► In today’s Seattle Times — State AG McKenna to announce run for Governor — State Attorney General Rob McKenna will announce his campaign for governor Wednesday night at Sammamish High School, launching what Republican Party leaders hope is their best shot at retaking the governor’s office after more than 25 years of Democratic control. The epic losing streak is the longest active GOP gubernatorial drought in the country.
► At Publicola — Health care lawsuit coincides with McKenna announcement — Oral arguments begin tomorrow in the multi-state lawsuit against the federal health care law passed in 2010. McKenna is one of the 26 plaintiffs in the case, joining with 26 other states’ AGs who have sued to overturn the law, and the case is a certain way to fire up Republican voters.
► At SeattlePI.com —Welcome to the governor’s race, McKenna (Joel Connelly column) — McKenna has a fine line to walk. He has made conciliatory statements about sitting down and negotiating with Washington’s public employee unions, riling the blood-in-the-water voices of right wing talk radio. At the same time, unions wield some clout here. Organized labor still tries to sell the Democrats, however many Democrats sell out labor. “Which side is McKenna on?” asked a pre-announcement press release Tuesday from the Washington State Labor Council.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Look for information about McKenna’s positions on working family issues to be posted at The Stand tomorrow. In the meantime, check out The Stranger’s March 2 article, Could Washington be the next Wisconsin? Here’s an excerpt:
As a councilman, on five separate occasions, McKenna refused to approve collective bargaining agreements between the county and public workers, opposing contracts with animal control officers, social workers, and others. He led efforts to prevent the county from doing business with union shops, bizarrely disparaging as “racist and sexist” an ordinance requiring the county to hire union apprentices. In 1998, McKenna even voted against a motion that urged an employer to (gasp) “bargain with its employees in good faith” and innocuously supported the “fair treatment of workers.” And while McKenna likes to talk the talk on government spending, as chair of the council’s budget committee in 2001, he proposed swiping money from a fund set aside to pay scheduled raises to unionized workers while actually increasing spending.
STATE GOVERNMENT NEWS:
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Welfare agency leader lacks support of union — A vote by union employees of the state Children’s Administration overwhelmingly expressed no confidence in the agency’s head, the Washington Federation of State Employees said. “This is not something we take lightly, and we hope the administration doesn’t take it lightly either,” said union spokesman Tim Welch, who added that morale at the agency is the lowest he has seen in more than 24 years. With 37% of the 2,273-member bargaining unit voting, 772 workers, or 98.6%, voted to express no confidence in Denise Revels Robinson, DSHS assistant secretary who assumed leadership of the Children’s Administration in October 2009.
► In today’s News Tribune — Gregoire: Too many boards — Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday she was disappointed that lawmakers did not make more aggressive cuts to the many boards and commissions that assess everything from midwifery to noxious weeds.
► In today’s NY Times — How one-party rule has affected two states: Connecticut shifts left — The legislature is ending an activist, liberal session, having passed bills on taxes, labor and social issues. Wisconsin moves right — With their control of the State Senate threatened by recalls, Republicans are racing to pass bills.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Of course, in Washington State, “one-party rule” has been diluted by a governor and a handful of Senate Democrats who have shifted to the right and sided with Republicans on many fiscal and labor policy issues. In other words, having been effectively split in two, the party of “One Washington” is no longer even one party.
HEALTH CARE NEWS… JUXTAPOSED:
► At SeattlePI.com — Group Health insurer raises rates, slashes benefits — Thousands of people insured by Group Health Options, one of the state’s largest insurance companies, will soon feel financial pain, when an 18% rate hike takes effect for individual plans. The increase comes with fewer benefits and after two years of double-digit hikes. It’s also happening at a subsidiary of Group Health Cooperative, a nationally recognized model in Seattle for containing health-care costs.
► In today’s NY Times — Blue Cross of California to cut many premiums 2.5% this year — Health insurer Blue Shield of California, under fire for a series of recent rate hikes and the pay of its chief executive, plans to cut this year’s premiums by 2.5% for many of its 3.3 million policyholders as part of a new initiative to hold down costs. Consumer advocates said Blue Shield’s announcement Tuesday may have been prompted by increased regulatory scrutiny.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Bellingham faces more belt-tightening unless economy improves — Without economic recovery or more spending cuts, the city eventually could burn through the financial reserves that have been used for budget balancing since the recession began, City Finance Director John Carter told City Council.
► In today’s News Tribune — Lawsuit could help Washam recall effort — The Washington chapter of the Institute for Justice filed a complaint in federal court Tuesday, seeking to overturn a state law limiting individual contributions to recall campaigns.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Pierce County Central Labor Council supports the campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam.
► In today’s News Tribune — Boeing’s South Carolina plant to open on Friday — The plant will be the only site outside Western Washington where Boeing builds airliners. A legal shadow hangs over the South Carolina plant because the NLRB has issued a complaint against Boeing for allegedly retaliating against workers who struck the company by locating the new plant outside the Puget Sound area. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday seeking communications that the agency may have had with union and Obama administration officials tied to Boeing’s attempt to open an aircraft plant in South Carolina.
► In today’s Charlotte Post and Courier — NLRB is doing its job by defending the rights of workers (column by a local union leader) — Since the NLRB filed the complaint against Boeing, the South Carolina print media has editorialized against the NLRB action. The media are spinning out of control. Instead of printing facts, the media are reporting boldface lies from our elected leaders.
► Today from AP — Congress to hold hearing on Boeing-NLRB case in S.C. — The Republican-controlled U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government plans to hold a June 17 hearing in North Charleston. A hearing in the NLRB lawsuit against Boeing is scheduled for June 14. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has requested that NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon attend the hearing, but Solomon wrote to Issa earlier this month that he wouldn’t participate because of the ongoing litigation.
► In today’s NY Times — Nurses rally for health care funding — Hundreds of members of the nation’s largest nurses’ union demonstrated outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. The union, National Nurses United, held the event to promote its “Main Street Contract for the American People,” which aims, in part, to increase tax revenue from corporations to prevent cuts in entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
► In The Hill — White House says Senate Dems’ jobs bill is too expensive — The Obama administration on Tuesday night might have thrown a wrench into Senate Democratic plans to pass what they see as a jobs bill — by implying the bill spends too much money.
► In The Hill — Reid: House is “big black hole” for bills that would create 500,000 jobs — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed the House for not acting on bills that he claims would create more than half a million jobs. Reid’s charge comes amid heightening concern about the economy and the nation’s rising unemployment rate. It also represents a shift in tactics — the Senate traditionally has been criticized as the graveyard for House-passed bills.
► In today’s NY Times — Resistance grows (editorial) — Massachusetts, New York and Illinois reject the Obama administration’s enforcement-only way on immigration.
► In today’s Seattle Times — The anti-war message of Norm Dicks packs punch (Danny Westneat column) — U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Bremerton) is about as hawkish as Democratic congressmen get. So when he starts talking about “war fatigue” and how the wars are “unjustifiable,” maybe the end really is near?
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. Make this electronic “clip service” your first stop each morning! These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.