Senate targets part-timers, Regence offshores, Walmart lies…

Thursday, June 13, 2013




► In today’s Seattle Times — Part-time school, college staff may lose health benefits — Thousands of part-time school employees and college instructors would be switched from state-funded health insurance to Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges under a complicated Senate budget proposal that backers say would save the state up to $57 million over the next two years. But so many different groups oppose the measure — including some of the state’s most powerful unions — that some think the Senate is using it as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.

ALSO at The Stand — Senate targets health coverage for part-timers (April 24)

► From AP — State agencies prepping for possible shutdown — Gov. Jay Inslee held a cabinet meeting Wednesday night to discuss plans for what would happen after June 30, when the current budget cycle comes to an end. While the governor’s aides haven’t concluded which areas would need to shut down, they said potentially thousands of state employees could begin getting notifications about the prospect of temporary layoffs as early as next week.

TAKE A STAND!  Make sure you send a message to your state legislators telling them to reject all policy bills, avoid a state government shutdown, and pass the budgets!

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Get on with the budget (editorial) — Enough with the fresh hell. Budget and education first. Finesse a limited-revenue budget and then get out of Dodge. Please.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee takes the gloves off, blasts GOP for stalemate (by Jerry Cornfield) — Washingtonians need wonder no more about Inslee’s approach to leadership. He’s a Democrat, not a diplomat. Tuesday’s 30-minute performance shows he’s shed any semblance of impartiality in negotiating a final budget agreement, enlisting with House Democrats for the final battles. No one could be happier than those Democrats, many of whom often felt his predecessor didn’t have their back on fiscal issues and too quickly ceded principle for a go-home arrangement.

► ALSO at The Stand — Inslee calls out Senate’s ‘ideological agenda’ — Watch TVW coverage of Tuesday’s press conference.

► In today’s Olympian — Last day for Legislature to act on estate tax — The Legislature must meet a late-night deadline Thursday for fixing a legal glitch in the Washington estate tax law or as many as 10 refund checks worth more than $13 million will go into the mail Friday morning.

► At PubliCola — A jolt in the making: Estate tax loophole — A $160 million Democratic house bill to close a loophole in the voter-approved estate tax law that benefits heirs of married couples has yet to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate. The Republicans have cued up a version of their own — it amends the estate tax (passed in 2006 by 62% of the voters) to create a new loophole for family businesses.




► From The Lund Report — Regence outsources claims processing, membership to India — Regence BlueCross BlueShield is shifting its claims processing and individual membership responsibilities to a Fortune 500 company that outsources such work to India. In so doing, the insurer is laying off 23 employees in Oregon and another 33 employees are affected in the four state-region that includes Idaho, Utah and Washington where its non-profit parent company, Cambia Health Solutions, also runs health insurance plans.

► In today’s Columbian — Herrera Beutler voices ‘grave’ concerns about CRC to Coast Guard — U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) on Wednesday reiterated several worries and questions about the Columbia River Crossing as the U.S. Coast Guard mulls a crucial bridge permit for the $3.4 billion project.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Working family advocates lobby Congress for immigration policy with roadmap to citizenship — On the first full day of the immigration reform debate in the U.S. Senate, more than 50 advocates and allies of working families flew to Washington, D.C., to ask members of Congress to support a common sense immigration process. Community leaders from nearly half the states in the union were in Washington to act as citizen lobbyists.

ALSO at The Stand — WSLC President Johnson in D.C. to push for comprehensive immigration reform

► At Politico — Polls: Huge support for immigration reform — In a polling memo set for release Thursday, Democratic pollster Tom Jensen and Republican pollster Brock McCleary reveal that their surveys found “overwhelming, bipartisan support for the bill” across 29 states.

► At Politico — Senate drops border security plan — The Senate took its first major vote on changing the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill Thursday, killing a strict border security proposal that would have delayed granting legal status to the 11 million living without documents in the United States.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Both Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted to table (set aside) the amendment in today’s 57-43 vote.

► At Politico — Why women have the most at stake with immigration reform (by Pramila Jayapal) — Immigration is rarely talked about as a women’s issue, but women and children make up three-quarters of all immigrants to the United States and 51% of undocumented immigrants are women. Previous reform proposals did not pay attention to the specific ways in which women were disproportionately burdened and would have continued to exclude millions of women. In contrast, the immigration reform bill now hitting the Senate floor gets a lot right for women — but there are still important fixes to be made to fully include women and families.




► From ProPublica — Walmart accepted clothing from banned Bangladesh factories — Since the Rana Plaza building collapse killed more than 1,100 people in April, Walmart released a list of more than 200 factories it said it had barred from producing its merchandise because of serious or repeated safety problems, labor violations or unauthorized subcontracting. But at least two of the factories on the list have continued to send massive shipments of sports bras and girls’ dresses to Walmart stores in recent months, according to interviews and U.S. customs records.

► In today’s NY Times — Conflicting goals complicate effort to Trans-Atlantic trade deal — The leaders of the European Union, mired in recession and battered by increasing opposition from voters, are desperate for political success to promote economic growth. They are pushing for a rapid negotiation of a trade agreement with the United States aimed at expanding commerce and creating jobs. But many experts say any such deal faces long odds.

► In New York magazine — Obamacare, public opinion and conservative self-delusion — The nearly ubiquitous conservative belief that the public shares its passion for repealing Obamacare is a spate of self-delusion.

► In today’s Washington Post — With focus on middle class, plan aims to recharge economy — The liberal Center for American Progress will release an extensive plan on Thursday aimed at ­recharging the U.S. economy through a barrage of education, trade and other policies meant to boost beleaguered middle-class workers.




► At Huffington Post — What we need now: A national economic strategy for better jobs — Economic determinists — fatalists, really — assume that globalization and technological change must now condemn a large portion of the American workforce to under-employment and stagnant wages, while rewarding those with the best educations and connections with ever higher wages and wealth. And therefore that the only way to get good jobs back and avoid widening inequality is to withdraw from the global economy and become neo-Luddites, destroying the new labor-saving technologies. That’s dead wrong.

Other nations are implementing national economic strategies to build good jobs and widespread prosperity. The United States is not. Any why not? Both because we don’t have the political will to implement them, and we’re trapped in an ideological straightjacket that refuses to acknowledge the importance of such a strategy. The irony is we already have a national economic strategy but it’s been dictated largely by powerful global corporations and Wall Street. And, not surprisingly, rather than increase the jobs and wages of most Americans, that strategy has been increasing the global profits and stock prices of these giant corporations and Wall Street banks.





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