Tiny Broadway taco shop and its Guaymas family of restaurants comes up big as state drops $5.6M tax case

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and investigators from the Washington State Department of Revenue who started their search at a Broadway restaurant have huevos rancheros on their face after allegations of a $5.6 million tax fraud scheme at the Seattle chain of Tacos Guaymas fizzled into a poquito $750 fine.

“It is really a great example of the philosophical Occam’s razor,” Robert Chicoine, lawyer for Tacos Guaymas owner Salvador Sahagun said in a statement to CHS. “If there are two explanations for an occurrence, the one that requires the least speculation is usually the correct explanation.”

Ferguson’s office charged Sahagun earlier this year with six counts of first-degree theft and three counts of possessing and using sales suppression software in what the AG said was a multi-year scheme to pocket more than $5.6 million in sales tax from cash transactions. Continue reading

Seattle City Council endorses I-1631 state carbon tax

(Image: CHS)

Global climate change experts said Monday we have only a matter of years to reverse environmental damage or be doomed to living on a dying planet.

One path to doing our part on the needed correction on global warning is a carbon tax.

Monday afternoon, the Seattle City Council approved a resolution endorsing Washington’s I-1631, an initiative to require the largest polluters in the state to pay $15 — and, eventually, more — for every ton of carbon dioxide their corporations release into the atmosphere:

A RESOLUTION endorsing “Clean Air Clean Energy” Initiative 1631, a statewide initiative to the people that would charge pollution fees on the largest corporate polluters and use the revenue to invest in healthy communities, clean our air and water, promote clean energy, and slow down the impacts of climate change – all under oversight of a public board.

The state estimates the initiative would raise more than $2 billion to combat climate change in its first five years and $1 billion annually starting in 2023. Continue reading

Ruling puts I-940 to change state law hindering prosecution of wrongful police shootings on November ballot

I-940, a measure that will provide more training on de-escalating lethal situations and make it easier to prosecute law enforcement officers accused of unnecessary deadly force by eliminating Washington’s “malice standard” for police shootings, will be on the November ballot without changes, the state’s high court ruled this week.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the initiative should go to voters, ending, for now, an effort to introduce a modified version of the proposal favored by law enforcement advocates.

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Capitol Hill Art Walk features a night for Washington reproductive rights at Generations

A work by Mari Shibuya

Capitol Hill’s monthly art walk brings a dose of political action in May. Tonight from 6 to 9 PM at E Mercer’s Generations gallery, NARAL Pro Choice Washington will host an event with artist Mari Shibuya and State Rep. Nicole Macri.

“I’m doing this event with NARAL to promote access to reproductive health care, and I am very glad to support them,” Macri said. “What they’re aiming to do at this event is to make sure we keep and elect legislators both in the House and the Senate in Olympia who will be strong pro choice voices.” Continue reading

Olympia’s approach to Seattle’s homelessness crisis is focus on land and the longterm

In the U District, YouthCare manages University Commons in The Marion West, 20 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless young adults. The future of Broadway and Pine could eventually be home to a similar project.

By Iman Mohamed, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

It has been years since Seattle declared homelessness a state of emergency. A state of emergency should cause a sense of urgency. That was the theme last week at the April Capitol Hill Community Council meeting with Speaker Frank Chopp at 12th Avenue Arts.

Community members on the night suggested many solutions for the city’s crisis. Chopp said that his focus is on creating long-term resources. The main resource for housing developments is from the state, he said, which is why Chopp works on acquiring these lands so the development of housing projects and services can begin.

“The state level focuses on generating funding rather than focusing on temporary solutions like mobile vans,” Chopp said. “The biggest landowner in Seattle is the State of Washington and we are going right after them with these state-level legislations.” Continue reading

Four ways Washington is making it easier to vote: automatic registration, Election Day registration, pre-registration for 16 & 17-year-olds, and a state Voting Rights Act

In the last days of the 2018 Washington legislative session, four bills aimed at reforming Washington’s voting policies and practices were delivered to Governor Jay Inslee, expected to be signed into law this week. In these days when it can feel like democracy is under full attack, the new laws should help the state put its ballot decisions in front of more voters.

“I think it’s fundamental to democracy that we have broad participation in elections,” said 43rd District Sen. Jamie Pedersen.

Pedersen co-sponsored the Voting Rights Act Senate Bill 6002, a state-level version of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which details the government’s responsibilities to voter equality, and Senate Bill 6021 for increased voter registration periods.

Two more House Bills: 2595 for Automatic Voter Registration by state-run agencies and 1513 for pre-registering students to vote are co-sponsored by 43rd District Rep. Nicole Macri and expected to be enacted into law.

