The Council passes new worker protections, and much more.
This afternoon the Council unanimously passed a bill adding new transparency requirements for the employers of independent contractors. As SCC Insight wrote yesterday, the bill had the support of labor advocacy group Working Washington, but not the support of the Office of Labor Standards nor the city’s own Labor Standards Advisory Commission. The bill’s sponsor, Councilmember Herbold, said today that the revised version adopted in committee on June 4th resolved “many of the issues” that they had raised, but LSAC co-chair Gay Gilmore told SCC Insight today, “Any characterization that the current version of the legislation addresses the concerns of LSAC is 100% false.” She provided a copy of a June 3rd letter that the LSAC sent to Herbold and the other committee members that made it clear that they did not believe the revised bill addressed their concerns.
Herbold was the only Councilmember to speak about the bill before the unanimous vote to pass it this afternoon.
The Council also unanimously passed a bill requiring food-delivery companies such as Postmates and DoorDash to have written agreements with restaurants before listing them as delivery options on their web sites.
Also passed today: an ordinance lifting restrictions on $12 million of funding for emergency homeless response that was previously tied to uses that qualify for FEMA reimbursement. Councilmember Lewis proposed the bill in order to expedite getting more homeless people off the street and into safer housing before the city goes into its full post-COVID reopening phase. Before passing the bill, the Council amended it to earmark $3 million for the LEAD program, leaving $9 million for non-congregate emergency shelter such as hotel rooms and tiny house villages. Councilmember Lewis noted that they received a letter from the heads of several Seattle business associations, including the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Seattle Association, expressing their support for the bill — and in a first, applauding Sawant (and other Council members) “for their leadership on this issue.”
This morning Councilmember Lewis highlighted the meeting of the King County Board of Health later this week, which is scheduled to take up the issue of bike helmet laws. Recent studies have shown that the laws are enforced more heavily against people of color, which has led to a revival of questions as to whether the laws should exist at all.
Councilmember Sawant announced that her next committee meeting will be on June 22. The agenda will include:
- a bill requiring landlords to provide a six-month advance notice of any rent increases;
- a bill requiring landlords to pay relocation expenses for tenants who are “economically evicted” due to rising rents;
- a discussion of the “Stop the Money” campaign to prevent financing of fossil-fuel infrastructure.
Sawant also previewed three other bills her office is developing:
- a bill allowing the Green New Deal Oversight Board to rate insurance companies and other financial institutions when they bid on city contracts, and requiring the Department of Finance and Administrative Services to factor in that rating;
- a bill requested by the “Decriminalize Nature” movement to decriminalize psychedelic drugs;
- a bill prohibiting the Seattle Police Department from training with Israeli military and police forces.
Meanwhile, Councilmember Juarez said that her committee will consider legislation to accept 28 acres from WSDOT as an addition to the Arboretum.
Juarez also announced that the Parks Department has delayed the reopening of Albert Davis Park, tucked behind the Lake City Library, until June 28.
Juarez also highlighted that the first span of the new Northgate pedestrian/bike bridge over I-5 was installed over the weekend, and the remaining span will be installed his coming Saturday night.
Councilmember Morales said this morning that the city has begun the search process for a new Director of the Office of Arts and Culture, with an intent to seat someone before the end of the year (just in time for a new Mayor).
Morales also said that the Office of Economic Development is reviewing a final report on creating a Film Commission; she has asked them to present their final decision at her committee meeting next month. OED is apparently also discussing the possibility of hiring a new “creative industries” director.
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