- Raise the minimum wage:
Year Projected w/ Current Law New Minimum Wage 2017 $9.55/hr $11.00/hr 2018 $9.77/hr $11.50/hr 2019 $10.02/hr $12.00/hr 2020 $10.28/hr $13.50/hr 2021 $10.56/hr $13.86/hr (projected)
- Require businesses to provide paid sick leave at the rate of 1 hour for every 40 worked.
- Require 40 hours of accrued sick leave to be rolled over every year.
- Prohibit employers from requiring employees to find their replacements for sick time taken.
- Prohibit discrimination against workers who use sick leave.
- Expand minimum wage law coverage to include some additional caregivers who provide DSHS services.
It looks like there’s going to be a lot on the ballot for the 2016 Washington general election, so I’m going to get started early on reading up on measures and candidates. These posts are not endorsements exactly, though some will end up being just that. Keep in mind that I am a liberal and I am not going into these posts unbiased looking for the ultimate correct answer.
First up, is Initiative 1464 which bills itself as the Washington government accountability act. It’s not really a general government accountability act. It’s a campaign donation accountability act at best.
The headline feature of the initiative is a form of public finance for state legislative and executive campaigns. I don’t hate the program, but I suspect it’s not going to have a transformative effect in Washington politics. The Democracy Credit Program lets each voter in the state make $50 donations to three candidates where the money comes from the program rather than the person’s own pocket. To be eligible to receive these funds, a candidate has to collect 75 small donations from voters within their district.
Reading a summary of Initiative 1464 for the state legislature, it appears that candidates have to forego all contributions besides the 75 qualifying ones. It’s for this reason why I don’t think this will have a transformative effect. Candidates who can collect enough contributions through the current system are going avoid the new program. The Democracy Credit Program is a lot more work, because it requires that candidates spend a lot of time cajoling people to give them one of their three $50 contributions. I think a lot of candidates would rather spend their time convincing people to vote for them. Smaller candidates may well jump on the bandwagon. But from the elections I’ve seen, they have less well thought out and comprehensive platforms, so we’ll be giving money to fringe candidates and not affecting how mainstream candidates fund raise.
The Democracy Credit Program would be funded by revoking the sales tax exemption we give to out of state residents. The appeal is that we publicly fund candidates with other people’s money.
The initiative also has limits on contributions, $100 per candidate for lobbyists and contractors who have business before the agency that the candidate would run. Note that this appears to be $100 total for such donors to these candidates, rather than the current limits which allow donors to start over at $0 after the primary.
What candidates can do with unused campaign funds would be more limited under the initiative. They would no longer be able to pay themselves a salary in excess of the state median income.
It would makes so-called independent expenditures count as candidate donations under a whole host of circumstances. For example, I campaign official could not leave the campaign to run an independent expenditure campaign and have the independent campaign continue to count as independent. So lots more could count against campaign limits.
The initiative would require political committees that advertise to list the top 5 donors while disallowing the committees to hide the ultimate donors’ names behind additional anonymous committees.
A new proscription means that an official cannot lobby their former agency for three years after leaving the agency. There are additional restrictions on lobbying for former state employees as well
The no campaign doesn’t appear to have a working web site. Looking at the PDC web site, they appear to have limited funding that comes primarily from the contractor and food industry. Supposedly they want us to worry about funding state education before we do this, but I don’t see them making any effort there, so I call bullshit on that point.
The Yes on 1464 campaign is generously funded, at just under $2 million as of this writing. One fourth of that comes from Connie Ballmer, wife of Steve Ballmer. That makes me very suspicious. Steve Ballmer funded the committee that opposed a state income tax initiative a few years ago, and he’s generally behaved like a jerk with respect to Washington politics. Connie Ballmer has also generously funded ($500,000) an attempt to defeat Barbara Madsen, the Washington Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion that invalidated one of her pet initiatives, publicly funded charter schools in Washington. Makes me think that she thinks Initiative 1464 won’t hurt her chances to get her own way.
