Axios Seattle

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Happy Friday. Let's all get our work done fast and sneak out early.

Today's weather: Mostly sunny. High near 60.

🎂 Happy early birthday to our Axios Seattle member Margaret Achterman!

Today's newsletter is 908 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: How Washington's police pursuit law will change

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Police officers in Washington state will soon be able to chase far more suspects who flee in vehicles, after state lawmakers voted to roll back restrictions passed in 2021.

Why it matters: Police agencies said the state's limits on vehicle pursuits hampered their ability to fight crime.

  • But those who opposed rolling back the rules argue that police car chases too often hurt or kill civilians, while also endangering police.

Catch up quick: Under existing law, Washington police can initiate a car chase only when a fleeing person is suspected of certain crimes — a violent offense, sex offense, domestic violence assault, vehicular assault, driving under the influence or escaping from prison or jail.

  • Vehicle chases for lower-level crimes, such as property theft, are banned.

The latest: The new law approved this month by Washington's Legislature, I-2113, will allow cops to once again pursue any driver if they have reasonable suspicion that they have violated the law.

The fine print: Even under the new initiative, police will only be able to start a car pursuit if the risks of letting a person go are deemed greater than the risks of chasing them, and the person fleeing is deemed a "threat to the safety of others."

That's a lower standard than under the 2021 law, which required that the fleeing person pose an "imminent threat" of harming someone.

  • It's also lower than the amended standard lawmakers adopted last year, which required a "serious risk of harm to others."

What's next: Both the Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff's Office are reviewing their vehicle pursuit procedures in light of I-2113's passage, they told Axios in written statements.

Yes, but: SPD doesn't plan to roll back its rules to the degree I-2113 allows, SPD general counsel Rebecca Boatright wrote.

  • "SPD's policies are and will remain more restrictive than state law," Boatright wrote, noting "the inherent risk of any pursuit."

Go deeper

2. Meet Washington's 18-year-old legislator

Rep. Lilian Hale takes the oath of office from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven C. González. Photo: Courtesy of the Washington State House of Representatives

Lilian Hale of Cathlamet became the state's youngest legislator last week when she was sworn in as a proxy for her stepfather, Republican state Rep. Joel McEntire.

Driving the news: McEntire, a U.S. Marine Corps reservist, was called away on military duty and Hale will serve until his return.

  • Washington state allows a temporary successor to be appointed for legislators on leave for military service or military training.
  • While Hale was sworn in on the last day of the regular session, which was also her 18th birthday, she will head back to Olympia if a special session is called, she told Axios.

The latest: Hale voted on final amendments to several measures, as well as the deals lawmakers reached on the state transportation budget and operating budget.

  • Her own personal politics lean a little more left than her stepfather's, she said, and she considers herself a moderate who sees things that "make sense" in proposals from both Democrats and Republicans.

The intrigue: While Hale found the experience exciting, she said she has no plans to pursue a political career.

  • A nursing student at Lower Columbia College, Hale plans to go into either labor and delivery or hospice nursing before becoming a school nurse.

What they're saying: "I always thought of politics as legalized adult bullying," she said. "Online and in debates, so many politicians bash each other and say the meanest things."

Fun facts: Instagram is her most-used social media platform and Pike Place Market her favorite place to visit in Seattle.

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3. Morning Buzz: Seattle U's big art haul

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🖼️ Seattle University has received the largest art donation ever given to a university from 88-year-old real estate developer Richard "Dick" Hedreen.

  • The collection, worth $300 million, is so large the Jesuit school will have to build a new museum to house it. (KUOW)

🏯 Seattle's historic Denny Mansion off Lake Washington was recently sold to developers for nearly $6 million and will likely be demolished. (Seattle Times)

🚗 Hyundai owners can receive free anti-theft software updates today through Sunday at mobile clinics in Tacoma, Bellevue and Edmonds.

  • The upgrades should take less than 30 minutes. (KOMO)

4. Things to do in Seattle this weekend

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you're ready to emerge from winter hibernation, here are a few ideas to get out of the house on what's expected to be a glorious sunny weekend.

🥁 Catch the 53rd annual St. Patrick's Day Parade tomorrow at 12:30pm as it marches from Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street in downtown Seattle to Westlake Park. Free.

☘️ The Irish Festival Seattle at Seattle Center's Armory Food & Event Hall will feature dance presentations, live music and storytelling as well as classes on a range of topics including poetry, tin whistles, Gaelic language and genealogy. Free.

  • Tomorrow 12–6pm, Sunday 10am–6pm.

🧘 Take a mini retreat at Olympic Sculpture Park on the first and third Saturday of every month, where yoga, movement, art and performances are part of the Seattle Art Museum's Body & Mind wellness program.

  • Bring a mat and arrive early to get a spot for the 60-minute vinyasa flow yoga session at 9am tomorrow. Program runs through 2pm. Free.

🪩 Disco attire is encouraged at Gimme Gimme Disco, a dance party featuring the music of ABBA, the Bee Gees, Donna Summer and Cher at the Crocodile in Belltown. 10pm tomorrow night. Tickets are $17.

🐍 Got a snake fan in the family? Learn all about serpents and their important role in our ecosystem during a Snake Patrick's Day event led by a Washington State Parks interpreter at Lake Sammamish State Park.

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☀️ Melissa is trying to get her child to stop playing with inside toys and go outside for some sun.

🥑 Clarridge is eating a sandwich with two of her favorite greens: avocado and fresh-from-the-garden arugula.

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