• Letter from Uber on Rideshare Regulations

    by Matt Landers | Dec 05, 2016

    GSBA has not yet taken any position on the issues mentioned below. As a matter of policy, GSBA does not weigh in on matters of unionization. Uber is a member of GSBA and has asked that we post this letter for our membership to see.


    We’re reaching out to our community partners about the City’s plans to deny thousands of drivers the right to vote on their future, which puts local jobs at risk and could make it difficult for rideshare companies like Uber to continue operating in Seattle.

     

    The City has just released draft rules to implement a law that enables the Teamsters to represent rideshare, for-hire, and taxi drivers. These rules give a minority of drivers the power to make decisions for everyone. They also offer no protections for driver privacy or protection from harassment or retaliation from the union.

     

    Uber respects and upholds the right of drivers to decide whether they want to be represented by a union. We believe every driver should have a voice in that decision. We hope you’ll support our effort to let the City know the current approach is not right. The deadline for public comment is Tuesday, December 6 and there are several ways you can get involved:

     

    1. Take a minute to hear the perspective of Debra, a local Uber driver-partner.
    2. Visit driveforwardseattle.org to learn more and reach out to the City of Seattle.
    3. Let @CityofSeattle know that #EveryDriverCounts and share on Twitter and Facebook.
    4. Sign up to join the Drive Forward Community Advisory Committee.
    5. Sign up to attend a public hearing at City Hall on December 6 at 1:30 p.m.
    6. Forward this email to your network and urge others to speak up for Seattle drivers.

    Brooke Steger
    General Manager, Uber PNW
  • Special Message from Your LGBTQ Community Leaders

    by Matt Landers | Nov 09, 2016

    Despair, sadness, and shock are what so many of us are feeling this morning.
     
    How did our country, even with all its faults, elect a new leader that has campaigned with such total disregard for so many that make up the fabric of our nation? For so many of us who represent the breadth of differences that strengthen the country -- our LGBTQ families and friends; the differently-abled; racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; and all women -- today is a hard day. We need to acknowledge the profound kick in the gut we all feel and then, as we have always done, we will continue with more fervor than ever, persevere in our work to challenge discrimination and promote equality for all.
     
    In Washington State we still have a lot going for us. We have an amazing network of organizations that provide us with care and safety. We have elected leaders on the city, state and federal levels who will fight harder than ever for all of us. Yesterday we re-elected and elected decent, principled people to represent us and we successfully passed important initiatives such as increasing the state's minimum wage, a new gun safety measure, and a comprehensive regional mass transit system.
     
    Seattle's LGBT executive directors meet regularly to ensure that in challenging times we know who to turn to, and in joyous times how to come together to celebrate. This morning's meeting left us compelled to reaffirm our commitment to each of you and our community as a whole. Whatever your needs, we will be there for you. Whether you turn to film, music or the arts to heal and enrich your life. Whether you are searching for health care or struggling with mental health or addiction challenges. Whether you need safety from sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Whether you are looking to support underfunded nonprofits or are building a vibrant and economically healthy community as an entrepreneur. Your community stands ready to support you as we all continue our journey to be your voice for equality and to safeguard your civil rights as LGBTQ people. 
     
    If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or scared or sad, remember to reach out to talk with a friend, co-worker, or family member to share your feelings. If you need help, call Seattle Counseling Service's 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1-866-427-4747 for emotional support and care.
     
    We are family, we always have been, and we are stronger together.
     
    For equality,
     
    Danni Askini, Gender Justice League
    Connie Burk, The NW Network
    Louise Chernin, GSBA (Greater Seattle Business Association)
    Gary Davis, Companis
    Barbara Ebert, Lifelong
    Kris Hermanns, Pride Foundation
    Ann McGettigan, Seattle Counseling Service
    Jason Plourde, Three Dollar Bill Cinema
    Luis Fernando Ramirez, Entre Hermanos
    Steve Smith, Seattle Men's Chorus/Seattle Women's Chorus
    Fred Swanson, Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center
    Josh Wallace, SASG (Seattle Area Support Groups and Community Center)
     
     
  • GSBA Letter on Proposed Seattle Head Tax

    by Matt Landers | Nov 04, 2016

    GSBA sent this letter to the Seattle City Council in response to a proposal to implement an employee headcount tax to fund the Office of Labor Standards.


    Honorable Councilmembers,

    GSBA, one of the largest chambers in Washington with over 1,200 members, has supported the creation of an Office for Labor Standards and was a champion that this office be independent from the Office of Civil Rights. Given the importance to economic health of small business in our city, GSBA feels it is essential that this funding come from the city’s general fund and we applaud that the Mayor’s budget proposal shows that the City’s general fund can indeed readily address a much-needed expansion of the office.

     

    The current proposal by the City Council to fund the Office for Labor Standards with a head tax on businesses of all sizes is the surest way to discourage growth and give a disincentive to businesses considering expansion. The increase in fees would range from several hundred dollars per year to hundreds of thousands of dollars. For small businesses, increasing taxes on an already fragile existence in this increasingly expensive city could push them out of business or put a curb on any expansion. This increase would come as businesses in our city have consistently invested in what is best for this city and our communities. We already generate 50 percent of the tax revenue for the City of Seattle’s general fund and have been waiting for the city to do its part to demonstrate its support for our business community.

     

    GSBA believes in businesses investing in their employees and treating them right. That is why we are a proud supporter of Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage and implement paid sick and safe time at the state level. We have been a good-faith partner to the City as Seattle proposes and implements additional labor standards every year, even as the concerns and realities of small businesses are dismissed at nearly every turn.

     

    The cost of living and the cost of doing business is rising fast for Seattle, partially through the growth we are currently experiencing and partially through the intentional work of the City. While each individual policy might not have a significant impact, the cumulative effect is piling on our businesses, especially for the smallest businesses which anchor our neighborhoods and communities. A head tax on businesses makes it harder for businesses to increase their staff – the opposite of what should be the City’s goal.

     

    As you continue your deliberations, we strongly urge you to support the Mayor’s proposal for continuing to fund the Office of Labor Standards through the general fund. Implementing our city’s labor laws does not require a separate funding source but a clear commitment of support that the City of Seattle understands that everyone benefits from a healthy business environment and therefore, funding for this vital office be supported by Seattle’s General Fund.

     

    For equality,

    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

  • Member Candidate: Dan Shih

    by Matt Landers | Oct 30, 2016


    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear fellow GSBA members,

    DanShihHeadshot1I’m Dan Shih, candidate for state representative in the 43rd District.  As an openly gay legal professional and a father of three girls in a two-dad household, I am deeply thankful for the GSBA’s advocacy over the last thirty-five years on behalf of our community.  Our district has a history of electing great leaders, and I hope to continue the tradition and to be a champion for LGBTQ equality and the concerns of businesses and professionals in our community.

