(Daily Clips will not publish Wednesday, 4-24, so that the editor can attend the KCDCC monthly meeting Tuesday evening at the Carpenters’ Hall in Renton. See you there.)
Cities, tribes: No coal port, no coal trains here
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, oft-faulted for a go-it-alone governing style, became a coalition builder Monday, joining with other city officials and Indian tribes in a new organization designed to build opposition to location of big coal export terminals in Northwest waters. In an interview, McGinn suggested that the newly formed Leadership Alliance Against Coal will seek outside, non-governmental funding. Seattle has already done a transportation study on the impact of having up to 18 coal trains, each as long as 1½ miles, plying the waterfront each day. The alliance includes city officials from Marysville, Shoreline, Spokane, Edmonds, Sumner, Bainbridge Island and Seattle . . . and officials from the Tulalip Tribes, Lummi Indians, Spokane Indians, and the Swinomish Indians. Seattle P-I, 4-22-13.
Council OKs compromise on builder fees in South Lake Union
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved new affordable-housing fees for development in South Lake Union, but council members said the fees would still leave the city far short of its goals in the fast-growing neighborhood. After objections by property owners, and months of bruising debate, the council voted 9-0 Monday for a compromise that blended proposals by members Mike O’Brien, Tim Burgess and Sally Clark. Reaction was muted, as no one representing developers addressed the council at its meeting. “It’s not the end,” Council President Clark said of the new fees. “These are not the figures that will get us to where we want.” (DUH! Why didn’t they raise them, then?) Seattle Times, 4-22-13.
In historic step, Bellevue approves light-rail route
The Bellevue City Council took a historic step Monday night, endorsing by voice vote a route for Link light-rail trains, more than four years after voters approved higher sales taxes to build three suburban lines. The $2.8 billion East Link will go from the International District/Chinatown Station across Lake Washington and Mercer Island into a short downtown Bellevue tunnel and over Interstate 405 to Overlake. Service is expected in 2023, two years past the original goal. Sound Transit and the city negotiated for months over the tunnel costs, which weren’t included in the ballot measure in 2008 when elected officials punted on that problem to get a measure before voters. Afterward, transit leaders and Bellevue council members agreed to split the extra $320 million tunnel cost. Bellevue chose to provide $100 million, and hopes to achieve $60 million in cost savings. Seattle Times, 4-22-13.
Seattle’s SR 520 gains in transportation tax proposal
The transportation-tax pie is growing so lawmakers can devote a much bigger slice of it as an insurance policy for a Seattle road project. The House Transportation Committee took a long-awaited vote Monday on a phased-in 10-cent gas-tax increase and other charges on drivers, but tacked on an extra three cents at the last minute that would apply only if the SR 520 project doesn’t have enough funding. The replacement of the floating bridge over Lake Washington has funding lined up from past gas tax increases and other sources, including connections between the bridge and the Eastside suburbs. But there’s still some uncertainty about how the stretch of 520 between Interstate 5 and the Seattle side of the lake will be paid for. The gap in funding is an estimated $1.4 billion. Tacoma News Tribune, 4-22-13.
Lobbying tab $12.9 million — and counting
Interest groups and public agencies reported spending more than $12.9 million to lobby the Legislature through March, topped by outlays from businesses, unions, local governments and health-advocacy groups. Those numbers are on record at the state Public Disclosure Commission in lobbying reports filed at the April 15 deadline for spending through March 31. The figures will climb—partly because some reports were mailed at the April 15 deadline and are still being tabulated, and partly because the battle over the state budget is continuing. Service Employees International Union 775 Healthcare ranks No. 1 so far in total spending. It is urging passage of a budget that pays for 5 percent pay raises for home-care workers in 2013 and 2014. SEIU reported spending $188,068—more than $151,000 of it to bring workers to the Capitol rather than salaries for lobbyists. Olympian, 4-22-13.
Eyman plans initiative limiting tax increases to one year
Tim Eyman says he plans to file an initiative this year that would limit the duration of all new tax increases to one year. The measure would be his response to a recent state Supreme Court ruling that overturned an earlier Eyman initiative that required a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, or voter approval, to increase taxes. “Because the 2/3 law is no more, they (lawmakers) can raise taxes with a simple majority vote. But under our initiative, such tax increases will expire one year later,” Eyman said. “The only way a tax increase can continue is for them to pass it the next year too.” Eyman says he plans to file the measure this week, but won’t say whether it’s for the 2013 or 2014 fall ballot. Seattle Times, 4-22-13.
