Thursday, May 30, 2013
► In today’s Columbian — Bellingham nurses stage protest at PeaceHealth’s Vancouver HQ — Hospital nurses locked in a labor dispute with PeaceHealth in Bellingham brought their concerns to the company’s Vancouver headquarters Wednesday, protesting management cost-cutting proposals they say will hurt nurses and the patients they serve. About 160 nurses and their backers, including people from Washington and Oregon, lined the sidewalk next to the entrance to PeaceHealth’s main office. They carried signs (“Patients B4 Profits”) and chanted in unison: “Nurses united, we’ll never be divided!”
The Columbian’s video coverage:
► In today’s News Tribune — Group seeks sick leave for all who live in Tacoma — Alma Gutierrez recalls the days she trudged in sick to her waitress job at a Mexican restaurant in Lakewood — coughing, sneezing or sometimes worse: “I felt a sharp pain in my right side, and one night after I finished my shift, my gall bladder exploded. I had to have emergency surgery that night.” It’s stories such as hers that spurred a group calling itself Healthy Tacoma to begin quietly building support in recent months for a new city ordinance to require private employers across Tacoma to provide workers with paid sick leave.
ALSO at The Stand — Tacoma Paid Sick Days kickoff event is Thursday — The Healthy Tacoma Coalition is holding its kick-off event Thursday, May 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the main hall of the IBEW Local 76 building, 3049 S. 36th St. in Tacoma.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing using robots to boost 777 output — Manually, it takes a team of painters 4.5 hours to do the first coat. The robots do it in 24 minutes with perfect quality. Boeing began using the machine in February. By midsummer, all 777 wings will be painted this way. But Jason Clark, the director of 777 manufacturing, stressed that “no layoffs occurred because of the implementation of this technology.”
► In today’s News Tribune — Pierce County Jail to cut 30 jobs, close units housing more than 160 inmates — The Pierce County Jail is about to shed 30 jobs and close two units that can house more than 160 inmates. Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor, facing a $4.2 million budget shortfall, announced the moves Wednesday and delivered the sober news to jail staffers.
► In today’s Olympian — Let’s heed this wake-up call (editorial) — State lawmakers may seize the timing of the Skagit bridge collapse to ask voters for a 10-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax. If so, they risk wasting a golden opportunity without major alterations to the House Transportation Plan under consideration. Any package put to voters this year must focus primarily on upkeep of our state’s transportation infrastructure, especially the pavement and bridges along I-5.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Nation must prioritize maintaining bridges (editorial) — The nation missed a big opportunity during the recession by not steering more stimulus spending into road and bridge projects. Nevertheless, we still need to make smarter choices on current spending while raising more money.
► In today’s News Tribune — State Sen. Mike Carrell of Lakewood dead at 69 — State Sen. Mike Carrell of Lakewood was remembered Wednesday as a conservative Republican who authored a landmark student truancy law, pushed for mental health and criminal justice legislation, and dabbled in historic preservation and classic car restoration. The former Franklin Pierce School District science teacher died Wednesday morning at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle from lung complications related to his treatment for a pre-cancerous condition that often leads to leukemia.
► In today’s Olympian — House, Senate offer estate plan measures — Lawmakers are debating how to close a potentially $160 million loophole in Washington’s estate tax even as the Department of Revenue prepares to begin issuing refunds to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. The House Finance Committee on Wednesday voted 8-3 along party lines to fix the estate tax glitch on married couples. Senate Republicans introduced an alternative that addresses the court ruling as the House bill does, but also lowers the rate on the tax in the future and phases in raising the value of estates to be taxed from $2 million to the federal level of $5 million.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Cheapening the estate tax (editorial) — The technical glitch, if not fixed immediately, will tap money from the state’s education legacy trust account and refund it to heirs of estates greater than $2 million. Mending the glitch is not punitive, and it’s not new revenue. The Senate majority quickly seized on a time-sensitive dilemma to monkey an easing of the estate tax. It’s a backdoor way to make life easier for approximately 300 wealthy Washington residents. Washington needs to bolster K-12, higher-ed and a crumbling transportation system. A tax windfall for the well-to-do shouldn’t be on the agenda.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Sen. Ericksen accepts most free meals from lobbyists, report finds — Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) is the state’s biggest beneficiary of lobbyist expense accounts, though Washington ethics law prohibits public officials from accepting free meals on more than “infrequent occasions,” according to a new report. In the first four months of this year, Ericksen had at least 62 occasions where he benefited from free meals, drinks or golf. That’s about every other day — and even more frequent if weekends are excluded.
► At PubliCola — Lobbying dollars in Olympia go to Republican committee chairs — The storyline among Democrats all session has been that Sen. Rodney Tom had no control of his caucus and that the Republican leader, Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville), was calling the shots. So it’s telling that among the top 10 recipients of lobbyist love were the key Republicans in Tom’s Majority Coalition Caucus including: Sens. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Is.); Schoesler (R-Ritzville) and Andy Hill (R-Kirkland), but not Tom himself, who ranked No. 55.
► In today’s NY Times — For Medicare, immigration offers surplus, study finds — Immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf, according to a new study, a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending.
► In The Hill — Vote for nuclear option in Senate would be very close — If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggers the nuclear option to break the logjam of President Obama’s nominees, it would be a very close vote. Members of a liberal coalition pushing for filibuster reform believe Reid could garner the 51 votes needed to change the Senate rules on a party-line vote.
► In today’s Washington Post — Richest 20% got half of overall savings from U.S. tax breaks, CBO says — The richest 1% of households, those with at least $327,000 in annual income, get an especially big haul — about 17 percent of the total savings, according to the new report.
► From Reuters — U.S. GDP revised lower as austerity measures bite — A drop in government spending dragged more on the U.S. economy than initially thought in the first three months of the year, a sign of increasing pain from Washington’s austerity drive.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Gov. Hickenlooper signs ‘Keep Jobs in Colorado Act’ — Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed the Colorado bill that reforms the state contracting system, requiring state agencies to focus on more than the bid in contracting and to include other factors that would help the state’s workers, such as wages and benefits.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Similar legislative proposals to give bid preferences to contractors with in-state workforces and meeting wage-and-benefit standards have gone nowhere in Washington State.
► At AFL-CIO Now — A first in New York: Queens ‘Carwasheros’ win first union contract — The new contract, announced Tuesday by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, is a part of the union movement’s continuing effort to bring workplace justice to low-wage immigrant workers.
► At Huffington Post — Congress comes together… to name post offices — Over the past decade, 20% of the legislation Congress has passed has been to name post offices. The last Congress (112th), which was the most unproductive since at least the 1940s, even managed to move through 46 bills naming post offices, out of 240 total measures passed. (It also passed six bills regarding commemorative coins.)
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.