News Roundup

Top Stories: Aid for Dreamers, Rent Control Debate, and Another Letter from the DOJ

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Araz Hachadourian January 27, 2018

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 1. The Washington state Senate approved a bill to keep college aid for Dreamers in place regardless of what the Trump administration does. The bill—which allows undocumented Washington high school graduates to be eligible for financial aid—passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and will stay in place even if Congress doesn’t meet its March 5 deadline to extend DACA.

2. Washington reopened its rent control debate this week in a public hearing that drew crowds from both sides of the issue. The proposed legislation would give cities and counties control over how (or if) they choose to implement rent control laws. Opponents say it will only hurt those in need of affordable housing by slowing down supply.

3. King County received a letter this week from attorney general Jeff Sessions regarding its sanctuary city policies. The letter asks King County to turn over all documents relating to how employees communicate with ICE officials. King County Council chair Joe McDermott called the letter “nothing but bullying and intimidation.”

4. The state Senate approved a ban on the sale and manufacturing of bump-stock, a trigger modification used by the Las Vegas gunman that allows a semi-automatic weapon to mimic a fully automatic weapon. The Seattle Times reported it's a rare victory for Washington gun-control advocates as Congress has failed to pass any regulations in the past few years. The ban must now pass the state House.

5. State representatives approved changing the way car tab taxes are collected, a decision that could impact Sound Transit to the tune of $2.3 billion. The Stranger reported the bill is intended to correct a tax formula that inflates the value of expensive cars but has drawn criticism from transit advocates. The bill will now go to the Senate. 

6. Mayor Jenny Durkan announced she will start an “extensive review” of Seattle’s harassment and discrimination policies. The announcement follows news of widespread frustration with the city's human resources department. Durkan plans to assemble a team that will look at employee feedback and recommend changes by the end of May.

7. Washington secretary of state Kim Wyman announced Tuesday that the I-940 campaign, known as De-Escalate Washington, collected enough signatures to bring a reform of police deadly force laws to the legislature. The proposed measure would make it easier for police officers to be charged for fatal shootings and require officers receive mental health, de-escalation, and cultural competency trainings. Legislators now have until November to pass the law or the measure will go to voters. 

8. Radioactive contamination was found outside controlled sites from the demolition of Hanford Nuclear facility. The demolition work at Hanford—a site that produced material for the atomic bomb during World War I—has been put on hold. Two workers have tested positive for inhaling or ingesting contaminated particles; 180 others are awaiting test results.

9. Two Seattle-based law firms are suing a Washington blueberry farm for conditions allegedly amounting to “forced labor.” The Stranger reported the lawsuit claims workers at the Whatcom County farm were threatened with deportation, denied sick leave, and provided insufficient meals. Workers went on a one-day strike following the death of their coworker but were promptly fired and forced to move.

10. Jim Unsworth, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, resigned this week. The Seattle Times reported the department has faced allegations of workplace sexual misconduct and controversy over its bear- and wolf-hunting practices in the past year, but Unsworth said he was resigning to pursue other “personal and professional goals.” The department will launch a national search for a new director.

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