Special Session (feat. Jobs Bill), plus The Specials…
► In today’s Olympian — Legislature fails to reach deal; special session starts Monday– A disappointed Gov. Chris Gregoire is calling the Legislature back into session at noon Monday to take another whack at closing the remaining $1 billion hole in the state checkbook. “I certainly hope they will be able to finish it next week,” she said. Gregoire said all four caucus leaders agreed to stick to a special session script or list of bill topics that includes, among other things, a supplemental capital budget also dubbed a “jobs” bill.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Job stimulus legislation should be high priority (editorial) — Other business left undone is passage of a jobs bill, or bills, that would fund as much as $1.3 billion in construction projects around the state. The measures are intended to partially remedy one of the most unfortunate impacts of the recession — the collapse in construction activity — by exploiting one of its few positive attributes — very favorable interest rates. Unemployment in some of the construction trades is near 50%, a tragedy to the workers affected, many of whom have been idle so long their unemployment benefits have expired. As they sit idle, they become rusty and less prepared for the day a healthier economy will need their skills. The building trades have a surplus of human capital ready for investment, and the state may never get a better deal.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Find common ground to pass state budget (by Sen. Ed Murray) — Instead of working through the existing bipartisan agreement, those who took over the budget process say their budget is a framework for negotiation. Negotiation is impossible without trust and a willingness to meet in the middle. If all lawmakers adopted this my-way-or-the highway attitude, the Legislature would cease to function. For years, Democrats have moved to the middle ground. Now, in special session, we look forward to meeting the minority party there.
► From AP — Legislature OKs tax break for film productions– The state House voted 92-6 Thursday to revive a tax incentive program designed to lure movie production to the state, which supporters saying it will draw business and spending to the state.
► At Publicola — Republicans side with teachers’ union? — The Republicans in the State Senate deferred a vote on a bill that would have scaled back the teachers’ union’s bargaining power on health insurance.
► In today’s News Tribune — Port of Tacoma lands three major shipping lines — Tacoma could regain its crown as Puget Sound’s largest container port thanks to a Thursday decision by a group of three container shipping lines to forsake the Port of Seattle in favor of the Port of Tacoma’s Washington United Terminal. The move of the Grand Alliance shipping lines, NYK Lines, OOCL and Hapag-Lloyd, could boost Tacoma’s critical container business by 25-30%. “This is probably the biggest announcement that will be made in the rest of my working life at the port,” said ILWU Local 23 President Scott Mason. “The effect will be huge for those working on the waterfront.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle’s port losing big customer to Tacoma — The Port of Seattle said in a statement the relocation could mean job losses in Seattle, and called for greater cooperation between the two ports.
► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver lawmakers question use of labor on grain silos — Three Washington state lawmakers are raising concerns about the use of labor on a major construction project at the Port of Vancouver, alleging the company involved employed foreign rather than local workers. Reps. Jim Moeller, Sharon Wylie and Tim Probst say Younglove Construction, a contractor to United Grain Corp., hired about 200 foreign workers under the H1B1 Visa program to build a grain silo.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Economy adds 227,000 jobs, but jobless rate stays at 8.3% — U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs in February to complete three of the best months of hiring since the recession began. The unemployment rate was unchanged, largely because more people streamed into the work force. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that even with the positive signs of growth, “it will take some time before the benefits reach many middle-class and working poor families.”
► In The Hill — Union aligned with Democrats braces for battle over its future — Danny Donohue, president of the New York State Civil Service Employees Association, will formally launch his campaign to be president of AFSCME. That follows the announcement last week from AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders that he is running for the top job at the 1.6 million-member union. AFSCME President Gerry McEntee moved to retire last year after more than 30 years in charge.
► In today’s NY Times — White House looks to shape debate over health law — The White House has begun an aggressive campaign to use approaching Supreme Court arguments on the new health care law as a moment to build support for the measure seen as President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, hoping to shape public opinion on an issue at the center of the battle for the White House and Congress.
► In today’s NY Times — We thought they were worried about costs (editorial) — Republicans want to kill the board charged with controlling Medicare spending, but the board is a needed buffer between Congress and health care lobbies.
► At Salon.com — Union-buster joins Wisconsin recall fight — With a million-dollar ad buy, Rick Berman and his “Center for Union Facts” seeks to bolster Gov. Scott Walker.
► In today’s LA Times — Chef Mario Batali settles lawsuit with servers, report says — The pony-tailed celebrity chef has agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle the class-action lawsuit in which he was accused of bilking servers out of part of their tips.
► In honor of the session that begins Monday… The SPECIALS featuring the late Amy Winehouse! Have a great weekend… brought to you by the Labor Movement.
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