February 3, 2020
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Proposal would let King County tax employers based on employee compensation

In echoes of the 2018 debate about a "head tax" in Seattle, a bill introduced in the Legislature last week would allow King County to address homelessness by imposing a new tax on businesses that pay some of their employees more than $150,000 a year.

Under House Bill 2907, prime sponsored by Reps. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, and Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, King County could enact a 0.1% to 0.2% tax on companies’ total payroll. Small businesses would be exempt, as would motor vehicle fuel businesses, liquor businesses, and comprehensive cancer centers. King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan are some of the key supporters of the effort.

About 15% of all jobs in the county, accounting for 44% of all compensation, would be included in the tax.

The money collected -- estimated at $120 million -- would be earmarked to address homelessness and housing issues, including behavioral health treatment programs.

A hearing will be held on the bill Tuesday in the House Finance Committee. With many details still up in the air and supporters of the bill saying it will change in the days ahead, the Senate's top budget-writer said she'd want "big, happy agreement" in the House before her chamber takes up the bill.

“My preference is not to have my committee embroiled in city of Seattle and King County politics,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

The Seattle Times and Crosscut have more on the bill.

Contact Tommy Gantz, AWB government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy, to learn more.

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News: Legislative Day and Hill Climb
Focus on Puget Sound

Removing Snake River dams is misguided approach to saving orcas

By Todd Myers and Steve Martin

The struggle to increase salmon populations and help Southern Resident killer whales will be won or lost through recovery projects across the state, perhaps most importantly in Puget Sound.

That simple, scientific reality should guide salmon recovery in Washington. Distractions, like the destruction of the Snake River dams, will end up harming salmon, orcas and those who care about them.

The science is clear that Puget Sound is the most important source of food for starving orcas. NOAA Fisheries and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife ranked their sources of food for orca and found that the Puget Sound, Strait of Georgia, the Lower Columbia and the Fraser rivers are the top priorities. The Snake River ranked ninth.

This is why NOAA Fisheries has repeatedly concluded that destroying the four lower Snake River dams would have a "marginal" impact on orca recovery, despite a very high cost...

Todd Myers is a member of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council and environmental director of the Washington Policy Center in Seattle. Steve Martin previously served as executive coordinator of Gov. Jay Inslee's Salmon Recovery Office.

Read the full op-ed in The News Tribune