This Week in Politics

Top 10 Stories: Super Tuesday, Schultz, and Homegrown Weed

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Anne Dennon February 1, 2019

1. A bill that passed in the state senate would move Washington's presidential primary up from May to March, making the state's voters more important to presidential candidates. The proposal would coordinate Washington with other West Coast states' primaries to create a "Super Tuesday." 

2. Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan transmitted legislation to the Seattle City Council to offer $15,000 bonuses to lateral hires to the Seattle Police Department. 

Durkan and police chief Carmen Best hope that the bill, if passed by the council, will help SPD recruit highly trained and diverse officers. Lateral incentives are offered by many other police jurisdictions in the Puget Sound. Recent wage changes make SPD the highest paid police force in the state. 

3. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told CBS that if he runs for president, it would be as a centrist independent. Schultz has still not announced his candidacy, but maintains that he is "seriously thinking of running."

He faced immediate backlash from Democrats, and critics that say his running as an independent would siphon votes away from Democratic candidates—ultimately ensuring president Donald Trump's re-election. Schultz spoke Thursday night at the Moore Theatre as part of his book tour.

4. A group of local CEOs released a report asking for policy changes to provide more housing for the middle class in Seattle, The Seattle Times reported. Led by former Washington governor Christine Gregoire, the group, Challenge Seattle, comprises 17 CEOs of major corporations that include Microsoft, Costco, Zillow, and Weyerhaeuser. 

Excepting Microsoft, none of the companies have contributed their own money to the housing cause which, the group admits, would help them attract and retain talent.  

5. The Seattle City Council approved two major pieces of legislation on Monday—freezing redevelopment on mobile home parks, and funding the Waterfront Local Improvement District. 

Mobile home parks are safe from redevelopment with a one-year moratorium, after Halcyon senior residents feared evictions from a property sale and contacted council members. 

Council member Debora Juarez's bill approved a $160 million property tax that would help fund a new waterfront park. Under state law, the officials can create a Local Improvement District for infrastructure changes that would increase the value of the properties. 

For months many of the property owners protested against the LID, saying that homeowners would shoulder the burden of improvements meant for regional tourists. 

6. State lawmakers are considering a bipartisan bill that would allow recreational marijuana to be grown at home. It also seeks to expand the current law that allows for home cultivation of medical marijuana.

All other states that have legalized recreational marijuana have also made it legal to grow a certain number of plants at home. 

7. A local service member joined a lawsuit against president Donald Trump's ban on transgender individuals in the military, Seattle Weekly reported. Staff sergeant Katie Schmid of Washington is currently stationed in South Korea. While "grandfathered in" by Trump's policy, she is now ineligible to be promoted to officer status. The lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and challenges the ban's constitutionality. Schmid joins eight other transgender plaintiffs who either currently serve or seek to enlist. 

8. The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program will substitute the old, three-lane-wide SR 99 with a tunnel... and a six- to eight-lane street, The Stranger reported. While the original impetus for moving traffic underground was to reconnect the city to the water, the tunnel doesn't have the capacity—or the downtown exits—of the old viaduct. The new surface street will run along the waterfront, directly above the tunnel and below the soon-to-be-demolished viaduct.    

9. A local social justice nonprofit published a survey on Washington rental experiences and blames city policies for the mass evictions of low-income tenants. Washington Community Action Network (CAN) organizers have their eyes set on changes at both the city and state levels, noting that eviction is an issue in rural areas as well.

Of the 800 survey respondents, 16 percent had experienced eviction. The national eviction rate (as of 2016) sits at 2.3 percent. 

10. Former police chief Jim Pugel became the most high-profile council candidate in an open race, after he announced he will run for Seattle City Council's District 7 seat, currently represented by 10-year council veteran Sally Bagshaw.

Bagshaw is stepping down, while three other council members have announced their re-election bids—including Lisa Herbold, a 21-year City Hall veteran representing West Seattle. (Council member Mike O'Brien has also filed to run, according to the PDC.)

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