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43rd District legislators talk holding police accountable, taxing capital gains, and helping renters at town hall

Capitol Hill-area lawmakers talked reforming police accountability, taxing capital gains, and helping renters in a virtual town hall with constituents Saturday afternoon.

The full recording of Saturday’s online session is below.

Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the chair of his chamber’s Law and Justice Committee, said law enforcement reform and gun control were his top priorities this session in Olympia.

“We experienced first-hand the real cries of frustration of a lot of people about the police and how they have interacted with our communities,” he said, noting he lives closest to Cal Anderson Park of any 43rd District lawmaker.

He highlighted several bills moving through the Legislature that would change policing in Washington, from more stringent audits and prohibitions on chokeholds and guidelines on the use of crowd control weapons to the creation of an independent office to investigate police use of force and setting standards for when law enforcement can use force. All four of these measures have passed through the state House and are set for Thursday votes in Pedersen’s committee.

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Pedersen is also the primary sponsor of legislation that would expand background investigations of individuals applying for law enforcement positions and make more strident standards for decertification of officers. That bill passed the Senate last month on a party line vote and is also set for a Thursday vote in a House committee.

Other Senate measures he noted would require an officer to step in when witnessing another officer using excessive force and an attorney general-backed measure that would get the ball rolling on a better use of force data collection system statewide.

“It’s, I think, an impressive list of bills individually, but what’s better even yet is that they build on each other to create sort of a web of accountability and make it much more likely that police will act as the guardians that we want them to be,” Pedersen said.

The Senate earlier this month passed by one vote a new tax on capital gains that would levy a 7% tax on profits on the sale of stocks and bonds over $250,000, which Pedersen called a “very important first step in making sure that wealthy people pay their fair share.” The measure, if passed by the House, would take effect at the beginning of 2022 and could bring in about $500 million per year. This revenue is expected to be partly used to fund early learning and child care subsidies in the state, Rep. Frank Chopp noted.

This was the first time a capital gains tax had even been up for a vote in Olympia after years of chatter, but opponents argue it is an illegal income tax. Because of this, the future of the tax will surely end in the courts if the governor ends up signing it into law.

Washington state’s tax system has long been maligned as regressive and overly dependent on sales tax.

“It brings more fairness to the code overall when we ensure that our wealthiest taxpayers, you know the top 1%, in Washington state are also paying for these universal needs that we know that residents across the state have,” Rep. Nicole Macri said Saturday. “We should all here in the 43rd be celebrating that.”

Another bill which died in the Legislature would have instituted a 1% wealth tax on assets over $1 billion.

On housing, Macri is the primary sponsor of a bill that would make it harder for landlords to evict tenants. The proposal, which passed the House on a largely party-line vote this month, would require landlords to specify a reason —  such as failure to pay rent, sexual harassment, or breaking the law — for evicting tenants living under certain leases.

“Renters are in the most precarious situation that we’ve ever seen,” Macri said.

Pedersen celebrated the governor’s decision last week to direct districts to offer some in-person instruction by the end of next month, adding that the mental health impact on students has been heavy over the past year of virtual learning.

“I am really glad that the governor took decisive action. I hope that the schools reopen as quickly as possible,” Pedersen said. “Getting schools reopened as quickly as possible is really in everyone’s best interest” as teachers get vaccinated.

Pedersen is a Capitol Hill father of four school-age boys.

In moving to reopen schools, Inslee issued a state of emergency on youth mental health. A bipartisan effort in Olympia would require all schools to develop and implement a plan for comprehensive counseling programs by the 2022-2023 school year.

The Senate has passed legislation that would prohibit the open carry of guns at public demonstrations and at the state Capitol, which Pedersen said was the priority on gun control for his chamber. He added that over 3,000 people signed up to testify on the bill when it was heard in his committee in January. Meanwhile, a measure to ban high capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds failed this year, but Pedersen was confident it could pass next year.

For the third straight year, Inslee is pushing a low-carbon fuel standard. It has garnered support from Amazon and has passed through the House, with a Senate committee vote scheduled for Tuesday.

“We are hopeful that the Senate will be able to pass that, as well, to really help address the issue in a productive way,” Chopp said. Pedersen said he was “reasonably confident” that it would pass.

The 2021 legislative session is set to wrap up on April 25.

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30 days ago

I watched this. The moderator chose frustratingly simple “softball” questions – basically propaganda for the base, with no actual policy discussion. It was a waste of time. Maybe your article will save other people from wasting their time.

(Moderator: next town hall, pick questions at random from those submitted. It was painfully obvious that anything difficult or even simply new was filtered.)

29 days ago

I don’t think anyone would argue against protecting impacted unemployed from eviction – the problem is with a blanket ban which can be exploited. Renting property will become extremely difficult in Seattle with landlords mitigating risk by increasing salary requirements.

James T.
James T.
29 days ago

Can we start defunding SPD in a serious way. I looked at their budget and salaries recently and it’s so insanely high. I am tired of paying SPD to harass brown people all day in South Seattle.

28 days ago

Thank you to Nicole, Jamie and Frank for their efforts on key legislation to raise revenue from cap gains and hold our cops accountable, good work.

28 days ago
Reply to  Char

The cap gains tax is going to hurt more than it helps. When you rebalance your savings as you get older, you’ll pay taxes.

Why not include a rollover provision that delays the tax if you’re selling, say one stock and buying a bond because your risk tolerance had gone down now that you’re 60…