43rd District state lawmakers recap the 2019 legislative session — gun safety, LGBTQ, and housing affordability

The Washington State Legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus includes Macri and Pedersen from the 43rd — from left, Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia), Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle), Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood), Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), Rep. Christine Kilduff (D-University Place).

Several hundred new laws went into effect in Washington this week. Since the end of the 2019 session in Olympia, the 43rd District lawmakers, all Democrats, have been touting their achievements in a year in which they passed a statewide budget and wielded hefty majorities in each chamber.

The 43rd District includes Downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Madison Park, and South Lake Union, and boasts three powerful lawmakers in Olympia. Sen. Jamie Pedersen chairs his chamber’s Law and Justice Committee. Rep. Nicole Macri, who continues the tradition of more than 30 years of the seat being held by an openly gay person, is vice chair of the Health Care and Wellness Committee and has been an outspoken proponent of reform in the housing sector since being elected in 2016. And this year marked Rep. Frank Chopp’s last session as Speaker of the House, a position he had held alone since 2002.

Pedersen has highlighted such disparate work as the Legislature’s move to keep firearms out of the hands of people who have a history of violent acts, which he co-sponsored, to the creation of a state LGBTQ commission and increase energy efficiency in buildings and appliances.

But in an interview, Pedersen, who lives on Capitol Hill, said the biggest accomplishment personally was a measure to, after years of stalled efforts, reform condo liability laws that allowed condo owners to easily sue builders over minor defects in construction and deterred developers from building the middle-income housing units that gave first-time homebuyers a cheaper alternative to a single-family house and gave empty nesters a smaller ownership option. Continue reading

The Meinert letters a bid to deny former Pike/Pine bar owner’s efforts to re-grow nightlife empire off Capitol Hill

Dow Constantine at 2011’s Capitol Hill Block Party with then-producer Dave Meinert (Image: CHS)

Some believe it was the letters documenting allegations of sexual misconduct and rape posted outside his Pike/Pine venues that ultimately drove David Meinert off Capitol Hill last summer. The nightlife entrepreneur has continued to do business in Seattle at his 5 Point bar and is now preparing to begin rebuilding his empire of cheap beer and barstools with his purchase of Lower Queen Anne classic, the Mecca Cafe.

But letters could again be an issue.

Wednesday night, a group is planning to meet for a writing party at Capitol Hill bar Corvus and Co. Others have promised to hand out form letters on the streets for neighbors to sign and send in. Templates have been passed around and traded on social media. Here is one simple, straightforward example:

To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to strongly urge the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to DENY a new liquor license to Queen Anne Diner LLC/David John Meinert for the Mecca Cafe (license number 350217). Mr. Meinert has had 11 credible sexual assault accusations levied against him recently. In many of these assaults, Mr. Meinert had been drinking alcohol and/or assaulted women in bars he has owned. Please deny this new liquor license application.

Thank you,
(your name here)

Thursday, June 20th, public notice was given that Meinert had applied for a new liquor license for 526 Queen Anne Ave N, the home of the Mecca, as part of the process of acquiring the legendary hangout. For 14 days, the notice must be posted at the place of business. The Meinert letter writers hope they can convince the liquor board to deny the the new owner the vital license.

But the odds are stacked against them. Continue reading

No axes for the hammered? Blade and Timber wants to sell alcohol but liquor board not keen on mixing sharp objects and beer

“Booze and axes, what could possibly go wrong?” one CHS commenter asked after the axe-tossing bar Blade and Timber made its Capitol Hill debut late March.

It’s a common question, but for Blade and Timber, it comes with a caveat: its bar is completely dry.

Securing a liquor license has proven harder than expected. The Kansas-headquartered company applied for a beer-only license for its Capitol Hill outpost but withdrew when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board made clear it does not like mixing alcohol and axes.

But Blade and Timber is not ready to give up. Continue reading

Project to replace Volunteer Park amphitheater in 2020 get funding boost from state

The Washington state legislature approved dedicating $500,000 of the state’s budget to funding a new amphitheater in Volunteer Park, allowing the space to continually fulfill its role as a community gathering place on Capitol Hill, the Volunteer Park Trust community group announced.

“With the generous backing of our community, The Amphitheater Project will replace the current concrete and brick structure with a modern facility that will have a roof, storage and green room space, all-gender bathrooms, upgraded electrical access, and a resilient floor that will even accommodate dance performances,” the Trust announcement reads. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to shut down as plans for new effort to represent neighborhood business community takes shape

The chamber’s Stars on Broadway effort honored neighborhood nonprofits with holiday stars on the Capitol Hill Station construction wall

Back in the old days of the mid-2000s, the chamber called this old house (no longer) at 10th and Thomas home (Image: CHS)

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s ambitious but thus far unsuccessful effort centered around creating an expanded business organization with the power to assess properties from I-5 to 23rd Ave will end in 2019. The nonprofit organization representing the neighborhood’s business community is suspending operations effective June 2nd, the board announced Thursday.

