Friday, June 7, 2013
► From AP — House approves revised budget plan — With lawmakers entering the final days of a special session, the House voted 53-35 to approve the budget. Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter said the budget moves toward the Senate’s position on some items and the House felt it was time to get the budget process started, since time is running out on the special session.
► In today’s Olympian — This is not why we elected them (MUST-READ editorial) — State House Democrats offered an olive branch to Senate Republicans this week, hoping to break the deadlock in budget negotiations before the end of the special session next Tuesday. The Republicans snapped the branch in half, apparently rejecting it without serious consideration. Voters can only conclude that Senate Republicans are not negotiating in good faith. Like their kindred spirits in Washington, D.C. — the tea party U.S. House Republicans — our state senators appear to have drawn a line in the sand on any new revenue. … Is this any way to run a state government? Isn’t the art of compromise the heart of the American political system? Why are state politicians taking us to our own fiscal cliff? Good government results when both parties negotiate in good faith and are willing to compromise for the greater good. As of Thursday, only one party appeared to be doing so. We urge Senate Republicans to govern responsibly.
TAKE A STAND — Tell your legislators to pass the budgets, and go home! — Enough is enough! Click here to send your legislators a message that it’s time to set aside contentious policy bills that didn’t have enough support to pass during the regular session. It’s time to pass the three budgets needed maintain our public and transportation infrastructure. Don’t hold these budgets hostage for contentious policy bills and force yet another special session!
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — House budget gives public some insight (editorial) — Sen. Rodney Tom huffed that the House was balancing the budget on the backs of students because its K-12 appropriation is about $150 million below the Senate’s. He did not mention the Senate move to raise the lid on the estate tax exemption to $5 million from $2 million, which will deprive the Education Trust Fund of about $500 million during the next decade. But then, he represents Medina, home of folks like Bill Gates.
► At PubliCola — Rodney Tom holds brief, bizarre press conference — Sen. Rodney Tom, the renegade Democrat who joined with the Republicans in the Senate to become the Senate Majority Leader of the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus, held a press conference Thursday in response to Wednesday’s release by House Democrats of a scaled-back budget proposal intended to reach a budget compromise. Tom’s response to the proposal was brief and bizarre.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Here it is. The fun begins at about 3:00 when a flummoxed Rodney Tom makes clear that he doesn’t understand the House budget proposal.
► In today’s Columbian — Local firms donated to anti-CRC effort — Three Southwest Washington companies are the top donors behind a lobbying effort to influence legislators’ views on the Columbia River Crossing project. Kanati Falls Ranch, a timber-management company in Washougal; DeWils Industries, a kitchen and bathroom cabinet manufacturer in Vancouver; and GT Properties, a real estate business in Vancouver, each gave to The I-5 Project Inc., the organization that hired a group of lobbyists to fight the CRC.
► In today’s Columbian — ILWU, grain firms remain deadloacked — More than three months in, the standoff between union dockworkers and United Grain Corp. at the Port of Vancouver shows no signs of letting up, even as Vancouver political leaders urge both parties to end the bitter battle. Although its workers have been locked out at both United Grain and Columbia Grain Inc. in Portland, the ILWU said Thursday that it’s winning support from labor groups across the globe.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Washington ranked 4th in GDP growth in 2012 — Washington state was near the top when it came to growth in gross domestic product last year, according to a new federal report. GDP in Washington grew 3.6 percent in 2012, ranking it fourth highest in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Uh-oh. More good economic news for Washington. Somebody call Richard Davis to do some more damage control.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Work on temporary Skagit River bridge faces challenges — The state Department of Transportation expects to meet its goal of reopening in the second or third week of the month.
► In the PS Business Journal — Boeing engineers’ union adapts to new world without pensions — Boeing union engineers (SPEEA) are gradually adjusting to a task most didn’t want: telling new hires how to manage their 401(k) retirement savings plans, instead of a pension.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing delivered 64 jets in May — Despite the 787’s grounding earlier this year, Boeing vows to deliver at least 60 Dreamliners this year. It delivered seven in May.
