Podcast: Senate Majority leader Sharon Nelson talks taxes, voting rights & public records

How will Democrats use their newly won majorities in the Washington State Legislature? Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson gives her rundown on proposals for new taxes, carbon pricing and public records.

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Washington State Democrats have seized unified control of the Legislature after Manka Dhingra’s victory in the expensive and hard-fought 45th District state Senate race in November.

So what can we expect from the party’s majorities in the state Senate and House, combined with Jay Inslee in the governor’s mansion? A state income tax? Rent control in Seattle? A long-sought carbon tax to fight climate change?

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On Episode 64 of The Overcast, the Seattle Times weekly politics podcast, State Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, joins hosts Jim Brunner and Dan Beekman for a reality check on expectations for the upcoming 60-day legislative session that starts next week.

While expectations are high for some Seattle progressives, Nelson gives a cautious take on some long-sought priorities for the party. While she supports them, big policy shifts like a carbon tax or capital-gains tax may be too much to expect in the short session with slender Democratic majorities.

Still, Nelson says Democrats can look forward to gains on important legislation, including a Voting Rights Act to encourage diversity in local elections, and a bill to better ensure equal pay for women.

But where does the Democratic leader stand on opening up legislative emails and calendars to the state’s public records law? (That’s a subject of a lawsuit by Associated Press and other media organizations including The Seattle Times.) Listen to Nelson’s answers — and attempts to dodge a clear position — near the end of the podcast.

This episode was recorded (again!) at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX, as part of an ongoing partnership.

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Listen to past episodes of The Overcast here, and check out other Seattle Times podcasts here.

Send us your feedback and your ideas for future topics. Leave a comment on this post, tweet at us (@Jim_Brunner and @DBeekman), or email seattletimesovercast@gmail.com.

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