    I’m honored that SEAMEC has given me its highest rating for leadership on LGBTQ issues.  I have been a dedicated advocate for our community through my work at QLaw to make the legal system fairer for LGBTQ people, as a board member at the ACLU of Washington advising on our civil rights projects, and as a volunteer attorney for Lambda Legal.  While we have made amazing advances in recent years, there is still work to do—for example, helping LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, protecting our LGBTQ elders, and ensuring equality for our transgender friends.

    As a working parent, I know how challenging it is to work a demanding job and provide for one’s family while making time for parenting and serving one’s community.  I also understand how hard it is to run a business.  I saw my parents struggle to make a success of their own small business.  Before starting my law practice, I was a business consultant and helped manage several companies.  Now, as an attorney, I know the challenges of running a professional practice.  I will be a representative who takes into account the unique difficulties that small businesses and professionals face and who works to find creative solutions that help working people while understanding the needs of employers.

    I am honored to be endorsed by The Seattle Times, which described me as the candidate who “has the disposition and talent to be a diligent, creative, workhorse lawmaker.”  I was also the sole candidate to receive an “Outstanding” rating from the Municipal League for being “a path-finding and respected leader” who “brings knowledge and creativity to issues facing the office.”  In addition, many get-things-done leaders have endorsed me, including State Senator Jamie Pedersen, former Mayor Norm Rice, and former Governor Gary Locke.

    I hope to earn your vote!  To learn more, please visit my website at www.danshih.com or my Facebook page at facebook.com/peoplefordanshih.

    Yours truly,
    -Dan Shih

  • 21 Years Out in the Heart of Madison Valley

    by Matt Landers | Oct 28, 2016
    baasKarrie Baas, owner of Baas Framing Studio & The Madison Art Collective has been a member of GSBA since 1995.

    Karrie started picture-framing in 1984 in Anchorage, Alaska.  She and her wife of 30 years moved to Seattle in 1989 and Karrie enrolled at Cornish College of the Arts. After graduating in 1995 she found her space at the corner of Madison and 27th Avenue to open her own shop. Baas Framing Studio is proud to employ 3 artists.

    "I feel so lucky to have found GSBA in 1996. Soon after I opened my doors, a friend told me about GSBA and I joined right away. Having GSBA and its members in my personal and professional life has helped me in many ways. While moving to Seattle I promised myself that I would be proudly Out. I have never been closeted in my business and I feel my connection to other LGBT businesses has been such a gift."

    Next month they will celebrate 21 years in the heart of Madison Valley. Baas Framing Gallery would like to invite all GSBA members to join them for a celebration on November 10th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for an exhibition of Rebecca Allen's colorful landscapes & Curtis Yu's fabulous ceramics.
  • Member Candidate: Nicole Macri

    by Matt Landers | Oct 28, 2016
    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear Friends and Colleagues at GSBA,

    I have spent my life providing solutions to problems many have considered intractable -- including how best to address affordable housing, homelessness, and the needs of people living with mental illness and addiction. My partner Deb and I have lived on Capitol Hill for more than a decade, and I am thrilled to be running for the State Legislature to put my experience to work for our community. With your help, I will be a champion for the people who live, love, play, earn their livings, and make their homes in the 43rd District.

    Macri

    As the Deputy Director for the Downtown Emergency Service Center in Seattle, I am responsible for providing housing and services to 9,000 chronically homeless adults annually and overseeing a budget of $41 million and 550 employees. As President of the Board of Directors of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, I have helped to expand affordable housing across our state and champion policies that protect renters and homeowners from discrimination and displacement.

    These experiences have earned me the sole endorsements of over 30 current and former local elected leaders, including State Representative Brady Walkinshaw, who currently holds this seat, Mayor Ed Murray, seven Seattle Councilmembers, former Mayor Mike McGinn, former King County Executive Ron Sims, and many state legislators.

    I am also pleased to include Equal Rights Washington, The Stranger, the LGBT Victory Fund, EMILY’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest among my endorsements.

    This is a dynamic time in our region. I believe the State can be a better partner in helping ensure Seattle and all communities in Washington thrive. Together, we can make sure that no one experiences the dangers and indignities of not having a home or of enduring discrimination for who they are; that all students get a good education and can attend college without being mired in debt; that our environment is protected today and for generations to come; and, that the important role that small businesses play in the vibrant neighborhoods of our district is protected and upheld.

    This seat in our legislature holds a great distinction. It has been held by an LGBT individual since 1987, the longest streak in the world. Thanks to strong leadership by our past representatives, this seat has been historically significant in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights in our state and across our nation. I take the responsibility of carrying on this important legacy very seriously, and look forward to continuing this trend. As your representative, I will work to ensure that LGBTQ people are free from discrimination and have safe access to spaces and services, and to close the gender pay gap by ensuring equal pay for equal work and establishing paid parental leave.

    Throughout my career, I have shown that with determination and collaboration, we can solve tough problems in ways that make things better for all of us. I got into this race because I know we can take that experience and determination to Olympia to expand opportunity and equity for people across this state. As your legislator, I will work to ensure the future can be brighter for everyone in Seattle and across our state. In short, I will work for you. I look forward to earning your vote.

    Please visit my campaign website and Facebook page at votenicole.org and facebook.com/votenicolemacri.

    Thank you,

    Nicole Macri
    Friends of Nicole Macri
    info@votenicole.org

  • Ambassador of the Month: Randy Card

    by Matt Landers | Oct 26, 2016

    Randy Card is a Business Banking Manager with First Financial Northwest Bank.

    Randy CardI joined GSBA about six years ago and found that this organization plays a huge part in our Greater Seattle market. They support our local communities, help our local businesses and advocate for our LGBT community. I’m currently an ambassador and member, and serve on the Membership, Outreach, and Engagement (MOE) committee. The most rewarding part of my involvement with GSBA is new people, and building lasting relationships.

    I work for First Financial Northwest Bank as a Business Banking Manager in Mill Creek, with more than 24 years of service in Retail Banking. I specialize in Business Relationship Management and Business Development in the Snohomish County and Greater Seattle Market. The best part of my job is meeting with amazing people and building relationships, both on the client level and employee/peer level. I am an active volunteer with various organizations and support many of our local nonprofits.

    Other things I enjoy are: being with my husband and Rosie (our German shepherd) and spending time with friends and family. My hobbies include cooking, traveling, enjoying the outdoors, nightlife, and anything our beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you interested in what GSBA has to offer and how it can best serve your business, or if you are looking for a new fresh outlook in financial needs please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    GSBA ambassadors promote the role of GSBA in the community by welcoming new members, encouraging current members to maximize their membership and assisting in increasing engagement of new and existing members. For more information about becoming a GSBA ambassador contact Ilona Lohrey.

  • 7th Congressional District: Pramila Jayapal

    by Matt Landers | Oct 25, 2016

    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire.

