News Roundup

The Week in Review

A very unpopular Republican health care plan falters, a citywide paid maternity leave plan for Seattle, and a Washington State Supreme Court Justice’s concerns with federal immigration agents near courtrooms.

By Josh Kelety March 24, 2017

C7n2djax0aeoexx sltdug

Vice President Pence shared this photo on Twitter yesterday ("Appreciated joining @POTUS for meeting with the Freedom Caucus again today."), which was met with plenty of outrage from the rest of Twitter. ("But who will speak up on behalf of white men?")

The House GOP Obamacare replacement bill’s very, very bumpy ride 

Next to no one is happy with the amended House GOP bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, the bill; "next to no one" includes House Democrats unified in opposition to the Republican agenda, moderate House Republicans who worry about the tangible repercussions of the replacement bill on their constituents (despite the changes made to the bill, the Congressional Budget Office issued a revised analysis which maintained its original projection that 24 million people will lose health insurance because of the bill), and the far right House Republican Freedom Caucus, which has called the GOP replacement bill “Obamacare lite.” Only speaker of the house Paul Ryan and president Donald Trump are seemingly enthusiastic about the unpopular bill—and both seem equally desperate to get a political win behind them regardless of the consequences. 

That’s why, despite frantic attempts by President Trump to get Republicans to rally behind the legislation, by the end of the day on Thursday (the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act and the original scheduled day for a vote on the GOP replacement bill), the legislation lacked the votes to carry it out of the house and Speaker Ryan postponed the vote until Friday (concessions were made to the Freedom Caucus, who subsequently demanded more). President Trump laid down a ultimatum that House Republicans could either pass the bill today or he would move his attention to other issues.

Meanwhile, as President Trump frets about his image as a dealmaker, in light of the dissent in the House Republican ranks over the replacement bill, an estimated 700,000 Washingtonians stand to lose health insurance if the legislation gets signed into law. 

The Seattle Times lays out where Washington’s congressional representatives stand on the GOP replacement bill.

In city hall chambers 

Seattle Met covered last Tuesday’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee meeting, which sent affordable housing legislation to the full council for final approval. The law would let developers construct taller buildings in South Lake Union and downtown in exchange for affordable housing (Seattle City Council Insight has the nuts and bolts details on the various amendments made to the legislation during that meeting). Council member Lisa Herbold, however, is considering raising the bill’s requirements that dictate how much developers should contribute to the city’s affordable housing stock, challenging the preexisting Grand Bargain set in 2015 between developer interests and the city.

Also happening in Seattle’s halls of power: Earlier this week, Seattle City Council member Loréna González unveiled a proposal that would require all employers in the city to provide six months of paid family leave to their workers in the event that they need to care for a new child or a sick family member—The Stranger reports. The idea is to create an insurance program funded by new taxes on mostly employers but also their employees. Council member Gonzalez hasn’t drafted an actual ordinance yet and is waiting for the outcome of a battle between competing Republican and Democratic plans to implement paid family leave statewide in the state legislature.

In the ongoing process of reforming the Seattle Police Department, there is disagreement over if police should be involved in the key formal institution set up to hold cops accountable: The Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA)—is currently entirely staffed by police officers. As city council begins to dip its toes in reforming the disciplinary office, local police reform advocates are at odds as to whether the OPA should be all civilian. Members of the community police commission (a mostly civilian group which provides input to the police department on reform and accountability) have come to “appreciate having officer involvement in the accountability review process,” Crosscut reporter David Kroman writes. “They’re not convinced an all-civilian board to review misconduct is the way to go. That could put them at odds with some of the activist community they most closely represent.” 

Seattle mayor Ed Murray has proposed a new $275 million property tax levy to help fight homelessness. Capitol Hill Seattle blog reports that signature gathering is under way to get the levy on the August ballot and that the levy would primarily go toward improving access to “shelter, services, and housing” and that the cost to the median homeowner would be $138.51 annually.

Regional buzz 

After the Trump administration name-checked Washington state's King and Snohomish Counties in a reprimand over the respective county governments’ refusal to cooperate with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) request that local authorities detain undocumented immigrants charged with crimes for longer than legally required so that the federal agency can determine whether or not to deport them, chief justice Mary Fairhurst of the Washington State Supreme Court sent a letter to the head of the Department of Homeland Security stating that she was concerned with the presence of ICE agents at local courthouses, The Stranger reports. Fairhurst wrote: “When people are afraid to appear for court hearings, out of fear of apprehension by immigration officials, their ability to access justice is compromised.” 

Washington State Senate Republicans rolled out a proposed two-year state budget on Tuesday that would add almost $2 billion to public K–12 education across the state. Senate Republicans claim that this extra money satisfies the 2012 Washington State Supreme Court ruling that the state fully fund public K–12 education in the state—otherwise known as the McCleary mandate. The money Senate Republicans set aside for education comes from cuts to other public spending and surplus tax revenue, as well as a proposed new state property tax. State Democrats, naturally aren’t happy with the proposed fix; governor Jay Inslee (a Democrat) criticized the plan for its cuts to existing programs.

Show Comments