News Roundup

Top Stories: Washington's Pot, ICE at Motel 6, and a "Ban the Box" Bill

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Araz Hachadourian January 5, 2018

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 1. Jeff Sessions announced plans to rescind the Obama-era policy discouraging federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have legalized it. While it’s still unclear what this means for Washington pot businesses (and for the tax revenue the state collects on the industry), officials including attorney general Bob Ferguson, Governor Jay Inslee, and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan have vowed to push back.

2. Attorney general Bob Ferguson is suing Motel 6 for allegedly releasing the personal information of over 9,000 guests to ICE officials, in violation of consumer protection and anti-discrimination laws. The Seattle Times reported at least six individuals were detained on or near motel property over the last two years following officials gaining access to names. Motel 6 issued a statement in response saying they were cooperating with the attorney general's office and have told their branches to stop releasing names without a warrant. 

3. The Washington legislature will hold a public hearing on a bill to “ban the box” January 10. The Stranger reported the Fair Chance Act would outlaw employers from asking applicants about their criminal history until after deciding if they meet employment criteria. Seattle and Spokane have already passed similar laws.

4. Gender nonbinary individuals will be able to declare Gender X on birth certificates beginning January 27. Proponents of the new law say that it will help non-binary people receive accurate medical care as well as simplify the process of updating other forms of legal identification. 

5. Washington State Republican Party chair Susan Hutchison announced she will step down from her role come February. The Seattle Times reported Hutchison gave no reason for the change other than saying the Republican party was in good shape and the time for transition was right. But she said she'd be honored to serve in President Donald Trump's administration should she be offered a role.

6. A federal court in Seattle denied a motion filed by the U.S. government to reconsider an injunction on the banning of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. The injunction followed a motion from the ACLU filed in February of last year claiming the ban did not point to a specific national security threat, a claim the court enforced in it's refusing to reconsider this week.

7. The city of Seattle settled a lawsuit over the arrest of a Black Lives Matter activist for a total of $85,000. The Stranger reported Jorge Torres—who was arrested in late 2014 at a protest on charges of reckless endangerment—sued after the charges against him were dropped and police dash cam recordings revealed officers using racial slurs.

8. U.S. interior secretary Ryan Zinke wants to open the nation’s coastlines to oil drilling. Zinke’s plan for sales off the Pacific coastal states, Alaska, and Gulf would include legally protected areas. Governor Jay Inslee, as well as Washington's Republican and Democratic congressional delegates, have spoken out against the plan: 

9. One of the countries largest coal exporters is suing Governor Inslee, along with several other state officials, over the denial of a permit. The Stranger reported Washington’s Department of Ecology deemed the coal companies’ proposal would have "too many unavoidable and negative environmental impacts for the project to move forward."

10. The Office of Labor Standards will begin work to implement a law to protect hotel workers from sexual harassment and workplace hazards nearly a year after voters passed the measure. The Seattle Weekly reported key provisions of the bill—like providing night shift workers with a panic button and limiting housekeeper to cleaning no more than 5000 sq ft per shift—were not being enforced and that Mayor Durkan has made the implementation a priority.

11. The Seattle School Board will set new boundaries to accommodate the opening of Lincoln High School in Wallingford. King 5 News reported nearly 1,600 students will be moved from Ballard and Magnolia schools to Lincoln, drawing angry reactions from parents whose kids might be facing a new hour-long commute. 

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