Seattle Districts Now kicks off its signature-gathering campaign
Wednesday night, in the basement of the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, a passel of neighborhood activists gathered at tables to coordinate and celebrate the beginning of the Seattle Districts Now signature-gathering campaign. Their goal: 30,943 valid signatures in the next six months, which will ensure their amendment to the city charter reaches the November ballot. If it passes, Seattle would elect its city council in a hybrid system of both district and at-large council seats. Stranger, 2-21-13.
County parks levy proposed for August ballot
This summer, you might be asked to vote for a new King County Parks levy, if the County Council agrees with a recommendation from the County Executive. The county says the levy would cost $64 a year for a home worth $340,000. If approved, the measure would fund maintenance and operation of King County’s 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 26,000 acres of open space. It would also acquire or protect about 450 acres of critical open space per year – or 2,700 acres over the six-year levy period – for protection of forests, habitat and water quality for fish and wildlife, and improvement of opportunities for public recreation. West Seattle Blog, 2-21-13.
House votes to mandate abortion coverage
The Washington State House of Representatives voted Friday, largely along party lines, to create a first-in-the-nation requirement that employers who offer health insurance plans covering maternity care also provide for abortion coverage. Gov. Jay Inslee, a supporter of the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), followed up on the 54-43 House vote by calling on the state Senate to pass the bill. But the legislation’s fate in the Senate is uncertain. Seattle P-I, 2-22-13.
State’s renewable-energy rules in the crosshairs as Senate committee passes ‘don’t buy before need’ bill
A Senate committee Thursday passed a bill (SB 5648) that reframes one of the Legislature’s oldest energy-and-utilities debates as a matter of social justice – declaring that the state’s stiff renewable-energy purchasing requirements are creating “unintended economic hardship on electric consumers,” and setting up one of the most delicious (to a GOP mouthpiece like Washington State Wire, that is) conflicts in ages: Greens versus the poor. Don’t count on much action in the House. State Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33), chairman of the House Environment Committee, says he doesn’t plan a hearing, much less a vote. Washington State Wire, 2-21-13.
Eyman, Fagan call Governor a ‘lying whore’
Could this be the incident that sends the Eyman clown car off the rails? Eyman, his longtime associate Jack Fagan, and Jack Fagan’s brother, Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, in a fundraising letter sent to supporters of his anti-tax efforts, called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore.” The letter, which was signed by the three, co-directors of Voters Want More Choices, was part of a mass email soliciting money for the group. Voters Want More Choices advocates for lower taxes through statewide voter initiatives. Spokesman-Review, 2-21-13. State GOP chair Kirby Wilbur was shocked, shocked, to hear that Eyman’s gang had used such unseemly language, and said they should apologize. Fat chance. Seattle Times, 2-21-13. One person thought none of this should have been reported at all, because it was just “feeding the trolls.” As if! On what planet? Every political actor’s career has a certain “shelf life.” The more we expose Eyman, the sooner we reach his.
Legislature back and forth on differential tuition
Less than one week after the Washington House of Representatives passed a bill that would permanently limit differential tuition, the Senate Higher Education Committee passed legislation that would temporarily suspend differential tuition. Student lobbyists said they are in full support of HB 1043, and that the new measure passed by the Senate Higher Education Committee, SB 5835, doesn’t quite meet their standards. “It’s a lot cleaner to have the repeal so students don’t have to deal with it down the road,” said Angie Weiss, director of the ASUW Office of Government Relations. UW Daily, 2-21-13.
UW’s Young concerned about disconnect between policy, funding
UW President Michael Young spent a day in Olympia earlier this week, and came away with concerns about how some policy decisions are being made without regard to funding issues, he said Thursday. Young said legislators are making broad policy decisions about higher education — such as tuition freezes – without also taking into consideration the need to increase funding. Seattle Times, 2-21-13.
Bill giving university students a louder voice passes House
Washington students are one step closer to having a larger role in decisions made by public university officials. HB 1331, which allows student governments to form committees advising school administrations, passed the House Wednesday, 95-1. Bill sponsor Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-3) said student input is becoming increasingly important, given rising tuition. “As students are spending more on education, they deserve a seat at the table where these decisions are being made,” Riccelli said. Seattle Times, 2-21-13.
Key House Republican: Don’t even think about a path to citizenship
Immigration reform’s chances in the House are looking bleaker after one of the top Republicans assigned to guide a bill to passage ruled out a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the Judiciary Committee that will mark up any House legislation on the issue, told NPR this week that he will not support a bill that eventually grants citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in America. “People have a pathway to citizenship right now: It’s to abide by the immigration laws, and if they have a family relationship, if they have a job skill that allows them to do that, they can obtain citizenship,” Goodlatte said. “But simply someone who broke the law, came here, [to] say, ‘I’ll give you citizenship now,’ that I don’t think is going to happen.” Talking Points Memo, 2-21-13.
To Think About
So why do hedge funds so favor charter schools?
Just follow the money. Thanks to a little discussed law passed in 2000, at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools and other projects in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit – as much as 39% — to help offset their expenditure in such projects. In essence, that credit amounts to doubling the amount of money they have invested within just seven years. Moreover, they are allowed to combine that tax credit with job creation credits and other types of credit, as well collect interest payments on the money they are lending out – all of which can add up to far more than double in returns. This is, no doubt, why many big banks and equity funds are so invested in the expansion of charter schools. There is big money being made here — because investment is nearly a sure thing. Ken Bernstein, Daily Kos, 2-15-13.