1. After failing to pass a transportation package that would have funded roads with a ten-cent gas tax (and allowed King County to ask voters for new funding to forestall service cuts of up to 17 percent), the state legislature could revisit transportation funding in a special session this year or in early 2014, the Everett Herald reports.
The Republican-dominated senate Majority Coalition Caucus has plans to propose a transportation package of their own; previously, Democratic lawmakers, including Gov. Jay Inslee, were spearheading efforts to fund transportation.
As the conservative Washington State Wire reports, any proposal from the MCC will come with plenty of strings attached—namely, "reforms" that include less regulation, fewer environmental reviews, and potentially lower wages for construction workers on state projects.
2. Meanwhile, not content to wait on the Washington legislature to get off their asses and pass a transportation package, the governors of Oregon and Washington, John Kitzhaber and Jay Inslee, have expressed support for a scaled-back version of the Columbia River Crossing project, the Oregonian reports. The proposal would replace the I-5 bridge between the two states with a scaled-back highway project and a new light rail line connecting Vancouver and Portland.
3. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos is no fan of unions—Amazon's tens of thousands of U.S. workers aren't unionized, and the company relies heavily on "temporary" workers who work 11 months a year and lack health benefits—but he's about to take on 1,200 new unionized employees, with his $250 million purchase of the Washington Post.
Bezos, Xconomy reports, has promised "changes," including "experiments" and "invent[ion]." What that means for the paper's more than 800 unionized newsroom employees remains to be seen.
4. In other tech-mogul news, Microsoft founder Bill Gates ripped into Google's proposal to send wifi-enabled balloons around the world to bring Internet access to less-developed nations, BusinessWeek reports.
It's a powerful interview. “When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you,” Gates said. “When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there’s no website that relieves that. Certainly I’m a huge believer in the digital revolution. And connecting up primary-health-care centers, connecting up schools, those are good things. But no, those are not, for the really low-income countries, unless you directly say we’re going to do something about malaria.”
5. Is pot the new gay marriage? The WaPo seems to think so. They write that supporters of legalized marijuana (about 50 percent of the U.S. public, give or take a few percentage points) now include CNN medical correspondent, who recently wrote, "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that." Gupta was among the finalists to serve as Obama's surgeon general.
Washington state voters legalized both recreational pot use and gay marriage last year.
6. Seattle Transit Blog has a comprehensive (and we mean comprehensive) review of the latest version of King County Metro's trip planner, which combines elements of Google Maps' route planner, Metro's old text-based planner, and "extremely useful schedules," reroute information, and info about transfers.
However, STB notes, the new trip planner includes some of the "absurd" features of the old one, including routes that have longer transfer rates but the same itinerary, and routes that treat through routes (routes that change into other routes) as transfers. Still, looks like a promising upgrade.
7. Is the Seattle Times' war on bikes over?
Their editorial board argues today that the city needs better bike infrastructure, including protected bike cycle tracks—a sharp (and welcome) turn from the paper's usual opposition to spending on bike safety or transit as a "war on cars."