City of Seattle
The Seattle City Council, in a 7-1 vote, approved the legislation to add a 1.75-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages. It hasn't been all bubbles though. Opponents argue the legislation disproportionately taxes low-income families and people of color with the last-minute exemption of diet sodas. Wondering how much you'll been paying for your favorite soda or sugary beverage? The Stranger has a handy guide breaking down which beverages are safe and how much others will increase.
Affordable housing was a hot topic this week. The city released the draft environmental impact statement on the Mandatory Housing Affordability program on Thursday. The city council may vote on whether to implement the program in the International District by July 17. Housing is a cost burden felt throughout the city, as prices have reached an all-time high an hour's drive out of the city in all directions, The Seattle Times reported. Seattle is set to hit a rather dismal high, with $1 million being the average cost of a median house across the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and the housing burden lands particularly hard on minimum wage workers. The Stranger reported a minimum wage worker has to work an average of 87 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom.
The city has grappled with rising rent costs for years now, and more changes are coming for landlords. Council member Kshama Sawant proposed an ordinance that would require landlords to hand out information on voter registration, including a voter registration form. And the city council could pass an ordinance developing stricter inspection standards and a new requirement for investigators to submit failed results to the city. (Smart Growth Seattle and the Rental Housing Association said the inspection program would disincentivize repairs and improvements a year ago, Smart Growth executive director Roger Valdez pointed out.) The ordinance currently resides in the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee.
Big news for sports fans this week. Mayor Ed Murray announced Los Angeles–based Oak View Group as the preferred partner to remodel KeyArena on Wednesday. The renovation plans have many people hoping for a return of a men's NBA team and the addition of an NHL team. Speaking at the announcement, Murray said, "KeyArena is one of our city’s great landmarks, and we will now work with OVG to get the best deal for Seattle—one that embraces the surrounding community, helps lay the foundation for the future of Seattle, and brings the Sonics home and the NHL to Seattle."
With growing concern over the inclusiveness of president Donald Trump's America, The Seattle Times reported that Washington has become a conduit for individuals out of America and into Canada. Believing Canada to be more welcoming, many refugees who have entered the U.S. on a temporary visa with a walk across the border and seek asylum with our neighbor to the north. A Welcome Center in East Vancouver has seen a startling 67 percent increase in asylum seekers since last year, with the majority of them having walked into Canada, according to the report. Washington has become a perfect crossing point.
Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order that would allow driverless cars to be tested on Washington roads. The order also creates a work group to monitor the results and propose changes to state regulations as needed. If you're looking to improve your commute with a driverless car yourself, you'll have to wait a bit longer. It's purely in the testing phase now. Speaking at the event, Inslee said, “Washington state is already a leader in autonomous vehicle technology. We are an early-adopter that welcomes innovation and the safe testing and operation of AVs. AVs could help save countless lives, reclaim time spent in traffic, improve mobility and be an important tool in our efforts to combat climate change.”
Washington Democratic senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are among 21 U.S. senators who signed a letter protesting the sale of the Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) transmission grid. Currently a self-funded nonprofit, BPA would be sold to the highest bidder, one that would be expected to raise rates, The Seattle Times reported.
Seattle Versus Trump
On Thursday the nation was glued to their screens streaming the biggest blockbuster of the summer. And no, we're not talking about Wonder Woman. Former FBI director James Comey, in his first public appearance since his firing last month, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. While most of his testimony was anticipated through different media leaks, it still made for fascinating listening. PubliCola has you covered with the highlights.
Washington representatives haven't been shy about weighing in on Comey's testimony and what this means moving forward.
Representative Pramila Jayapal cites the importance of an independent investigation:
In a released statement, senator Patty Murray reflects on what this means for her members of Congress:
"I was glad to see Mr. Comey speak honestly and openly about his interactions with President Trump, despite the president’s efforts to contradict and disparage him. And I firmly believe Mr. Comey’s testimony made it crystal clear just how important it is to have not only a special prosecutor on the case, but also for all members of Congress to be absolutely committed to serving the citizens they represent and following the facts wherever they may lead."
And representative Adam Smith said the evidence is damning:
"What we do not have right now is conclusive proof that President Trump’s team colluded with the Russian government. But a lack of conclusive proof is not the same thing as a lack of evidence, and we should not confuse the two... There is enough evidence for Congress to continue investigating, and there is enough evidence that the American people should be deeply concerned about the President’s dealings with Russia."
Senator Maria Cantwell urges her fellow legislators to fight the good fight:
I encourage my colleagues in the Senate Intelligence Committee to continue to get the answers the American people deserve #ComeyHearing—Sen. Maria Cantwell (@SenatorCantwell) June 8, 2017
How's President Trump taking Comey's testimony? After being remarkably quiet throughout Thursday, he released this tweet early Friday morning:
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2017
Pro tip: Get your "Lordy, I hope there are tapes" shirts while they're still cool.
Updated June 12, 2017, at 9:56am: This post corrects that Sawant's ordinance was proposed, not passed, in the council.