Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Special Session in Olympia: $800 Million Dollars, April 6th or 7th

Today, Everett Herald writer Jerry Cornfield reports where the legislature is at on the budget.
Democrats, who hold majorities in both chambers, agree on an amount, $800 million, but not on how to generate all of those dollars.

They're deadlocked on about a quarter of that sum, with the Senate saying it should come from a higher sales tax and the House disagreeing. That chamber is pushing an end to tax breaks for large banks, out-of-state residents and buyers of custom-made software programs.

Yesterday, Kitsap Sun writer Steven Gardner reported on a possible end date to the special session
[State Senator Tim] Sheldon predicted the session will end on April 6 or 7, assuming Gov. Chris Gregoire gets assurances from the federal governmentthat it will commit to health care money that the state can “book” into its budget.

The conspiracy theory would be: they did not know how much help they were going to get from the federal government so they have been running in place for a month while they wait.

So, maybe we will see things start back up in Olympia, and hopefully some bills I have been following will get some action.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Win-Win Space Needle's Whirligig

The Fun Forest Use Public Meeting discussion was a testimony to interlocking businesses, often speaking in the past tense of the future decision.

It has been decided, like it or not.

And still, the space in question will be competively bid out in the open.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A whole list of new laws: HB 2753, Creation of Workforce Housing

The Capital Record, from, posts the list of bills that the governor has signed into law on a given day.

Among today's bills was HB 2753.

Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 2753, relating to the creation of a workforce housing program.

The bill that provides the funding source for HB 2753 is bill HB 2912.
Modifying local excise taxes in counties that have pledged lodging tax revenues for the payment of bonds prior to June 26, 1975.
It is unfortunate that Washington State Senator Rodney Tom chose this bill to mess with by piling on a dozen amendments.

The options here are limited:
try to pass HB 2912 on the floor with all those amendments (possible);
amend and pass SB 6051 that was regular session (possible);
or amend SB 6116 (yes, it still lives).
Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Re: Help the State help King County, HB 2912, HB 2753

Dear Mr. Baker:

Thank you for your email regarding the passage of HB 2912 and SB 6051.
The Executive has asked me to respond on his behalf.  

As you may know, Olympia is still currently in special session.  Now, any bill that did not pass in the regular short session can be considered for passage.  Both HB 2912 and SB 6051 are still alive.  King County has been working in support of the passage of these bills.

You also mentioned HB 2753.  This bill has passed the state Legislature and is now waiting to be signed by the Governor.  

Thank you,

Michelle Gregoire
Communications Specialist
King County Executive Dow Constantine

-----Original Message-----
From: Mr Baker [mailto:communicate.with.mike@
< at >]
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2010 11:19 AM
To: kcexec < at >
Subject: Help the State help King County, HB 2912, HB 2753

Executive Constantine,

As I am sure you are aware, the state legislature is working on some bills that could help King County. The bills that allow local use of  
excise taxes would be helpful to all counties. Bills like HB 2912, and SB 6051, would be very helpful to King County. Both bills made it out of their respective houses. HB 2912 is overly prescriptive, and has strayed away from the original intent of the underlying laws. The House is choosing for King County the tourism and infrastructure the revenue must support. This is inconsistant with the excise tax bills that both transfer the responsibility and control to the local jurisdiction.

As you may know, Seattle is beginning its journey to remodel the Seattle Center. The Century21 plan touches on all aspects of the 72 acre site, except anything to do with KeyArena. I am not sure how much participation the city could solicite in public/private partnerships for the entire site while the arena treads water for the forseeable future.

What happens with the arena in Kent in the future?

Memorial Stadium is going to change hands from the school district to the city. Will the city be allowed to use any of these funds for this  
capital improvement? It is a stadium, youth is involve, and a school district may use the stadium.

The hairsplitting by the House was not acceptable last year to the Senate. I am sure you remember being the first to testify in favor of SB 6116.
Last year, as this year, there is an attempt to provide revenue for workforce housing from HB 2912. HB 2912, page 6, line 6, references HB  
2753. Both bills were referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is unlikely that the Senate will pass HB 2912 in its current form.  
If the House says "no" to the changes then that puts workforce housing support for the county, and make revitalizing a regional cultural center in my city more challenging than it needs to be.