    Senator Pramila Jayapal, running for the 7th Congressional District


    pramilaBoth candidates in this race talk about making the 7th District a national leader. What is unique feature of the district that can serve to address a national problem?
    We live in one of the most progressive districts in the country, which affords us the opportunity to lead on progressive issues. We also live in an area that is known for its innovation and tech industries, and the importance we put on taking care of our environment. Living in a city where so many people have a passion for activism allows us the space to build the movements necessary to create change. My work bringing people together in Seattle across progressive organizations and across the aisle to pass legislation on controversial demonstrates how I have the skills to champion these issues at the national level. I built movements with Seattle communities on issues such as immigration, climate, and police accountability.  In addition, the ability to increase federal resources to address challenges that not only Seattle but major cities across the country are facing, such as transportation, infrastructure investment, homelessness and housing, are absolutely top priorities on the national agenda and we will have to work hard in a divided Congress to bring those solutions right here to the District. My work to build coalitions both here and nationally is the reason that I have garnered the endorsements of so many different sectors, as well as 20 members of Congress who will be absolutely essential to hitting the ground running.

    The 7th is the single most trade-dependent district in the country. The Port of Seattle alone generates over 216,000 jobs, $9 billion in personal income, and nearly $900 million in state and local taxes. How will you work to support the economy of the 7th District in Congress?

    Trade is extremely important to the region.  You can no more stop trade than you can stop migration, nor is either desirable.  It is precisely because the 7th is the most trade-dependent district in the country that we must craft trade policies that foster a healthy economy, one in which both local businesses and workers thrive and that guarantees protections to our shared environment and public health.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said it best when she said we must ensure that civil society is at the center of any trade agreements, not investors.  I will work to ensure that our trade policies are negotiated in the interest of communities across the 7th District by ensuring that both labor and environmental voices are at the table along with businesses.  I do not support the Trans Pacific Partnership because it undermines worker and environmental protections, undermines local jurisdiction over those very protections at home, and gives too much power to multinational corporations, including around patent protection extensions that would limit the ability to provide essential life-saving drugs at affordable prices to those around the world who need them the most.

    It is precisely because of my strong support from so many different sectors of the community, and my commitment to ensuring that the 7th Congressional District is a leader on crafting trade policies that benefit our state and our country that I believe I can play a unique role in ensuring we have fair trade agreements that benefit our economy, our environment, and our workers.

    The 7th District has one of the highest percentages of LGBT people in the country. How will you address the particular needs and priorities of our community?
    I have been a long-time ally of the LGBTQ community and will continue to fight for full LGBTQ rights and work to include voices from LGBTQ communities in coalition-building on a broad set of relevant issues ranging from anti-discrimination in employment to health equity.

    As a grassroots activist with One America, I pushed for LGBTQ equality by joining the coordinating committee of the Washington United for Marriage campaign. I brought together LGBTQ and immigration rights movements in the battle for marriage equality. Broadening the movement helped us create an even greater impact for change.

    In Congress, I plan to join the Congressional Equity Caucus to pass the Equality Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act. These pieces of legislation would establish protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, education, housing and adoption, among others.

    I am so proud to have the endorsements of national and local LGBTQ leaders and organizations.  SeaMec gave me a top ranking in the primary election, ranking me higher than my opponent in the general election, Brady Walkinshaw.  I have won the dual endorsement of Equal Rights Washington for my longstanding work on LGBTQ issues.  I also have been endorsed by numerous local and national LGBTQ leaders including (Organizations for identification purposes only): Locally:  Danni Askini, Sarah Toce (Editor in Chief, Seattle Lesbian), Cuc Vu (Director, City of Seattle, and former Director of Diversity at Human Rights Campaign), Ray Corona (Commissioner, LGBT Commission, City of Seattle), Rita Smith (LGBTQ Leader); and many others.  Nationally: Gautam Raghavan (former LGBTQ liaison to President Obama); Mara Keisling (Executive Director of National Center for Transgender Equality) and Rea Carey (Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force).  For a full list of endorsements, please see the website: www.pramilaforcongress.com/endorsements.

    Based on your skills and interests, in which Congressional committees do feel you would be most effective?
    I currently serve on both the Health Care and Transportation committees in the State Senate and I would like to continue to serve on those two committees, as well as Judiciary (which covers both criminal justice and immigration policy).  I have deep experience in health care, having fought for a single payer healthcare system that ensures access for all and having worked on expanding health care for families here and around the world through my work at PATH for many years, as well as locally on reproductive rights.

    I also have been extremely privileged to serve on the Transportation Committee at a critical time, helping to ensure the best possible transportation infrastructure package that puts $15 billion into our transportation infrastructure in this state over the next ten years, creating 200,000 jobs across the state.  My work on the committee was essential to ensuring that we did not allow for false choices around the environment and transit, and to modernize our transportation infrastructure while also promoting jobs and transitioning to a clean energy economy. As a State Senator on the Transportation Committee, I used transportation as as a pathway to promote jobs and reduce carbon emissions by investing in Washington State’s electric vehicle infrastructure and pushing for $5.25 million in pre-apprenticeship programs for women and people of color.

    My work on criminal justice and immigration policy reform has a long track record, and I look forward to bringing that experience to bear on Judiciary.

    Where is HIV on your policy agenda?
    I got my start in Seattle more than twenty years ago, working for an international public health nonprofit. While there I helped implement health programs that expanded access to health care for women and families with a focus on preventive care through vaccine programs, diagnostics and lowering the costs of drugs to treat diseases. HIV/AIDS was a very important part of all this work.  The loan fund that I was the director of at PATH funded many activities around HIV, including education and prevention through contraceptive social marketing program in Indonesia to prevent transmission; vaccine development; and other forms of education, prevention and treatment resources. I am committed to working for health equity for all communities. I have a track record as a grassroots activist and State Senator of working to expand health care access for women, families, and underserved communities with a focus on preventative care. In addition to supporting access to health care for people with HIV, the federal government must also invest in HIV research and development to combat and prevent the disease, and education programs to fight the stigma associated with HIV, while stressing the continued need for prevention and safe-sex.

    It is also essential that we invest in more treatment and research, including both domestically and globally when less than half of the people who need antiretroviral therapy are receiving it. In 2015 there were over 2 million new HIV infections worldwide, adding up to a total of over 36 million people living with HIV.

    I would support increased funding to combat HIV on a global scale and push to make America lead the way in achieving the 90-90-90 targets (90% of people with HIV to be diagnosed, 90% of the diagnosed to receive HIV treatment, and 90% of people receiving treatment to have an undetectable viral load) laid out by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, which scientists have said is necessary in order to bring the spread of HIV under control.


    Click here to see Brady Walkinshaw's responses.

