OOBT

1. Cascade Bicycle Club has an (excessively optimistic?) update on the status of bike and transit funding going in to the special session, where legislators will focus on the state's general budget and funding basic K-12 education before turning, potentially, to other issues, including new revenue for transportation.

The state house transportation committee, under the leadership of Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-41, Mercer Island), has proposed an $8.4 billion package that would increase funding for road maintenance as well as bike and pedestrian projects while giving local transit authorities, like King County Metro, the ability to ask voters for new taxes to stave off transit cuts.

The Republicans who dominate the senate oppose the package because it includes funding for the Columbia River Crossing project, which, in turn, includes light rail between Vancouver and Portland.  

2. The News Tribune's editorial board takes a strong stand against a Richland florist who has refused service to gay coupled because she opposes same-sex marriage, arguing that "the core issue" isn't gay marriage but the consumer's right to not face discrimination. Merchants are not allowed to refuse service because of factors like race, gender, religion—or because someone is gay. 

"Would [florist Barronelle] Stutzman’s supporters defend her if she refused service to an Army couple on the grounds that she’s religiously opposed to war?" the News Tribune writes. "It's the same principle, and if her rationale were upheld, just about anyone could claim a religious basis for any kind of discrimination."

"Would [florist Barronelle] Stutzman’s supporters defend her if she refused service to an Army couple on the grounds that she’s religiously opposed to war?" the News Tribune writes. "It's the same principle, and if her rationale were upheld, just about anyone could claim a religious basis for any kind of discrimination

3. According to Sightline, birth rates in the Northwest are at the lowest they've ever been in recorded history, thanks largely to a rapid decline in teen birth rates as teenagers get better information and easier access to birth control.
Instead of creating a troubling imbalance with the rest of the world, Sightline suggsts, the Northwest's lower birth rate demonstrates that fewer teens are giving birth—which, in turn, suggests that Northwest residents are getting it right. Good news for once. 
4. Speaking of pessimism: The News Tribune's  Peter Callaghan says coming up with a budget both sides can agree on could be the easiest of the upcoming state budget battles; he expects that reforming the state education funding system, as the state Supreme Court ordered legislators to do in its McCleary decision, will be much harder.

And, he argues, it might require cuts to local levies, which make up about $3.6 billion per biennium of the roughly $18 billion spent on K-12 education

"If the state stops ripping off local districts, if it does as ordered and fully funds a program of basic education with state dollars only -- funding that would include salaries for teachers delivering that program -- then it f[ol]lows that districts can reduce their dependence on levies," Callaghan writes.

5. Nickelsville may soon have to move again, thanks to opposition around their current home in West Seattle, where neighbors have complained about drug deals, violent threats, and lack of sanitation, Real Change reports.