Thursday, March 19, 2009

Locally collected Tax Inches Closer to King County's Control

(you can listen to the podcast here)
Ways & Means* - 03/18/09 1:30 pm
Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

The March 18th Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting in the Washington State Legislature provided an interesting opportunity for testimony to be heard on bills that would fund a variety of activities in King County, including funding for arts and heritage programs, tourism promotion, youth sport activities, regional centers, publicly owned stadiums, community development, and low income housing.

House Bill ESHB 2252 passed in the House on March 12th and was picked up by the senate committee. The senate has its own bill, SB 6116, but there are differences. The hearing gave public officials, and the general public, an opportunity to compare the two bills and voice their preferences.

Some differences between the two bills are few, but major.
ESHB2252 does not have as many taxes extending beyond the years 2012, 2015 and 2021. It does not provide funding or language in the bill to support stadiums and arenas, including capital improvements and maintenance for the existing Safeco and Qwest stadiums. This was a concern of Senator Zarelli, who vowed to ensure that any bill the moves forward include language that does not lead the Seattle Mariners to a "Sonic incident".

ESHB252 also is much more prescriptive and restrictive in its dividing of the funding between arts and heritage programs, regional centers, human services, low-income housing, and community development.

SB6116, that appeared to be the favorite among proponents of any bill, provides King County greater flexibility by listing some percentages of how some of the revenue should be divided, and a ranked priority list of subjects, but it leaves the finer management of the revenue to the King County Council.

SB6116 also extends taxes not included included in the House bill to pay for all of it.

Here is section 6 of the bill
SB 6116:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. A new section is added to chapter 67.28 RCW to read as follows:
Money deposited in a special purposes account under this section may be used only for the following purposes within the county:
(1) Funding tourism promotion as defined in RCW 67.28.080;
(2) Funding youth or amateur sports activities or facilities;
(3) Funding regional centers or performing arts centers, but excluding regional centers or performing arts centers within:
(a) Cities with a population of one hundred thousand or more; and
(b) Cities described in RCW 35.57.010(1)(d);
(4) Maintaining or improving publicly owned stadiums or arenas;
(5) Funding community development; and/or
(6) Funding low-income housing.

Maybe this gets into the House bill, maybe it doesn't. If any stadium language is wanted in the House bill it may be difficult to do. The House rules make it difficult to insert language into the body of a bill that is not similar to the title of the bill. I know it sounds crazy, but it is true.

Unlike the US Congress we cannot make random amendments to bills - they have to be related to the topic in the bill and described by the title of the bill. Crafting titles is somewhat of a legislative art.

Although, Ross Hunter did testify in the committee meeting that he thinks the house bill could be used to insert language from SB6116, "either bill could work".

Which bill moves forward is still unknown, and in what form. ESHB2252 may be amended by the senate, or substituted by the senate bill SB6116 with some minor adjustments to make it more passible by the House.

I do think that one way, or another, a bill has to pass because the funding for the arts, 4Culture, is set to expire this summer. Funding for low-income housing could also take a big hit.

I will keep an eye out for activity, and post it in the comments of this thread.

Friday, March 13, 2009

County Tax Proposals to have Hearing in Ways & Means Committee on March 18th

Yesterday, reported in the Seattle PI, House Bill 2252 passed in the Washington State Legislature.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The state House wants to extend some taxes that paid for professional sports stadiums in Seattle.

Right now, the taxes on restaurant sales and rental cars are supposed to expire after the football and baseball stadiums are paid off. A bill approved 54-42 by the House on Thursday would keep the taxes going longer, with the money flowing into a special account to pay for housing projects, the arts and other programs.

The account is not supposed to be source for a new NBA arena or Husky Stadium.

The restaurant tax would eventually expire. A third tax on hotel rooms also would flow into the special account.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

As was mentioned on March 7th, here and elsewhere, Senate Bill 6116 was introduced by enators Ed Murray and Jeanne Kohl-Welles. SB6116 was similar to House Bill 2252 except that it did include support for stadiums and arenas, and extended the food and beverage tax (restaurant tax) as a funding source.

