1. Yesterday's Jolt had the big news from "Cutoff Day" in Olympia: The Democratic house passed the DREAM Act as the clock wound down for policy bills to stay alive. The immigrant rights bill now heads to the senate with lots of other liberal measures (though no universal background check bill for gun sales), including the Reproductive Parity Act, the Voting Rights Act, and a toxic toys bill.
Meanwhile, a batch of conservative senate bills are now up for consideration in the house, such as a series of bills to lower workers' compensation payments and a bill to exempt non-Seattle businesses from abiding by Seattle's paid sick leave policy.
Which brings us to an interesting footnote about yesterday's last-minute action. Sen. Rodney Tom's (D-48, Medina) Majority Coalition Caucus (the Republican-dominated crew that staged a coup at the start of this year's session and now runs the senate) did not end up moving a number of bills that were anathema to the nervous Democrats, even though the bills had made it through the committee process and were cued up for votes.
In two major wins for environmental activists, the MCC didn't bring Sen. John Braun's (R-20, Centralia) "green coal" bill up for a vote; his reverse-offset bill would have allowed utilities to scale back voter-mandated renewable energy use by buying coal. Nor did the MCC run Sen. Steve Hobbs' (D-44, Lake Stevens) bill to fast track the controversial gravel "Pit to Pier" conveyor belt bill for Hood Canal. (The bill initially caused a stir because it would have also fast-tracked the controversial coal train; sponsor Hobbs stripped that out, but then didn't run with the bill this week.)
The Republicans also held off on running Sen. Pam Roach's (R-31, Auburn) constitutional amendment to restore the voter-approved two-thirds rule to raise taxes (the Tim Eyman law was ruled unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court late last month.)
And no "final fuck you" (as one liberal interest group lobbyist nervously put it heading into the afternoon's last-minute drama) by trying to repeal the Family Leave Act, another Sen. Braun bill that was good to go after making it out of the rules committee and on to the floor calendar last Friday.
It was a subdued denouement to what had otherwise been a contentious runup to policy cutoff on the senate side over the last few weeks.
2. Another notable bill—a good bill in Fizz's opinion— that was cued up to go, but didn't make policy cutoff yesterday: Republican Rep. David Taylor's (R-15, Moxee) house bill to put regulations on drones, such as preventing violations of privacy rights.
The bill had several Democratic co-sponsors, but ran in to trouble when Boeing lobbied against it.
3. At a meeting to promote (ahem, we mean discuss) light rail from downtown to Ballard on Tuesday night, Mayor Mike McGinn made a pointed dig at RapidRide's D Line, which he took from City Hall to the open house at Ballard High School.
"I took RapidRide here tonight," McGinn said, pausing for the audience to chuckle—"and I don't want to poke at my friends at King County, but we can do better." (A shot back Metro head Kevin Desmond, who's skeptical of McGinn's rail agenda?)
McGinn has been campaigning hard for a new rail line to Ballard (which would require a new Ship Canal bridge); yesterday, his election opponent Tim Burgess argued instead for a "fix it first" strategy to transportation funding.
Asked whether the city might be able to improve service to Ballard right now, by investing in road improvements (like bus bulbs, dedicated lanes, and curb cutouts) that complement RapidRide, mayoral spokesman Aaron Pickus said, "We are using city funds to support the existing service, as well. We are working to support the current service and to plan for the future." And he said that the city's Transit Master Plan shows a clear need for rail, not just bus service, to Ballard.
4. Starting April 3, Real Change, the weekly newspaper sold by homeless Seattle residents, will double in price from $1 to $2, the paper announced last week.
It's an overdue adjustment for inflation. Since the paper launched in 1994 (when the paper also cost a $1), it takes $1.51 to buy what $1 bought then, and the average vendor makes $5 an hour. With the price increase, vendors, who buy the papers at cost and keep the difference, will also pay a quarter more for papers—60 cents per paper up from 35 cents.