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Morning Wire: Rep. April Berg, Heat dome, #WAAudit

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We’ll be taking a few weeks off during the first part of July. So, we’ll have a few weeks of no Morning Wire, no Daily Wire, and only some limited reporting. But, we’ll be back ahead of the primary ballots dropping. 

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1. Rep. April Berg on the success of her first session

Rep. April Berg represents the 44th LD in Snohomish County. She’s a mother of six, continues to serve on her school board, and just finished her first session as a legislator. “I’m really proud as a freshman to have five bills signed into law. Not only did I have the most bills passed as a freshman, but I also am batting 1.000. Every bill I sponsored did end up making it into law.” 

Her three “top” bills she is most proud of include requiring free menstrual products in schools, ensuring college work conducted in high school gets college credit, and ending the “copay” for reduced lunch from 4th-12th grade. 

Berg had an impactful first session and is one worth watching as she continues to find her stride in legislative politics.

2. Reps. Young, Sutherland review AZ election audit

Yesterday, Rep. Jesse Young and Rep. Robert Sutherland were in Arizona to “closely examine” the work of the Arizona audit of the 2020 election. They were photographed with Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers. Rogers is one of the state’s leading advocates in the election audit process gaining national attention on the right. She included the hashtag #AuditWA in the tweet. 

The Arizona audit is becoming a “litmus test” for Republicans in America, particularly those seeking to gain national recognition or to elevate their name ID. Young and Sutherland are two of the more controversial Republican members of the House caucus, sometimes seeking divisiveness (like this one or that one) rather than doing the hard work of building coalitions. 

3. Wages in WA highest ever, and likely rising

The average annual wage in Washington was $76,741 in 2020, the highest ever. This was up 10.1% over 2019, also a record increase. There were 383,776 unemployment claims filed last week in Washington State, down considerably from the pandemic high of 1.6m claims in our state last year. 

Expect wages to continue to rise in some sectors. For example, Washington Hospitality Association CEO Anthony Anton says “We are still missing two-thirds of the workforce that we need to get back to normal.” He says 1/3rd of that workforce remains on unemployment. 

4. SCOTUS “Trilogy” and lessons for state

Last week, the US Supreme Court threw out the case brought by Texas et al to revoke the ACA. The Court, in a 7-2 decision, said Texas had no standing to bring the case because Congressional Republicans zero’d out the penalty for the individual mandate in 2017, removing any harm that could come under the plaintiffs’ claims. It was the third in a “trilogy” of creative decisions by the Roberts Court that has kept the ACA on the books.

There is a lesson for Washington State in watching the Roberts Court: don’t underestimate how creative justices can get in opinion writing. Sometimes that’s in pursuit of a political end, but the lesson from the Roberts Court is its allowing elections to have weight in the Court’s decisions and in the legislative branch to set policy, not the Court. This means that as the capital gains tax makes its way through the Washington State court system, we should expect a wide range of outcomes upon which any opinion might land, even if in hindsight we will at some point say “That was obviously going to happen.” 

5. Heat in SE will be intense next week

The average temperature in the Tri-Cities in June is 81 degrees. Next Monday, it is expected to exceed 113 degrees with some parts of the state pushing higher. Some models predict a meaningful chance that the state could get above 115 in some areas.

Washington State has historically been among the lowest regions for AC use, with Seattle holding the lowest spot for AC use in US metro areas. But, it is now one of the highest (11th) in demand for HVAC workers over the next decade, likely related to new installations. Careful what you install, however. In Texas, the power company used remote access to turn off AC in homes during the midday heat to conserve energy.  

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