House Bill 2252 was passed by the House, and has moved on to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Both bills, HB2252 and SB6116 are on the March 18th agenda for public hearing.

Along with the now somewhat familiar HB2252 and SB6116 is another bill, Senate Bill 6118.
Why that is one of the Senate's versions of House Bill 2250 (what?). Ok, does the Convention Center ring any bells? This one is the skim off money for a museum. Hey, that's what the county tax does, only for county and city museums. This is confusing, I hope they can reconcile all these bills.

1 bill passed by the House on the county taxes.
1 sponsored by two Senators (one being Ed Murray) on the county taxes.
1 bill for funding the convention center account with a new Section 3: a 2% tax, to be used under RCW 82.14. sure, museums are part of RCW 82.14, everybody nows that, but so are stadiums, RCW 82.14.049 (like I had t tell you, half of the husky nation has this written on the palms of their hands thinking they have a date with a pile of cash, not so fast dawg-boy).

The last bill on the agenda, that's the housing trust fund that pays for low-income housing, as is mentioned in both of the county bills.

All in one day, all in the same hearing, imagine that.

I have linked below to the bills (including the one about booze, I'm going to need it).

Ways & Means* - 03/18/09 1:30 pm
Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 3/13/2009 11:47 AM

Public Hearing:
SB 6119 - Limiting the discount of purchases of spirits by licensees.

SB 6116 - Funding arts and heritage programs, tourism promotion, youth sport activities, regional centers, publicly owned stadiums, community development, and low income housing in a county with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more.

ESHB 2252 - Funding for arts and heritage programs, regional centers, human services, low-income housing, and community development in a county with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more. (If measure is referred to committee.)

SB 6118 - Concerning lodging taxes for, and certain transfers from, the state convention and trade center account.

SHB 1250 - Concerning the housing trust fund.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I am easily offended

Somebody in the Crosscut comments section of a story Jean Godden had written said I was ignorant and a liar. I thought I should just repost my strange collection of other people's opinions here and then I can just repost a link in different places to save all that typing. Not only am I a liar, but I guess I'm lazy too.
Yes, I want to bond and build. It employs people now, and builds stuff that hangs around for a long time. but that $15 million a year is the first I have heard that it would cost that, where do you get your numbers from?

I know I'm just making it all up from what others (Nick Licata Chris Van Dyk, Dino Rossi, the Seattle City Council, that devil Mr Ceis) have said.

From SeattlePI
Last updated February 29, 2008 10:01 p.m. PT
A bid to keep NBA team in KeyArena emerges
Investors reportedly led by Griffin would help refurbish venue

City Councilman Nick Licata has supported efforts to limit tax spending on a new arena. If a plan emerges similar to what Licata has heard is in the works, he might be on board.

"I'm giving it serious consideration," Licata said. "I think that the bottom line for me is that it's a fair deal for both the city and the investors. I've never said flatly, 'No public funds.' "

In November 2006, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved a measure restricting public subsidies for pro sports teams. Initiative 91 prohibits Seattle from contributing city tax dollars unless such investments yield a profit on par with a 30-year U.S. Treasury bond.

The suggested plan could comply with the measure, said Chris Van Dyk, who led the I-91 campaign.

"The key thing is that if it addresses the use of public funds in a positive way and allocates those public funds toward the public places and the public infrastructure," Van Dyk said. "If (new team owners) do that in a genuine and on the table (way, providing) a significant infusion of money, I don't see that I-91 is a problem."

Yes, you caught me, I do not have the numbers right in front of me. I guess I should get the dirty details from NBA advocate Chris Van Dyk, I may have been telling lies just to get the NBA back in Seattle. He's ignorant and filling my head with ignorance just to satisfy his basketball-jones. RATS!

Tell CVD he's a liar, I'll watch, it'll be fun.

How about that $250,000 a year in office space the Sonics were renting, nope, don't miss that.

How much B & O tax does a $400 million dollar company pay? There is another ignorant thing I'm posting, taxes, who needs that.

