Attempt to fast-track bill leads to heated back-and-forth between Seattle councilmembers

Oct 19, 2021, 11:52 AM
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Kshama Sawant (KIRO Radio)
(KIRO Radio)

An attempt from Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant to fast-track a proposal to require contractors to pay the cost of parking for construction workers led to a contentious back-and-forth during a Monday council session.

Sawant demands contractors pay parking costs for Seattle construction workers

Sawant’s bill would mandate that contractors reimburse 100% of the parking expenses of construction workers in the city. According to her office, some workers currently have to pay $100-150 a week or more for parking near jobs downtown, and many contractors either do not provide free parking or they limit reimbursement.

Typically, bills must first get referred to a relevant committee for discussion, and then get approved before heading to a full council vote. On Monday, Sawant called for a motion to bring it to the full council immediately, but needed a second from a fellow councilmember before she could be permitted to further discuss the proposal.

After not receiving a response, she asked for “a courtesy second so I can at least describe what this legislation does,” before attempting to launch into an explanation of the bill itself.

At that point, Council President Lorena Gonzalez stepped in, telling her that this was “not an opportunity for that.”

“You have to get a second before we can speak to the substance of the motion,” Gonzalez clarified.

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Sawant fired back, claiming that “this really shows the political power of contractor bosses, that councilmembers are so afraid of having this discussed that they won’t even give me a courtesy second.”

“Councilmember Sawant, you are out of order,” Gonzalez responded, threatening to have her muted if she continued on.

Sawant’s motion ultimately failed to garner a second, meaning her bill will instead need to go through the standard committee process before moving forward.

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Attempt to fast-track bill leads to heated back-and-forth between Seattle councilmembers