  • GSBA Board Member: Jen Jimenez

    by Matt Landers | Oct 25, 2016


    Jen JimenezWelcome to our newest member of the GSBA board of directors!

    Jennifer Jimenez is a certified nurse midwife and co-owner of Eastside Women's Health Center in Kirkland, WA. After receiving two bachelor's degrees and a master's from Columbia University in New York City; Jennifer started her Midwifery career caring for the underserved community in the Bronx where she caught hundreds of babies. She then went on to join a group of elite providers in Manhattan where she honed in on developing new skills to care for high risk population. All throughout her 20 year career, she has dedicated her life and craft to social justice and high quality healthcare with special focus on the LGBTQ community. She now continues her dedication at the health center where she and her colleagues serve the community with family building, gynecology, lactation, acupuncture and massage therapy services.
  • Member Candidate: Cathy Moore

    by Matt Landers | Oct 25, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    160708ROSAMOOREC_029-2Dear fellow GSBA members:

    For too many, the promise of “justice for all” is out of reach. I am running for King County Superior Court to change that. With 20 years of experience working to remove barriers to justice in the legal system and community, I know how important it is to have judges who are committed to making the justice system work for everyone.

    Rated “exceptionally well-qualified” and “well-qualified” by local bar associations, I am the only candidate in this race with judicial experience in King County Superior Court. 

    As a judge and commissioner pro tem in King County Superior Court for six years, I made the difficult judgment calls in family, juvenile and mental illness courts - the courts experiencing the highest growth in cases. As a tribal court judge, I kept defendants in Drug Treatment Court on track to success, reducing recidivism and the need for incarceration. And, as an administrative law judge with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings, where the majority of cases involved unrepresented low-income individuals, I diligently conducted full and fair hearings providing equal justice regardless of income level.

    Over the course of my career, I have provided thousands of hours of free legal representation to those unable to afford an attorney, managed a legal services program for survivors of domestic violence, served as a consumer rights advocate for indigenous peoples targeted by predatory lenders, and served as an advocate for abused and neglected children as well as youth in foster care. As an elected member of the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association, I developed a funding source that continues to fund free legal services to those unable to afford an attorney. As elected Chair of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, I worked to bring greater transparency and accountability to the disciplinary process for police officers.

    I have ten years of litigation experience as a former public defender and family law attorney as well as experience as a mediator and restorative justice facilitator.

    My endorsers include Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, Justice Steven González and Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. I am endorsed by local and county Democratic organizations, labor unions, state and local representatives, women’s groups, attorneys and a host of community leaders.

    I know that unequal access and racial disparity are undermining the fair and impartial administration of justice. I believe judges have a responsibility to ensure that the courts are accessible, fair, and equitable for everyone. If elected, I will ensure access, equity, and fairness in the court. Please support me on November 8th in the effort to make justice for all a reality in King County Superior Court!

    To learn more visit my website and Facebook page:
    cathymooreforjudge.com
    facebook.com/cathymooreforjudge
  • The Business of Pot

    by Matt Landers | Oct 19, 2016

    Biz of Pot“Washington is a pioneer. Our companies and brands will lead the way.”

    Jody Hall of The Goodship Company and Cupcake Royale emphasized the first-in-the-nation status that our state, along with Colorado, holds in the world of recreational cannabis at GSBA’s Business of Pot event. Conversations among panelists and the audience returned again and again to both the serious business around this newly legal industry as well as how to make it better for everyone.

    Hosted by Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes/Dsquared Company at their Melrose Market Studios and sponsored by Leafly during the arrival of the big fall windstorm, guests came prepared to network and to build solid business connections. From growers to producers to retailers, and from financing to marketing to legal assistance, every facet of the industry was represented. We had long-time members like Sally Schultz, a commercial mortgage lender who has expanded her business to include 502 financing, and brand-new members like Vela, a hypermodern extraction lab and store.

    A superstar panel of experts, moderated by longtime GSBA member Jody Hall, discussed the economic impact, opportunities, and challenges of Washington’s cannabis industry. Alison Holcomb of the ACLU was the author of Initiative 502 which legalized recreational cannabis in Washington in 2012. “My vision for I-502 was always for it to be the first brick thrown through that window,” she explained. “The work isn’t done, and there are still more bricks to be thrown, but that first hole is there with cracks spreading across the glass.”

    Sam Méndez of the Cannabis Law & Policy Project discussed the tremendous revenue that Washington has raised with the highest excise taxes on cannabis projects – significantly higher than any other state, but still slightly less than we levy on alcohol. Over $180 million in excise taxes have generated funds for prevention and funding for various state agencies, but an increasing proportion is being added to the general fund to make up for significant shortfalls elsewhere, such as education funding. As with the gold rushes of eras past, Sam said that “Lots of people are dreaming of riches,” but that very few will actually achieve them in this competitive landscape.

    Dockside Cannabis Director Oscar Velasco-Schmitz, another longtime GSBA member, argued for a stronger distinction between medical and recreational uses. He also added that the most promising entry into the cannabis industry is through ancillary services such as marketing, design, and legal. Meg Owen, Senior Digital marketing Manager at Leafly described their tremendous growth in many of those various services that Oscar described. Describing itself as the “Yelp of pot” Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource and does nearly everything except handle the product itself. Leafly has an extensive cannabis business development program that assists aspiring entrepreneurs reach the largest audience, create targeted marketing campaigns, and connect with resources for every step of the way.

    DSC00714The end of the panel raised several complex but deeply important questions about the industry. “How can we build an industry that lives up to our values?” Holcomb asked. Hall said that her companies were trying to institute intentional policies to hire people from groups disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and to give them equity in those businesses. An audience member brought up the devastating impact that the War on Drugs has had on communities of color, while many of the biggest beneficiaries of legal cannabis are white people who also have easier access to capital. Méndez urged that Washington belatedly follow the example of Oregon’s legalization process, which included the automatic expunging of past cannabis convictions.

    Resources:

    Leafly
    UW School of Law - Cannabis Law & Policy Project
    GSBA Cannabis Members
    Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board

  • Secretary of State Kim Wyman

    by Matt Landers | Oct 12, 2016

    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire with the exception of the final question.

    Secretary of State Kim Wyman

    Kim-Wyman1. Voter participation is declining in Washington. What specifically can the office of Secretary of State do to re-engage the voting population?
    Washington currently leads the national average in voter turnout. Voter turnout is on the decline nationally, but Washington’s turnout is consistently above the national average. As Secretary of State, my office has been working to engage voters in multiple ways. We work with youth education program that engage K-12 and college students in our state’s history and government, and help them develop an interest in civics. I also have pushed for bills in the legislature that would increase voter engagement, like automatic voter registration and pre-registration for 17-year-olds. These solutions would increase voter participation in Washington.

