1. Josh was invited to an informal press Q&A with Microsoft's Senior VP of Corporate Affairs, Brad Smith, yesterday. Josh will file a full report later today (Smith talked about light rail, 520, education, and Microsoft's vision for the region), but Josh also took the opportunity to ask Smith about one of PubliCola's pet federal issues, net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the concept that Internet service providers can't favor certain content over other content, and Microsoft, a content provider, has been allied with companies like Google and politicians like U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA, 1) to pass net neutrality provisions into law over the resistance of ISPs like Comcast and AT&T. Josh asked Smith about recent press accounts that Microsoft had changed its position and was no longer fighting for net neutrality rules.
Smith was candid and said Microsoft had become more "moderate" on the issue, with content providers on one extreme and ISPs on the other. Smith's reasoning was that there had been "no big problems" in the last ten years since net neutrality first emerged as a concept. And so rather than mandating regulations and risking any "unintended consequences of moving from principles to rules," Microsoft stayed in a wait-and-see mode.
In fact, the real threat to controlling content, Smith said, wasn't Orwellian ISPs, "it's search" he announced, referring to search engines that direct traffic on the web. Was Smith's Google envy showing? "Where is the biggest lack of competition?" he asked. "Search!"
2. The last time we checked in with Tim Eyman's initiative campaign to reinstate I-960's two-thirds majority requirement to raise taxes, the campaign had brought in $162,000. (The Democratic legislature suspended 960 earlier this year so it could raise taxes with a simple majority.) The new campaign finance totals came in yesterday and Eyman's son-of-960 measure, I-1053, is at $290,000 raised. However, the I-1053 campaign has spent $288,000.
As we reported earlier this week, the campaign has collected about 160,000 signatures. Initiatives need 241,000 valid signatures to qualify this year, which means they need to turn in more than 300,000 to play it safe. They have until the end of the month.
3. You can listen to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray's floor speech against yesterday's Republican proposal to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions here.
And you can watch U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's floor speech here.
The measure lost 53-47.
4. MSNBC has moved Washington State's U.S. Senate race between Dino Rossi and Sen. Patty Murray into its "top 10 pickups" list. The GOP needs to pick up ten seats to take back the majority and Chuck Todd said on MSNBC that he thinks Washington is now part of the equation.
"All right. It's the big Senate top-ten in Decision 2010. We basically hit halftime in the campaign 2010. So today, our latest look at the Senate playing field, the seats most likely to switch parties this year. Ten is the magic number for the Republicans to get control. Here we go. Breaking into the top ten pickups for the first time, Washington right now at number ten. Yesterday Republican Dino Rossi filed a challenge to Patty Murray. He lost the governor’s race in 2008 and Republicans think he gives them their best shot at taking a Senate seat in the state since Slade Gorton lost to Maria Cantwell."