City of Seattle
Council members approved the city's income tax proposal in the finance committee on Wednesday and will reach the full city council for a vote on Monday. The tax would be 2.25 percent of total income (for individuals with income above $250,000 and joint filers above $500,000). The proposal, originally developed by mayor Ed Murray and council members Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant, is estimated to bring an additional $140 million per year in revenue after an amendment by Rob Johnson increased the tax from 2 percent to 2.25 percent.
Police accountability continues to be a topic of concern. De-Escalate Washington, an initiative on November's ballot would prevent officers from claiming the defense of no-malice. PubliCola lays out the details on the new proposed measure. Crosscut last week reported the Seattle Police Department reexamining its Taser practices, following the failure to carry one during the confrontation and subsequent shooting of Charleena Lyles. The Seattle Times reported Tommy Le, 20, was carrying a pen when he was fatally shot by an officer on June 13, not a knife as was originally reported.
City attorney Pete Holmes will review charges of sexual exploitation after 139 men were arrested in a week-long prostitution sting along Aurora Avenue, according to the city Wednesday. Last year a similar operation netted 204 arrests. Holmes, who's running for reelection this year, in a released statement Wednesday said the City Attorney's Office years ago changed its approach of efforts "largely focused on prostituted women and girls—the true victims of prostitution," instead reducing sexual exploitation through "strong prosecution standards" and better support for prostituted people to leave.
Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2242—the state's answer to the McCleary decision—into law Thursday. The bill funnels an additional $7.3 billion into education, The Seattle Times reported, over the next four years. The agreed-upon solution includes an increase in property taxes in property-rich districts (some parts of the state would see a reduction), most notably in Seattle. The average home in Seattle could see an increase of more than $400 a year in property taxes. (Though if the city income tax passes legal muster, city council members said they would likely reduce property taxes.) It's up to the state Supreme Court next to decide whether the bill is enough to comply with the mandate.
Inslee also vetoed tax breaks to manufacturing companies on Friday, a part of negotiations with Republicans during budget discussions, after pressure from Democratic lawmakers. "Our state is long past the time where we should be handing out tax incentives that fail to hold recipients accountable for creating or maintaining good jobs," said Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, in a released statement Friday.
Legislators passed a $43.7 billion two-year budget and negotiated behind closed doors with little public knowledge until the edge of a government shutdown last week. The budget also added paid family leave, making Washington the fifth state to pass a similar law. Beginning in 2020, the new law will provide almost all workers with 12 weeks of paid time off for a birth or adoption, The Stranger reported. Similar to insurance, both employers and employees will pay into the program.
Trans rights advocates and allies celebrated the news that Initiative 1552—which would've rolled back the human rights protections for trans public school students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity—failed to garner enough signatures to make it on the November ballot before its deadline Friday for the second year in a row.
“We all care about safety and privacy, but people understand that repealing protections from discrimination for transgender people won’t make anyone safer,” said Seth Kirby, a transgender man and chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, in a statement Friday. “Transgender people like me deserve the same basic protections as everyone else—to use public facilities with safety, privacy and dignity."
Seattle Versus Trump
Congress was out of session this week which left plenty of time for representatives to hold town halls, in between fireworks and barbecues. The topic of the hour? Health care and what version of Trumpcare will find itself on the Senate floor upon their return to D.C. Senator Maria Cantwell, who has often avoided the town hall format, scheduled three this week. Her first, on Wednesday, focused on health care as she answered constituents' growing concerns over the future of their health plan. Cantwell has two more town halls scheduled: Friday on net neutrality and Saturday on general concerns.
Representative Pramila Jayapal also held a town hall on health care Thursday evening, her sixth since January. "This Trumpcare bill was negotiated by 13 male politicians behind closed doors. How can it possibly reflect the needs of the American people?" Jayapal said in a June 22 statement on the health care. During the event, Jayapal took the opportunity to express her support for Medicaid for All, focused on a single-payer national health care program.
And what's next for the GOP health care bill? When Congress returns next week, key Republicans are expected to continue pushing their new version of health care through the Senate.