Too early to update Washington’s election laws? : Today so far

  • Two brave Seattle restaurateurs who got started during a pandemic.
  • Washington lawmakers are considering changes to election laws, and much like the national debate, the local discussion runs along partisan lines.
  • Washington’s wildfires moved faster than the state’s ability to replenish the trees that burned.

This post originally appeared in KUOW’s Today’s newsletter so far for February 3, 2022.

Rising food prices. Labor shortages. And a great great global pandemic. Many would say that the last two years were not the best time to start a restaurant. Corn a few small business owners in Seattle would say otherwise. That’s not to say it’s been easy for Yasuaki Saito and Preeti Agarwal who opened their own respective establishments during the pandemic. They’ve worked hard and taken a few hits starting new businesses in Seattle, despite closing more than 3,300 other restaurants in Washington amid the pandemic. Those who survived now carry a large debt.

But Saito and Agarwal report receiving a positive reception from the community. Luna’s Ruby from KUOW bring us this story about “the brave Seattle foodies who opened restaurants during Covid – and thrived.”

Access to the vote has become a national hot topic lately, along partisan lines. Corn there are also two bills to update election laws in Washington State who are to review this session. The first would allow certain organizations (not just individuals) to file a claim under state voting rights law. Another bill seeks to expand our state’s “automotive voters” law so that someone with an enhanced driver’s license (proven citizenship) is automatically registered to vote. It would also update a voter’s address when updated at the DOL. But Washington may face a similar partisan divide when it comes to this local issue. Some GOP lawmakers say it’s premature to update election laws that are only a few years old. Read the full story here.

Wildfires raging in the northwest have devoured much forest land. And to make matters worse, we are facing a small shortage of tree seeds, making it difficult to restore what was lost. When a forest fire leaves forest land bare, the state steps in and replenishes it with seedlings that match the trees that were there before. These seedlings often come from a nursery in Tumwater, Washington. But recent forest fires have taken away more than the nursery can supply. This prompted foresters to get creative. And the solutions may come from an unlikely source – the region’s tech industry. Soundside has all the history here.


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At Bothel, people can take a walking tour of the city, centered on different types of housing and how municipal codes sometimes prevent the construction of useful and necessary houses. It’s part of a larger discussion across Washington about the “missing middle” — a housing gap that contributes to the region’s lack of affordability. (Joshua McNichols/KUOW)


February is Black History Month, which was first recognized in 1970. Since then, it has gone international and is celebrated in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

But this effort was celebrated long before our modern version. It was first created by an academic and a historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926 as “Negro History Week”. The week coincided with the February birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln and included parades, banquets, speeches, poetry and breakfasts. It was also intended for inclusion in schools to teach black history. Woodson designed the week to counter the overlooked, or simply ignored, contributions black Americans had made to the country. He wanted black people to be seen as participants in history.

But the week was also designed for a particular period in the United States. Jim Crow laws had been in place for a long time. As were terrorist groups like the red shirtswho openly intimidated Republican candidates and voters. red summer occurred in 1919, when a series of massacres and riots took place across the United States, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 black citizens. In addition to its educational aspects, “Negro History Week” was also a countermeasure to this culture. It would evolve and be adopted by educational institutions and cities in the decades leading up to the adoption of Black History Month in 1970.


Caption: Keith Koelling is 62 and still fighting fires.  He says he worked 40 straight hours on a recent fire, only to find out he had COVID-19 at the time.  He stands next to a 26-year-old fire engine.

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Calls for volunteer firefighters are many but they have few first responders

In most of the United States, if your house catches fire, the first responders will likely be volunteers. But fewer volunteers are responding to triple the number of calls they made decades ago, and the volunteers who show up tend to be older, according to the National Volunteer Fire Council. Some volunteer departments were already stretched dangerously, then the pandemic arrived.


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