    2. Do you believe reforms are needed in the initiative and referendum process?The initiative and referendum process continues to work as the framers intended over 100 years ago. Many petitions are filed, few qualify for the ballot and even fewer become law. It’s incredibly important to defend people’s right to file an initiative, which was designed as a ‘relief valve.’ We’ve seen many important initiatives in recent years. Any restriction made against one person’s ability to file initiatives can be used against any other person. For that reason, I would be very careful before advocating to restrict anyone’s right to file or sign an initiative or referendum.

    3. How can the Secretary of State’s office streamline the permitting and licensing process for small businesses and nonprofits?
    My office has completed the upgrade necessary to start a one stop portal for businesses in Washington and we will be installing this fall. We will continue working with other state agencies (as opposed to government agencies) to simplify business filings, including creating a portal to connect our office to other filing agencies, like the Department of Revenue.

    Once online, this portal will cut down on wait time and allow business owners to handle all of their permitting needs in one place. My office has also streamlined the permitting process for small businesses and charities, reducing wait times from weeks to days or even hours. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in my first term.

    4. With the recent discovery of privacy lapses in the state’s voting system, how is your office working to secure voters’ personal information?
    We have successfully defended Washington’s elections against cyberattacks. My office has worked closely with both federal departments and county election offices across the state to ensure our system is safe. While there was a small design flaw in our online registration system, no sensitive voter information was ever exposed, nor was the system hacked. Our elections are secure, and my office has been working for quite some time with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure that voters’ personal information is secure.

    My office has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to identify potential weaknesses and threats, and to develop responses. Additionally, my office regularly consults with experts on cybersecurity to make sure we are anticipating attacks, not merely defending against them.


    Click here for Tina Podlodowski's responses to these questions.
  • Tina Podlodowski for Secretary of State

    by Matt Landers | Oct 07, 2016


    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire with the exception of the final question.

    Tina Podlodowski, running for Secretary of State

    TinaPo

    1.       Voter participation is declining in Washington. What specifically can the office of Secretary of State do to re-engage the voting population?

    The Secretary of State’s office needs to do so much more. My first act in office will be to perform a 39 county audit of the election system. Let’s identify who isn’t participating, and then use strategies that are designed to engage that particular population at the local level. For example, the Makah Tribe votes at 98% in tribal elections, 17% in statewide elections. Why? Lack of the drop box on the reservation, a problem they Identified 10 years ago and still hasn't been fixed. In my visits to all 39 Washington counties to talk to voters, I've collected hundreds of these stories. Let's fix these issues, and add in the "big" policy issues of postage-free ballots, same day registration, automatic voter registration, pre- registration for 16 and 17 year olds, and, finally, pass the Washington State Voting Rights Act.

    2.       Do you believe reforms are needed in the initiative and referendum process? 
    Yes, absolutely. When we started the initiative and referendum process in 1912, no one envisioned the rise of Tim Eyman, his billionaire backers, and his abuse of of the system. I would lead a joint review of the entire process with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a bi-partisan panel to propose legislative fixes to the process (and if that fails, perhaps an initiative!).

    3.       How can the Secretary of State’s office streamline the permitting and licensing process for small businesses and nonprofits?
    Start by implementing the one stop business portal that my opponent promised when she ran in 2012 and hasn't accomplished. This would bring the databases of SoS, Revenue, Licensing and L&I (to start) in one easy to use site. Then, I intend to propose a cross-agency LEAN process that includes paralegals and small business people (true "power users" of the systems) to create a work plan to systematically streamline various siloed processes, and fix out-of-date ones. Finally, let's bring some of the best and brightest together in out tech community to look at usability and user interfaces and how those impact diverse customer audiences.

    4.       Many of your strongest calls to action earlier this year were to cancel the late primary election and use the money saved to pre-pay postage on general election ballots. There are valid concerns about the expense of an effectively meaningless primary election, but the alternative caucus system has dramatically lower turnout and significant barriers to participation. Would your priority be to save the state money or to increase voter participation?
    Both! First off, we've outgrown the caucus system and it should be retired. But our primary system is broken as well - we cancelled the 2004 and 2012 presidential primaries, and the August primary date for local and statewide races does not serve voters well.

    In a year with a presidential primary, we spend $11.5M in taxpayer dollars twice, for the two different primaries (presidential and State). Let's look at both moving up (an earlier date) and combining into one election date - I am confident there's a solution that saves money, eliminates confusion, and increases turnout.


    Click here for Kim Wyman's responses to these questions.
  • 7th Congressional District: Brady Walkinshaw

    by Matt Landers | Sep 30, 2016
    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire.

    Representative Brady Walkinshaw, running for the 7th Congressional District


    Both candidates in this race talk about making the 7th District a national leader. What is a unique feature of the district that can serve to address a national problem?

    We live in one of the most innovative, economically vibrant, forward-looking parts of our country. Because of the national relevance of our community in the central Puget Sound, our 7th Congressional District is a district that can and should lead over the long-term. With an effective and dedicated federal partner, our District can model what it means to grow an urban center with equity and environmental sustainability.

    As urban centers have grown and led the way on innovation, they’ve also become increasingly unequal and struggled with the lack of federal partnership on issues from environmental sustainability to homelessness to transportation to small business development.  

    In Congress, I’ll be the federal partner to our community so that we can tackle the immediate issues we face both at home and nationally.  This means reinvestment in a mental health system that we’ve systematically divested from for over 40 years.  This means a federal response to homelessness.  This means ensuring that Seattle receives the federal transportation support over the long-term to innovate on areas from high-speed to rail to basic infrastructure. And finally, this means that we lead the way in the shift to a low-carbon economy. There are 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives but there is only one, whose job is to serve our home in the Northwest.  As we build long-term leadership in Congress from our home, our innovation and our values in the Northwest can move to our country’s mainstream.

    The 7th is the single most trade-dependent district in the country. The Port of Seattle alone generates over 216,000 jobs, $9 billion in personal income, and nearly $900 million in state and local taxes. How will you work to support the economy of the 7th District in Congress?

    We do live in the most trade dependent Congressional District in our country.  Our maritime industry alone generates 30% of Seattle’s tax base.  I’m running for Congress exactly because of these aspects of the Northwest.  Our employers – large and small – in Seattle and the central Puget Sound contribute to a region that is poised for growth for a long time to come.  

    In the State legislature I have been a partner to groups like the Washington State Convention Center to support the expansion in Downtown Seattle. I’ve worked with employers and the GSBA to pass important criminal justice reforms that create employment opportunities for people as they reenter society after incarceration.  I’ve worked to secure important transportation investments right here in the central Puget Sound in the State’s Transportation Revenue Package.  And, I’ve worked alongside arts and cultural institutions in our community from the construction of the new Burke Museum of Natural History to the renovation and expansion of Pike Place Market.  We need a federal partner who will be locally focused and who’ll work alongside our community to support our growth.

