OOBT

1. The Seattle Times contemplates the horrifying prospect of city hall vending machines that offer more than just Hot Cheetos and Snickers, (a Richard Conlin proposal) arguing that people will always choose junk food over bananas.

Their only example, however, comes from a Harvard economist whose studies focused on whether people invest in 401(k)s and whether they said they preferred to eat chocolate or fruit—hardly a convincing condemnation of the whole idea of providing healthier options.   

Image via Freshvending.com.

2. The Washington State Labor Council's blog, The Stand, objects today to a proposal by Senate Majority Coalition Caucus leader Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina) to effectively privatize younger state workers' pension funds, converting them to a 401(k)-style system that, the WSLC argues, "shifts all [the investment risk] onto employees."

3. The consistently anti-light-rail Bellevue Reporter continues its one-sided coverage of a long-discussed proposal to build rail between Seattle and Bellevue, citing public testimony at a recent Bellevue City Council meeting, which skewed heavily anti-rail, as evidence that residents weren't "given adequate time to review a deeply complicated document" that "failed to address basic concerns raised since 2009, like noise, loss of trees during construction and traffic standards."

The plan, it's worth noting, has been publicly available since 2009, giving Bellevue residents more than three years to voice their concerns about the voter-approved rail alignment.

4. If sequestratration—the looming set of federal budget cuts that will kick in if Congress fails to reach a deal on the deficit—goes into effect on March 1, Washington state stands to lose hundreds of millions, including funding for unemployment benefits and air traffic control at eight regional airports, the Seattle Times reports. 

5. The News Tribune reports that state house Republicans are already lining up against a bill that would give local transit agencies the option of increasing car-tab fees from $20 to $40 without a public vote—a proposal that, in the words of Rep. Jan Angel (R-26), would be financially prohibitive for people who "are barely being able to buy a tank of gas right now to get to work."

Needless to say, an additional $20, spread over a year, is significantly less than the cost of even a single tank of gas—not to mention that if cities were able to fund transit with that $20, Angel's constituents would be able to fill up a lot less often. 

6. Tacoma Tomorrow reports that the state senate transportation committee heard testimony yesterday on legislation that would allow Pierce Transit to carve out a smaller area than its existing taxing district and ask voters to approve a tax increase to pay for transit improvements there—effectively enabling Tacoma to increase taxes to pay for Tacoma transit, without having to win approval from areas of Pierce County that have historically opposed spending on bus service. 

7. Finally, the Seattle Times picks up on a story Sightline has been covering for months: Supposedly "green" lobbying firms that are shilling for Big Coal. Among them: Former Washington Conservation Voters director Bruce Gryniewski, Nyhus Communications, and ECONorthwest.