1. Over at Politico, governor Chris Gregoire has co-written a piece with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber arguing that raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation, as both Washington and Oregon do each year, is a net plus for the economy, particularly as low-wage jobs dominate job growth post-recession.
If the national minimum wage had kept up with inflation, the governors point out, it would currently be $10.55 an hour; instead, it's stuck at $7.25 ($2.13 for tipped workers). "At $7.25 per hour, or roughly $15,000 per year for full-time work," they write, "the minimum wage no longer provides a path out of poverty and remains decades out of date."
2. The News Tribune profiles Washington State's two Congressional newcomers, Denny Heck (D-10) and Derek Kilmer (D-26), who joined the U.S. House on Thursday. (Suzan DelBene, D-1, got a head start because she was sworn in last year to replace Jay Inslee, the Democratic Governor-elect)."At $7.25 per hour, or roughly $15,000 per year for full-time work, the minimum wage no longer provides a path out of poverty and remains decades out of date."
Because the two new congressmen rank near the bottom of the House in seniority—382nd and 391st, respectively—Washington state will lose considerable clout in Congress with the loss of retiring Rep. Norm Dicks (D-6), who ranked 10th.
3. Sightline highlights a UW study showing that low-income people and people of color are more likely to live close to busy roads, making them more likely to suffer from poor air quality and other environmental and safety hazards as a result. Meanwhile, in a look at how the other half lives, KOMO reports on a lawsuit by U District residents complaining that light rail will bring "blight" and "undesirable" residents to their neighborhood.
4. They had me at "60' articulated coach": Seattle Transit Blog makes the case for more transit investments in Fremont, including real-time arrival signs like the ones that were recently installed downtown, elimination of parking spots in bus zones, and expanded sidewalks to accommodate the many bus riders who board at Fremont Ave. and 34th St.
5. Finally, in perhaps the most bizarre story of the day, the News Tribune reports that a "notorious local felon and publicity hound, Robert 'The Traveler' Hill" has filed two obviously inaccurate "against" statements in Pierce County ballot measures, highlighting problems with the way people who write the statements against ballot proposals are selected.
Currently, if no one steps forward to make the case against a proposal, the county takes applications on a first-come, first-served basis. But because ballot measure proponents have every incentive not to seek out opposition statements, the Pierce County system encourages "fringies"—the TNT's term—like Hill to step forward, effectively discrediting the opposition.