I was perplexed by the states change in policy by reclaiming the sales tax credit. I hope that is either put back into the legislation, or is  
consistently applied in the future (including Lisa Brown's arena in Spokane, in 5 years).

I need your help solving this issue for all of us.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Monday, March 22, 2010

SB 6889 Convention Center bill passes House with minor amendment

SB 6889 passed the House floor today. It included a minor amendment identifying funds the state is keeping in the general fund prior to the tax transfer to the new Public Facilities District.
The amendment needs to be approved by the Senate floor, and the final bill passed. A final vote could come as soon as Tuesday.

This is the same tax that the City of Seattle lobbied the state for a portion of, 1% of the 7 levied in Seattle. That effort failed with the legislature, though the convention center did look favorably on the potential application of the funds, KeyArena.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Senate Passes SB 6889 Convention Center and Public Facilities District Bill

SB 6889 passed on the Senate Floor 39 to 1 with 9 not voting.
SSB 6889
Convention and trade center
Senate vote on 3rd Reading & Final Passage

Yeas: 39   Nays: 1   Absent: 0   Excused: 9

Voting Yea:  Senators Becker, Berkey, Brown, Carrell, Eide, Fairley, Franklin, Fraser, Gordon, Hargrove, Hatfield, Haugen, Hewitt, Hobbs, Honeyford, Jacobsen, Kastama, Kauffman, Keiser, Kilmer, King, Kline, Kohl-Welles, Marr, McAuliffe, McDermott, Murray, Parlette, Prentice, Pridemore, Ranker, Regala, Rockefeller, Schoesler, Sheldon, Shin, Stevens, Tom, and Zarelli
Voting Nay:  Senator Oemig
Excused:  Senators Benton, Brandland, Delvin, Holmquist, McCaslin, Morton, Pflug, Roach, and Swecker

Next stop, the House of Representitives.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed SB 6889 on Friday.

Here is the Senate Ways & Means Committee Report that says on page 3 that the new PFD would gain control over not just the Seattle hotel tax that pays off the Convention Center, but it also controls the county wide 2.8 hotel tax.

SB 6889, Convention Center and Public Facilities District bill moves to the Senate Floor Calenar

SB 6889 is on the Senate Floor “Regular Calendar”.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed SB 6889 on Friday.

Here is the Senate Ways & Means Committee Report that says on page 3 that the new PFD would gain control over not just the Seattle hotel tax that pays off the Convention Center, but it also controls the county wide 2.8 hotel tax.

All committee members but one vote for the bill, Senator Mike Carroll.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Convention Center Bill SB 6889 now includes the 2.8% County-Wide Hotel Tax

The Senate Ways & Means Committee has submitted a substitute to SB 6889 that now includes the King County 2.% Hotel Tax.

The rate of the tax may not exceed seven percent within the
portion of the district that corresponds to the boundaries of the
largest city within the public facilities district and may not exceed
2.8 percent in the remainder of the district.
Section 5, part 5, page 9.

What is the Public Facilities District authorized to do with that money?
Public facilities districts (PFD) are municipal corporations and independent taxing districts. A PFD may be created by resolution of the county legislative authority and their boundaries are coextensive with those of the county. Public facilities districts are authorized to acquire, build, own, and operate sports facilities, entertainment facilities, or convention facilities or
any combination of such facilities, and for districts formed after January 1, 2000, recreational facilities other than ski areas together with contiguous parking facilities.
Senate Report for SB 6889

Some people recognize leverage when they see it.

Next stop, Senate Rules Committee, then the Senate Floor.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Convention Center bill keeps moving on Friday

Friday in the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee they will have an Executive Session to voteon passing SB 6889 out of committee.

Like a rocket from a bottle shot free, this legislation was launched in draft form on Wednesday when it had a hearing, then transformed in SB 6889. Two days later a potential $57 million dollar cost of inaction by the state propelled the legislation on its current trajectory.