The bills were drafted by lawmakers to remove barriers to voter participation and increase registration for communities that experience limits to accessing their voting rights. Continue reading

De-Escalate Washington declares victory on police use of force reforms

A November rally for De-Escalate Washington (Image: CHS)

Backers of an initiative to change Washington’s standard for police deadly force are declaring victory after a compromise bill passed the legislature Thursday in the final hours of this year’s session in Olympia.

“These reforms will result in a reduction in violence, fewer injuries and deaths, increase in respect and trust, and improved relationships,” the announcement from De-Escalate Washington reads.

Governor Jay Inslee has already signed the bill into law.

The compromise legislation addresses Washington’s so-called “malice standard” in which police shootings have been ruled justified if officers were acting in “good faith” and “without malice.” Continue reading

Progress in Olympia: Bump stock ban, conversion therapy ban, Net Neutrality, more

Olympia! (Image: leg.wa.gov)

The public records bill approved in Olympia has received outsized attention this legislative session. We heard here from two of the three 43rd District legislators who joined with their counterparts across the state and the aisle to approve it. But there has also been progress this session on some key issues Capitol Hill voters care about.

The Washington Legislature’s 2018 session is headed to a close March 9. Don’t expect things to drag on through the summer as they did last year.

Even-numbered (non-budget) years tend to end on time, largely because there are no contentious budget battles. This is by design, even years are election years, and legislators are prohibited from collecting campaign contributions during the session. Another larger change this year is the return to one-party rule. The state Senate had been in Republican hands for a few years. That changed after a special election in November gave Democrats control of both chambers, along with the governership.

Dozens of bills of interest to Seattle and Capitol Hill went through the process this year, some look like they’ll become law, others may need to percolate a bit longer. Below, CHS takes a look at some of this session’s progress. With more news from the legislature breaking today, let us know if there some Olympia happenings we missed.

  • Bump Stock Ban: Bump Stocks are accessories that allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire as if it was an automatic rifle, made famous after the Las Vegas massacre. A familiar script ensued where lots of people made noise about getting rid of them, but nothing much happened. Then after Parkland suddenly gun control came back into the discussion. A bump stock ban was the only measure to get any traction in this state this year. The Legislature voted to ban the purchase or manufacture of bump stocks as of July of this year, and to declare them illegal to own as of July 2019. Capitol Hill’s Senator, Jaime Pedersen (D-43) was a co-sponsor of the senate bill. Both of the neighborhood’s representatives, Nicole Macri (D-43) and Frank Chopp (D-43) voted in favor of the ban. Continue reading

43rd District senator explains ‘widely misunderstood’ records law vote — UPDATE

UPDATE 3/2/18: Governor Jay Inslee has vetoed the bill. “The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” Inslee said. “Transparency is a cornerstone of a democratic government, and I’m very proud of my administration’s record on public disclosure. I believe legislators will find they can fulfill their duties while being fully transparent, just like state and local governments all across Washington.” In his announcement, Inslee said plaintiffs from a lawsuit brought by media “have agreed to join defendants in seeking a stay of proceedings in the trial court” — legislators said the case was part of their push to put a new records policy in place this session.

Pedersen at the 43rd District Town Hall earlier this month (Image: CHS)

Original report: Olympia lawmakers are taking a lot of heat after voting last week to approve ESB 6617, a bill “concerning records disclosure obligations of the legislative branch” that many have said is an abuse of power insulating state senators and representatives from public scrutiny by exempting some records including communications with constituents and the location of meetings from public disclosure.

Both of Capitol Hill’s 43rd District representatives and the district’s state senator joined lawmakers across the state to pass the bill. What awful abuse of power did some of the most progressive state lawmakers in the nation commit in making their new policy?

Sen. Jamie Pedersen says that the vote has been “widely misunderstood” —

The bill does not merely codify the Legislature’s current interpretation of the Public Records Act. It also adds substantial new categories of records (including legislators’ calendars and letters and e-mails from lobbyists) that will be subject to public disclosure. These documents have never been public before. The Legislature will also create a new public records office and has funded several positions in the supplemental budget to staff it. I view these changes as a significant step toward transparency.

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43rd District Dems draw big crowd for town hall updates on progress in Olympia

Rep. Chopp, Sen. Pedersen, and Rep. Macri

Constituents of Seattle’s 43rd District packed every pew in Harvard Ave’s First Baptist Church and half the choir-lofts for a town hall meeting on Saturday.

“This is the biggest crowd in our history, let’s say a thousand people,” said Speaker of the House Frank Chopp.

Sen. Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Nicole Macri joined Chopp to discuss the most recent legislative session outcomes in Olympia. Moderator Maxima Patashnik shared questions on carbon tax, education and gun violence protection among the chief concerns from the crowd. Armed with good news and plenty of reasons for the bad, the Democratic lawmakers addressed state gun violence protection measures first. Continue reading