Cab alternatives have friends in high places
As the City Council’s Committee for Taxi, For-hire, and Limousine Regulations prepares to (finally) make a decision that will somehow appease both the cab lobby and the rideshare/for-hire companies — and maybe limit the number of rideshare drives to 300 — celebs such as Macklemore and a couple of Seahawks have come to the defense of UberX, a lower-cost, on-demand car service that could be toast depending on where the committee comes down. GeekWire observed that Mack, musician Allen Stone, Golden Tate and even Sidney Rice have all jumped on the rideshare bandwagon, inveighing against driver caps. The committee's decision is due tomorrow. — H.B.O.
Sinners have a new ally in the Senate
It’s no secret that we Washington residents pay for our alcohol with more than just our pickled livers; our state has the highest booze taxes in the union. But State Senator Jenea Holmquist Newbry (R-13th) has brewed up a way to reduce the liquor sticker-shock. SB 6547, which she sponsored, seeks to reduce the alcohol sin tax over the course of eight years. “...We're losing a lot of sales tax,” Holmquist Newbry told KIRO Radio this morning, citing an increase in the number of of Washington residents who go out of state to buy alcohol. “This bill is actually expected to help Washington businesses generate $80 million in new business sales annually once the tax rate reaches 6.5 percent.”
Holmquist Newbry’s PR campaign with this bill — which is sure to be popular with the masses — may be related to her next career move; She recently announced that she’ll be seeking the Congressional seat held, for now, by the soon-to-be-retired Doc Hastings. — H.B.O.
Minimum wage increase caught in support/concern tug-of-war
As the debate over a $15 minimum wage heats up in Seattle, most nonprofit social-service groups are backing the proposal. However, despite their support, there’s concern that some of these organizations can’t afford the increase; without additional funding from the city, many would be forced to cut back on essential programs. According to The Seattle Times, a higher minimum wage would cost more than $10 million for most programs, while child-care centers are looking at a figure closer to $20 million. Some believe that with an increase in wage comes an increase in taxes.
“We can’t talk about income inequality and act like the $15 wage is cost-free, with the burden borne only by someone else,” says Bill Hobson, director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center. “We have to address how we’re going to pay for it. That includes taxpayers.”
One poll of Seattle residents found that about 68% support a bump in the minimum wage. A Town Hall forum on the issue is set for March 5. — M.C.
Today in Olympia: Inslee signs DREAM Act into law
It goes by the DREAM Act or the Real Hope Act, depending on whom you want to credit politically. Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law today that makes Washington high school grads whose parents are undocumented immigrants eligible for college financial aid. After spending one-and-a-half sessions in opposition, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus unexpectedly threw its support behind the bill, resulting in its 35-10 passage. That turnaround apparently caused an internal rift in the coalition, which may or may not have healed. (The House has always supported the bill.) Today's bill provides $5 million to cover the extra applicants. — J.S.
Alaska Airlines favors diversity - and tourism
If passed, Arizona’s controversial SB 1062 would would make it legal for Arizona businesses to deny service to gay patrons, or anyone else who doesn't share the owners' religious views. The bill would effect plenty of people and establishments outside the state’s lines. Chiefly, as more than a few business leaders have warned, it could severely reduce tourism. Which is part of the reason principals at Alaska Airlines, which services Arizona, came out against the bill today — in an open letter tweeted to Governor Jan Brewer. Beyond the tourism effect, Alaska expressed concerns about the bill's blow to progress, diversity and human rights, calling SB 1062 “divisive” and “chilling,” which are some of the more polite ways to put it. — H.B.O.
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