1. The legislative session begins today in Olympia. And with the Republicans narrowing the longstanding Democratic margin in the house to just 50-48 (the GOP already controls the senate 26-23), Democrats have to take the hardcore bills seriously now.
State representative David Taylor (R-15, Moxee), for example, has a bill that would prevent state Medicaid dollars from paying for abortions. Taylor is a social conservative ideologue who was forced to withdraw a proposal a few years ago that would have banned dildos, after even his own caucus was stunned at his misogynist hysteria.
This time, though, Taylor has nearly 20 cosponsors, including his militia-friendly colleague representative Matt Shea (R-4, Spokane Valley).
Thanks to the Hyde amendment, federal dollars aren’t allowed to pay for abortions. But in Washington state a 1991 voter-approved pro-choice initiative, I-120, proactively affirms a women’s right to an abortion.
Taylor’s bill attempts to get around I-120 by allowing state dollars to fund abortions, but only when it’s necessary to save the life or physical health of the woman.
Taylor’s bill, in fact, goes further than the federal Hyde amendment ban on government money paying for abortions; while the Hyde provision allows exemptions for rape, Taylor’s bill does not.
The only exemption in Taylor’s bill, is defined this way:
"Medically necessary" means that, as determined by reasonable, good faith clinical judgment of the patient's primary care physician, the life of the woman seeking the abortion is in imminent danger because of a serious physical disorder, illness, or injury if the abortion is not performed.
2. File this under Pedestrian Chronicles.
A mystery group—“for the time being we’d prefer to stay anonymous,” they emailed me—calling itself the Seattle Dept of Trans(f)or(m)ation is taking pedestrian safety measures into its own hands.
After setting up an ad hoc fix to a dangerous spot just north of 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 65th Street, the group set up a twitter account on Friday with photos documenting their urbanist heroics.
“We've fixed it using entirely upcycled, leftover, and on-site materials.. Cost: $0,” the Seattle Department of Transformation activists write, explaining that they’ve created a ped lane where, “for weeks now, Seattle has high school kids walking in traffic just tens of feet away from last year's DUI death."
Seattle Department of Transporation engineer Dongho Chang denied rumors that the he was the mystery, pedestrian vigilante.
While SDOT's Chang, one of Seattle Met's favorite city employees, is certainly well-liked by the bike and pedestrian community, the folks behind this new year's bid of tactical urbanism don't have any love for the city.
They sent me the following communique on Friday:
We have asked the city for simple, quick, and inexpensive fixes to dangerous situations on our streets. They come back with excuses, delays, or expensive/over-engineered solutions that cost insane amounts of money. Even when funds are available, the city's process requires multiple years of study, design, public outreach, and construction. Mistakes on these projects take additional years to correct.
While we wait, we are being needlessly put at risk every day. We'd like the city to become better at making fast changes, or perhaps even create an official process for citizens to make fixes. In the meantime, it appears that we'll be fixing things ourselves.
3. State senator David Frockt (D-46, North Seattle) crossed his name off the list of potential contenders for retiring U.S. representative Jim McDermott's open seat. Frockt, an attorney who has been deeply involved in the McCleary negotiations and also helped Democrats win the legal battle against the two-thirds to raise taxes rule, wrote on Facebook Saturday morning: "When I looked deep over the last week – and I mean deep - the prospect of becoming a jet in father to my twelve year old twins was not something that I could ever fully come to terms with no matter how many rationalizations or scenarios I could come up with. Ultimately, these years don’t come back."
That leaves former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan, state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle), and King County council member Joe McDermott (no relation) as the well-known politicians most likely to jump in. Socialist council member Kshama Sawant, another big name that pundits thought might jump in, has said she's not running.
State representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill) declared his candidacy for the seat a month before McDermott announced his retirement and is being given credit for nudging the veteran liberal lawmaker out.