Starbucks, rainy weather, Nirvana, Boeing, and the Seahawks are just a few of the notable things that come to mind when Americans think of Seattle, Washington. But in 2017 these Seattle trademarks have been overshadowed by radical liberal policies that are a preview of the future liberals want.
Just this year there have been at least five major policy decisions passed or enacted by the Seattle City Council that are going to hurt Seattlites and small business owners.
Fortunately, for common sense Emerald City taxpayers, there is one group committed to fighting back: the Freedom Foundation. The Washington-based think- and action-tank has been on the front lines of the biggest policy debates in Seattle and has been instrumental in exposing the radical nature of these new laws.
Here are the top five craziest things that came out of Seattle this year, and what the Freedom Foundation is doing to expose them:
1. Illegal Income Tax
Last week, the Seattle City Council passed an unconstitutional income tax on Seattle taxpayers. Washington is one of nine states that does not have state and local income taxes, as written in the state’s constitution. But this did not stop the liberal city council from unanimously passing the new tax on hard-working Seattlities.
Due to the unconstitutionality of the income tax and a long history of Washingtonians voting against enacting such a tax, the Freedom Foundation is preparing to lead a coalition to protect Seattle taxpayers and to help ensure that constitutional protections are applied equally to every citizen.
2. Job-Killing $15 Minimum Wage
Starting in 2014, Seattle began rapidly increasing the minimum wage to $15-an-hour – double the minimum wage in the rest of the nation. The city council sought to give hourly workers a pay raise, but as a new University of Washington study shows, the Seattle minimum wage increase actually led to reduced hours for workers and employers were forced to let people go.
In addition to the $15 minimum wage having an adverse effect on Seattle workers, a Freedom Foundation report titled”Promises Made, Promises Broken: The Failure of Washington State’s Minimum Wage Law” examined how Washington already had one of the highest minimum wages in the country and how if a $15 minimum wage was taken statewide, there would be a net drain on the state’s economy, hurting workers everywhere.
3. Forced Unionization of Uber & Lyft Drivers
With the backing of left-wing labor unions, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance that’d force Uber and Lyft drivers to turn over their private information to union organizers, essentially placing rideshare drivers on the fast track to unionization. If the union was able to get a majority of Uber and Lyft drivers to sign on to unionization, all Seattle Uber and Lyft drivers – whether they agreed to it or not – would be required to join the union and be forced to pay union dues.
This new ordinance by the Seattle City Council is not permitted under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), since these drivers are independent contractors, not employees. With this legal basis and on behalf of 11 rideshare drivers, the Freedom Foundation and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have challenged the Seattle ordinance and it is being fought in court right now.
4. Union Exempting Themselves From Rules They Helped Pass
Seattle’s “secure scheduling” law went into effect this month, but not for all Emerald City businesses. This new scheduling ordinance not only handcuffs employers by forcing them to comply with new scheduling rules, but it also eliminates any flexibility employees had in changing or picking up additional hours at work. Lefty labor unions pushed hard to get the law enacted, but there is a catch: union shops would be exempted from the law. The liberal city council not only wanted to give their labor union allies an exemption to a law they pushed for but also chose to give them an unfair advantage over other Seattle businesses, all at the expense of workers.
5. Undemocratic “Democracy Vouchers”
Nothing is too radical for the Seattle City Council, but one of their craziest new ordinances – the first of its kind in the United States – will result in tax dollars being used to fund political campaigns, while violating voters’ First Amendment rights. Each election, Seattle voters will be receiving a $25 voucher in the mail to then be sent to their local candidate of choice, which that candidate can then spend on his or her campaign. This program is costing Seattle taxpayers more than $30 million in property tax increases over the next 10 years.
If Seattle isn’t stopped by the Freedom Foundation and other citizens pushing back against this agenda, the city will come to be known not for its coffee and rain, but for their radical laws and its assault on taxpayers.
Tom McCabe is the Chief Executive Officer of the Freedom Foundation, a non-profit, public policy research organization founded in 1991. The Freedom Foundation’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.