Axios Seattle

Picture of the Seattle skyline.

It's Friday!

🌬️ Today's weather: Windy with gusts of up to 38 mph! Woo! High near 50.

Today's newsletter is 890 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Washington considers lowering legal BAC limit to .05%

Illustration of a gavel coming down on a cocktail napkin.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Washington could become the second state in the nation after Utah to lower the legal limit of a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) from .08% to .05%.

  • State lawmakers are currently considering a bill — which has bipartisan sponsors, a nod from the governor and the support of the Washington State Patrol — that would move the rate within the range of zero tolerance laws that currently apply to those under age 21.

Driving the news: Senate Bill 5002 cleared the Senate Committee on Law & Justice last month and had its second public hearing earlier this week, this time before the Senate Transportation Committee.

What they're saying: "Impairment starts with the first drink," the bill's sponsor, state Sen. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), told the committee. The former Snohomish County sheriff and state trooper said the change is aimed at decreasing fatal and serious crashes.

  • "It is very clear to me that drunk driving is impacting the safety of our communities, and it is time that we do something," he said.

By the numbers: Last year, 745 people died in crashes on Washington roads — the most since 1990 — and more than half were impairment-related, according to information provided to the committee by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Other data provided by the commission showed:

  • At least 32% of the state's fatal crashes involve alcohol positive drivers.
  • Crash risk increases substantially for drivers with a BAC of .05-.079 because impaired drivers are more likely to speed, less able to react and control their vehicles, and less likely to wear seat belts.
  • Utah saw a nearly 20% decrease in fatal crashes, and saw about 10% decreases in both serious injury crashes and all crashes in the 12 months following the implementation of its law lowering the BAC limit.

The other side: Representatives of hospitality and alcohol-selling industries oppose the measure, saying it would harm the state's wineries industry and criminalize moderate drinking by responsible adults.

Read more

2. Remote work saves workers 72 minutes a day, study finds

Illustration of a woman reclining on the hands of a clock

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Working from home saved workers around the world an average of 72 minutes in commute time every day in 2021 and 2022, Axios' Emily Peck writes.

Yes, but: Many employees plowed that time right back into ... working more, according to a paper recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Why it matters: During the pandemic, Seattle embraced remote work more than almost any other city in the country.

  • That means, in theory, we are getting some of the most time back from working from home. So it's worth examining how we are spending those regained minutes.

The big picture: The data — drawn from two global employee surveys — underscores that the benefits of remote work flow both to employees and employers.

  • 40% of workers used the time saved to work on either a primary or secondary job.
  • 34% used the time for leisure activities, including exercise or watching TV.
  • 11% went to caregiving, for children or others.

Full story

3. Morning Buzz: Beth's Cafe is back

Illustration of the Seattle Space Needle wearing sunglasses

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

🍳 Beth's Cafe, an Aurora Avenue institution known for its 12-egg omelets, reopened this week after an extended closure. (KING 5)

💵 Low-income Washingtonians can now apply for the state's Working Families Tax Credit, which can provide eligible people with a $1,200 tax rebate. (FOX13)

🐶 Fire crews rescued more than 100 dogs from a fire that broke out at a Seattle doggie daycare. (KING 5)

💸 Amazon lost $2.7 billion last year compared to its 2021 reported net income of $33.4 billion. (The Seattle Times)

4. The groundhog's record isn't that bad

Data: NOAA; Note: 10, 25, and 75 year periods are calculated from 2013, 1998, and 1948 to 2022; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals
Data: NOAA; Note: 10, 25, and 75 year periods are calculated from 2013, 1998, and 1948 to 2022; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Scoff all you want, but Punxsutawney Phil gets it right most of the time.

What's happening: Over the past 75 years, Punxsutawney Phil has correctly predicted whether there will be an early spring 69% of the time, according to an Axios analysis of NOAA data.

Why it matters: It’s high time to vindicate Phil and let his record shine, Axios' Erin Davis writes.

Latest: Phil saw his shadow on Thursday, meaning that according to lore, we're in for six more weeks of winter.

Zoom in: Looking at Seattle's rain-filled forecast and 50-degree high-temperature projections for the coming days, we'd say our East Coast rodent friend has made another solid guess.

Read the full analysis

New jobs to check out

💼 See who's hiring around the city.

  1. Principal Project Director/Project Manager, Rail at WSP.
  2. Chief of Specialty at Lakefield Veterinary Group.
  3. Partnership Tax Director - SALT at PwC.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

5. Microsoft's president calls for dialogue on AI

Photo collage of Brad smith and an image of data

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: By Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

Microsoft President Brad Smith said yesterday that the latest artificial intelligence technologies require guardrails that can't be established by tech companies alone, writes Axios' Ina Fried.

  • In a blog post, Smith called for greater dialogue with governments and other stakeholders, but stopped short of calling for specific regulation.

Why it matters: Few laws today govern how businesses or governments can use AI technologies, though lawmakers in Europe have begun discussions on a wide-ranging AI Act.

The big picture: Smith called for attention to three specific areas:

  • The need for responsible and ethical AI.
  • AI's impact on national security and economic competitiveness.
  • Ensuring that AI technology serves society broadly, not narrowly.

Yes, but: Although Smith argued that "these issues are too important to be left to technologists alone," he said it would be equally wrong to exclude the companies pioneering such technologies from the regulatory process.

  • "There’s no way to anticipate, much less address, these advances without involving tech companies in the process."

Full story

❌ Clarridge is… concerned. Yes, the outfits did arrive, but why was she thinking red was a good idea?

👢 Melissa is trying to figure out how many pairs of shoes she can pack into a carry-on.

This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by Elizabeth Black.