Washington may get a big battery materials plant
Plus more lawyering over the cap gains tax, wackadoodle drama in Kent campaign
A major new factory that would manufacture battery materials for electric vehicles looks to be headed to Washington State.
We turned up this tidbit in our regular perusal of Gov. Jay Inslee’s calendar, courtesy of the transparency-minded citizens who created the Public Records Act back in the day.
On April 14, Inslee took a meeting with the leadership team of Sila Nanotechnologies, a Bay Area company that’s out there on the bleeding edge of battery technology. Their technology currently powers the Whoop fitness tracker, but their plans call for aggressive expansion. A planned factory would manufacture materials for batteries to power more than 500 million phones and 100,000 electric vehicles, per the company’s website.
This kind of meeting would typically happen to celebrate a successful site selection process that likely started in some obscure corner of the Department of Commerce. Inslee and allies in the Legislature very much want the state to become a center of green-energy manufacturing. Earlier this year, lawmakers approved a tax incentive for such projects and made it easier for the state to pave over local opposition in the permitting process. So naturally, we asked if an announcement was forthcoming.
Inslee’s folks were coy. Here’s Mike Faulk, the governor’s press secretary:
“The state has considerable interest in the EV market and developing that as quickly as possible. It's projected that demand is quickly going to outpace supply and that increased capacity in manufacturing EV batteries is a very important component of our decarbonization strategy moving forward. “
So we reached out to Sila’s PR people, who wouldn’t confirm anything on the record, but offered us an interview provided we agreed to an embargo on running the story until a planned announcement next week. We have issues with such embargos here at the Observer,1 so we declined. It’s more fun to be a first with a little informed speculation than spoon-fed the details at someone else’s convenience.
Sila’s likely looking for abundant land and cheap, reliable power, which has us thinking Wenatchee or Moses Lake, already home to some advanced materials manufacturing. Stay tuned for a ribbon-cutting.
AG drops “excise tax” from cap gains tax repeal ballot title
Some of you can’t get enough capital gains tax minutia, so here’s a fresh update on the legal wrangling over the ballot title for Initiative 1929, which would repeal the tax on most capital gains over $250,000.
Repeal the Capital Gains Income Tax, the committee behind 1-1929, took issue with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s team’s description of the tax as an “excise tax” in the initial ballot title. They instead want it characterized as a tax on capital gains income, pointing to Douglas County Superior Court Judge Brian Huber’s ruling that the tax is not an excise tax but an income tax and therefore unconstitutional.
(That question is headed for the state Supremes, but the voters may get to speak first.)
In a response, Ferguson’s team offered to drop “excise,” but wouldn’t go to “income.” The AG’s alternative would match a separate repeal initiative filed months ago that isn’t going anywhere.
Proponents of the tax really want to keep the word “income” off the ballot, given that voters have overwhelmingly rejected anything resembling an income tax multiple times.
There’s a hearing on the title challenge on Thursday in Thurston County Superior Court.
Recommended Reading: The Joe Kent campaign looks nuts
We’re avid readers of The Dispatch here at the Observer, and we strongly recommend Audrey Fahlberg’s piece on the bonkers infighting and allegations of planned voter fraud between current and former operatives on Joe Kent’s bid to oust Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler from the right.
As we noted in our recent piece about the fundraising in that race, Kent is more conservative-media performance artist than actual candidate. Some of the stuff in Fahlberg’s piece really hammers that point home.
A choice excerpt: A Signal message allegedly sent by Kent’s current campaign manager (he says it’s a fake): “I’m 1000% down to register homeless people for cigarettes.”
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And now for your regularly scheduled dose of dog
An embargo is a media-relations tactic in which a reporter is offered something of value — say an interview with the CEO — in exchange for holding the story until some strategically important time for the company. They’re problematic for two reasons: 1. The embargo typically lifts as the company blasts out a press release with the news in it, devaluing the story. 2. They are frequently abused to execute the New York Times Bank Shot, in which the story is gift-wrapped for one prestigious news organization before the embargo lifts, leaving anyone who agreed to the embargo looking like a patsy.
Is Harvest Prude the best byline ever? For now, we have to stay with Liz Sly of the Washington Post, who has decades of kicking ass and taking names to back it up. But Prude’s still young.