    In Congress, I will continue this record of partnership.  With a long-term partner, we’ll be able to make investments in our community that support our economic growth and tackle equity.  I’ve promoted these values on our campaign, for example, by designating a staff member solely to small business outreach.

    Federally, I will support minimum wage policies, paid family leave, affordable childcare tax credits, and other policy measures that will extend policies that are already in place in Seattle and work to move these into the country.

    The 7th District has one of the highest percentages of LGBT people in the country. How will you address the particular needs and priorities of our community?
    Our community is what first inspired my involvement in politics and public service. This is an area where our District can lead. I will always show up for our community, and that’s been my approach in Olympia. Representation from our own community in elected office is vital to advancing and protecting our rights and our priorities. I would be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress elected from Washington State and the first LGBTQ Latino member of Congress nationally.

    I’m honored to have the support of the Congressional Equality Caucus, several LGBTQ members of Congress, including Fmr. Congressman Barney Frank. Locally, our LGBTQ colleagues in the Washington State Legislature support our campaign: State Sen. Marko Liias, State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, State Rep. Christine Kilduff, State Rep. Joan McBride, and State Rep. Jim Moeller. Our campaign is supported by numerous leaders across our LGBTQ community.

    In the State Legislature, I’ve translated these values to results. Last year, I worked to secure state funding to improve the experience of LGBTQ youth in the foster care system. As Vice Chair of our Early Learning and Human Services Committee, I worked alongside Rep. Ruth Kagi to pass the Homeless Youth Act. I’ve openly supported the certification efforts for LGBTQ majority-owned businesses and I would support these designations in Congress for federally awarded contracts.

    In Congress, I will stand up and lead for our community. We need to pass the Equality Act, we need to prevent discrimination in the workplace, we need to ensure that healthcare coverage provides for all members of our community, we need to tackle youth suicide and homelessness, and we need continue to build our representation across the country in places where LGBTQ equality lags far behind.

    Based on your skills and interests, in which Congressional committees do feel you would be most effective?
    I would be interested in serving on the Committee for Transportation and Infrastructure. As we look to the future of our region, we are in immediate need of partnership.  Transportation and Infrastructure plays an essential role in addressing issues from housing and homelessness to climate change.

    Where is HIV on your policy agenda?
    I was pleased to join so many others at Lifelong’s End AIDS Walk again this year.  The federal government needs to move forward a strong agenda to end HIV/AIDS.  Research institutions right here in the Puget Sound will be critical to achieving this. Specifically: We need to provide sustained federal funding through NIH and NSF to support institutions right here, like the Hutch, to deliver on the innovative research programs that are already making strides.  There are many important innovations that can come from the Northwest to either develop a vaccine or find other cures.

    The ACA was an important step to support people living with HIV/AIDS to have continued coverage and stability while moving between employers.  We need to ensure that future federal healthcare policies provide coverage for people living with HIV/ AIDS.  At home, institutions like Bailey Boushay have been at the forefront of providing care, especially for the complex cases.  We need to ensure that federal medicaid reimbursements meet the needs of providers in our own community so we can continue to provide the levels of care that are necessary.

    Finally, we need to continue to work to end stigma. I would join a handful of my colleagues in Congress to call for an end to the 30-year federal ban on blood donations from men who’ve had sexual contact with men within the past 12 months.  Our healthcare policy decisions should be guided by science and not stigma.


    Click here to read Pramila Jayapal's responses.
  • GSBA Helps Shape Mayor's Commercial Affordability Recommendations

    by Matt Landers | Sep 29, 2016
    Commercial_Affordability_Web_Banner

    On Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee released recommendations to help ensure Seattle remains an affordable and equitable place for small businesses. The Committee, which was made up of small business owners, developers, and members of the arts and music communities developed recommendations that build upon Mayor Murray’s continued focus on affordability in Seattle, including increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour and addressing housing affordability and livability through HALA.

    These recommendations include many suggestions that have been of concern to GSBA members in the Small Business Advisory Council, the Seattle Entrepreneurial Women affinity group, and the Public Policy Task Force. GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager Matt Landers and GSBA member Dennis Comer (Brown Sugar Baking) participated on the committee.

    “Affordability is vital to Seattle’s future. Whether it is ensuring people can make a living wage, afford to live where they work or start a business, we must address affordability from every direction,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “Seattle’s small businesses are what make Seattle a city we love to work and live in. As the city grows, we must maintain the uniqueness and high quality of life made possible by small businesses today.”

    “I want to thank the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee for their work and their recommendations,” Brian Surratt, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, said. “The recommendations will be instrumental as we work to fulfill Mayor Ed Murray’s goal for an affordable Seattle.”

    The committee’s recommendations were the culmination of collaboration between small businesses and developers.

    “The interests of small business owners and developers really are aligned,” committee member and local developer Liz Dunn said. “Developers who think strategically about the neighborhoods they are working in, understand that creating space which is attractive and affordable for small businesses is an essential ingredient for good development and for creating long term value for residents and property owners.  Building spaces that feel like they belong in a neighborhood, and add character to it, create a pedestrian-friendly experience and a true sense of place.”

    “Pioneer Square is a neighborhood that demonstrates how growth and small businesses can thrive together while preserving the arts and the historical legacy of the neighborhood all while paving the way for the future,” Karen True, Director of Business Development for the Pioneer Square Alliance, said. “The balance between new development in Pioneer Square and the interests of small business was a model as we developed our recommendations. I’m pleased the committee recommendations include tools for small business owners as well as property owners and developers.”

    “As an immigrant and a small business owner, it is important to me that Seattle remains a place where anyone can start a business who has a good idea,” Solomon Dubie, owner of Café Avole, said. “The Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee worked hard to recommend ideas that will keep Seattle affordable for small businesses.”


    Click here for video and the original press release.

  • Member Candidate: Jim Moeller

    by Matt Landers | Sep 29, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.


    moellerHello,

     

    I’m Jim Moeller, and I want to make Congress work again. I have been a healthcare professional with Kaiser Permanente for over 35 years; I have served as a Vancouver City Councilman, and for the past 14 years I have been honored to serve as Washington State Representative of the 49th Legislative District.

     

    I am running on a simple, yet powerful principle: MAKE CONGRESS WORK AGAIN! It’s something that I know we’d all like to see and it’s something that I am prepared to make happen. With your help, Democrats can take back the 3rd Congressional District and make Congress work again.

     

    This election cycle is one of the most important and divisive elections our country has experienced in years. Citizens will be asked to choose between a narcissist and a racist who uses inappropriate and dangerous rhetoric to rally his base of supporters; or a woman with experience and dedication to leading our country in a smart and positive direction. However the decision must be made at home as well.

