1. Fizz hears Rep. Eileen Cody (D-34, W. Seattle) is cueing up a bill to close several tax loopholes, including the tax break for big banks on mortgage loans and a break on cosmetic surgery.

Word is she will earmark the money to fund the Basic Health Plan.

2. Highlighting the one major area of agreement between pro-transit lefties and pro-car business interests that emerged at our "War on Cars" forum Tuesday night, the pro-biz Downtown Seattle Association is pushing hard for more density in South Downtown, where the city council is considering modest height increases.

The group's question for the City Council: What's up with all the vacant lots just south of downtown? The DSA posted a set of photos of South Downtown lots on Flickr that demonstrates the problem, they say: Too many vacant or underutilized lots (usually parking lots) in the neighborhood, and too few residential high-rises.

That transit hub, King Street Station, is just a few blocks away from many of the lots pictured in the photos.

"We’ve invested billions of dollars in transit infrastructure here, but we’re shortchanging these investments by limiting residential densities and preserving surface parking lots as the highest and best use,” says DSA spokesman Jon Scholes.

Lots like this one, at South Jackson and I-5:

Or this beauty, at Maynard and S. Airport Way:

The city council's Committee on the Built Environment has been considering the South Downtown legislation since last June; its most recent discussion of the proposal was last Wednesday.

3. Yesterday, a priority bill in Olympia to give businesses a temporary tax break on unemployment insurance stalled when a procedural move by the GOP stopped the vote.

The bill needs to be signed by February 8.

Never mind the flip-flopped politics here in which the Republicans appeared to be undermining a corporate tax break and the Democrats were rushing to get it through. (In reality, the GOP was trying to short-circuit a follow-up bill—to be taken up after the February 8 deadline—that would include a children's benefit for unemployed workers. Yesterday, the GOP wanted to vote on a version that would have included federal money to help pay unemployment insurance, leaving Democrats no leverage with business to come back and fight for the children's benefit. )

But the bigger story here is this: Six Democratic senators joined the GOP in the ploy—Sens. Hatfield, Hobbs, Kastama, Pridemore, Sheldon, and Tom. With the exception of Pridemore, this is a core group of conservative Democrats, who, given the Democrats shrinking numbers this year, are increasingly commandeering the caucus. Case in point: Fizz hears Democratic leadership was taken by total surprise on the floor when their priority bill was stalled by the GOP and the dissident Democrats. Evidently, in the caucus meeting prior to the planned vote, no one raised any issues and leadership assumed it was a done deal.

After killing the bill, the conservative Dems did a seemingly curious thing: Having just voted to stall the Democratic version by supporting the GOP procedural vote, they didn't vote with the GOP to pass the alternative. Instead, they voted with the rest of the Democrats to head back to caucus and discuss.

This time, however, with their authority over the rest of the caucus on full display.

4. Republican King County County member Jane Hague has drawn a second challenger. Already being challenged by Port Commissioner John Creighton, Hague now has Mercer Island real estate attorney and former counsel for Gov. Chris Gregoire, Richard Mitchell in her race.



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