December 2, 2019
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King County judge halts Initiative 976, for now



A King County Superior Court judge Wednesday issued a temporary halt to lower car-tab taxes. The City of Seattle, King County and other groups have sued to stop Initiative 976 from taking effect on Dec. 5.

"The order instructs the state to continue collecting car-tab taxes and distributing that money to the government agencies that use the fees," The Seattle Times reported Wednesday morning.

Statewide, 53% of voters approved the measure, which lowers many registration fees to $30, rolls back taxes that fund Sound Transit and eliminates local fees, the newspaper explained.

Opponents say the measure violates the state Constitution and that the ballot's title language was misleading.

The state Attorney General's Office is defending the initiative and says its title can be general as long as it alerts voters to the topics included in the measure, the newspaper reported.

"We will continue working to defend the will of the voters," Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.

Initiative organizer Tim Eyman has urged drivers to engage in "civil disobedience" by not paying their cab tabs, the Times reports. The state Department of Licensing has received some calls from people refusing to pay their tabs.

"We advise people to comply with the law and pay the fees," a department spokeswoman said.

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Cross-laminated timber can help the Northwest lead on the Green New Deal

By Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco and his director of communications, Conor Bronsdon

We live in a region of pioneers and conservationists in a land built on the back of the timber industry. The idea of sustainable working forests fits not just our historical industrial strengths, it fits our regional ethos. In the Pacific Northwest, we want to live green. It's time for Seattle to take the lead on mass timber. With cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other mass timber products we can move to solve our housing crisis, develop needed density, and address climate change -- all while staying true to our regional culture and history.

By using CLT in the development of much-needed housing we will actively remove and store carbon from the atmosphere -- every cubic meter of timber growth captures one ton of carbon from the atmosphere. Construction would simultaneously emit less carbon.

Encouraging CLT usage could also jump-start stalled rural economies that have languished since the logging industry slowed down. Construction startup Katerra opened the nation's largest capacity CLT manufacturing facility in Spokane and Vaagen Brothers Lumber, which has been in Washington for four generations, is expanding CLT production operations in Colville. With the state making code changes fall that allow for the use of mass timber in buildings as tall as 18 stories, the region is primed to use CLT to address our affordable housing crisis.

Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
A more resilient workforce

Prepare students for technical careers

By The Seattle Times editorial board

Once, all it took to secure a satisfying and well-paying job was a high school diploma and a good work ethic. But that story has largely changed.

That's why Washington's public schools must offer robust, high-quality Career and Technical Education programs to help prepare the state's vocationally minded students for career success.

A college education should be within reach of all students with the aptitude and interest to pursue a four-year degree, but not everyone wants to follow that path. At the same time, there is a high and consistent workforce demand for skilled tradespeople, without whom Washington's economy would shudder to a halt.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times.