Nobody getting primaried here — Democratic leaders in Capitol Hill’s state legislative district running unopposed

None the big “D” Democrats in the state’s 43rd Legislative District representing Capitol Hill and the nearby in Olympia will be primaried. And none will face a challenge from the right.

The final count of candidates registering for this summer’s August primary shows the state leaders hailing from the 43rd — Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Nicole Macri, and senior member Rep. Frank Chopp — are each running unopposed.

The area might be the power center for a nationally recognized socialist city council member but, this time around, there will not be a challenge from the left to push back on the Democratic stronghold. Continue reading

Attention Capitol Hill commercial drone pilots: New state registration rule begins April 1st

(Image: CHS)

Attention, Capitol Hill and Central District drone pilots. If you use the remote control flying cameras for work, you have some more paperwork to do starting April 1st.

The Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Division is reminding pilots that, starting April 1st, people or businesses using drones for commercial purposes must register their drones:

The $15 drone registration fee will support WSDOT Aviation’s work to assess and collaboratively work on integration of emerging technologies.

Steps on how to register commercial drones can be found on the Aviation Division’s website.

The new rules follow the Washington State Legislature’s passage of a bill in 2021 directing the WSDOT Aviation Division to create and manage a commercial drone registration program.

Commercial drone operators must now register their aircraft every year.

The rules join a multitude of federal and local restrictions on the aircraft including rules that prohibit the flying cameras from all city parks.

You can learn more about the new state registration requirements here.

 

SUBSCRIBE AND KEEP CHS PAYWALL-FREE -- $1/$5/$10
We love providing community news on CHS free for thousands of readers. What sustains the effort are voluntary subscriptions from paying supporters. If you are enjoying CHS, SUBSCRIBE HERE and help keep CHS available to all. Become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with no paywall. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.

 

2022 in Olympia: $17B transportation package and money for 520, police reform, gun control, and reproductive rights

For the area around Capitol Hill, the biggest impact from 2022’s legislative session will be money needed to finish the 520 project including a new Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid (Image: WSDOT)

 

SUBSCRIBE AND KEEP CHS PAYWALL-FREE -- $1/$5/$10
We love providing community news on CHS free for thousands of readers. What sustains the effort are voluntary subscriptions from paying supporters. If you are enjoying CHS, SUBSCRIBE HERE and help keep CHS available to all. Become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with no paywall. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.

 
Creating, changing, and cutting the laws of Washington seems like a full time job but state legislators wrapped up their 2022 session this month. Since this is an even numbered year, lawmakers are only in session for 60 days.

But even with the shorter session, there were a couple of major pieces of legislation which passed. There weren’t as many big changes as last year’s grab bag of progressive policies, but certainly some important laws.

Washington operates on a two-year budget cycle, and this year was not a budget year. However, state revenue forecasts were up, and the state, led by its democratic majority in both houses, added $5 billion in spending programs to the budget. This was largely done over the objections of GOP members who argued for a number of different tax cuts instead. So, it was really the typical fault lines of Democrats want more services, Republicans want lower taxes.

Among other spending, the budget supplement sent about $2 billion to the transportation package (see below), $400 million to build affordable housing, $350 million to the state’s family leave program, $351 toward caring for adults with disabilities or other long term needs, $220 million to address homelessness and $150 million to provide low-interest student loans.

Transportation funding: The biggest item this session was a $17 billion transportation package, with projects to be built over 16 years. This was done without a hike in the gas tax. Instead it relies on some federal funding, money from last year’s cap-and-trade carbon tax, increased fees on vehicle license plates and driver’s licenses, and some surplus funds.

Locally, the money will be used to complete the 520 project in Montlake, and some funding for more bus rapid transit lines. Beyond that, there’s funding for a new Columbia River Bridge – the one on I-5 connecting Washington to Oregon – something which has been on the state’s to-do list for years. There’s also money for helping replace the bridge over the Hood River to Oregon. There’s funding for four new ferries, money to continue court-ordered work to replace fish culverts, and funding for bike and pedestrian projects.

Finally, there’s $150 million set aside to start study of a high-speed rail project. If federal money gets added to the pot, the project is envisioned to provide service from Vancouver, B.C. to Portland via Seattle. Just don’t get your hopes up on this one, a similar bullet-train project in California remains little more than lines on a piece of paper after years and years of wrangling.

Initially, the proposal had called for imposing a tax on oil refined in the state and shipped out of state, but that was removed after blowback from nearby states.

Changes to last year’s policing reform: Last year, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the months of protests across the, well across the world, really, the Legislature passed a number of police reforms designed to increase police accountability and decrease the frequency of the use of force. Police officers around the state chafed at some of the new regulations, largely saying it was unclear when they might use force, and how much they might be able to use. Continue reading

Seattle ready to shed another pandemic safeguard: State COVID-19 indoor mask requirements to end March 21st

March 2022 will bring the end of more pandemic restrictions and requirements. Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the state will end its mask requirements for indoor spaces including restaurants, grocery stores, and schools beginning March 21st.

“The virus has changed significantly over the past two years, and so has our ability to fight it. While caution is still needed, we are entering a new phase of the pandemic,” Inslee said.