► At AFL-CIO now — Report: ‘Walmart loophole’ allows big employers to undermine Affordable Care Act — Walmart workers use 40% more public health care assistance than the retail average. The company’s use of public assistance costs California $86 million per year, including $32 million for health care. And these figures could skyrocket next year when the ACA goes into full effect thanks to the “Walmart loophole,” allowing big corporations to easily skirt their responsibility by forcing workers onto public assistance.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Walmart workers rally outside shareholder meetings — Walmart workers, with assistance from the OUR Walmart campaign, launched the first prolonged strike in the company’s history, capping it with a rally on Friday outside the company’s shareholder meeting in Bentonville, Ark.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A Walmart Anti-Retaliation Rally will be held TODAY from 11 a.m. to noon at the Bellingham Walmart, 4420 Meridian St. Twenty one members of OUR Walmart from Washington State (including some members from Bellingham) are in Bentonville, Ark., for the shareholders meeting. In the past, Walmart has retaliated against and attempted to silence those who speak out. Support Walmart workers who speak out by attending this event!
► At Huffington Post — Walmart activism is affecting change at world’s largest retailer, organizers say — Janet Sparks has become involved with a nascent labor movement seeking to organize Walmart workers and her experience offers testament to the tenuous and hard-to-measure, yet nonetheless palpable, changes the movement says it has already achieved since first gaining consumer attention last year.
► In today’s NY Times — More dissent is expected over a Walmart scandal — A year after a shareholder meeting with strong opposition to Walmart board members after a bribery scandal in Mexico, many investors are asking why more change has not occurred.
► At Democracy Now! — Obama-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership expands corporate lawsuits against nations for lost profits — The Obama administration is facing increasing scrutiny for the extreme secrecy surrounding negotiations around a sweeping new trade deal that could rewrite the nation’s laws on everything from healthcare and Internet freedom to food safety and the financial markets. A leaked chapter from the draft agreement outlines how the TPP would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings.
► In today’s Washington Post — House Republicans vote to resume deportation of young immigrants — The Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to resume the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children, a largely symbolic move in the first immigration-related vote in either chamber of Congress this year and a measure of the daunting challenge facing supporters of a sweeping overhaul of existing law on the subject.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s GOP Reps. Herrera Beutler, McMorris Rodgers, Hastings and Reichert all voted for this. All of the state’s Democratic delegation voted “no,” including Rep. Adam Smith who said:
I was extremely disappointed that Republicans passed an amendment today that targets hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who, through no fault of their own, were brought to this country as young children. These children have lived in the United States for years as law-abiding individuals, however the amendment adopted by House Republicans today, draws no distinction between DREAMers and criminals posing security risks to our communities. We need an enforcement policy that focuses our limited resources on enhancing public safety by targeting serious criminals, not DREAMers.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Look behind the 175,000 jobs created in May — The 175,000 new May jobs marked 38 straight months of tepid job growth. Economists say the growth rate is too slow to fuel a healthy jobs recovery. This reinforces the need for Congress to repeal the sequester and its across-the-board cuts that will cost more than 750,000 jobs this year alone and are derailing the economic recovery.
► From AP — U.S. mulls withdrawal of U.S. trade privileges — A prominent Democratic senator Thursday pushed for suspending duty-free privileges to Bangladesh, saying it would send a strong signal that the United States is serious about protecting workers after hundreds died in the global garment industry’s worst accident.
► In today’s NY Times — The Spite Club (by Paul Krugman) — When you look closer at why some Republican-led states are choosing to opt out of a piece of ObamaCare, it seems the only explanation for it is sheer spite.
► “What music are you listening to lately?” the Entire Staff of The Stand is never asked. Well, if you really want to know, it happens to be Vampire Weekend’s excellent new album “Modern Vampires of the City.” And today, as a special treat, we offer two videos from it. The first is the single “Diane Young” and, if you’ve heard it, you know it’s a bit of an ear worm. So if you don’t want it stuck in your head all day, go with the second clip (our personal preference), the band performing “Unbelievers” on Saturday Night Live. Enjoy!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.