Morning Fizz

Morning Fizz: Former Democratic House Member to Run as Republican

Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring born-again Republicans, teacher evaluations, and moratoriums.

By Morning Fizz March 6, 2014

1. Last seen running for state auditor in 2012, former Federal Way Democratic state rep Mark Miloscia—an adamant labor Democrat and equally adamant social conservative—has filed to run for state senate.

As a Republican.

After leaving the house, where he'd served as the 30th District rep since 1999, Miloscia lost the 2012 Democratic primary for state auditor to Troy Kelley, a fellow former Democratic state house rep, largely because Miloscia's anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage views made him toxic in a Democratic primary despite his labor cred.

Yesterday, Miloscia filed papers to run for state senate in the 30th District.

Sen. Tracey Eide (D-30, Federal Way), the co-chair of the senate transportation committee and Miloscia's former Democratic colleague from the suburban Seattle district, is the incumbent. She has held the seat since 1999.

2.  After they failed to pass a teacher evaluation bill tweaking standards so that statewide student testing must (as opposed to the current language, "can") be at least one of the factor in the evaluations, the senate is moving a new version; they passed it out of the ways and means committee this week.

The change from "can" to "must" is required by the feds or else local school districts will have $38 million yanked from direct classroom spending.

The bill has a tortured history, with the Democrats first supporting it (proposing it themselves, actually) than pulling support and killing it. Now, after Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee's met with Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, the idea is back on the table.

Democrats in the senate are still against it, though, voting for a "Do Not Pass" recommendation in the party-line split committee vote.

And so is the teachers' union: 300 hundred teachers are showing up in Olympia today to lobby against the bill.

State Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Redmond) is sponsoring the senate version. Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-47, Covington), the house Democratic majority leader, is the sponsor of the companion bill in the house, but his bill has not moved in the Democratic house.

3. Earlier this week, the city council's planning and land use committee extended interim regulations on so-called small lot housing, modern-looking cottages situated on small,  "substandard" lots (lots exempted from current zoning rules because they were subdivided before those rules were adopted)  in single-family neighborhoods. Although city rules usually restrict single-family houses to lots 5,000 square feet or larger, the small-lot exemption allowed development on lots as small as 2,500 or even 1,500 square feet.

Next Monday, the council will take up proposed permanent rules to regulate development on small lots.

The new rules restrict substandard-lot developments to lots at least half the size of the minimum lot requirement for the zone they're in, or to lots between 50 and 75 percent of the minimum lot size, provided the houses on them are no bigger than what would be allowed as a backyard cottage. 

A vocal group of single-family homeowners have opposed such housing because they tend to be tall—in some cases, taller than the adjacent older houses—and have small yards. Under the regulations, adopted as "emergency" legislation back in 2012, about 4 percent of the lots that would have previously qualified for development no longer qualify. 

Next Monday, the council will take up proposed permanent rules to regulate development on small lots. They include: A complex set of clarifications to the so-called "75-80" rule (which allows development on lots at least 75 percent the size of the legal minimum, as long as 80 percent of the lots on the same block are the same size or smaller); an absolute minimum lot size of 2,500 square feet; public notice, and potential city-imposed conditions, for development on any lot smaller than 3,200 square feet; and lower height limits for small lots than regular-sized lots—18 feet, or 22 if the building is two floors or less. 

Smart Growth Seattle, which advocates on behalf of small-lot developers, has argued for a so-called "80 percent rule," which would allow houses of any size on any lot that's at least 80 percent of the average lot size on a particular block, with height limits for developments on smaller lots. 

4. This morning, the council's housing committee will take up legislation legislation imposing new regulations on outdoor wall signs—those often-massive ads for iPads and tourism and phone companies that fill up the sides of many empty buildings in downtown Seattle and SoDo. The new rules would restrict the size of the signs, triple daily fines for violating the city's sign code, and stipulate that wall signs must advertise a service or product that's actually offered in the building, eliminating the use of coupons and computer "kiosks" that have allowed advertisers to skirt existing wall-sign regulations. 

Erica will be on KUOW's The Record this afternoon to talk about the new regulations (and their discontents). Tune in at noon. 


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