Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your Daily Morning Fizz

1. A children's safetey bill sponsored by state Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon, W. Seattle) and Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36, Ballard) aimed at banning toxic chemicals known as TRIS from kids' toys will be spared a controversial amendment.

The bill is being heard in the state house environment committee today and Rep. David Taylor (R-15, Moxee) had prepared an amendment that would have prohibited sex toys from using the same chemicals.

A bipartisan group of female legislators (and a group of mortified female nonpartisan staff)—who saw the  amendment as a non sequitur and as yet more sex-phobic male-sponsored legislation—talked Taylor out of the proposal.[pullquote]"He withdrew it already. It is no longer in the [legislative] system."[/pullquote]

We have a call in to Rep. Taylor.

"He withdrew it already. It is no longer in the [legislative] system," Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Des Moines), chair of the environment committee, said today when Fizz asked about the amendment. "The amendment was withdrawn."

2. Be sure to check out yesterday's Fizz (129 comments and counting) where teachers' union president Mary Lindquist published an "Open Letter to PubliCola" responding to the controversial email that major Democratic donor Nick Hanauer sent to fellow Democratic donors about his disappointment in the Democrats on education reform ("our party and most of its elected members are stooges for the teachers union") and talked about his decision to meet with and consider supporting Rob McKenna.

McKenna is running on an ed reform agenda that dovetails with reform groups such as the League of Education Voters (which Hanauer founded) and President Obama, to the chagrin of local Democrats, that pushes for stricter teacher evaluations.

Moderate Democrats and Republicans pushed a bill this session that set guidelines on teacher evaluations (including the use of student achievement data) and connected the evaluations to hiring decisions. They passed it in the senate last week. It's now in the house where the union is lobbying for "more flexibility" at the district level to formulate teacher evaluations.

3. State house ways and means committee chair, Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) is releasing his budget this morning.

With a drop in caseloads worth $340 million and a slight positive correction in the revenue forecast worth $45 million (plus about $450 million in cuts and savings passed in December), the state is now facing a $1 billion problem (as opposed to the $2 billion problem Gov. Gregoire's November budget proposal is based on.)

The house Republicans released a budget of their own—with $800 million in cuts (including killing the Basic Health Plan) on Friday  with minimal new revenue, though they did propose cutting the infamous $20 million big bank exemption on interest earned on first mortgage loans.

The Democrats are expected to offer less in cuts.

Though the senate won't release its budget until next week, Democratic senate budget leader Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle) has already suggested another $200 million in savings by getting rid of a series of loopholes—including the bank exemption and other preferential business and occupation tax rates.

4. A lot remains unknown about the proposal, announced last week, to bring the NBA (and the NHL) to Seattle. One of Fizz's biggest outstanding questions: Who are the members of the mysterious "investor group" that will join San Francisco hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen in signing the deal? Turns out, Hansen himself doesn't know yet: In yet another of the many details about the proposal that remain unknown, Hansen, Fizz confirmed, is still putting the group together.

5. Ty Stobel, a Vancouver businessman who chairs the board of the Seattle-based gay rights group Equal Rights Washington, announced today that he's running to fill the state senate seat being vacated by Craig Pridemore (D-49). Stobel is the second Democrat to announce for the seat. Annette Cleveland, a Vancouver health care administrator, announced she was running for the seat earlier this month.
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