Friday Fizz LIKES & DISLIKES
1. Fizz LIKES that at yesterday's meeting of the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) investment committee (SCERS oversees the $2.2 billion Seattle city employees' pension fund), City Council member and SCERS board chair Nick Licata ushered through a vote directing the board to study divesting from fossil fuel funds. Again!
In July, Licata passed a council resolution directing SCERS to look into the feasibility of divesting from Big Oil that stated: “the City Council urges the Seattle City Employees' Retirement System Board of Administration to work towards divestment from fossil fuel holdings.”
At yesterday's meeting, though, SCERS' consultant came back with a study that didn't respond to the council's request to outline a divestment plan, but simply frowned on the idea instead.
After testimony from council member Mike O'Brien, a Licata ally on the issue, Licata deftly got the board to accept the consultant's report while simultaneously directing them to go back and do what the council asked them to do in the first place.
Licata's motion asks SCERS to figure out:
"How divestment could be sequenced over the next 5 (or appropriate number of) years by refraining from making new investments in Carbon Underground 200 companies...consistent with [SCERS's] fiduciary duties; identifying other comparable jurisdictions that have addressed this issue and the steps they have or have not taken."
The "Carbon Underground 200" are oil and gas stocks that Bill McKibben's 350.org divestment group, which was at yesterday's meeting, recommends boycotting.
Licata deftly directed the cosultants to go back and do what the council asked them to do in the first place.
2. Fizz LIKES that Legal Voice, the womens' rights legal advocacy group, was in United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday defending state pharmacy board rules that require pharmacies to fill scrips for emergency contraception.
In 2013, the United States District Court of Western Washington ruled in favor of Ralph's Pharmacy in Olympia and a pair of co-plaintiff pharmacists that the rules violated their religious rights.
Legal Voice, joined by the Washington State Attorney General, argued that the rules are constitutional because they are neutral—as opposed to being targeted at a specific group.
“Allowing providers’ beliefs to trump women's rights to access medication compromises the quality of care all Washington patients receive," Legal Voice director Lisa Stone said in a statement.
3. Fizz LIKES that Sound Transit's board voted yesterday to approve a legislative agenda asking the legislature to authorize revenue authority for the agency.
Sound Transit is looking to go to the ballot in 2016 to expand with "ST3," a plan that could include getting to Everett, Redmond, Federal Way, and also include inner-city connections in Seattle including a line to Ballard or West Seattle or between the U. District and Ballard.
The ST 2 line, approved in 2008 (which goes to Lynwood and Overlake by the Microsoft campus in 2023) and the ST 1 line (which includes the existing downtown-to-Sea-Tac line; the Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium stops—opening in 2016; along with the Roosevelt and Northgate stops opening in 2021) used up the taxing authority approved back in 1996.
Sound Transit will be looking for sales tax, property tax, and MVET authority that could generate a total $15 billion.