     

    Currently, the 3rd Congressional District is without representation. Our Congresswoman has continually voted for policies that go against the best interests of our community. Time and again she has voted to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act, denying thousands of her constituents access to affordable health care. Despite the danger of the proposed Port of Vancouver oil terminal, our Congresswoman has described it as an “economic opportunity.” Perhaps even worse is her gradually increasing support for Trump.

     

    Congresswoman Herrera Beutler previously said she was waiting for Trump to earn her vote, but more recently she has said she’s been encouraged by his rhetoric and more substantive policy proposals. However I, like I’m sure you do, continue to hear the bigotry and hatred that underlies his unintelligent and irresponsible policy solutions.

     

    The fact that our Congresswoman is considering voting for Trump concerns me. Her absentee record concerns me. Her failure to engage our community and propose bills that represent our district concerns me. That is why I am running for Congress. I am running to provide the 3rd Congressional District with the representation they so desperately need. I am running to advance policies such as the Affordable Care Act, increase minimum wage, and provide paid family leave for working mothers. But most importantly I am running to make Congress work again!

     

    One of the greatest privileges I’ve had is to represent the 49th Legislative District in the Washington State Legislature. I value the beliefs of our community and I am dedicated to providing policies that meet their needs. I have truly enjoyed campaigning and meeting more of the people that make up the 3rd Congressional District. It’s been an exciting campaign so far and I am very encouraged and humbled by the incredible support I have received from my future constituents and others throughout Washington State!

     

    I very much look forward to representing the 3rd Congressional District and making Congress work again! Any contribution of any amount would be greatly appreciated.

     

    Thank you for your support, 

    Jim Moeller
    www.jimmoeller.org
  • Member Candidate: Anthony Gipe

    by Matt Landers | Sep 29, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.


    To My Friends and Colleagues at GSBA:

    GipeAs a proud, longtime member of the GSBA, I write to ask you to vote for me in my campaign to become a judge on King County Superior Court.  I believe that my breadth of experience, and my skills as a leader in the legal profession make me the best choice for the needs of the Superior Court and the needs of our community.

    • I have dedicated 30+ years to serving the public and serving justice.  I am a Navy veteran who served as an interpreter and intelligence analyst until “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  I left service because I couldn’t remain silent in the face of discrimination.  This is also why I became a civil right attorney and a family law attorney, where I work to correct the wrongs done by discrimination and to help families in need. 

       

    • I have the broadest trial experience of anyone in this race.  I have conducted dozens of trials in many different subjects including civil claims and family law, which is most of what the Superior Court handles day-to-day.  In fact, out of all cases that actually go to trial, only 25% are criminal trials, and the rest (75%) are civil, family, and other types of trials.  We need judges who are able to jump in and handle any type of case immediately.

       

    • I am the only candidate in this race with judicial experience serving as a pro tem judge and as an Arbiter.

       

    • I have been rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” or “Well Qualified” for this position by five Bar Associations, including the King County Bar Association and four Minority Bar Associations.

       

    • I haves dedicated thousands of hours serving the public and the profession in areas of Access to Justice and Equality.  My pro bono work includes serving as counsel for three non-profits.  My service to the legal community includes serving as the first LGBT President in our State Bar Association’s 125-year history.  In everything I do, I focus on diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence in the legal profession and in our courts.

     

    • I am endorsed by all 9 Washington Supreme Court Justices, including Justice Mary Yu, as well as numerous key community leaders and organizations throughout King County.  My list of endorsers includes over 40 judges and over 25 elected officials, including House Speaker Frank Chopp, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, Representative Brady Walkinshaw, and Senator Jamie Pedersen.  I have also been endorsed by the King County Democrats (sole endorsement), the King County Young Democrats (sole endorsement), the King County Labor Council, 16 Legislative District Democratic organizations, and all of the past presidents of the State Bar Association for the last ten years.  These individuals and organizations all agree that I have the skills, temperament, and judgment to serve on the Superior Court.

    It is important to vote for judges who have a demonstrated track record of service and meet the needs of the court.  I hope you will support my candidacy and vote so that we have an experienced public servant and community leader on the Superior Court. 

    You can learn more about me and my qualifications and accomplishments at: http://gipeforjudge.com/

    Sincerely,


    Anthony David Gipe

    Candidate for King County

    Superior Court, Position 52

  • Member Candidate: Mary Yu

    by Matt Landers | Sep 29, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear Friends at the Greater Seattle Business Association,

    DW-4683Thank you for your support over the years. Because of your hard work in helping to make our community visible, I am proud to be the first member of the LGBTQ community and the first woman of color (Asian and Latina) to serve on the Washington State Supreme Court.

    This year, I am in a contested race to retain my position on the Court. My race has attracted an opponent who is a retired law professor and a fellow at the Discovery Institute. He has never served as a judge and while he has made positive contributions to the law in the academic community, he has also filed legal briefs and gone on record opposing same sex marriage, and supports the teaching of creationism in our public schools.

    Judicial elections matter and each of you need to make sure that you not only vote in judicial elections but that you are an informed voter when it comes to deciding who should sit on our state's highest court. 

     

    I believe I remain the most qualified individual for the position. I have the experience and an unwavering commitment to decide cases with an open mind and with intellectual integrity under the law.

    I joined our Supreme Court in 2014 after more than 14 years as a trial court judge in King County Superior Court. While there, I presided over a wide variety of criminal, civil, juvenile, and family law cases. I was honored to preside over Washington’s first same-sex weddings on the day the voter-approved law took effect. So many of you have provided me with the privilege of presiding over many second-parent adoptions as well as weddings that continue to bring hundreds of families together under the law.

    As a Supreme Court Justice, I have a track record of writing straightforward court opinions that follow the law and protect our constitution; decisions respecting individual privacy and ensuring government transparency.

    The most important values for me as a trial court judge were to treat everyone with respect and fairness, to approach each case with an open mind, to decide cases impartially, and to understand that every decision I made impacted the lives of real people. As a Supreme Court Justice, I continue to hold those same values.

    I have received the highest rating, Exceptionally Well Qualified, by every bar association that has rated me, including Q-Law, the LGBT Bar Association. I was particularly proud of having received the 2013 Public Official of the Year award from the Municipal League Foundation and several Judge of the Year awards from multiple organizations, including the Washington State Association for Justice, the Washington State Bar Association, Washington Women Lawyers - King County Chapter, Asian Bar Association, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. Finally, I am pleased to have the endorsement of the Seattle Times and the Tri City Herald.

    Protecting the integrity of our Court is more important than ever. Please remember that every vote counts and I especially need yours this year.

    If you want to learn more about judicial elections, votingforjudges.org is a neutral site that collects information about judicial races.

    If you want to learn more about me, check out my Facebook page or my campaign website: https://www.facebook.com/JMaryYu/ and http://justicemaryyu.com/.