But a larger organization with a strong track record of effective — and socially progressive — pro-business advocacy is ready to fill the gap.

Louise Chernin, executive director of the Capitol Hill-headquartered Greater Seattle Business Association, tells CHS her organization hopes to step forward to create a new effort under the GSBA wing dedicated to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s a continuation, she says, of work already underway at the GSBA.

“They’ve called us in the last two years because they weren’t getting services,” Chernin said about Capitol Hill shops and restaurants who have been looking for more support in their issues with Seattle City Hall and in Olympia. “I think we’re just going to continue doing what we do but we’ll just be more open about it. We respected the chamber, we wanted them to succeed. We’re hoping this new version, they will succeed.” Continue reading

Seattle’s wins as 2019 session wraps in Olympia: affordable housing, behavioral health, renter rights

It is only May but the legislative session is wrapped up in Olympia. Don’t dwell on how much faster we could get things done with a year-round session. Instead, join Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in celebrating the legislative wins for the city — and join her in a few boos on the “missed opportunities” including missing the boat (again!) on a state capital gains tax, and failing to get the job done on “Block the Box” legislation.

“We needed the state to step up and invest in more affordable housing, behavioral health needs, college access, and fighting climate change. We also needed to end the ban on efforts to remedy systemic discrimination,” Durkan said in a statement released Tuesday. Continue reading

Walkout at Seattle Central part of call for state to provide more funding for community colleges

Students joined faculty and staff at walkouts across the Seattle Colleges system Tuesday including a rally on Broadway outside Seattle Central to support legislation currently being considered in Olympia to more fully fund Washington’s community and technical colleges.

“The walkout is intended to illustrate the crisis faced by the community and technical colleges (CTC) because of the State Legislature’s failure to adequately fund programs, salaries and student support,” organizers from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) local 1789 wrote. “For over a decade, the State has covered only 65% of college expenses, while increases in student tuition, budget cuts, and reserve money have attempted to cover the gap.” Continue reading

Washington set to raise smoking and vaping age to 21

Washington is set to become the ninth state to raise the legal age for buying tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping products to 21.

The Washington State Senate approved the legislation by a vote of 33-12 Wednesday to raise the sale age for tobacco and vapor products from 18.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Washington State Department of Health jointly requested the legislation, according to an announcement from Ferguson’s office. Gov. Jay Inslee has said he will sign the legislation. Continue reading

Seattle responds to Christchurch with sadness, efforts to make Washington safer for Muslim and minority communities

3-year-old Muca Abdi is reported to be the youngest victim in the attack (Image via @KhaledBeydoun)

Local leaders and organizations have responded to the murders of the Christchurch terror attack with sorrow, denouncement of the hate behind the act, and updates about making things safer for Muslim and minority communities in the aftermath of the killings that left dozens dead in New Zealand.

“This cowardly act is additional evidence that hate is on the rise. Now, more than ever, we must work to combat hate and heal together – because an attack on one community is an attack on all our communities,” the AntiDefamation League – Pacific Northwest said in a statement. “In an act of solidarity and allyship, we recommend that you search for your nearest vigil and show your support by showing up.”

CAIR-Washington and the Muslim Association of Puget Sound will hold an interfaith vigil Monday night in Redmond. Continue reading

A Capitol Hill look at Olympia 2019: secure scheduling, vaccine exemptions, crosswalk traffic cams

Rep. Nicole Macri (Image: Rep. Macri)

The 2019 session of the Washington Legislature is in full swing, with lawmakers considering thousands of bills. February 22nd was a key deadline for bills to pass out of their policy committee; any which did not get committee approval are considered dead (except the ones that aren’t, there are still ways to revive them). From there, bills with a financial implication are routed through a fiscal committee (Senate Ways and Means; House Appropriations) before going to the floor of their house of origin. Bills must clear their house of origin by March 13 before moving to be considered by the other house. This year’s session is set to end April 28.

Here is a roundup of bills moving through the Legislature that may be of interest to Capitol Hill with a focus on efforts from our state elected including Sen. Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Nicole Macri.

Anyone interested in discussing these, or any other bills, with Capitol Hill’s legislators can attend a town hall with the District 43 lawmakers at 1:30 PM March 16 at First Seattle Baptist Church:

43rd Legislative District Town Hall

  • Statewide secure scheduling: Rep. Macri is the prime sponsor of legislation that would “ensure that people who work for large fast food, coffee, restaurant, and retail chains in Washington get schedules that are more predictable and balanced.” Macri says, “I’m working closely with business and labor representatives to find the best way forward to support workers and ease impacts on businesses.” The bill would is modeled after Seattle’s law and would help eliminate things like “clopenings” — when a worker works a late-night closing shift and is also directed to work a early-morning opening shift with only a few hours in between. Continue reading