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Stop pension cuts, Hanford safety, postal overhaul, Seattle ‘Amazed’…



► At — SB 6378 kicks the can down the road, attacks pensions, harms families — SB 6378 (the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal) kicks the can down the road by letting the politicians in Olympia postpone funding their pension payment obligations. SB 6378 targets pension benefits for parole officers, park rangers, teachers, nurses and other public servants, instead of eliminating tax breaks for big corporations. And SB 6378 imposes new costs on middle class families who have already made huge sacrifices during these tough economic times.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington moves closer to consumer-friendly marketplace for health care (editorial) — The prospects for broader access to health insurance in Washington brighten with Gov. Gregoire signing legislation today to implement the state Health Benefit Exchange.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Hanford contractors admit big safety problems remain — Engineers admitted they still have not resolved major safety problems with the plant that’s supposed to help dispose of 53 million gallons of nuclear waste, 12 years after design began for the $12.2 billion plant, the Western world’s most expensive and complex construction project.

► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Union, Olympic Medical Center begin settlement talks before complaint hearing — Olympic Medical Center and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW unexpectedly began settlement talks Thursday in their protracted labor dispute — just as a state PERC mediator was set to hear the union’s unfair-labor-practices complaint.

► In today’s News Tribune — BevMo liquor retailer announces Tacoma, Silverdale sites— The California-based liquor retailer is among dozens of retailers ranging from supermarkets such as Safeway and Top Food & Drug to drug stores such as Bartell to discount stores such as Costco, Walmart and Target, that have made plans to sell liquor when the state allows it June 1.

► In today’s Columbian — Why was Clark Co. Commissioner Marc Boldt sanctioned by the GOP? — The Republican was sanctioned by the county party’s executive board more than three months ago for making decisions that were deemed out of line with the party.

► In the Bellingham Herald — BP refinery operations have yet to resume— Refining operations at the BP Cherry Point refinery have not gotten back to normal since a Feb. 17 fire in the crude vacuum unit sent smoke and flames billowing.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Senate sides with Wall Street, passes so-called JOBS Act — Ignoring warnings from current and former financial market regulators, law professors, institutional investors and consumer advocates, the Senate today passed (73-26) the cynically named JOBS Act and, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “We are disappointed and angry.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Sen. Cantwell voted “yes” and Sen. Murray voted “no.”

► In The Hill — Senate poised to take on postal reform — The Senate could take up a bipartisan measure next week that would overhaul the cash-strapped Postal Service’s operations. The USPS is moving forward with a plan to potentially close more than 200 mail processing centers, which would slow down the delivery of first-class mail in many cases, as soon as May 15.  The Senate bill would allow USPS to potentially scrap Saturday delivery after two years, and would also allow the agency to spread out prepayments for retiree health care that were earlier required by Congress.  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and some other members of the Democratic caucus wants the USPS to keep six-day delivery for at least four years, to get rid of the health care prepayment and create a blue-ribbon panel to help the agency find more revenue.

► In The Hill — Republican leaders racking up ‘yes’ votes on Ryan’s budget — A day after the budget was approved in committee by a single vote (with two Republicans voting no), prominent members of the conservative Republican Study Committee said they back it.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This right-wing RSC group that supports Ryan’s Medicare-privatizing budget that cuts taxes again for the rich and corporations includes Washington’s own U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

► At Politico — Paul Ryan budget goes there again — To protect himself on the right, the Wisconsin Republican risks taking the House back to the same divisive fights over appropriations that consumed much of last year.

► In The Hill — Senate to vote on bill killing oil tax breaks— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a procedural vote Monday on legislation to repeal billions of dollars in tax breaks for the largest oil companies.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Affordable Care Act has helped millions, saved billions — Although the Affordable Care Act is not perfect and working family advocates are working hard to make sure it is implemented fairly, it’s a milestone on the path to guaranteed high-quality health care for everyone and has helped millions of families. Nonetheless, Republicans vow to kill the law. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the law’s constitutionality in a case brought by a Republican legal challenge.

► At TPM — The most radical part of the SCOTUS health care challenge — The Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the Medicaid program is too coercive to states, and thus violates the Constitution. If upheld, the states’ far-reaching argument could invalidate decades of government programs.




► At Huffington Post — Target store closing kills union’s great big-box hope — Back in June when workers at a Target store just outside New York City were about to vote on whether to unionize, employees received an ominous pamphlet from company management: “Will the store close if the union gets in? Nothing is guaranteed.” The vote to unionize failed, but efforts to organize continued. Now Target is planning to shut down the store.

► At Politico — Gov. Walker’s rival: Stop union ‘fiction’— Wisconsin state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, a Democrat hoping to challenge Gov. Scott Walker, says she’s looking forward to dismantling the Republican governor’s “fiction” that union money is behind this year’s recall election.




► Mulleted genius Paul McCartney and Wings perform “Maybe I’m Amazed” live in Seattle in 1976. Have a great weekend — brought to you by the labor movement.

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