Axios Seattle

Picture of the Seattle skyline.

March 10, 2023

Friday's looking pretty good right about now.

🌧 Today's weather: Rain, mainly before 11am. High near 47.

🦠 Situational awareness: State officials are ending their free COVID-19 mail-order testing program, they announced yesterday.

  • The final day all Washingtonians are eligible to order the free testing kits is Sunday; after that, only some will qualify. Order online here.

Today's newsletter is 930 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Ban on selling assault weapons clears state House

Illustration of a paper gun target with a "no" or "banned" symbol in the middle

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Washington lawmakers are advancing multiple measures to try to curb gun violence, including a proposal to ban sales of assault weapons.

Why it matters: Democrats, who control Washington's Legislature, say the rise in firearm violence in the state — plus the frequency of mass shootings nationwide — shows the need for stricter regulations.

Republicans, meanwhile, say the proposals are an unconstitutional infringement of gun ownership rights, and would unfairly burden responsible firearm owners.

Latest: The state House passed the ban on the sale of assault weapons on a 55-42 vote Wednesday.

  • The measure applies to a wide variety of semi-automatic firearms, including AR-15s and AK-47s, as well as other guns that have one or more features described in the bill.
  • The legislation would prohibit the sale, manufacturing and importing of such guns. But it wouldn't outlaw possession of them — meaning people who already own those firearms could keep them.

Context: While Democratic state legislators, the governor and the attorney general have proposed versions of an assault weapons ban for years, this year marks the first time such a proposal has cleared either chamber of the Legislature.

Plus: Another proposal that passed the state House this week would require people to wait 10 days when they go to buy any type of firearm, and to go through gun safety training.

  • Separately, a bill that cleared the state Senate would make it easier to sue gun manufacturers and dealers, allowing those businesses to be held liable if they don't take adequate steps to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.

What they're saying: "Gun violence is preventable. This bill will save lives," state Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle) said during Wednesday's debate on the assault weapons sales ban.

The other side: State Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) called banning assault weapons "an infringement of constitutional rights of the people."

Read more

2. Here comes the sun!

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Seattle may never embrace the twice-a-year clock-changing ritual of daylight saving time (DST) that state legislators voted to do away with four years ago, but we love that extra hour of evening light.

Driving the news: Seattle will see its first post-7pm sunset of the year once DST goes into effect this Sunday.

Why it matters: The switch to DST is more important to Seattle than most other cities where seasonal sunset times change less dramatically, Seattle Weather Blog's Justin Shaw told Axios. During winter — when we get just eight hours of light on our shortest days — many of us leave for work and get home in the dark.

What they're saying: "Once daylight saving arrives, I can suddenly see the faces of neighbors I haven't seen for months," Shaw said. "People have an extra spring in their step. It's a big psychological boost."

State of play: Washington legislators overwhelmingly passed a bill in 2019 to stay on permanent daylight saving time and the governor signed it.

  • But moving to permanent DST, unlike staying on standard time, requires congressional approval.
  • Last year, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, co-sponsored by Washington Sen. Patty Murray, but a similar resolution stalled in the House.

What we're watching: Whether the Sunshine Protection Act reintroduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and companion legislation in the House will gain traction this year.

  • Axios' Kelly Tyko reports it's unclear if Congress will take up the legislation again, but both bills have been referred to committees.

The case for DST

3. Seattle city workers frustrated with raise offer

Illustration of Seattle City Hall with lines emanating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Seattle city workers are circulating a petition objecting to the city's latest contract offer, which they say included a 1% cost-of-living raise for this year.

What's happening: The Coalition of City Unions, which represents more than 6,000 city of Seattle employees, says in its petition that the city needs to offer wages that "reflect the historic inflation that is grossly escalating the cost of living."

  • Seattle had one of the highest rates of inflation among metro areas last year.
  • In December, local food prices were up 11.3% compared to a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What they're saying: "We worked on the front line all the way through COVID, putting our family's and our health at risk, so 1% is a complete slap in the face," said Heath Brenan, a warehouse worker at Seattle City Light, in a statement the union coalition provided to Axios.

The other side: Jamie Housen, a spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, told Axios the administration is "unable to comment on active negotiations."

Share this story

4. Morning Buzz: Kirkland's millionaires club

Illustration of "Morning Buzz" written on a foggy window with Seattle skyline in the background.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🤑 Kirkland is one of only six cities in the U.S. where 5% of households earned an average income of more than $1 million in 2021. (Seattle Times)

🚍 King County Metro has partnered with transit tech company Via to launch a new app-based ride service that will get people in seven underserved zones to and from mass transit centers. (GeekWire)

New jobs to check out

💼 See who's hiring around the city.

  1. Assistant Director at Learning Care Group.
  2. Senior Director of Development at Enterprise Community Partners.
  3. National Admin Assistant at Enlyte.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

5. Gas Works makes best best urban parks list

Gas Works Park. Photo: Elena Di Vincenzo/Archivio Elena Di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Gas Works Park is one of the best urban parks in the United States, according to a new set of rankings from Rent.com.

Yes, but: Is it actually even the best park in Seattle?

Melissa's thought bubble: I live close to Gas Works Park and love it for some things: the nice view, occasional summer outings, and a place to take visitors.

But it has shortcomings — like goose poop. Plus its somewhat small size and lack of access to the water (you can look but not touch!).

So, we put it to you, Axios Seattle readers: What are the best parks in Seattle?

  • We will be making a list of all these, so share your reasons why you think your park picks rule!

🪁 Melissa does enjoy Gas Works Park, but not so much the dodging of goose-poop that many visits involve.

⌛ Clarridge is apparently among the few who don't mind the clock change. She likes the feeling that it's "suddenly" spring in March and then in November that delightful "extra" hour of sleep.

This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by David Chiu.