Again, this legislation is the same as HB 3027.
This allows the state to keep $57 million dollars the state has taken in the past. Not passing means the state ends up in court and could lose that $57 million dollars.
This legislation creates a new Public Facilities District in King County.
Let's build stuff!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Convention Center Inches Closer in the Legislature

Today in the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee had a hearing on draft legislation S-5541.1, which will turn into SB 6889. This legislation is the same as HB 3027 that is getting a fresh amendment to clarify some language in that bill.
This allows the state to keep $57 million dollars the state has taken in the past. Not passing means the state ends up in court and could lose that $57 million dollars.

Senator McDermott is championing this on the Senate side.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Time to Breakup the King County "Stadium" Taxes

Last Wednesday, March 10th, David Brewster wrote a story lamenting the failure of the state legislature to pass a bill for arts funding taxes that currently fund the arts and stadiums, and are set to expire.
His story at, Olympia about to renege again on funding King County arts groups, expresses frustration with failure of the current process.

4Culture, the nonprofit successor to the old King County Arts Commission, has long received some of this hotel-motel sales-tax, so it has a good place in line for its continuation. They've played ball with the Sonics in some years, letting arts give a high-minded cover for the sports barons. Speaker Frank Chopp holds the key to these fund, and he wants to pledge about $10 million a year of that money for low-income housing. (Chopp's demand is a political problem, since it is a serious stretch of the nexus established between taxing hotel visitors and providing benefits, like stadiums and arts, that bring more visitors.) Others like the UW, wanting a different pot of visitor money, the 0.5 percent tax on restaurants, for a remodeled Husky Stadium, further muddying the waters.

Speaker Chopp likes to keep all the supplicants waiting to the last minute, so he can then cut the deal. Last year he set a new record in cleverness by giving 4Culture a promise of the funds — expiring in a year. And he reportedly assured the arts groups that he would definitely come through this year, so long as he also got, dollar-for-dollar, his low-income housing. Now it appears he has stepped on a Senate version of the bill that gives him the money he wants but not until 2020.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Seattle Times Newspaper: Stadium & arts tax bill dies for sixth time

This is where it is at:

"We feel like arts and heritage are being held hostage to stadiums," said Jim Kelly, executive director of 4Culture, King County's arts and culture agency.

Most legislators don't seem to have a problem with funding for the arts. But Kelly said their funding has remained tied down by its connection to the stadium fights.

"With stadiums you're damned if you do or damned if you don't," he said. "Some people, if you take the stadiums out, they won't support the bill. Other people won't vote for it if you leave the stadiums in."

Murray said he's still working the proposal to see if it can be revived in the last couple days of the session, or during the special session lawmakers now say they'll need to finish the state budget.

Story posted by Jim Brunner, at the Seattle Times

I am glad this story was reported. Poor Yakama was not even mentioned.
The motivations of Rodney Tom were communicated to me as possibly being something else. It may be both a list of every conflict connected with those taxes, and a weight holding it down.

Kelley is right though, he could not get just an arts and heritage bill passed. I think half of those amendments could be pulled back, leave out husky stadium, and I think you could find enough votes.
The fact of the matter is that if the taxes are extended then there are enough votes to ensure that the "public investment" that is Safeco Field has to be part of it. The House side stripped that stuff out.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

The 12 Amendments of HB 2912 my legislature gave to me

House Bill 2912 has a new and improved striker amendment on the Floor that puts back in the language that was changed coming out in the House Finance Committee, House Floor, and Senate Ways and Means Committee.

12 more amendments were added to make it passible. These amendments have not yet been voted on. Some of them look like the opportunity for somebody to state an opinion for the record, even if their amendments were to fail.

Here the amendments are, and what they do:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Is Washington State Senator Rodney Tom Trying to Kill the Arts Bill?

I look at the 12 Floor Amendments he piled on House Bill 2912 and that is the effect, isn't it?
If you have contacted Sen. Rodney Tom
By Phone
Olympia Office: (360) 786-7694
Or by E-mail:

Did he say he wanted to kill this bill, does he have a reason for trying to kill it?
[edited to add an answer from somebody else]
That's a "No", the bill is turning into a bit of a Christmas Tree. Rodney Tom is playing Secret Santa.

Whatever it takes, I guess.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Hoteliers" v. Washington State Resolved?

The Substitute House Bill HB 3027 that passed out of the House Finance Committee looks as though it resolves the conflict between the hoteliers and the State of Washington.