1. Isn't it Weird that ... Maud Daudon, the President and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, sent an email blast out to chamber members today praising Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell's criminal background check bill?
Editorializing here for a minute, but we think Harrell's bill, which prevents potential employers from unfairly discriminating against applicants who have records, is one of the best pieces of social justice legislation the council has passed since Nick Licata's heyday fighting against unjust car impound laws (...or since Licata's paid sick leave bill that he passed last year, for that matter.)
But we wouldn't expect the chamber to like it. In fact, every time PubliCola wrote that Harrell was popular with the biz crowd, we'd get an email or phone call or comments telling us how dumb we are because—didn't we know the business community hated Harrell for pushing his criminal background checks legislation?
But lo and behold, less than 24 hours after Harrell passed the legislation, Daudon sent out an email praising Harrell's good work.
Thanks to the tireless work of the coalition comprised of Chamber members, employers and expert legal advisors, we had productive conversations with the bill’s sponsor, Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and with Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, whose proposed changes are greatly appreciated.
To be fair, the letter mostly applauds the ways in which the legislation was scaled back—"eliminating the opportunity for an applicant to sue an employer if they are turned down; more favorable timing for when an employer can ask for criminal background information; preferable criteria for turning down an applicant; eliminating the suggestion of employers having to fill out a lengthy form describing why they declined an applicant"—but it's curious that the chamber felt compelled to applaud the bill (and its sponsor) at all.
It's curious that the chamber felt compelled to applaud the bill (and it's sponsor) at all. Could it be that Harrell's impressive mayoral campaign fundraising, he raised $70,000 last month, has got the chamber thinking they should be sidling up to Harrell as the best choice against their nemesis incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn?
2. Isn't it weird that ... Sen. Curtis King (R-14, Yakima), the state senate transportation committee co-chair, was just outraged about the possibility of having to use state money to help make up for the projected lack of tolling revenue on Seattle's planned Alaska Way tunnel project, yet he's willing to cover the bill for other state roads in lieu of tolling dollars?
Earlier this session, Sen. King noted that a Seattle tolling committee had recommended less tolling for the tunnel, fuming that it was a conpiratorial giveaway to a spoiled city that doesn't want to deal with tolling traffic diversion.
But the transportation funding package he released yesterday includes $1.2 billion for I-405, covering the amount that was supposed to come from local tolls.
For example, house transportation chair, Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-41, Mercer Island) has proposed a transportation package as well. And she sets aside $675 million for I-405 as opposed to Sen. King's $1.2 billion because she's factoring in $500 million in tolling dollars.
File under another double standard when it comes to Seattle.
3. Isn't it weird that ... one of the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus priority bills is a supposedly urgent workers' comp reform bill that they say will prevent necessary rate increases that would otherwise be needed to make the fund solvent?
The fund was certainly in trouble during the Great Recession—dropping to an unnerving 6 percent of money in reserve to cover projected claims last year; the board that oversees the fund warned that the fund needed to be at 14 percent within the next ten years.
But with the economy picking up rates were not raised this year, and the fund is growing. Indeed, it has already grown since its lowly $181 million in June 2010 to $953 million as of the end of last year (that's the latest data available).
Most recently, the fund grew—between June 2012 and December 2012—by $373 million (a 64 percent jump) already bringing it close to the low-end of the target for solvency in general—8.7 percent of the money to cover projected claims in the next year.