The Stand

Labor-business team up for jobs bill, liquor suit, populist Obama…

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STATE GOVERNMENT

 

► At Publicola — Business, labor form unprecedented alliance on jobs bill — The Washington State Labor Council and the State Building and Construction Trades Council has teamed up with the Associated General Contractors of Washington to make the rounds in Olympia this week and stump for a $2 billion jobs package.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Unions sue to block liquor initiative from taking effect — “While it is not illegal for a private company to pay for an initiative and spend almost unlimited money to get it passed, it is illegal for them to abuse the system by loading the initiative with too many changes to the law. The reason for the single-rule clause in the constitution is to prohibit this very thing,” reads a release from UFCW Local 21 and Teamsters Local 174.

► In today’s Olympian — State parks could lose a third of staff— Nearly a third of Washington’s year-round state parks staff members are being notified this week that they likely will be laid off as a result of lagging sales of the new Discover Pass. WFSE, which represents parks workers, said it is starting independent efforts to promote the pass to its members and to the public in online and radio messages.

► From AP — State lawsuit payouts up threefold under McKenna— During his 2004 campaign for attorney general, Rob McKenna vowed that he would use the position to curb how much state agencies pay out for major lawsuits. Instead, those costs have grown under his watch. Washington agencies disbursed $76 million for tort claims last year — three times more than was spent the year before McKenna took office.

► In the Wenatchee World — Senate committee won’t hear Wenatchee rescue bill — The chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee will not allow a hearing on a revised bill to rescue to Town Toyota Center from default.

► In today’s Olympian — If sex offenders leave their island, they still need isolation(editorial) — Moving the sex offender incarceration and treatment center from McNeil Island to the mainland is going to be costly and it’s going to spark an immediate backlash in the community unlucky enough to host the Special Commitment Center.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Former state Sen. Dave Schmidt may face big fine — In his largest questionable expenditure, PDC investigators allege Schmidt improperly reimbursed himself $32,260 in unspent campaign donations for wages he claims to have lost serving in the Senate from 2003-06.

 


LOCAL

 

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima city employee union OKs wage freeze for three years— Hoping to preserve jobs, the city’s largest employee union (AFSCME Local 1122) has agreed to a pay freeze in 2012 as well as increases in their cost of insurance.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Wage increases for city employees spark Rainier council spat— Members of Rainier’s City Council and Mayor Jerry Cole got into a 20-minute debate Monday night over allegedly unauthorized wage increases for city employees.

 


NATIONAL

 

► In today’s LA Times — Obama takes populist economic message to heartland— Invoking Theodore Roosevelt’s call for checks on concentrated wealth a century ago, President Obama, speaking in Kansas, calls economic inequality the “defining issue of our time.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Welcome to the party, Mr. President.

► In today’s NY Times — Big firms limit paying state taxes, study finds — As states have struggled to balance their budgets by cutting services, laying off workers and raising taxes, a study to be released today suggests that many profitable Fortune 500 companies have not been paying as much in state corporate income taxes as the average levied on American companies, with some big firms paying none at all in recent years.

► In today’s NY Times — The Robin Hood tax — They call it the Robin Hood tax — a tiny levy on trades in the financial markets that would take money from the banks and give it to the world’s poor. Driven by populist anger at bankers as well as government needs for more revenue, the idea of a tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments has attracted an array of influential champions, including the leaders of France and Germany, the billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and George Soros, former Vice President Al Gore, the consumer activist Ralph Nader, Pope Benedict XVI and the archbishop of Canterbury.

► In today’s NY Times — Mine owner will pay $209 million in blast that killed 29 workers — Alpha Natural Resources agrees to pay restitution and civil and criminal penalties for the role of its subsidiary, Massey Energy, in a mine explosion last year that killed 29 men in West Virginia.

► From ABC News — Made in America Christmas: Are you in? — “World News with Diane Sawyer” is gearing up for a “Made in America Christmas” and we need your help. The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion. If that money was spent entirely on U.S.-made products it would create 4.6 million jobs. If each of us spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs. Now we want to know, are you in? If so, we want to hear from you. How are you planning on spending your $64?

► From ABC News — ‘Occupy Our Homes’ campaign launches against foreclosures — A subset of Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country are bringing their fight indoors with plans to stay in foreclosed homes for months.

► At Politico — Indiana finds misplaced $300 million— Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels announces that state officials have found $300 million that went untouched even as lawmakers made deep cuts to education and slashed vacant government jobs while it weathered the recession.

► At WashingtonPost.com — Press release hoax claims SEIU has withdrawn Obama endorsement — Union: “So just to be clear: We stand by our November 16, 2011 endorsement of President Obama. … Any reports to the contrary are simply false.”

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

► From Forbes.com — The bomb buried in ObamaCare explodes today — Hallelujah! (by Rick Ungar) — A provision of the law, called the medical loss ratio, requires health insurance companies to spend 80% of the consumers’ premium dollars they collect — 85% for large group insurers — on actual medical care rather than overhead, marketing expenses and profit. Failure on the part of insurers to meet this requirement will result in the insurers having to send their customers a rebate check representing the amount in which they underspend on actual medical care. This is the true “bomb” contained in Obamacare and the one item that will have more impact on the future of how medical care is paid for in this country than anything we’ve seen in quite some time.  Indeed, it is this aspect of the law that represents the true ‘death panel’ found in Obamacare—but not one that is going to lead to the death of American consumers. Rather, the medical loss ratio will, ultimately, lead to the death of large parts of the private, for-profit health insurance industry.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. These links are functional at the date of posting, but sometimes expire.

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