► In today’s Seattle Times — Record construction frenzy sweeps downtown Seattle, with more building to come — A total of 68 major projects were underway from Sodo to South Lake Union at the end of 2016, the most since records began in 2005. Development is expected to remain steady or perhaps even increase slightly this year, based on plans submitted to the city. And developers have a vision to keep up that pace through at least 2019, though many of those future projects exist mostly on paper and could still fall through if the current boom goes bust.
► In today’s Seattle Times — U.S. Chamber sues Seattle a second time over Uber union law — The group has refiled its lawsuit against Seattle, arguing that the city’s law allowing Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers to unionize is illegal because drivers are contractors not employees. Seattle’s law is the first of its kind in the U.S.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford officials, unions agree on limited change to vapor protection — The Hanford tank farm contractor and a union group have agreed to lift a blanket requirement that workers wear supplied air respirators, but only under some initial limited conditions. Workers have not been allowed to enter Hanford tank farms unless they wear supplied air respirators since the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council, or HAMTC, an umbrella group of 15 Hanford unions, issued a stop work order in June.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford contractor welcomes workers’ compensation investigation — Penser North America says it welcomes a federal review of the workers’ compensation program at Hanford, as requested by Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Mercer Canyons agrees to pay $1.2 million to former workers — A Klickitat County farm has agreed to pay up to $1.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit involving more than 600 farmworkers. When Mercer Canyons got federal permission to hire foreign workers under the H-2A program at $12/hour, but former employees said the company failed to notify domestic workers of jobs paying that rate, as required.
► BUT… from Bloomberg — Workers turn down back pay, said to fear deportation — Workers across the country are telling DOL regional and district offices that they’re afraid to collect unpaid minimum wages and overtime or are refusing to confirm their address so that checks can be mailed, according to the sources. Many of those employees are believed to be shy about coming forward because they’re undocumented and not authorized to work in the country.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Ferguson says order blocking Trump’s first travel ban should apply to new one — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that a judicial injunction which halted President Donald Trump’s travel-ban order last month also should block enforcement of the president’s revised order.
► From KUOW — Delay in ‘levy cliff’ headed to Inslee’s desk — State school districts will not go over the so-called “levy cliff.” At least not next year. The state House Thursday sent the governor a bipartisan measure to extend current levy capacity for another year.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Car-price errors found in licensing tax calculations; DOL could issue refunds — With Sound Transit under siege for the formula it uses to determine a car’s value, the Department of Licensing has discovered some mistakes with the original car prices it plugs into that formula to determine what taxes are owed.
► In today’s Columbian — Local educators to hold school funding rally — The Washington Education Association will sponsor a school funding rally and forum Saturday at Roosevelt Elementary School.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Tax breaks are dumb. Long live tax breaks. (by Jon Talton) — Do business tax incentives really provide sustained job creation and expand state and local economies? Virtually everyone who has studied the phenomenon says, No. But try telling that to the elected leaders of a hollowed-out region — or even a prosperous one that sees one of its leading economic clusters in danger.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee asks state agencies to calculate impact of Trumpcare — A handful of state agencies are trying to calculate how the proposed Republican health-care plan would affect Washingtonians, Gov. Jay Inslee said. An analysis of the GOP proposal showed older people, Americans who make less money or those who live in places with high-cost premiums would get less help.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Thumbs down on House GOP’s Obamacare replacement (editorial) — Having now seen the long-awaited Republican sequel to the Affordable Care Act, we have to give it a thumbs down.
► In today’s NY Times — Why Trump supporters have the most to lose with Trumpcare — The people who stand to lose the most in tax credits under the House Republican health plan tended to support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, according to a new Upshot analysis.
► From TPM — Bonus! Trumpcare depletes Medicare trust fund faster — The long-awaited GOP health care bill finally unveiled this week strikes an immediate blow to Medicare funding, accelerating a solvency crisis that health policy experts say could open the door to even more devastating cuts down the road.
► From The Hill — Top vote-counter on Trumpcare bill: ‘We’re gonna get this done’ — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise: “If you look at the Democratic faces on the committee after 27-and-a-half hours, you recognize just how powerful this moment is.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — How Republicans measure success: sadness on Democrats’ faces.
► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — A bill so bad it’s awesome (by Paul Krugman) — Given the rhetoric Republicans have used over the past seven years to attack health reform, you might have expected them to do away with the whole structure of the ACA — deregulate, de-subsidize and let the magic of the free market do its thing. This would have been devastating for the 20 million Americans who gained coverage thanks to the act, but at least it would have been ideologically consistent. But Republican leaders weren’t willing to bite that bullet. What they came up with instead was a half-baked plan that accepts the logic and broad outline of the ACA while catastrophically weakening key provisions. If enacted, the bill would almost surely lead to a death spiral of soaring premiums and collapsing coverage. Which makes you wonder, what’s the point?
► from The Stranger — Would someone please explain to Paul Ryan how this “insurance” stuff works? (by Dan Savage) — Dear Paul… You aren’t being cheated if you pay insurance premiums — auto, home, or health — without getting into a car wreck, losing your house in a fire, or coming down with cancer. Since you can’t be this stupid, Paul, I can only assume you think voters are this stupid. Love, Dan.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump weighs cuts to Coast Guard, TSA and FEMA to bolster border plan — The goal is to shift about $5 billion toward hiring scores of additional agents, as well as toward infrastructure to support a crackdown on illegal immigration. A significant portion of the money would go toward erecting a wall along the border with Mexico, one of President Trump’s signature campaign promises.
► In the Washington Post — This company is making millions from America’s broken immigration system — Nefi Flores had been in an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Wash., for three months when a fellow inmate told him there was a company that could help him get out. Libre by Nexus was barely a year old. But by the time Flores heard of the company in June 2014, it had grown from a tiny operation in rural Virginia into a booming national business… As asylum seekers, visa violators and those charged with crimes wait for their cases to be heard in badly backlogged immigration courts, thousands are eligible for bail, just as they would be in criminal courts. Yet few can afford it. Libre has found a niche helping them post their bonds — for a price.
► In today’s NY Times — Even before the wall, migrants find the U.S. forbidding — A sharp drop in illegal crossings, possibly as a result of President Trump’s immigration policies, is being felt along both sides of the border.
► In today’s Washington Post — U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent — The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, surpassing economists’ expectations and likely clearing the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump keeps claiming he’s created U.S. jobs since Election Day. Not so. — The new president’s now-predictable formula: A company announces a U.S. jobs plan that predates Trump’s presidency. The company gives a nod to Trump’s anti-regulation policies. Trump then takes credit for bringing jobs back to the United States. Repeat.
► From CBS News — Poll says majority of Americans want Jeff Sessions to resign — The poll indicated that 51% of voters think Sessions should step down, versus 42% who say he should stay on. The survey came on the heels of news that Sessions did not disclose a fall meeting with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearings.
► In the NY Times — Profitable companies, no taxes: Here’s how they did it — Although the top corporate rate is 35 percent, hardly any company actually pays that. A new analysis of 258 profitable Fortune 500 companies that earned more than $3.8 trillion in profits finds that 100 of them — nearly 40 percent — paid no taxes in at least one year between 2008 and 2015. Eighteen incurred a total federal income tax bill of less than zero over the entire eight-year period — meaning they received rebates.
► From CNN — Why new minimum wage hikes are under threat (by — In Maine, Arizona and Washington state, minimum wage ballot measures were overwhelmingly approved by voters. In the past month, lawyers and lobbyists — including those representing Chamber of Commerce groups, the National Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses — have been fighting to undermine the clear will of voters and claw back the wage hikes.
► Pink Floyd released their 8th album, Dark Side of the Moon, on this day in 1973. An immediate critical and commercial success, the album remained in the Billboard charts for an astounding 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 45 million copies sold, it’s one of the best selling records of all time. Roger Waters, the band’s primary lyricist and conceptual leader, left the band in 1985. But 20 years later, Pink Floyd’s classic lineup (Waters, guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, and keyboardist Richard Wright) reunited for a four-song set at Live 8 in London on July 2, 2005, performing live for the first time since 1981 and for the last time ever. Here, from Dark Side, is one of the four songs they played. Enjoy!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.
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