Other contributors to the yes campaign do not follow the rules that would be enacted as part of this. Every Voice has contributed $300,000 to the campaign, but not filed any reports with the Washington State PDC. Neither does $100,000 contributor Represent US. Pretty sneaky for a campaign that supposedly is supposed to increase transparency.
I’ll be voting for this, but it’s not a strong endorsement. Given the Supreme Court’s declaration that campaign contributions constitute political speech, I just don’t see any way we can meaningfully reform campaign finance. Rich people will just opt out of any voluntary system. And frankly, if it fails I won’t shed a tear because the people behind the yes campaign appear to believe their proposed rules apply only to other people.
Update: It appears the NLI has changed their terms since I posted this. They now license some content with a clean Creative Commons license, and other content with their own license. Oddly, they also claim they have no copyright in the content licensed under their own license. I thought you kinda needed to own the copyright (or some other form of intellectual property) in order to license a work, but I what do I know?
Yet again, I find an organization doesn’t understand the terms of the licenses they purport to use. The latest is the National Library of Ireland (NLI), which released digitized scans of Catholic parish registers this summer. I’m interested in those, because I have Irish Catholic ancestors who appear in them.
On their “about” page, the NLI claims to release the images under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 license:
The Materials are licensed by the National Library of Ireland (the “Licensor”) under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution 4.0 International License, as supplemented by these terms and conditions (together, these “Terms”).
But wait, there’s some terms of the Creative Commons licenses they appear not to have read:
No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
The NLI purports to be able to revoke the license as well:
The Licensor reserves the right to vary these terms and conditions at any time. registers.nli.ie will specify the latest date on which these terms and conditions have been amended.
which is in conflict with the following term of the Creative Commons license they link to:
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Those things are in conflict. Now, if the NLI does indeed hold the copyright on those registers, they can release them under whatever license they want. Organizations often release works under two or more licenses. For instance, the GNU Free Documentation License or a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. But making it a combination (e.g., “and” instead of “or”) of licenses, or a Creative Commons License plus additional terms makes it no longer a Creative Commons license. It’s something else. Which brings up a whole host of issues:
First, I don’t think they can call it a Creative Commons license any more. Creative Commons does not allow the use of their trademark on non-Creative Commons licenses.
Second, and most important, I cannot publicly incorporate work released under this mish-mash of a license into anything. Why? Because as someone who doesn’t own the copyright on the original, I can’t say “no additional terms” (as is in the license) and “here are the additional terms”. I violate one part or another. I cannot modify the terms, so I cannot leave out the “no additional terms” part for the “here are the additional terms” part. The NLI can do so (though still violating the trademark policy), but I’m automatically in violation as I do not own the copyright. I also cannot offer a non-revocable license where someone else can revoke the license. That’s just nuts.
There may be a slick way to release a derivative work with this license, but that’s going to require a lawyer. That’s what Creative Commons licenses are supposed to avoid. I certainly can’t do it without violating Creative Common’s trademark rights like the National Library of Ireland did.
So, to sum up: what a mess! Don’t do this.
Image Don’t Wanna Work Together composed of an image from Wanna Work Together released under a CC Attribution 2.5 license by Creative Commons and the public domain No Sign published on Wikimedia Commons.
I’m not delusional enough to think Sawant’s fellow council members are only now realizing they don’t like her, but a switch has flipped—maybe it’s as simple as the fact that it’s an election year—and now they’re willing to air their unhappiness in public.
I for one am glad that the era of false collegiality at the Seattle City Council is over. I think too much of our American culture is based on a false niceness. I want us to be a culture where we can openly disagree, sometimes vehemently, and still work together for the common good. What the rest of the city council members are using is essentially the tone argument: we’d listen to you if only you said things nicely. Not only does Ms. Sawant bring different ideas to the table, she brings a different political process.
And I say that as someone who disagrees with her position on rent control. I’d much rather have a discussion with her over how to make housing affordable in Seattle than with the rest of the council, because she values the issue and policy over being nice. She’s not going to take her ball and go home if she’s not shown deference. Most of the rest of them, I think are too worried about keeping everyone happy instead of solving a problem.
Subject line is a link.
