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March 6, 2014 at 6:04 AM
Updated 3:31 p.m. on March 7:
Bills are moving through the Legislature quickly. I’ve revised information throughout this post, which was originally published Thursday morning. Check back after the weekend for more updates.
As the Washington Legislature nears its March 13 deadline, now is the time to track and review efforts to end sex trafficking.
Yes, this is a statewide crisis. In the Seattle-King County area alone, the most recent studies suggest hundreds of children as young as 11 years old are being sexually exploited for commercial purposes. Organizations such as the Center for Child & Youth Justice and YouthCare are building new models to identify and treat these sex workers as victims, not criminals.
Below, watch video of StolenYouth’s Jan. 29 forum at Town Hall to understand how advocates are responding to the problem.
This year in Olympia, lawmakers took up several measures to strengthen the state’s laws against trafficking. So far, two bills outlined below have passed both houses. Lawmakers should make sure several other measures get to the governor’s desk before time runs out. They must maintain the state’s position as a leader in combating sex trafficking through strong legislation.
Here’s a rundown of several bills related to sex trafficking and their status as of Wednesday: (more…)
February 11, 2014 at 6:25 AM
The notion of inviting venture capitalists into the state human services system sounds, I’ll admit, a bit creepy. When I heard that notion was floating around the 2014 Legislature, my thoughts went to the private prison industry and its dismal race-to-the-bottom practices.
But as Tuesday’s Seattle Times editorial suggests, the notion, in HB 2337, deserves a second look. So-called “social impact bonds” are racing around public-policy circles, embraced by the left (the Center for American Progress write-up) and from the libertarian right (Reason Foundation’s write up). (more…)
December 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM
King County officials are weaving their way through some gnarly political traffic.
Should they cut Metro transit routes despite growing ridership? Or convince voters to raise taxes and car tab fees? If the Legislature doesn’t pass a transportation package that lets them do this, will they have to resort to an old law that allows them to go it alone, but raise less revenue?
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom outlines the region’s pending bus funding crisis in this news side story. Here’s one of the big reasons folks are so wary of inching toward 10 percent sales tax per $100 spent by consumers:
According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), the poorest fifth of Washington state households pay 17 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the richest fifth pay less than 7 percent. Those are statewide averages, so the disparity grows in urban Puget Sound, where transit sales taxes are higher.
“(In) a state that is already clearly the most regressive in the nation, amazingly you’d have localities where it is more regressive,” said Matt Gardner, ITEP executive director.
“In fairness, there aren’t a lot of other choices available to lawmakers in Washington,” said Gardner.
Lawmakers appear no closer to a transportation deal, so it’s understandable why officials are antsy to get something before voters in 2014. Cuts are slated to begin next summer. By the time the next legislative session begins in January, the political waters may be too charged for lawmakers to vote on increasing taxes and fees. And even if the state legislature does pass a transportation package that includes local options for counties, a possible referendum may delay implementation of the law till after the November 2014 elections — a less-than-ideal scenario for transit planners.
So let’s get a sense of what readers think about the county’s Plan A and Plan B. Click below the jump to vote in our poll. As first reported in Lindblom’s story, here is The Seattle Times’ description of those two options: (more…)
November 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Many in philanthropy and social services were caught off guard by federal Medicaid officials recent decision to cut off funding to Childhaven, which provides child care and therapy for abused and neglected children. Childhaven would lose $4 million a year, the combined total of the 50-50 match between state and federal Medicaid dollars — nearly half its revenue. Federal officials should reconsider. (more…)
February 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM
My column in Monday’s Seattle Times newspaper expresses disappointment in the Washington State Democrats’ recent tactics against rogue state Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon.
Democrats take pride in making room for everyone — unless you’re a fiscally conservative state senator named Rodney Tom or Tim Sheldon.
“Call out Tom and Sheldon for the traitors that they are. Join us and co-sign our letter telling Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon that they are no longer part of the Democratic Party,” read a recent fundraising note from (Washington Democratic Party Chairman Dwight) Pelz to party members.
It’s 2013. Democrats are largely in control. Why is the head of a winning organization acting like an insecure 13-year-old passing around a slam book?
I keep thinking back to a conversation I had a couple weeks ago with state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle. Democrats might benefit from some words of wisdom from a leader who has a history of getting things done in the Legislature.
“We should be pushing each other on policy differences,” Murray told me in his Olympia office. “I don’t want to win because of somebody’s personality or personal political decisions.”
The would-be majority leader has plenty of doubts about the efficacy of the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC), but I like that he’s pushing for a battle over ideas rather than emails designed to create fury and raise money.
Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz’s inflammatory words probably have no effect on the inner workings of the Senate, but sending out mass emails calling fellow Democrats power-hungry “traitors” certainly affects public opinion of the Senate process. MMC leaders changed the upper chamber’s traditional rules by outmaneuvering the Democratic caucus. Their power grab is legitimate. Casting a dark shadow on this reality only makes it more difficult for lawmakers to overcome an increasingly toxic partisan environment.