Masking will still be required in spaces like health care facilities and on public transit and school buses. Some private businesses and cities may choose to continue with masking requirements. Continue reading

‘No community college in the system has closed its doors’ — Seattle Central will face more cutbacks and reductions as enrollment plunge continues — UPDATE

Last year’s graduation was held in a socially distanced celebration on top of the school’s Harvard Ave parking garage

Capitolhillseattle.com/Source: Seattle Colleges

Seattle Central will not be shutting down its campus, closing its doors, and ending its run of 56 years of providing education on Capitol Hill.

But tough numbers will mean hard decisions.

The Broadway school is experiencing ongoing challenges that echo with familiar problems of the pandemic.

Lives have been turned upside down, behaviors have changed, priorities are altered. Falling enrollment and challenging budget forecasts will mean changes with the campus and its siblings in the Seattle Colleges system. The problems are not new and have dragged on since the first COVID restrictions. A “Strategic Budget Reductions and Future Planning Task Force” completed its work long ago.

But the trends have stiffened.

“The declining enrollment trends that necessitated the task force’s work have worsened this year, placing us under greater financial stress,” Terence Hsiao, vice chancellor of finance and operations at Seattle Colleges tells CHS.

The school’s student-run news outlet The Seattle Collegian reported on some of the latest tumult including some play by play of Hsiao’s recent videoconference recapping the system’s financial challenges — and an eye-catching headline: Seattle Central to close its doors in 2023?

The answer, of course, is no… probably. School officials tell CHS there are no plans to close the college. Continue reading

‘21%’ — Study puts numbers to COVID’s impacts on arts funding

A Seattle-based advocacy and support group for nonprofit arts organization has attempted to quantify just how devastating the pandemic has been for the city’s cultural organizations and artists.

According to the study from ArtsFund, across 121 reporting organizations, there was a 21% decrease in overall revenue in 2020 as the pandemic and COVID restrictions shuttered venues, closed down productions, and canceled events and showings. Continue reading

It’s not easy but homeowners can now erase remnants of Capitol Hill’s racist real estate restrictions

“The Communist Party Newspaper, New World, published articles attacking racial restrictive covenants in 1948” — Racial Restrictive Covenants: Enforcing Neighborhood Segregation in Seattle

Language from Seattle’s history of racist property restrictions can now be removed from properties thanks to a new law. While there are likely plenty of them to be flushed out on Capitol Hill, property owners might face a challenge sorting out whether legal remnants of the racist restrictions are part of their home’s records.

The new option, created by state law which went into effect January 1, allows homeowners to petition the King County Superior Court to completely delete the passage from the deed. There is a $20 filing fee with the court. Then you still have to file with the Recorder’s Office to seal the deal.

The county will maintain the original documents for the historical record but the effort will allow property owners who want to move on from including the racist language in a new version of the deed.

Most prevalent from the early 1920s through the early 1950s, these covenants would appear in the house’s title, legally forbidding a homeowner from selling, leasing or giving the house to a black person. Often, the wording would also exclude Asians, Jews, Arabs, and in some cases any “non-caucasians.” It was one form of legal enforcement behind redlining, a practice commonly used by racists in Seattle and around the country. Continue reading

Inslee’s proposed budget would fill in most of 520’s funding gap including money for a new Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid

Design concept for a new bridge over Portage Bay

By Ryan Packer

As work in Montlake to create a new boulevard and park space on top of a new highway lid continues, state lawmakers will need to act relatively soon to keep the rest of the 520 bridge replacement project on track. The designs for a new Portage Bay Bridge and second lid at Roanoke are moving forward, but as of now, they aren’t fully funded. The budget proposal that Governor Jay Inslee released in advance of the January start of the legislative session includes a $400 million allocation to the 520 “West End” projects, an amount that should enable nearly all elements of the project to be completed, according to the latest cost estimates.

But those estimates have climbed. Continue reading

Dick’s slapped with citations after worker health, safety, and COVID complaints

With a reputation as a model workplace for employees, Dick’s Drive-ins has been cited by state investigators for health and safety violations stemming from worker complaints made earlier this year about two of the popular chain’s locations including the bustling Broadway drive-in.

Workers rights advocacy group Working Washington announced the August 4th citations heading into Labor Day weekend.

CHS reported here in March on the complaints made by five former and current employees alleging failure to enforce mask-wearing by both employees and customers, inconsistent hand-washing requirements, mold contamination, and failure to adequately sanitize. The complaints also say thin plastic gloves provided to employees can melt and have sent at least one employee to the emergency room with burns. The complaints were centered on the Broadway and Lower Queen Anne locations of the popular chain. Continue reading

Washington is masked again as governor announces all of state’s teachers must be vaccinated

For all the things Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington got right in the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, it took leaders in Olympia until June 2020 to put mask requirements into place. This summer, just over a month into the state’s reopening, mask mandates are back as the spread of the virus has again accelerated.

Gov. Inslee announced the return of required masking for everyone Wednesday along with new vaccination requirements for teachers across the state as the new school year is about to begin.

Health officials across King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Grays Harbor counties had already issued new recommendations calling for everyone to continue to wear facial coverings “when in indoor public settings where vaccination status is unknown.” Continue reading