Axios Seattle

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Hiya, Wednesday.

Today's weather: Mostly cloudy. High near 54.

Situational awareness: Saturday is National Puppy Day and we'd love to feature some of your fur babies in Friday's newsletter. Hit reply to share a pic.

Today's newsletter is 689 words, a 2.5-minute read.

1 big thing: New state law cracks down on animal cruelty

A photo of a black, tan and white puppy.
18-week-old Toba was rescued by Pasado's Safe Haven, which worked with legislators to craft the bill. Photo: Courtesy of Pasado's Safe Haven

A bill that imposes tougher criminal penalties for animal cruelty convictions was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee last week and takes effect on June 6.

Why it matters: The new law elevates the punishment for first-degree animal cruelty — which is already a class C felony — by reclassifying it as a crime that is ranked level III on the seriousness scale.

  • The reclassification means that people convicted of animal cruelty could face a standard sentence range of two months to five years, depending on their criminal history, compared to the 0–364 days they typically face if convicted of an unranked felony.

What they're saying: The measure promotes respect for all living beings "and sets a powerful precedent for other states to follow," Brenna Anderst of Pasado's Safe Haven — which worked with legislators to craft the bill — told Axios.

How it works: Supporters say House Bill 1961, which overwhelmingly passed both chambers earlier this year, adds uniformity to sentencing by elevating the crime to a ranked, as opposed to unranked, felony.

  • For an offender convicted in Washington of an unranked felony, no standard sentence range applies, per the state Sentencing Guidelines Commission.
  • Currently, only animal cruelty involving sexual conduct is rated as a level III offense.
  • But under the new law, the intentional infliction of pain or death and starving, dehydrating or exposing animals to excessive temperatures will also be ranked offenses, per legislative staff speaking at a House committee hearing in January.

Because the current law doesn't categorize all first-degree animal cruelty as a serious ranked felony, it has been difficult for prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys to litigate animal cruelty cases uniformly, according to a summary of public testimony in support of the bill.

  • Under the current law, people who abused multiple animals could get the same sentence as people who abused one animal, said the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Sam Low (R-Lake Stevens).

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2. The dinner party renaissance is here

Data: Kantar Profiles/Mintel; Chart: Axios Visuals

Today's hosts are setting the table for a different kind of dinner party tradition and new businesses are RSVPing to help.

Why it matters: Entertaining at home is one way for people to get the connection they crave on a budget, Axios' Brianna Crane reports.

State of play: A host of dinner party startups like Hauste are catering to young people at a time when dining out is expensive and many have soured on drinking.

  • The businesses aim to make dinner parties easier, offering menu ideas, plate rentals, Spotify playlists and other services
  • "You're not going to be Martha Stewart the first time you host," Hauste co-founder Lea Raymond says. (And that's OK.)

The big picture: Searches for "dinner parties" on Evite increased 148% from this time last year, per data the online invitation company shared with Axios.

  • Millennials and Gen Zers are especially leaning into their "hosting era," with an emphasis on creative tablescapes and themed experiences — in part to share on TikTok and Instagram, "where visually appealing content around hosting is highly valued and widely shared," Olivia Pollock, senior brand marketing director at Evite, tells Axios.

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3. Morning Buzz: Midnight snacks

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🍪 A late-night cookie chain that's open until 1am Sunday through Wednesday and 3am Thursday through Saturday is planning to open its first Seattle location in the University District soon.

  • Philadelphia-based Insomnia Cookies already operates bakeries near WSU, Gonzaga and Western Washington University. (Puget Sound Business Journal)

💰 Billionaire Seattle philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is giving $640 million to 361 small nonprofits that responded to an open call for applications, more than doubling what Scott had initially pledged to give away through the application process.

  • Scott has given away $16.5 billion from the fortune she came into after divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Associated Press)

🎒 In an expansion of the Seattle Preschool Program, the city will fund 16 new preschool classrooms, creating additional slots for kids, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced this week. (KUOW)

🩺 Some of Seattle's first responders are now carrying buprenorphine, a synthetic opioid that can stabilize drug users and provide short-term withdrawal relief, in a pilot program that will allow Seattle Fire Department paramedics to administer the medication. (Capitol Hill Seattle Blog)

🛏️ Melissa took a day of rest and is counting down the days to the baby's arrival.

🐕‍🦺 Clarridge is babysitting a furry grandchild who believes a cheese tax should be paid every hour.

This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by Egan Millard.