While researching the Rothacker family this evening (expect a post about this project in a month or two), I found a daughter who died in 1929 of measles, which seemed pertinent to current discussions on vaccination.
Measles Takes First Victim
Two-year old child dies Saturday
Rhodora Rothacker, 2, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph R. Rothacker, ??? Pearson ave, died Saturday evening the first victim of the measles epidemic now raging in the city.
Rhodora contracted measles Friday. Pneumonia followed, causing her death. With nine additional measles cases reported this morning, the total number of cases this month in Ames was 205. One mumps case was reported today to bring the month's total to five cases.
Today's victims of communicable diseases follows:
There were 205 cases in one small city in Iowa in one month of 1929! As bad as the current measles outbreak is, we’re doing so much better these days because vaccines are available. Reminds me of stopping at a cemetery in Strasburg North Dakota a couple of years ago, and finding rows of graves for people who had died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. I just did a quick check on the population of Ames. According to Wikipedia *, the population of Ames in 1930 was 10,261, meaning that about 2% of the city’s population had measles!
Also note that Rhodora contracted measles on Friday and was dead the following day, which makes me think of two points:
- Measles can kill fast. There may not be enough time to get proper medical attention.
- I know a popular meme is that the MMR vaccine is too traumatic for young children to have, so space those vaccines out with an alternative schedule. Measles seems a lot more traumatic than anything a vaccine does. One day!
The officer who made the arrest received counseling from her supervisor, a course of action that the department believes to be an appropriate resolution.
A talking-to is an appropriate course of action for causing a man to spend the night in jail and theft of his property for months?
“I believe that it’s in everyone’s best interest to also highlight the things that go right. That’s what happened here – this one is a win.”
I fail to see how this is a win compared with the alternate solution of not bothering the man in the first place.
Video of the man’s arrest was just released to a media outlet as a result of a public disclosure request. It is being published on the SPD Blotter in the interest of fostering better police transparency.
Fostering better transparency would be to publicly release information about these incidents when they are resolved, rather than wait until a news outlet is about to publish a story. For instance, about 18 months ago then interim Chief Jim Pugel pro-actively released a very old “training” video where he’d lampooned the homeless. There was no impending story, but Pugel did the right thing.
Citizen Petition No. 1 establishes a new city transportation authority to study another monorail proposal.
I was all in favor of the previous monorail proposal that got started and then later shot down at the polls due to a concern over how much it would cost. I am not in favor of this. Here are my reasons.
- We had a shot at a monorail, and this proposal doesn’t bring a new idea to the table. It focuses on West Seattle to Ballard, which is already being studied by Sound Transit, and it doesn’t include other possible corridors.
- Sound Transit Light Rail is up and running, soI’d rather we focus on expanding light rail to new neighborhoods. Sound Transit itself is an organization with a track record of completing new segments early and under budget, though with a long time frame and large budget.
- The proposition is the brainchild of Elizabeth Campbell, who has a history of half-baked activism. The organization that put this on the ballot couldn’t get it’s ballot statement submitted on time. Putting them in charge of a new transportation authority is a recipe for failure.
- The folks at Seattle Transit Blog are public transportation wonks, and Seattle Transit Blog opposes the monorail measure. These are the most extreme pro-transit people with a platform in Seattle, with knowledge to back that up, not some conservative road-happy developers.
The history of this one is a little convoluted. Labor unions ran an initiative to do a number of things regarding childcare, chief among them raise the childcare worker minimum wage to $15 per hour and require training and certification. They got enough signatures. The city council worked on a universal preschool pilot program. The propositions aren’t exactly one or the other like initiatives 591 and 594 are, but they both concern how to help preschool age children. So the city made it an either-or proposition.
My assumptive goal is to provide children with the resources to be functioning members of society.
So, if either of these measure does that, I’m going to vote yes on part 1. So on to checking both proposals:
1A does a few things:
- It sets the minimum wage for child care workers at $15 per hour with a phase-in of three years. The city council passed a $15 minimum wage that can phase in for up to 7 years. I see no reason to make that more complicated. It was a hard negotiated compromise, and I opposed businesses messing with it and I oppose labor messing with it.
