Last Week in Politics

Top 10 Stories: Seattle Police Contract, Regressive Taxes, and Backyard Cottages

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Anne Dennon October 22, 2018

1. The Community Police Commission, a community oversight body for police reform, is recommending council members reject a new contract negotiated between a police union and the city. It's a blow for Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, who unveiled the new contract after negotiations were at a stalemate for more than three years. The CPC said the labor contract would roll back key police reforms hard fought when the city approved milestone legislation on police reform last year.

2. A study found that Washington state has the most unfair tax system in the countryAs one of seven U.S. states that do not implement an income tax, Washington relies on sales and "consumption" taxes, which hit low-income families disproportionately harder than higher-income families, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The wealthiest Washingtonians pay 3 percent of their income, while the poorest pay 17.8 percent. 

3. The Washington Supreme Court narrowly ruled sentencing underage offenders to life without parole unconstitutional, The Seattle Times reportedThe 5-4 decision aligned Washington with 20 other states and D.C. that have already prohibited life sentences without the possibility of parole for minors. Thursday's judgment followed another seminal decision on the part of Washington's Supreme Court justices this month, who also struck down the death sentence in Washington state.

4. Eighth Congressional District candidates Dino Rossi and Kim Schrier held their sole public debate Wednesday. Held at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, the debate's tenor echoed both candidates' smear campaigns and nailed Rossi to some. 

5. Those ubiquitous calls to vote are hitting home: Both King County and Washington state are seeing a surge in voter registration, The Seattle Times reportedIn the past year, the number of registrants in King County climbed by 150 percent: from a little over 61,000 to a little over 91,000. Factors that likely contributed to increased voter interest include a large candidate pool and a number of hot-button issues on the ballot as statewide initiatives. 

6. King County Superior Court ordered Seattle to turn over records of private polling and decision-making that preceded the head-tax repeal, The Seattle Times reportedPlaintiffs in the lawsuit—an open-government activist and an attorney—claim that Durkan and council members "rigged" the repeal vote and violated Washington's Open Public Meetings Act by privately conferring with political consultants and deciding on a course of action prior to the public vote. The city has denied that it violated the law.  

7. An environmental review found backyard cottages to be a good move for Seattle, but a Queen Anne neighborhood group filed an appeal to those findings, The Seattle Times reportedCity council member Mike O'Brien first introduced legislation to loosen restriction around building backyard cottages (or, accessory dwelling units) in 2015. The same group appealed then, resulting in delays that culminated in a published review earlier this month. At stake is whether Seattle will preserve single-family zoning or allow for multi-family dwelling construction to accommodate the city's growing population.

8. A gun safety initiative has the support of 59 percent of Washington votes, according to a Crosscut/Elway pollThe measure would raise the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, mandate an enhanced background check, require a firearms training course for gun owners, and establish a 10-day waiting period between passing that course and being able to purchase a gun. 

9. Some of the state's counties have stopped recycling products that could end up in landfills anyway, KUOW reported. China has stopped buying recycled waste from the U.S. that they believe is too dirty, leaving recycled plastics to end up in landfills. In rural or unincorporated areas especially, the costs of processing recycling without a market for the products left some city officials choosing to stop

10. King County Elections has mailed out those ballots, and it's that time of year for endorsements. The Seattle Times editorial board is supporting Dino Rossi for the Eighth Congressional District and is recommending a "no" vote on the carbon fee initiative; The Stranger is supporting Sarah Smith, a new challenger to 11-term congressman Adam Smith for the Ninth Congressional District. 

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