Pot act passes House
Sure, the only news you might have heard out of Washington, D.C. of late centers on a mob boss-style phone call between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, but lawmakers made history with a piece of legislation intended to make life easier for the U.S. marijuana industry.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 (Congress loves a good acronym) basically prohibits federal banking regulators from coming after banks for providing services to “a legitimate marijuana-related business.”
That’s big news for the marijuana industry, which has been largely cut out of the traditional banking system for selling a product otherwise banned by the federal government.
This is the first time a marijuana reform bill has passed either house of Congress.
Seattle criminal justice reformer Lisa Daugaard won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” last week. The fellowship is a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 spread over five years described as “an investment” in the grantees’ futures.
MacArthur Foundation Fellows, as they are formally known, are typically unaware that they are under consideration for the money. Instead, they receive a phone call alerting them to the fact that their lives just changed significantly.
According to the Seattle Times, Daugaard didn’t even answer the phone the first time the foundation called to inform her about the grant.
Daugaard is known locally for her work on the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which works intensively with repeat, low-level offenders to try to keep them out of the criminal justice system and move them toward stability.
LEAD is a collaboration between case managers, police officers and prosecutors who know the clients by name and try to craft alternative paths outside of incarceration. Daugaard championed the model and has seen it grow from a pilot program in Seattle’s Belltown to other
Seattle neighborhoods and the city of Burien.
Tax program renewed
Mayor Jenny Durkan moved to extend a governmental program that offers developers tax breaks on units in exchange for below-market rent.
The Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program was set to expire by the end of 2019. The program is expected to add as many as 1,300 units by 2022, according to a mayoral press release. Durkan’s legislation also caps rent increases to 4.5 percent per year.
Units are covered by the MFTE program for 12 years, at which point they revert back to market-rate housing. Roughly 4,500 low- and middle-income households live in private apartments covered by the MFTE program, according to the press release.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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