1. Social conservative state Rep. Steve O'Ban (R-28), an attorney who's taken up causes such as defending religious pharmacists against state rules requiring them to dispense emergency contraception, has been appointed to fill the state senate seat of Sen. Mike Carrell, who died last week due to complications from pre-leukemia treatment.

O'Ban, whose appointment restores the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus' 25-24 vote advantage, will be sworn in this morning as budget negotiations remain at an impasse. For example, the MCC and the majority house Democrats are currently stalled over legislation to re-establish the voter-approved estate tax—which had been handicapped by a state Supreme Court ruling.

Rather than restore the tax, the Republicans are trying to limit it even more, which could translate into a $174 million loss to the state in the next biennium.

2. Here are some more highlights from Monday night's Town Hall mayoral forum, which focused on arts and culture funding. (Spoiler alert: All the candidates are for it.)

Bruce Harrell,  asked a general question about arts funding, took the opportunity to take an (equally general) slap at incumbent Mike McGinn, suggesting that the reason the arts are underfunded is because the mayor has not been "collaborative." As mayor, Harrell said, "I would use the opportunity to be as collaborative as possible. That's where the energy and the synergy come from."

Kate Martin, a parent of two boys (for whom she infamously once built an illegal skate park in her planting strip), focused on arts education. "Art is not dessert. Art is the main meal. We talk about numeracy and we talk about literacy, but we seldom talk about art as the main meal."

Peter Steinbrueck said that 100 percent of the city's admissions tax should go to the arts, rather than the current 75 percent.As we noted in Fizz yesterday, Socialist candidate Mary Martin was relentlessly on-point, using every question as a chance to talk up the workers' agenda. (Martin works in a popcorn factory in Kent).

"We need a massive federal works program that includes arts and cultural centers," Martin said at one point; at another, she talked up Cuba's national ballet, prompting state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), who's gay, to note that Cuba hasn't exactly been welcoming to gays and lesbians. (Murray, like Harrell, also took advantage of the questioning to hit McGinn for not being "collaborative," particularly in Olympia.)

In one of the few substantive moments of the night, Peter Steinbrueck said that 100 percent of the city's admissions tax should go to the arts, rather than the current 75 percent. Where would the city get the money to backfill the tax? "Maybe some of the fees that are going to the SoDo arena consultant," anti-SoDo stadium Steinbrueck (half?) joked.

3. And one more highlight from the early mayor's race fundraising reports. Yesterday, we pointed out that in addition to getting the obvious contributions from green urbanist development interests, McGinn was defying expectations by reeling in some downtown establishment types, including a $500 donation from Downtown Seattle Association board chair John McCollough. (McCollough, as we noted, also gave $500 to Bruce Harrell.)

But there was another name on McGinn's list that indicates his coalition may be even broader: Longtime public defender Lisa Daugaard, who contributed $100 to McGinn. Daugaard is a venerable voice in Seattle's social justice community—a constituency that Bruce Harrell has been trying to claim as his own. 

Daugaard's only other contribution this cycle: $46 to super lefty and frequent McGinn foil, City Attorney Pete Holmes.

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