- 1A mandates that the city adopt goals, timelines and milestones to institute a policy that no family pay more than 10% of their income for early education and child care. While that’s a laudable goal, I think a hard limit of 10% is misguided as it doesn’t factor in number of children, their needs, or their families’ circumstances. I think a sliding scale based on family income and adjusted for other factors is a better target. That’s what 1B does.
- 1A states that violent felons cannot provide child care in a licensed or unlicensed facility. This is perfectly reasonable, though I’d be surprised if the state doesn’t already prohibit violent felons from working in child care facilities.
- 1A requires the city hire a Provider Organization to facilitate communication between childcare workers and the city. As far as I can tell from the requirements in the initiative, that organization would need to be one of the unions that is sponsoring the measure. I’m all for unionization, but this seems a bit like making the city talk to the union and pay for the privilege.
- 1A would establish a training institute to be run by the Provider Organization from the last bullet point that would train and certify all childcare workers. Requiring training and licensing seems fine with me, but requiring the program to be run by a union seems a big loss of independence. I’d rather it be run by another organization, or the city itself.
- 1A creates a Workforce Board to oversee the measure, including the training institute and standards. Half the board is nominated by the mayor, half by the Provider Organization. That seems like too large amount of influence to give to a union.
- 1A creates a fund to assist small child care providers to meet city standards. That seems like a great idea.
One thing not listed in this is where the funding for it comes from. That isn’t a definitive reason to vote against it in my view, but it does mean I’m gonna look hard at it. The city would have one more priority to work into an existing budget and it’s not like we have a lot of extra money floating around. I’d prefer if we had an explicit ordered priority for our budget so new things like this could be slotted in at some spot in the priority. We don’t, and so the city is going to have to do it, and going to have to cut something or raise taxes for it (and we don’t have much room to raise with current legislative limits). We could raise property taxes similarly to how 1B does it, but will require another vote. I’d much rather it be included in this vote.
All in all, I’m leaning against this, primarily for the reason that it puts too much control into the hands of the industry to regulate and manage itself on the city’s dime. It seems like a way to restrain trade rather than improve education and child care.
Proposition 1B creates a four year pilot early learning (i.e., preschool) program with the goal of making it permanent and covering all preschool age children in the city. It will have free or sliding scale tuition based on income. The oversight board includes 12 members of the Families and Education Oversight Committee, which is (I believe) an existing committee that oversees a previous levy. 4 additional members would be part of the oversight board, and they would be Seattle residents with interest and experience with the growth and development of children. Only one of them can be from an organization that receives funding through the measure.
The proposition enacts a property tax that raises $14 million to fund the pilot program. The city won’t need to prioritize other programs out of the budget.
Proposition 1B seems to be a good faith attempt to provide education to young children, which is my goal, rather than provide a large amount of control to a union. I’m all for unions, and even giving them seats at the table. But they should not be in charge, as their interests are with their members, not with children. I don’t think they are opposed to children’s interests, but they aren’t synonymous.
Upshot is, I’ll be voting yes for part 1 of proposition 1, and for 1B for part 2.
Due to the remnants of a Tim Eyman initiative, we have advisory votes on anything that can be construed as a tax increase that’s passed by the legislature. There are only two such this year.
Advisory Vote No. 8
After we legalized marijuana two years ago, marijuana growers qualified for standard preferences for agriculture. The legislature eliminated that preference for them, costing about $25 million a year. I am relishing the thought of conservatives having to vote for a tax increase or for marijuana. Since our state is undertaxed, there’s no way I’m voting against what’s essentially a sin tax. That was part of the argument for the marijuana legalization initiative. Legalize it and tax it. So here we are. I’m voting maintained.
Advisory Vote No. 9
The legislature added $1.3 million in excise taxes on leasehold interests in tribal properties. I have no idea what exactly that is, but this is exactly the sort of thing we elect the legislature for. Absent a compelling reason against it, I’m voting maintained.
Initiative 594 would apply currently used criminal and background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.
