1. As the state legislature began its special session to decide whether to extend tax breaks for Boeing today, one Tacoma state representative, Republican Steve O'Ban (R-28), said he wouldn't vote for the Boeing breaks unless the legislation included funding for an $820 million widening of I-5 in his district, the News Tribune reports. This at a time when legislators can't even agree to allow King County Metro (and other transit agencies) to ask voters whether they want to tax themselves to preserve transit service.
2. In related news, KC Metro unveiled a new web site today that shows exactly which routes would be impacted by a potential 17 percent cut to service, including 74 routes that would be eliminated, 107 on which service would be reduced, and 33 that would become more crowded because of cuts on other routes.
3. Speaking of the special session: The Olympian reports that some legislators are asking what the rush is to meet Boeing's demands, or why the special session has to happen now—just weeks before the regular legislative session is scheduled to begin.
Language in a contract ratification packet for Boeing’s machinist employees says the aerospace company is agreeing to assemble its 777X planes and build a wing assembly plant in Washington if the union members ratify the contract next week.
It says nothing about the deal also being contingent on the tax incentives plan that could save aerospace firms $8.7 billion over 16 years — nor does it talk about transportation taxes.
Details of that contract sent Inslee’s staff scrambling Wednesday, and Ray Conner, chief executive for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, sent Inslee a short letter attempting to clarify the situation. But the letter is silent on whether the company would change its plans if the Legislature fails to act.
Which raises what seems like a pretty legitimate question: Why the panic to pass a raft of tax breaks and a transportation package to appease a company that hasn't demanded them, at least not on such a frantic time frame?
4. Some good news for transit, finally!: Voters in Okanagan and Grays Harbor Counties aproved new sales taxes for their rural transit systems this week, allowing Grays Harbor County to preserve existing service and giving Okanagan County the opportunity to create the Okanagon County Transit Authority, Transportation Issues Daily reports. Those votes are in contrast to this week's transit vote in Tacoma, where residents rejected a tax increase that would "fill potholes, repave streets, improve school traffic zone safety, and synchronize traffic signals," TID reports.
5. You know that "complicated," "confusing" Obamacare web site that has Republicans in Congress demanding that health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius resign? According to Roberta Riley at Moms Rising, it took her friend Heather, a hairdresser on Seattle's Capitol Hill, just 20 minutes to sign up for (free) health care and dental coverage under Washington state's Apple Health Care plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, about half of people between 18 and 35 will be able to get health care for $50 a month or less.
6. Nearly 40 women were arrested this morning in Bellevue when they showed up at the state Republican headquarters and refused to leave, part of a protest against the state GOP Congressional delegation's refusal to push for comprehensive immigration reform. Among those arrested was Peggy Lynch, wife of outgoing Mayor Mike McGinn, who was defeated by state Sen. Ed Murray Tuesday, the Seattle Times reports.
7. The bad news: WalkScore has updated its algorithm (which shows how pedestrian-friendly a neighborhood is, based on things like sidewalks, the presence of nearby amenities, and whether a neighborhood is mixed-use, and Seattle has fallen in the rankings—from sixth to eighth. The good news, as Sightlinereports, is that the Seattle-based company's new walkability measurements are far more accurate—for example, they don't assume people travel "as the crow flies," a measurement that assumes people can walk across water, among other flaws.