Caffeinated News

1. File this under money and booze—or more specifically: Follow the money and booze.

During last year's state legislative elections, Costco and former Costco CEO James Sinegal broke years of favoring Democrats by backing Republicans instead. I surmised that it had to do with Republican support for a bill that changes the liquor market in Costco's favor by getting rid of a 17 percent fee on retail liquor sales to bars and restaurants, which would allow a retailer like Costco to double as a distributor while neither paying the 17 percent fee nor the official five percent distributor fee, which they already avoid. (At $22 million, Costco was the No. 1 backer of 2011's successful liquor privatization initiative, which critics contended provided a path for Costco to monopolize the market by becoming both a distributor and a retailer.) 

Republicans passed the bill out of the senate last year before the Democratic house killed it.

The bill is back again this year with state Sen. John Braun (R-20, Centralia), the new senate Republicans deputy majority leader, as the main sponsor. 

Costco's Sinegal contributed to two prime sponsors of this year's  bill to get rid of the liquor retail fee. In addition to the major contributions ($5,000) that Costco board member Sinegal gave to the Leadership Council (a PAC that backs GOP state senate candidates) and to Republican state senate candidates in key races last year—such as max ($1,900) to state Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Redmond)—Sinegal also contributed to two prime sponsors of this year's house version of the liquor fee bill: Reps. Cary Condotta (R-12, East Wenatchee) and Chris Hurst (D-31, Rural Pierce County) at $500 and $900 respectively.

2. I  don't know if 17-year-old Juan Macedo will get one of those State of the Union shout outs during President Obama's speech, but Macedo will be in the house as U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene's (D-WA, 1) guest tonight.

Before a judge intervened, Macedo, an honors high school senior from Mt. Vernon, WA, was nearly deported this year because he originally arrived in the U.S. (from Mexico) about a month after Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) retroactive standards, under Obama's DREAM Act legislation, kicked in. DACA allowed immigrant children to get work permits, apply for social security numbers, and avoid deportation. 

Under Obama's new executive immigration policies announced in December, Macedo will qualify to stay and go to college under DACA.  

3. More news from D.C. In the reshuffling in the U.S. House, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6) is off the defense committee and moving to his famous predecessor former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks' domain—the bring-home-the-bacon house appropriations committee.

“Serving on this committee will enable me to have more impact for my region, whether making investments that enable communities to compete economically, to protect our natural resources like Puget Sound, or to support those who currently serve or previously served our nation in a military uniform,” Kilmer said. 

4. And from city hall: A) The full council is taking up SDOT legislation today to expand car sharing like Car2Go. The council's transportation committee passed the legislation unanimously last week, though I expect Car2Go to call for an amendment today to lower the new fee proposal which would increase from the current $200 to $700 in neighborhood Restricted Parking Zones (RPZs).

SDOT says the increase is intended to pay for related programs, such as transit subsidies for low-income commuters, to get people out of single occupancy vehicles. But Car2Go argues that a groovy service that's already in the business of decreasing Seattle's carbon footprint shouldn't be taxed for its efforts.

B) In camaraderie  with national MLK Day protests about excessive police force, particularly shooting deaths of unarmed black men, City employees are staging a walkout today at 1 O'clock when they will gather outside on the steps to City Hall.