The Big Divide: Competing political wills block the way
Brian Wolfe brought the three-ring binder down in a chopping motion, smacking a big table inside his downtown Vancouver law-office building. The 70-year-old Port of Vancouver commissioner leaned in and pushed forward the binder. It contained a plan for sparking the county’s sluggish economy that had won endorsements from the business, civic, and political leaders who have historically set Clark County’s business and political agenda. Wolfe, one of those long-established leaders, wants that plan to become a reality. (But this is Clark County—also called “Clarkabama” and “Clarktucky”—where Tea Partiers on the County Commission think government in general, and light rail in particular, are an attack on their precious bodily fluids.) Vancouver Columbian, 4-22-13.
US Senate approves cloture on Internet sales tax, $1 billion in WA state revenue at stake
The US Senate Monday approved cloture on debate on the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), a bill that would finally allow states to collect sales tax from out-of-state resellers. The motion to end debate and proceed passed the Senate by a 70-20 margin, indicating that there is more than enough support to carry the bill through final passage, a vote that could come by Thursday. The bill would then move to the Republican-controlled US House, where its prospects are considerably bleaker. “The chair is not supportive yet, so we haven’t got a hearing,” Representative Suzan DelBene (D-1) said. At stake is an estimated $11 billion a year in uncollected taxes, more than $1 billion in state and local taxes per biennium in Washington State alone. “It has such a huge impact on state an local revenues,” says DelBene, a former Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) director. The Stranger, 4-22-13. But not so fast, says Erik Smith. The real total is closer to $184 million, passage in the House is not so certain, and no one should count on WA getting a nickel. Washington State Wire, 4-22-13.
Rep. Hanabusa (D) to challenge Sen. Schatz (D) in Hawaii
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will challenge U.S. Senator Brian Schatz in the 2014 Democratic primary, Hawaii News Now has learned. Gov. Neil Abercrombie selected Schatz, his lieutenant governor, after the death of longtime U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye last December even though Inouye had a letter hand-delivered to Abercrombie making a request that Hanabusa succeed him. The election next year is to fill the final two years of Sen. Inouye’s six-year term and another election will be held in 2016 for a new six-year term. Hawaii News Now, 4-22-13.
Appeals court upholds Mexican truckers’ ability to operate in US
The nation’s truckers have lost an appeal to prevent Mexican truck drivers from operating in the United States. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied an appeal from the Teamsters union and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) seeking to prevent the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from allowing Mexican truckers to work in the United States. A pilot program initiated in 2011, under a condition of the North American Free Trade Agreement, allows long-haul truckers to operate on both sides of the border for up to three years. The trucking groups provided 13 distinct arguments against the program. “We find none to be persuasive,” wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh, one of the three judges on the panel, in the court’s decision. The Hill, 4-19-13.
Op-ed: The jobless trap
FDR told us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. But when future historians look back at our monstrously failed response to economic depression, they probably won’t blame fear, per se. Instead, they’ll castigate our leaders for fearing the wrong things. For the overriding fear driving economic policy has been debt hysteria, fear that unless we slash spending we’ll turn into Greece any day now. But while debt fears were and are misguided, there’s a real danger we’ve ignored: the corrosive effect, social and economic, of persistent high unemployment. And even as the case for debt hysteria is collapsing, our worst fears about the damage from long-term unemployment are being confirmed. Paul Krugman, New York Times, 4-21-13.
To Think About
The real faces of the minimum wage
Corporate interests and their elected representatives have created a world of illusion to resist paying a decent wage to working Americans. They’d have us believe that minimum-wage workers are teens from ’50s TV sitcoms working down at the local malt shoppe. It’s a retro-fantasy where corporate stinginess creates minority jobs, working parents can’t possibly be impoverished, and nobody gets hurt except kids who drive dad’s convertible and top up their allowances with a minimum-wage job slinging burgers. Here’s the truth: Most minimum-wage workers are adults, the majority of them are women, and many are parents who are trying to raise their children on poverty wages. RJ Eskow, Huffington Post, 4-21-13.