Bill cutoff, USW rally, port truckers, Save the GOP Moderates…
Many important bills died after Tuesday’s cutoff deadline for bills to pass their houses of origin, although they still can be revived through extraordinary procedural means. See the Washington State Labor Council’s Legislative Tracker™ to get status updates on many of the key bills of concern to the WSLC and its affiliated unions. (If your union would like to add a bill of particular concern to the Tracker™, please contact David Groves at email@example.com.)
► In today’s News Tribune — Measure requires performance to be measured in teacher layoffs — School districts deciding which teachers and principals to lay off or move to a different school would have to consider the educators’ performance — as measured partly by their students’ improvement — under a deal among state lawmakers unveiled Tuesday.
► From AP — Bill to curtail E-Verify doesn’t get House vote– HB 2568, which would have stopped more cities and counties from mandating use of a federal work eligibility program, failed to get votes in the state House, despite backing from farmers and immigrant advocacy groups.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Senate bill gives counties 3-cents-a-gallon gas tax option — Cities won’t be allowed to collect a local gas tax but counties can still do so under a bill passed by the state Senate this week.
► From AP — State Senate tries to revive film incentives
► In today’s Seattle Times — State Senate endorses proposed balanced-budget amendment
USW RALLY AT TESORO
► At GoAnacortes.com — Union members rally at Tesoro gates — Members of the United Steelworkers Union Local 12-591 gathered at the main gate at the March Point Tesoro refinery this morning, urging the company to bargain fairly in the current negotiations for a new three-year contract.
► In today’s Skagit Valley Herald — Tesoro workers rally for better safety, benefits — They came with signs and loudspeakers, protesting Tesoro’s proposal to leave workers’ benefits, including pension, 401k, vacation and healthcare benefits, open to change over the next three years.
TRANSPORTATION BILL UPDATE
► In The Hill — Facing objections from the left and right, Boehner splits up transportation bill — GOP leaders announced that the $260 billion highway bill would come to the House floor this week in three pieces. It will be split into an energy bill, a transportation bill and a bill that pays for much of the new spending through changes to the federal pension system. Aides say the energy and federal pension bills could pass on largely party-line votes, while the core transportation bill will be a bigger lift.
ALSO at The Stand — Urge against federal, postal workers’ pensions cuts– House GOP leaders have attached severe reductions in net pay and retirement benefits for federal and postal employees to this transportation bill. If you haven’t already, please take a minute to call your U.S. Representative and tell them, “No pay freeze and no changes to federal employees’ pensions!” Dial 1-888-907-8362 and follow the prompts.
► At Politico — White House threatens to veto House transportation bill– The Obama administration blasts the House’s five-year transportation proposal: “Because this bill jeopardizes safety, weakens environmental and labor protections, and fails to make the investments needed to strengthen the nation’s roads, bridges, rail, and transit systems, the president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto this legislation.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Port of Seattle truckers end 2-week walkout; talks to continue — About 400 short-haul truckers at the Port of Seattle decided Tuesday they’ll return to work, ending a two-week walkout. Port leaders will continue to meet with the drivers to grapple with safety issues. In addition, several trucking firms have agreed to boost the pay per load to $44 from $40 a trip; to compensate drivers stuck in line more than an hour; and to pay for some trips drivers make when they have no load.
► At Crosscut — Recession has added to difficulties in getting some employers to pay workers — Workers nationwide are losing millions of dollars each week to wage theft as their employers, some unscrupulous, others scrambling to keep their businesses afloat, fail to pay the mandated minimum wage or overtime wages, or, in some cases, don’t pay their employees at all. Wage theft is far more common than was known just a few years ago, according to a new report.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma City Council approves new big-box store restrictions– The new rules call for more public notice and an additional conditional-use permit, among other things. They won’t affect the Walmart project; it’s too late for that. The plans were submitted before the moratorium was enacted.
► In today’s Daily News — Charges against 6 ILWU supporters dismissed
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Japan Airlines order 10 787s
► In today’s News Tribune — Foss hotel shoreline-permit fight likely to go to state’s high court
► In today’s NY Times — Tentative deal reached on payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance — Democrats said they were able to beat back new conditions that Republicans had wanted on jobless pay, like requiring beneficiaries to seek high school equivalency degrees, and had found middle ground on Republican attempts to significantly reduce the number of weeks in which the unemployed could draw benefits. Republicans did make Democrats pay for the added jobless benefits through changes to federal pensions, aides said.
► From Reuters — Obama plan would end dozens of business tax breaks — The White House will soon unveil a blueprint aimed at eliminating inequities in the corporate tax system and lowering the top rate. Companies, which pay wildly different levels of taxes, are clamoring for a cut in the corporate tax rate — which tops out at 35% — but disagree about how to strip out preferences that benefit selected industries.
► In The Hill — Obama signs $63 billion FAA funding plan — The White House was quiet about the signing on Tuesday, releasing a statement that said only that Obama had signed it. Some unions have expressed unhappiness with the labor election provisions in the FAA bill.
► In today’s LA Times — Obama wants to lower taxes on middle class by scratching AMT — Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget calls for replacing the alternative minimum tax with the so-called Buffett rule. But that won’t happen any time soon.
► In today’s Tampa Bay Times — Prison privatization dies 21-19 in Florida Senate vote — A massive expansion of private prisons in Florida collapsed as nine Republicans joined a dozen Democrats in handing a setback to Senate leaders and a victory to state workers.
► In today’s NY Times — Economic growth gives lift to Obama in new poll — In what could be a turning point, the percentage of people who said they believed the economic outlook was improving is now greater, by double digits, than the percentage of those who said they believed it was getting worse.
► From ABC News — Bailout politics: Even Michigan’s economy is improving — As Republicans Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich scramble to overtake native son Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary, scheduled for Feb. 24, the state’s economy appears to be climbing out of a deep, dark hole.
► In today’s Detroit News — Romney’s auto bailout stand slammed — Michigan Democrats blast him for his anti-bailout stand, saying the self-described “son of Detroit” stabbed Michigan in the back.
► In The Onion — New breeding program aims to keep moderate Republicans from going extinct — Centrist Republicans, who once freely roamed the nation calling for both economic deregulation and a return to Reagan-era tax rates on the wealthy, are in dire need of protection, having lost large portions of their natural terrain to the highly territorial Evangelical and Tea Party breeds.
“Our new program is designed to isolate the few remaining specimens of moderate Republicans, mate them in captivity, and then safely release these rare and precious creatures back into the electorate,” said Cynthia Rollins, who traces the decline of the species to changes in the political climate and rampant, predatory fanaticism. “Within our safe, enclosed habitats, these middle-of-the-road Republican Party members can freely support increased funding for public education and even gay rights without being threatened by the far-right subgenus.”
Political conservationists told reporters they have already begun the arduous process of tracking down members of the elusive breed of sensible, non-reactionary public officeholders, which a generation ago was one of the most plentiful GOP species in existence.
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