Oh, here is a known liar, Dino Rossi:
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Rossi says plan for KeyArena is too good to ignore

In addition to the roughly $20 million in sales tax revenue that the state could bring in from the remodel arena itself, the Rossi campaign said, the new facility "could generate $25 million over 10 years through sales and (business) taxes on Sonics-related operations."

State Department of Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow said it's difficult to calculate revenue estimates on the operations at KeyArena without more-specific information, but the estimate was within the range of possibilities.

Last franchise was here for a little longer than ten years, the state makes out ok, but it is all lies, and I'm ignorant, and just making all this up.

Here are the links to the pitch Tim Ceis gave t the state task force in December on Seattle center and Key Arena, there is all kinds of stuff in there that Ceis made up that I just believed.
Here is the meeting from Dec 1
and direct links:
heres' 1

and here is 2

KeyArena is about 380,000 sf of enclosed space, a remodel would enclose the exterior beams for restaurants and retail space, enlarging the enclosed space to 720,000 sf (I'm making that up too), and adding a second ramp down to the floor so the big shows can get on and off the floor, and on to the next city, in a more resonable amount of time. tear down and prep for the next event is wasted time and lost revenue, just ask the convention center folks.
For some strange reason I think adding restaurants and retail to the exterior of the KeyArena bowl is a good thing for the Seattle Center site, just my opinion. I also think that having people come to Seattle Center for more events, and having an anchor tenant is a good idea, but that's not my opinion, that's the Seattle City Council crazy talk during Seattle Center subcommittee meeting comments on why a break even proposition with the Seattle Storm was a good thing for Seattle, and Seattle Center. Call Jean a liar about that one, she was there. Or, does this just apply to professional womens basketball?

Parks and Seattle Center Committee January 27, 2009
Link to video:

When I'm not here being called a liar I update a little blog on this particular topic:

There, that was fun.
What some people might want t know is that when I post someplace it is almost always as "Mr. Baker". It is pretty easy to get Mr. xx as a user name,it is easy to remember too.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hopes for Seattle Center's KeyArena in Political Limbo

Washington State House Bill 2281 was referred to Rules Committee on second reading. This bill is related to HB2179 Authorizing cities to provide and contract for supplemental transportation improvements, sponsored by Representative Deb Eddy. How? The transportation "improvements" are paid fr by a .02% sales tax in King County (also, if you look at the draft of HB2281 in the upper right-hand corner it references H-2179.1).

So, HB2281, HB2179, and a raft of other bills are referred to the Rules Committee to sort out.

If/when a bill comes out of Rules Committee it has a reasonable chance of being different than when it entered and a chance to be voted on and passed.

HB2281 (and 2179) made the Second Cut-off date when a bill can be introduced, Senate Bill 6116 did not.

Senate Bill SB6116 did not make the cut-off, but that does not mean that it is dead, far from it.

Remember, whatever the House passes eventually has to be agreed to by the Senate. SB6116 was sponsored by Ed Murray and Jeanne Kohl-Welles.

Who are they? Senators Ed Murray is "Majority Caucus Chair", and a member of the Senate Rules Committee, and from the same 43rd district as Frank Chopp [edit, not Ross Hunter]. Jeanne Kohl-Welles is the Chairperson of Labor Commerce & Consumer Protection, as well as a member of the Senate Rules Committee.

They have expressed their opinion and preferences in their bill, SB6116. All of these bills need to be reconciled into an agreed to bill that both houses can vote on and pass.

Here is the list of bills that made the cut-off:

As noted in the document, a bill not listed is not dead, that includes Murray's SB6116 (not listed), HB2281 and 2179 are listed.
Once these bills are resolved they could go back to their respective committees, or they could get referred to another committee for voting and passing with recommendation to "do-pass" to the respective houses of legislature (just like in the other Washington).

So, what is on the legislative calendar for today?
Senate Session/Caucus 3/7/2009 9:30 AM
House Possible Session/Caucus 3/7/2009 10:00 AM
The next house Finance Committee meeting is 3/12/09

Call the legislative hot-line at 800-562-6000 and support Senate Bill 6116.
Or, write to your legislator, find them here, fill out the form, input the bill number (6116) and click "Support".
It is a lot like voting, only, they know who you are, and there is an actual person's name from their district supporting the legislation.
You could contact Ed Murray here, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and let him know that you support his bill, 6116.

