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Legislative training wage, ‘like ethnic cleansing,’ Hanford sequester cuts…

Wednesday, March 6, 2013




► At TVW’s Capitol Record — House Democrats offer up symbolic bill creating ‘training wage’ for legislators — House Democrats plan to introduce legislation that would create a “training wage” for freshman members of the Legislature. The largely symbolic move is a jab at a Republican-backed measure proposed in the Senate that would allow some employers to pay 75% of the minimum wage, or $6.89 and hour, for the employee’s first 680 hours. Under the plan unveiled by four House Democrats, new legislators would earn only 75% of their salary for their first two years in office. Pay would also be withheld when a legislator misses work due to an illness.

sells-mike“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett) said. “What we get out of the Republican Senate is attacks on minimum wage, attacks on prevailing wage, attacks on sick leave and nothing on how we are going to fund education. We are going to suggest something that strikes at the heart of those people suggesting we lower the minimum wage.”

ALSO at The Stand — The Tale of Two Chambers — The latest WSLC Legislative Update describing the labor-backed bills that need votes in the Democratic-controlled House and the labor-opposed legislation alive in the republican-controlled Senate.

► At the News Tribune blog  — Inslee to House Democrats: A plan is in the works to close tax loopholes to raise money for public schools — The cheering that came from the House Democratic Caucus room Tuesday morning was for Gov. Jay Inslee. He was in talking about his agenda and he indicated he plans to lay out a plan in the next couple of weeks to close tax “loopholes” that he says are obsolete in order to raise money for early childhood education and K-12 schools.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Washington’s ex-governors get into it for TV — “Two-thirds doesn’t make any sense,” said Republicans Dan Evans, the state’s only three-term governor who served from 1965-77. “You can’t let the minority run the government or the state.”

DIMEPAC_2013► In today’s Seattle Times — Legislatures’ moderate House Democrats looking for traction (by Jonathan Martin) — The majority caucus had skidded to the left in 2010, as labor had helped Democrats weather the rise of the tea party. That help, however, included the labor-funded DIME PAC, which targeted incumbent Democrats viewed as insufficiently friendly. “You know what it felt like? It felt like ethnic cleansing,” said Rep. Christopher Hurst, a self-described “Independent Democrat” from Enumclaw.

EDITOR’S NOTE — So, let’s see, when organized labor fails to support every single incumbent Democratic legislator — not even supporting Republicans over Democrats, mind you, but supporting certain Democrats over other Democrats — that kind of feels like race-based genocide? Really?! Given what certain “moderate” Democrats in the Senate have proven themselves capable of, given the opportunity, there’s a stronger case than ever to be made for supporting DIME PAC. And as for this column’s pining for Democratic “moderation” — which usually means siding with Republicans and corporate lobbying groups on labor and budget issues — let’s not forget that voters clearly don’t share the Times’ wistful nostalgia for the Roadkill Caucus’s glory days.




Hanford-big► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Data shows DOE needs to cut $171 million at Hanford — The Department of Energy needs to cut $171 million from Hanford spending because of forced federal budget cuts called sequestration, according to updated information given Tuesday to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. The estimate of the number of employees affected has remained unchanged from the start of the week. Up to 4,700 workers out of almost 9,000 at Hanford can expect to be forced to take furloughs or might be laid off, according to the letter.

► From AP — Budget cuts threaten work at leaking Hanford tanks — Washington’s governor prepared to travel to the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site to learn more about leaking radioactive waste tanks there Wednesday, a day after federal officials acknowledged budget cuts may disrupt efforts to empty the aging vessels. The cuts will result in furloughs or layoffs impacting about 2,800 contract workers, the agency said.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Hey, Rep. Doc Hastings… Do your share the opinion of your Republican colleagues who dismiss sequestration cuts as “modest” or “a pittance“?

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — WSU among research universities most vulnerable to sequester — Washington State University researcher Michael Kahn is already reeling from state and federal budget cuts. Now Kahn, the associate director of the university’s Agriculture Research Center, said sequestration may cost the center $500,000.

