1. At the Washington Work and Family Coalition's blog, Economic Opportunity Institute policy director Marilyn Watkins worries that the state senate's Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus may attempt to attach language eliminating funds for the state's family and medical leave act, into their budget proposal.
Noting that stand-alone legislation repealing family and medical leave has repeatedly failed, Watkins writes, "The House and Governor should stand firm in rejecting repeal or any other action rolling back our family leave insurance law."
2. Washington state beer brewers gathered outside the Capitol building in Olympia today to protest the extension of a barrel tax on beer production to small and craft breweries, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. The tax would help pay for K-12 education.
The tax, which currently only applies to large breweries would add $15.50 per barrel to the current $4.78 barrel tax on small brewers. Nothing that the extension would quadruple the beer tax for small breweries, Washington Brewers Guild president Heather McClung said, No industry can absorb that without there being dire consequences."
But let's put that in perspective. Extending the tax to small breweries would raise the cost of a bottle of beer about six cents, while helping to close an estimated $1.2 billion education funding shortfall.
3. In other booze news, the AP reports that a Tacoma bar owner has had his business license revoked after allowing customers to smoke pot on his property. The owner of (heh) Stonegate Pizza, Jeff Call, allowed a medical marijuana dispensary to open a "vape bar," where people can inhale pot through vaporizers, above his shop, prompting the state, which is working to come up with rules regulating the legal-pot industry, to step in and shut him down.
4. One day before the state house heard testimony on its proposed transportation budget, the senate passed a transportation budget of its own. The AP reports that senate version would limit funding for the controversial Columbia River Crossing project to $82 million to "study" the project— as opposed to the $450 million the house budget includes to actually build the bridge (and secure federal matching dollars). CRC detractors oppose the bridge because it would include light rail, and because they say the new bridge platform, at 116 feet above the Columbia River, would be too low .
5. And today's obligatory Sonics updates: The AP reports that NBA commissioner David Stern now says he expects a committee reviewing two competing bids for the Sacramento Kings to make a recommendation on the Kings' possible move to Seattle by next week, with a decision by the full NBA board of governors by the end of the month. Prospective investors in Sacramento and Seattle have both made bids to buy and build a new arena for the team.
Meanwhile, ESPN reports that Sacramento's Maloof family, which owns the majority of the Kings, wants to force through a sale to the Seattle investor group headed by San Francisco hedge fund manager Chris Hansen; the Maloofs would make more money under Hansen's deal.
Finally, Geekwire reports that Microsoft co-founder and Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen thinks current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who is part of Hansen's investment team, would make a "great" NBA team owner, but reserved judgment on whether the move is a good idea. "It's a very difficult thing," he told members of the Portland media, adding, "I reserve my final decision."