Who is on the House Rules Committee?

Chopp, Frank (D) Chair
LEG 339C(360) 786-7920

DeBolt, Richard (R) *
LEG 335C(360) 786-7896

Armstrong, Mike (R)
LEG 426A(360) 786-7832

Bailey, Barbara (R)
JLOB 406(360) 786-7914

Eddy, Deborah (D)
LEG 132D(360) 786-7848

Ericks, Mark (D)
JLOB 203(360) 786-7900

Green, Tami (D)
JLOB 327(360) 786-7958

Hasegawa, Bob (D)
JLOB 425(360) 786-7862

Hinkle, Bill (R)
JLOB 401(360) 786-7808

Hudgins, Zachary (D)
LEG 438A(360) 786-7956

Johnson, Norm (R)
JLOB 414(360) 786-7810

Kelley, Troy (D)
JLOB 319(360) 786-7890

Kessler, Lynn (D)
LEG 339A(360) 786-7904

Kretz, Joel (R)
LEG 335A(360) 786-7988

Kristiansen, Dan (R)
LEG 427A(360) 786-7967

Liias, Marko (D)
JLOB 434(360) 786-7972

Moeller, Jim (D)
LEG 436A(360) 786-7872

Morrell, Dawn (D)
JLOB 331(360) 786-7968

Morris, Jeff (D)
LEG 430(360) 786-7970

Santos, Sharon Tomiko (D)
LEG 434A(360) 786-7944

Schmick, Joe (R)
JLOB 419(360) 786-7844

Springer, Larry (D)
LEG 132E(360) 786-7822

Van De Wege, Kevin (D)
JLOB 316(360) 786-7916

Warnick, Judy (R)
JLOB 403(360) 786-7932

*Ranking Minority Member 

Have a wonky weekend!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 Medina Rep to the Rescue

KeyArena is not quite dead in the state legislature. In a story about state representative Ross Hunter possibly running for the King County Executive position vacated by Washington D.C. bound Ron Sims reporter Laura Onstot mentions that there is a placeholder bill in the legislature that might be used to address local funding for a KeyArena remodel.

As noted below, the bill is an empty vessel, with a title that says nothing about the intent of the bill. Welcome to Washington State, where if there is a door, it is closed and people are behind it negotiating a deal.

Hunter has also been going to bat for the city. He currently co-chairs a legislative task force to determine possibilities for remodeling KeyArena in the hopes of attracting a new NBA team. Hunter says he won't use state money for the project, but did offer to craft a bill that would allow Seattle to levy a city-wide tax to pay for the project. The city declined, but the deal isn't entirely dead. Hunter has kept a bill sponsored by Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle) alive in his finance committee. The bill itself contains only a name—the visitor destination campus act of 2009—but keeps the issue on the table in Olympia if the city manages to come up with a plan to finance a remodel that doesn't involve using state money, Hunter says.
Medina Rep to the Rescue, by Laura Onstot.

Here is a placeholder bill HB2281's legislative home
Relating to the visitor destination campus act of 2009.
[edited 6:02 pm] As mentioned at, SB6116 dropped today. Unlike the house bill that acted as a placeholder, SB6116 has full text, including new section 6 to the legislation that actually has the word "arenas" in it.
Thank you state senator Ed Murray.

On the House side you have Ross Hunter writing these bills trying to solve these issues, on the Senate side we have Ed Murray. We are lucky to have both.

This bill, I hope, will address the entire 74 acre Seattle Center site. With 53 days left in the legislative session there is enough time for this bill to die and live again, and again, and again.

Meanwhile over at Brian Robinson is asking people to give a call to the legislative hotline to encourage state lawmakers to consider supporting a solution to KeyArena before the end of the session.
Legislative Hotline: 800-562-6000

There are $30 million dollars on the line from Clay Bennett, or a remodeled KeyArena with an NBA team. If the legislature acts then either option is possible. If they do not act it will be a very long time before another solution comes along.