A charter amendment struck down, a late school bus, and another mask mandate, this week
Bill Radke reviews the week's news with Publicola publisher and editor Erica Barnett, The Stranger associate editor Rich Smith, and Washington State Wire publisher DJ Wilson.
Last Friday King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer struck Compassion Seattle’s Charter Amendment 29 from the November ballot. The amendment would have required the city to use existing resources to create 2,000 new beds and to keep city parks “open and clear of unauthorized encampments". Compassion Seattle’s attorneys appealed the ruling, but this Friday the court of appeals upheld the lower court's decision. But just because Amendment 29 won't be on the ballot, doesn't mean it's ideas won't be. Both mayoral candidates Bruce Harrel and Lorena González have given statements on this ruling. Harrel’s team conceded that the measure exceeded the authority of the initiative process but agreed with its goals. González expressed opposition to the charter amendment and its aims, calling it deeply flawed and unconstitutional. How will this charter amendment impact the mayoral candidate's campaign strategies?
School is officially back in session. And for most kids in the Seattle area, it’s actually back in person. But the return to the classroom has been far from smooth. On Tuesday evening Seattle Public Schools sent a notification to parents warning that school busses might be delayed. And they were - some of them up to one or two hours. The district says this is the result of a national shortage in bus drivers, and is encouraging parents to find alternative methods for getting their kids to school for at least the first few weeks of classes. There are shortages in just about every job out there - so how did the school district not see this coming? Plus, it’s not just school bus delays that are making this year unique - students are also still mandated to wear masks inside, and their teachers are required to both wear a mask and be vaccinated. These rules are meant to keep students and faculty safe, as Covid continues to spread throughout the region. Are people complying with mask and vaccine mandates?
Speaking of Covid, King County has announced that starting September 7th masks will be required at outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more, regardless of vaccination status. Meanwhile, anti mask and vaccine protests continue across the state. Last Saturday there was an anti-vaccine mandate rally in Olympia, and this weekend Washington State’s ferry system is shutting down reservations due to an expected employee sickout. The sickout is a response to recently mandating vaccine requirements for state employees, including ferry crew members. Will these continued protests make Governor Inslee renege on his vaccine mandate?
Finally, on late Wednesday evening the US Supreme Court declined to halt a Texas law banning abortions after 6 weeks, the nation’s most restrictive abortion policy. The court ruled 5-4 against providing relief to abortion providers. The majority said its decision "is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas's law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts." Governor Inslee released a statement following this decision that said in part "We are fortunate that this has no impact on people seeking an abortion in Washington. We deeply value maintaining strong access to reproductive health and abortion services. We have strengthened our laws around preserving access to reproductive services in recent years, and we will continue to protect people’s rights.” But will this decision really have no impact on Washington? What could the legal implications of this ruling be for our state?