It's Friday. Time for our weekly rundown of Fizz LIKES & DISLIKES:
1. Fizz LIKES that the Seattle Department of Transportation is accelerating work to calm traffic on Rainier Ave. S., after a major accident in which a car plowed through two storefronts in Columbia City, injuring seven people.
According to SDOT traffic engineer Dongho Chang, neighborhood residents expressed "a lot of concern about the chaos that can occur along that corridor" at meetings following the August 28 collision. In response, SDOT is planning changes to the road that could include rechannelization (AKA a "road diet") and other calming measures, such as making it easier for drivers to turn left off Rainier.
The concerns came up at a neighborhood meeting held by the Rainier Chamber of Commerce yesterday, where city council and state senate candidates answered questions from residents and business owners.
2. Fizz LIKES that a batch of Democratic state senators, including Sens. Karen Keiser (D-33, Des Moines), Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Ballard), David Frockt (D-46, N. Seattle), Kevin Ranker (D-40, Orcas Island) and Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill), proposed legislation yesterday to blunt the effects of this year's U.S. Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, a socially conservative Supreme Court ruling that allows privately held companies to refuse to cover contraception in their employee health care plans if the employer can demonstrate their sincere religious belief against birth control.
Frockt said, "Hobby Lobby was about the employer, this [legislation] is about the employee."
Following Washington state's strong pro-choice laws (a 1972 constitutional amendment explicitly guaranteeing equal rights for women and a 1991 statewide initiative guaranteeing a women's right to choose), the senators want to add a specific "cause of action" under Washington state's anti-workplace-discrimination laws outlining a woman's right to sue if an employer doesn't accommodate the employee's need for birth control.
Sen. Frockt, a lawyer, says the law "doesn't disrespect the Supreme Court" because the Court's ruling [see (c)(2)] signaled that Congress could make it workable by coming up with accommodation laws to make sure religious employers who use the Hobby Lobby exemption also help women find an alternative route to getting birth control.
Frockt said that "Hobby Lobby was about the employer, this [legislation] is about the employee."
We DON'T LIKE, though, that the legislators didn't talk to Washington State AG Bob Ferguson about it (his office would be responsible for actually making the law work) nor that Ferguson's office didn't have any comment on the legislation for us.
The lack of input from the AG gets our Spidey senses tingling that while we like the bill, it's not much more than an election-year propoganda piece.
Focusing on the pivotal race in the 45th Legislative District where Democrats are trying to unseat Republican state Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland), the Democrats' own press release about the bill says:
But this proposal may not be successful, and Washington women will still be left in the lurch, if the Republican caucus remains in control of the state Senate after the November elections, the senators predicted. Republicans blocked votes on the Reproductive Parity Act in the state Senate last year, and if Republicans such as Andy Hill, Mark Miloscia and Steve O’Ban are elected or re-elected this year, it is unlikely that any progress on ensuring individual reproductive choices will be achieved.
Hill in particular has claimed to support a women’s right to choose while opposing important pro-choice legislation. Voters deserve to know whether Hill would go against his conservative caucus to help move legislation protecting contraception to the floor.
"You're looking at an opposition research wet dream."
3. Fizz LIKES yesterday's Washington State Supreme Court ruling upholding the legislature's 2013 fix to the estate tax law more than yesterday's Jolt let on.
Thursday's Jolt cheered the justice's rationale about progressive taxation.
Since reading the opinion about the 2013 legislation (the Democratic house led an effort to close a loophole that had allowed married couples to avoid paying the tax), we've gotten the Department of Revenue's numbers on what the ruling means for the state budget.
And check it out: $301 million in the current biennium (as opposed to $215 million in the last biennium) and $260 million in the next budget biennium. Fewer than 400 estates pay the tax, though it'll be much closer to 400 (397 projected for 2017) than it was in 2012 at 350.
4. Fizz LIKES that KIRO Radio followed up with GOP congressional hopeful Pedro Celis, who's running against U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1), on his vague answer to an earlier radio interview with KIRO's Colleen O'Brien where he dodged her question about how specifically he'd cut the budget. Celis said only that the budget was "so complicated."
Yesterday, KIRO hosts Todd Herman and Chris Widener said they were giving Celis "a chance to redeem himself."
Go to the 13:10 mark for more vague answers from Celis to the specific KIRO question "What's a step you would take to balance the budget as a member of Congress?" (Celis says he doesn't think the government is efficient).
And then keep listening for the talk jocks' outraged reactions. ("I'm getting rid of my Pedro for Congress shirt!" ... "You're looking at an opposition research wet dream.")
5. Fizz LIKES that Cola reporter Casey Jaywork's excellent feature story in the magazine about bike theft is getting linked everywhere.
6. And back to SDOT:
Fizz LIKES (and our Pedestrian Chronicles correspondent LIKES) that new SDOT Director Scott Kubly's war on cars continues.
Check out the new position the department started adversiting for yesterday—an "Active Transportation Program Manager."
The job listing describes the gig this way:
The program manager will steer a matrix-managed team to deliver projects, programs and encouragement strategies that increase the number of trips accomplished by walking, biking and transit; increase safety and efficient mobility for non-motorized users; create active public spaces; and advance the City’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.