While I tend to be a bleeding heart liberal, I’m generally less supportive of gun control measures than a lot of other folks. There’s essentially two things I want to see changed about guns in the United States. The first is that stupid people should not possess or own guns. Who should decide what and who is stupid? Me. Of course, that’s not going to happen. But that’s my ideal.
The second is I’d really like to see a change in culture away from a hard-core attachment to guns. That’s not a law thing; that’s a culture thing. Guns aren’t needed and aren’t useful in 99.9% of the cases people think they are. For example, open carry. To give an analogy, I think flip flops should not be worn except at the beach, pool, or locker room and yet people wear them everywhere. I do not, and would not, support any banning of flip flops. But that doesn’t mean I think people should wear them. Please, stop wearing flip flops. Similarly, leave your gun at home. I don’t think open carry should be encouraged, but I think it should be generally lawful.
So that brings me to I-594. I-594 is not a litmus test for me. I think people can vote in good conscious for this measure without earning my ire. There are two questions that determine my answer to this initiative. The first is, will this do any good? The second is, is it worth the loss of freedom to transfer or sell a gun without a check?
I’m going to delve into the second question first. The answer is, I don’t think so. The burden on a person selling a gun is not substantial. TA quick search says the cost for this is generally less than $100 currently. The wait will be between 0 and 10 days, depending on the results. Generally the check happens instantly if a person doesn’t have issues that need to be dealt with. After 10 days, the sale/transfer can go through even if the background check hasn’t come back.
For the sellers, the burden is the cost. If the cost to purchase a gun goes up, people will buy fewer guns. Licensed gun dealers already factor this in, and they are doing just fine. Unlicensed gun dealers are basically free riding. Truly private sales/transfers between known people will be more inconvenient. I don’t see much more burden for doing this than registering a car though, and that is a pain in the ass, but it’s something we live with and accept. For purchasers, guns will be more expensive and there will be less reason to purchase privately and more reason to just use a licensed gun dealer in the first place. The only real burden is that people who are ineligible to purchase a gun will not have as large of a loophole to get one.
So, the first question: will this do any good? That’s much harder to answer. Few jurisdictions have had background check measures for long enough to have good data. And any changes aren’t going to be easy to measure given that people can and do work around them. If effective, background checks will be more effective when people can’t go to the next state over to purchase a gun without a check. Residents of Spokane can easily evade this because they are 30 minutes away from Idaho which doesn’t have background checks. All this makes it hard to know.
Additionally, if there’s any effect, it’s hard to see it because so many other things affect gun violence. Something might reduce gun violence by 5% but the economy goes south so crime in general goes up by 10%, which obscures the effect of the first. You can’t just look at the fact that gun violence in Colorado went up after they passed background checks in 1999. There are so many causes that extracting that information requires university-level studies.
The pro I-594 web site gives out some statistics, such as
39% fewer law enforcement officers murdered with a handgun in states with background check laws. The web site does not give the source for that. It also doesn’t say fewer than what, what the time frame is, how this was measured, what the confidence is, etc. The Officer Down Memorial page gives the stat that 39 police officers have died in 2014 due to gunfire. That tells me any measurement of law enforcement deaths in background check states is going to have a low sample size. Other measurements might not have that issue, but it’s really hard to tell given what the pro I-594 group posts.
I looked on JSTOR to see if I could find anything. Unfortunately, the only study I could find using
background check as the key term wasn’t looking at background check efficiency. It looked used measures of background checks as a proxy for determining gun ownership and effects of that on suicide rates.
At the risk of falling into the trap of
something must be done. this is something. therefore this must be done. I’m planning on voting for the measure. My gut feeling is that it will help reduce incidence of bad people having guns, but only slightly, given that people can work around it. I don’t have anything except gut feeling at this point, because actual numbers are so hard to come by. Sorry, pro-gun people, but keeping the government from funding these studies means I have to go with my gut. I hope a local university will actually study the effect and we can revisit the policy in 5 or 10 years. If it’s not working at that point, I’ll support dumping the law.
The argument that it’s a burden or infringing on rights doesn’t hold water with me. California has done this for decades and it’s not a gun free zone.