointing performances and four games came down to penalty kicks. So while France is favored to win, anything could happen between today’s kickoff and the final on Sunday.