Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda joins The Overcast podcast to talk about taxes for homeless shelters and city protections for renters that have run into legal troubles.
Seattle has led the way when it comes to laws aiming to raise wages and mandatory protections for workers and renters. The city enacted one of the first $15 minimum-wage standards in the nation and has followed up with laws aimed at preventing “wage theft” and prohibiting landlords from discriminating against prospective renters – consciously or unconsciously – based on race and other factors.
But some of the efforts by the city’s progressive politicians have run into legal trouble. The Seattle City Council’s efforts to enact a local income tax on the wealthy has been struck down. This week, the council’s law requiring landlords to rent to the first qualified applicant also was ruled unconstitutional.
On Episode 74 of The Overcast, the Seattle Times’ weekly politics podcast, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda joins hosts Daniel Beekman and Jim Brunner to talk about the city’s next steps when it comes to renter rights and housing affordability. The episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX, as part of an ongoing partnership.
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Mosqueda, elected last year to one of the council’s two at-large positions, defends the city’s efforts and says she favors an appeal over the latest legal setback.
“I think the ‘first-in-time law’ is a good law. I think we should go back and see if there is an avenue for appealing the judge’s decision,” Mosqueda says. “Right now with the housing crisis we have to have every tool in our tool-belt, and this is one of those,”
As a renter herself, Mosqueda is quick to add she doesn’t think the public should accept any narrative suggesting the law means all landlords are looking to discriminate.
Mosqueda also talks with Beekman and Brunner about a proposed city “head tax” on larger businesses, which could raise $75 million annually to help address Seattle’s homelessness crisis. She says the city has taken steps to ensure homeless-services contracts are monitored for effectiveness.
“I know we all want accountability… but the reality is our shelters are full,” she says, arguing more money is needed right now.
Mosqueda also explains an upcoming city effort to pass a new domestic-worker bill of rights aimed at protecting a group of workers who are predominantly women, immigrants and people of color.
Formerly a political director for the state labor council, Mosqueda discusses how top unions like SEIU 775 might be involved in the implementation of that law.
Also covered: a new, large property tax increase hitting Seattle-area homeowners and renters.
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