1. Delvonn Heckard, the man who sued former mayor Ed Murray over sexual abuse, was found dead Friday morning of an apparent drug overdose. Heckard came forward in April accusing Murray of paying him for sexual acts in the 1980s while Heckard was a teenager. The revelation lead other accusers to come forward. The Seattle Times reported Heckard, 47, had a history of drug abuse himself and lost both his parents to overdoses, but had been in recovery since coming forward in April.
2. A 19-year-old gunman killed 14 students, two coaches and one teacher at a Florida high school Wednesday, renewing calls for more gun control measures; Republicans still oppose more gun control laws, instead shifting focus on mental illness or offering thoughts and prayers but no alternative solutions (among them, Washington's GOP congressional delegates including representative Dave Reichert). Congresswoman Patty Murray said she supports Betsy DeVos's call for congressional hearings.
Today’s events in Parkland, FL are tragic beyond belief. It’s impossible to comprehend. It’s a direct attack on the heart & soul of America. As we come together as a country to support the community of Parkland, we must focus on how we can put an end to such violence and hate.— Dave Reichert (@davereichert) February 15, 2018
In November, I shared a letter from my constituent Zach Elmore whose sister was injured in the Las Vegas shooting. In the wake of the horror in #Parkland, Zach’s words still ring true.@SpeakerRyan, our nation needs commonsense gun reform and we need it now. pic.twitter.com/GvnMLTuZjC— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) February 16, 2018
3. A Seattle ICE attorney has been convicted of wire fraud and stealing the identity of seven people facing immigration proceedings. Chief council Raphael Sanchez pleaded guilty to a four-year scheme in which he used copies of documents—including energy bills and IDs—to open accounts with Bank of America, Citibank, and JP Morgan. Washington immigrant rights advocates say the news underscores the lack of oversight in ICE proceedings.
4. President Donald Trump's proposed budget would mean massive cuts to Sound Transit. A total of eight transit projects across Washington would lose federal funding under Trump's budget. The hardest hit would be Lynwood Link light rail, which would lose $1.2 billion (half the project's cost). Federal Way and Tacoma light rail would also face cuts. Trump proposed similarly drastic cuts to transit in 2017, but Congress's budget agreement salvaged much of transits' funding.
5. The Senate passed a bill to eliminate the death penalty. Despite Governor Jay Inslee’s 2014 moratorium on executions, similar bills have been unsuccessful in Congress. This iteration would remove capital punishment as an option and instead sentence murderers to life without parole.
6. The “Seattle Silence Breakers” rallied outside of City Hall before a council meeting on harassment within City Light. The Silence Breakers are a group of current or former city employees, activists, and labor representatives who say they've dealt with harassment and negligent human resource departments in Seattle.
Crosscut reported the group listed several demands at Thursday's rally, including releasing all statistics pertaining to city harassment complaints and making the Office for Civil Rights independent from the mayor's office.
7. SEIU 775 president David Rolf co-signed an open letter with the Uber CEO calling for portable benefits for drivers. Portable benefits would offer gig workers access to workers comp and retirement savings, but Bloomberg reported that many labor leaders are skeptical of a union-Uber collaboration and believe such a deal will keep drivers from accessing a broader range of benefits.
8. Senators rejected four different immigration proposals Thursday, leaving DACA recipients in limbo. Trump's own proposal calling for increased federal deportation powers and making it harder for immigrants to bring families over failed by the widest margin. Representative Pramila Jayapal called out the bill as "anti-family."
A bipartisan bill that would offer paths to citizenship for current dreamers while also funding increased border security also failed. Trump set March 5 as the deadline for Congress to reach an agreement.
To the DREAMers and their families in Washington state and across the country who are disappointed with today’s results, I want to be very clear: I am going to keep fighting for you, and I am not going to stop until we get this done –PM— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) February 15, 2018
9. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) and King County filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for cutting grants for teen pregnancy prevention programs.
The U.S. Health and Human Services decided to end the grants to 81 teen pregnancy prevention groups two years earlier than expected in July. The local Planned Parenthood affiliate filed suits in both the U.S. District courts in Spokane and Seattle.
10. Washington weed could be crossing state lines. Idaho state police reported confiscating three times more pot in 2017 than in 2016 and people are blaming a large harvest, the low price of wholesale pot, and Washington’s new—and flawed—pot-tracking system for the diversion.