OOBT

1. Legislation that would require welfare recipients with a history of drug problems to go through drug testing and enter a treatment program before receiving benefits isn't faring well in the state senate, the Columbian reports.

Co-sponsor Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) said the bill is necessary to make sure taxpayer dollars are "going for groceries for the kids and not for dope," an argument that wasn't well received at this morning's hearing on the bill, where only one person, lead bill sponsor Jan Angel (R-26, Port Orchard) testified in favor of the legislation, while several testified against it.

2. Sure, it's Valentine's Day. But that's really no excuse for the Herald to describe a bill that would force adults who want to end their marriages to stay together a full year after filing for divorce as a romantic proposal to "give families, divorcing couples a second chance." (They actually evoked the Valentine's Day theme). By the time a couple decides to get a divorce, second chances are rarely in the cards, and unhappy marriages have real consequences for both couples and families.

This bill is sponsored by social conservatives, which is kind of ironic, because telling couples they can't move on with their lives sounds an awful lot like big-government paternalism. Wasn't it just this morning that a state house rep was spoofing the state for trying to enforce happiness?

3. The Tacoma News Tribune's editorial board argues that the state should "address the flaws" in a bill that would allow employers to get around minimum wage laws by paying a "training wage" of $6.89 an hour to new workers for up to 680 hours—17 weeks for full-time workers or 34 weeks for half-time employees. Proponents argue that the bill will make it easier for employers to hire inexperienced teenage workers.

The TNT's solution (in addition to reducing the length of the initial "training" period) is to limit the training wage to those younger than 18.

This bill is sponsored by social conservatives, which is kind of ironic, because telling couples they can't move on with their lives sounds an awful lot like big-government paternalism.

Besides raising the question of age discrimination (should older workers be paid less, too, on the grounds that they're slower on their feet?), this "solution" would create a two-tiered system in which younger employees, saving, perhaps, for college, are an underclass at the workplace. The better solution: Scrap the idea altogether.

4. David Brewster has a piece in Crosscut about the candidates trying to fill two vacancies on the Port of Seattle arguing that none of the six finalists to fill Gael Tarleton's old seat are "ready to hit the ground running."

Fair enough. But then he goes on to explain why one candidate in particular, former governor Chris Gregoire's daughter Courtney, isn't fit: she has a job and "a brand new baby."

Something tells me a male candidate with a job and an infant wouldn't be subject to quite the same critique. 

5. Honestly, I have no idea what to make of this long, bizarre Everett Herald story about an anonymous Aaron Reardon supporter who harassed the embattled Snohomish County executive's political opponents using a nom de plume from a series of bestselling suspense novels and evoking themes from The Count of Monte Cristo. But if you're interested in reading about what may be the lowest-stakes web of intrigue ever, by all means, dive on in.

6. Two takes on Bellevue light rail opponents' latest stalling move—protesting the creation of a light rail overlay district that would streamline permitting and design for light rail to Bellevue and Redmond—one pro-rail (Seattle Transit Blog), one anti (the Bellevue Reporter). 

7. Capitol Hill Seattle reports that the Century Ballroom, near Broadway and Pine, owes the state $90,000 under an obscure state law that allows the state to charge sales tax on cover charges at clubs that provide an "opportunity to dance." The state has started enforcing the law in recent years. In response to that rather crappy news, the dance hall is holding a fundraiser this weekend to come up with the cash; details are available at their web site.

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