    Thank you,

    Mary Yu

    Retain Justice Mary Yu Committee

    (206) 683-7328

    info@justicemaryyu.com

    http://justicemaryyu.com/

  • Religion Is Not A License To Discriminate

    by Matt Landers | Aug 25, 2016

    After years of counseling and hormone therapy, a transgender woman in Eastern Washington was ready for the next phase of medically necessary gender-affirming surgery, and the Washington State Health Care Authority referred her to an experienced provider. But when she called to schedule her procedure, she was told that the hospital would not provide care to her because she was transgender, claiming religious reasons. When she sought help from hospital administration, she was told that her request would have to be reviewed by the local bishop and other religious leaders. Finally, she had to obtain care elsewhere, hours away from her home and family.

     

    This is sadly not an unusual story. Despite the positive changes in state policy over the last few years, there is a severe shortage of physicians who are qualified to perform medically necessary transition-related procedures and treatments, and even fewer accept insurance. Casey Jaywork of the Seattle Weekly recently documented the journey of a Seattle transman who was forced to go to Oregon to get treatment. When Jaywork asked a state Medicaid spokesperson for a list of surgeons who do top surgeries and accept Medicaid, the response was only “I wish we had that information.”

     

    When it is already so difficult to find a doctor, to have the hospital itself block available treatment for religious reasons is unconscionable. Hospitals and doctors who deny services because a patient is transgender are part of a broader trend of attempts to limit anti-discrimination laws on the basis of religious exemptions.  Currently, one in six hospitals in the country are operated in accordance with Catholic religious rules. According to MergerWatch and the ACLU, 40 percent of all hospital beds in Washington State are in religious hospitals, and entire regions have no other option for hospital care. These hospitals are receiving federal funds as public hospitals and refusing to offer the full range of medically appropriate services to the public, including women’s reproductive care and appropriate care for LGBT people.

     

    Recognizing that her rights had been violated, the Eastern Washington woman reached out to Denise Diskin of Teller & Associates. Very involved with both GSBA and QLaw, Denise is a leader in our state in the fight for LGBT civil rights, focusing on discrimination and harassment toward LGB and particularly transgender people, and was recently recognized by the LGBT Bar as one of the country’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40. She also founded the monthly transgender legal clinic at Ingersoll Gender Center so that trans people can get legal advice in a safe space, as well as at QLaw’s regular monthly legal clinic.

     

    Denise then reached out to Legal Voice, because as she put it, “no one knows more than Legal Voice about handling issues of religious exclusions in healthcare.” This is the third time that they have worked together, previously securing pregnancy medical benefits for a lesbian couple and defending another client’s access to medically necessary treatment after a denial by their insurance company. “We knew this denial of treatment was a clear violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination,” says David Ward, Legal & Legislative Counsel with Legal Voice.

     

    A settlement was reached between the woman and the hospital, providing her with $50,000 and requiring that the hospital train its staff in providing appropriate, respectful care to transgender patients. The client herself explained that “The fact that the hospital will be training their staff to properly treat and accommodate the LGBT community after the incident is of great importance to me. That is the real victory in all of this.”

     

    This case reminds us that there are strong protections under both state and federal law that prohibit healthcare providers from refusing services to people because of their gender identity. The Affordable Care Act is very clear on the rights of transgender people to access to healthcare, although the LGBT community must continue to fight the ongoing attacks on anti-discrimination laws . Religion is not a license to discriminate in healthcare! If an a person experiences discrimination by a healthcare provider because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, they may file a complaint with both the Washington State Human Rights Commission and the federal Health & Human Services Civil Rights Division, and contact a private attorney or an organization like Legal Voice for assistance.

     

    This story is about basic humanity. All patients should be treated like people in their place of care. As we saw in combating Initiative 1515’s efforts to roll back our anti-discrimination laws, we still face determined foes. Thanks to the work of exceptional legal superstars like Denise Diskin and Legal Voice, our community’s rights have been upheld once more.

  • Newest GSBA Board Members

    by Matt Landers | Jul 27, 2016
    Welcome to the newest GSBA Board members:

    Bryan Adamson PhotoBryan Adamson
    Associate Professor, Seattle University School of Law
    Bryan teaches consumer protection law, mass media law and policy and civil procedure at Seattle University. Previously he taught at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and served as an Assistant Prosecutor in Cuyahoga County. He was a Amicus Advisor in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Hollingswoth v. Perry and Grutter v. Bollinger which asserted the unconstitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the constitutionality of the University of Michigan affirmative action program, respectively. Bryan also serves on GSBA's Public Policy Task Force.


    DannyCordsDanny Cords
    Starbucks
    Danny is and inspired by the mission and values of the Greater Seattle Business Association. As a former GSBA Scholar, he is passionate about bridging opportunities between students and small and large businesses.

    Danny comes to the Board with a Master of Arts in Adult Education and Organizational Development, with research focused on improving the financial stability of private non-profit universities. A strong believer in transparency in post-secondary education, Danny spent time presenting his research to students, faculty, staff and administrators about tuition dependency, student repayment terms, and default mitigation strategies. Danny now works in Global Talent Development for Starbucks where he consults on the learning programs for Global Retail Learning. Committed to equity, transparency and leader development, Danny is excited to work with an organization who is committed to elevating our Scholars, our businesses, and our community. 

    terraplata_06
     
    Linda Di Lello Morton
    Owner, Terra Plata
    Together with her partner Tamara Murphy, Linda is co-owner of the Capitol Hill restaurant Terra Plata. Together they have created some of the Northwest's defining culinary events such as Burning Beast (in support of the educational work of the Rubicon Foundation) and the Incredible Feast for the Good Farmer Fund. Linda and Tamara are the 2015 recipients of the GSBA Community Leaders of the Year award.


    Beth Hester
    VP External Affairs, Comcast
    Beth_Hester_001Beth Hester Beth leads Comcast's Government Affairs, Public Relations and Community Investment for the Washington Region. She has 20 years of experience in integrated communications, external and governmental affairs, media relations, reputation management, crisis communications, multi-channel marketing, events management, creative services management, customer relations, community engagement, coalition building, policy development and implementation and quantitative research. 

    Most recently, Beth worked as the Vice President of Client Services for Nyhus Communications and as the Director of Public Affairs for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. Beth also served as the General Manager for The Seattle Channel. In the course of her nine years with the channel, she led the organization’s restructuring resulting in it becoming the number one rated municipal television station in the country. During that time, she received 10 Emmy nominations.

    Beth is a current board member for the Woodland Park Zoo and the Broadband Communications Association of Washington.  Formerly she has held board positions with Seafair and Three Dollar Bill Cinema and has served as a scholarship committee volunteer for the Pride Foundation. Beth holds a BA in Political science from Hobart and William Smith Colleges as well as her MPA, Public Administration from New York University. Beth lives in West Seattle with her wife Shannon and their four canine companions and loves the Pacific Northwest great outdoors.
     

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