1. Fresh off his Kumbaya win on the Bike Master Plan—getting businesses on Westlake Ave. N. to drop their appeal of the proposed bike lane along Westlake—Mayor Ed Murray is now trying to defuse the standoff between rideshare companies such as Lyft and the taxi and for-hire industries. (To date, Murray has been coming down on the pro-rideshare side of the debate.)
On Friday afternoon, stressing that he doesn't support a cap on rideshare licenses—the city council is considering a cap of 300 on all the rideshare companies combined, plus a 16-hour cap on the number of hours a rideshare driver can work (the companies say the limit will put them out of business)—Murray says he'll support a temporary, still unspecified, 12-month cap "that will allow the [Transportation Network Communities] businesses to operate while [conducting] a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework of the industry."
Rather than trying to rein in emerging rideshare businesses, Mayor Murray is trying to free up the taxi industry to compete with the app-era model.
The regulatory framework includes insurance and safety regulations on TNCs—already in place for taxis and for-hire drivers—that the council has proposed and that Murray generally supports.
Murray's plan—he's convening a group of industry players plus an outside panel under the direction of the city's Department of Finance and Administrative Services to develop a proposal to "level the playing field"—approaches the debate from the opposite angle than the council. Rather than trying to rein in emerging rideshare businesses, he's trying to free up the taxi industry to compete with the app-era model.
On Friday, announcing his conciliatory approach, Murray said: "The taxi industry has been heavily regulated in Seattle for many years. We must find ways to help the industry continue to succeed and evolve by reducing the overly burdensome and outdated regulations and providing opportunity for innovation."
2. Even though state Sen. Christine Rolfes' (D-23, Kitsap County) green amendment to what environmentalists call a scaled-back GOP version of her oil transport safety bill failed on Friday afternoon, the environmentalists are claiming victory.
"The entire Democratic caucus in the senate stood up for an environmental priority," says the state's lead environmental lobbyist Cliff Traisman. "I can't remember the last time that's happened. Or if it's ever happened. It was freaking cool."
Fizz has compared and contrasted Sen. Rolfes' bill with Sen. Doug Ericksen's (R-42, Ferndale) "industry-written" bill (says Traisman) before, but quickly: Rolfes' bill empowers the Department of Ecology to expand its jurisdiction from just the Puget Sound to the Columbia River and Grays Harbor, mandates public disclosure from oil companies about exactly what they're transporting, and has tougher legal standards on tugboat spills.
Even though Rolfes' attempt to put those provisions in Ericksen's bill (more of a study-it proposal) failed, greens are psyched because conservative Democrats like Sens. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), Brian Hatfield (D-19, Raymond), and Jim Hargrove (D-24, Hoquiam) along with two Republicans—state Sens. Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland) and Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island)—supported the amendment. It lost, though, 24-23.
Second, the GOP's attempt to then pass Sen. Ericksen's bill was thwarted because—again in something longtime lobbyist Traisman says he's never witnessed before—the Democrats refused to go along with the routine parliamentary procedure to bring it to the floor.
Watch the dramatic action—including the debate over the Rolfes amendment and the Democratic stand against Erickson's bill—here.
3. Campaigning for a $15 minimum wage, fast food workers will be in Westlake Park today handing out brown paper lunch bags.
The workers want people to use the "Boycott McPoverty" lunch bags on Thursday when they're calling for a lunchtime boycott of McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.
4. Clint Didier, who ran as a Tea Party candidate in 2012 in the GOP U.S. senate primary against Dino Rossi (U.S. Sen. Patty Murray won that race) is "making an announcement" today about the 4th Congressional District seat.
Longtime central Washington Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA, 4) announced last week that he's retiring.