MORE Congressional news below.




col-immigration-bus-tour► In today’s Columbian — Immigration reform backers kick off statewide bus tour — Vancouver was the first stop on the “Keeping Washington Families Together” bus tour, sponsored by the immigration reform advocate group OneAmerica. The bus tour heads to Seattle today, then Wenatchee, Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla. Participants are calling for compassion for immigrant families, who want a better life for their children and who often survive by working jobs that pay less than minimum wage.

ALSO at The Stand — 300-plus launch labor’s immigration reform campaign in Seattle

► At Politico — Immigration reform: Senate stuck on lower-skilled workers — Forget the pathway to citizenship. The real hang-up in the high-stakes immigration talks is how senators will satisfy Big Business and powerful labor unions over proposals to attract lower-skilled foreign workers into the country. They are trying to construct a new program that would allow businesses to hire lower-skilled workers once they demonstrate they cannot hire an American to fill an open job.

► At Politico — Immigration talks gain momentum — With the Senate moving full-steam ahead on a comprehensive immigration bill, House Republicans are finding their way on their own strategy meant to position Washington for reform in the 113th Congress.




► At the News Tribune blog — Advocacy group pegs living wage at $16.16 an hour for single person — Two advocacy groups worried about the difficulties faced by low-wage workers have produced a new Job Gap Report for 2012, documenting what they say are “broken bootstraps” that keep many workers from rising out of poverty.

ILWU-logo-13► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma grain terminal workers reach contract agreement — Tacoma-area longshore workers have sidestepped a difficult confrontation between Northwest grain terminal operators and the ILWU by approving a separate contract with the operator of Tacoma’s Temco grain terminal. Temco originally was a member of a coalition of Northwest grain terminal operators negotiating a new contract with the ILWU, but the company opted to seek a deal on its own after union workers rejected a coalition proposal late last year. Temco and the ILWU reached a tentative deal last month which was approved by union members late last week.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — CH2M Hill to pay $18.5 million for timecard fraud — CH2M Hill Hanford Group has admitted to federal, civil and criminal violations for defrauding the public through years of widespread timecard fraud.




mullaly-alan-ford► At 24/7 Wall Street — Will Ford’s Mullaly be Boeing’s next CEO? — The problems with 787 electrical systems are so severe that the plane may not fly for months. Production has backed up, and airlines almost certainly will ask for compensation. There is no doubt who is ultimately responsible for the failure — Chairman and CEO W. James McNerney, who joined Boeing in 2005, about the same time as the serious development of the 787 began. The board of Boeing cannot keep McNerney under these circumstances. The most logical person for them to turn to is Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mullaly.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — ANA repaired 3 burnt circuit boards before 787’s grounding — All Nippon Airways Co., the biggest operator of Boeing Co. 787s, repaired three damaged circuit boards last year on Dreamliners, the aircraft that was grounded worldwide this year after lithium-ion batteries caught fire.




obama-phone► In today’s Washington Post — Seeking a budget deal, Obama reaches out to Republican rank-and-file — After more than two years of failed negotiations with GOP leaders, President Obama is for the first time reaching out directly to rank-and-file Republicans who have expressed a willingness to strike a far-reaching budget deal that includes higher taxes.

► In today’s Washington Post — House bill would extend federal pay freeze through end of year — Federal employee salary rates would remain frozen through 2013 under a bill the House plans to start considering Wednesday. The bill would replace a temporary funding measure that expires March 27; without new budget authority, a partial government shutdown would go into effect.

► From AP — Bill to avert government shutdown fast-tracked in House — The House on Wednesday will fast-track a bill to keep the government funded through the current fiscal year. It will incorporate the lower funding amounts mandated by sequestration.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Boehner says the fast-tracking is snow-related, but TPM reports it has more to do with quelling the opposition.

► In The Hill — House GOP to shift focus from cuts to consider bill on job-training programs — House Republicans will move off their relentless focus on spending cuts next week to consider a bill aimed at improving and streamlining federal worker training programs. Republican leaders said Tuesday they would bring to the floor the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, which would reauthorize a Clinton-era workforce investment law while consolidating dozens of job-training programs.




► Newsflash! From AP — Report: We wasted a ton of money in Iraq — Ten years and $60 billion in American taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild the war-torn nation were worth the cost.




► From the Onion — Romney blames loss on successfully communicating his message to minorities


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