Friday, June 14, 2013
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Legislature approves estate-tax change — Minutes before midnight, the Senate passed a change to the state’s estate tax that supporters called a technical fix worth $160 million and opponents called an unconstitutional “reach back.” Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill a half hour later, blocking the state from having to start mailing out as much as $40 million in refunds in the coming weeks. Those checks were set to go out at 8 a.m. today. The final agreement was a basic trade: The Senate would vote on the estate tax fix after it and the House passed reforms to the state’s Model Toxics Control Act. With that accomplished in near record time — the House spent only a few minutes debating a bill that most members hadn’t read — the Senate voted at 11:57 p.m. to allow the tax to be levied on certain trusts worth $2 million or more that are set up by married couples.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Sources tell The Stand that the Senate initially insisted on the House passing its workers’ compensation “reform” bill before it would fix the estate-tax loophole, but the House held strong in its opposition. Ultimately, they agreed to make the MTCA changes rather than take $160 million out of the Education Legacy Trust Fund and give it to some of Washington’s wealthiest people.
► At Slog, how yesterday’s drama played out — House, Senate agree on compromise estate tax fix, but Senate refuses to put it to a vote — “They decided not to decouple the estate tax from the broader politics,” explained (Rep. Reuven) Carlyle. In other words, although Republican leadership has fully agreed to the estate tax compromise, they are refusing to give it a vote unless Democrats cave on the GOP’s non-budget related policy wish list.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee won’t attend Paris Air Show, Larsen to stand in — With a shutdown of state government looming, Gov. Jay Inslee announced today he won’t be traveling to Paris next week to hawk Washington’s aerospace industry. At Inslee’s request, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) will lead the state’s contingent.
► In today’s News Tribune — Despite hopes of Senate majority, this isn’t 2003 (by Peter Callaghan) — In 2003, a narrow Senate majority controlled by Republicans ran the show in Olympia despite a Democratic governor and a House run by Democratic Speaker Frank Chopp. Reliving that decade-ago glory seems to be driving their strategy this year… A government shutdown is again looming, with great political risks for all involved. If that’s to be avoided, members of the Majority Coalition Caucus will need to acknowledge that 2013 is not 2003.
► From our new favorite blog, by the UFWS (United Faculty of Washington State) — In dreams begin responsibilities (by Bill Lyne) — Anyone who has ever successfully negotiated a contract knows that the goal is not to win but to reach an agreement. Both sides start with dreams, find the responsibilities embedded in those dreams, and end with the reality of a deal that nobody likes, but everybody can live with. At some point during the negotiations, each side has to make a big move toward the other side, giving up things that they hold dear without compromising basic principles. … In the negotiations over the (Washington state) budget, the House Democrats made that big move on June 6. They broke the hearts of a big part of their base, gave up their dream of a moderately more responsible tax structure, and passed a revised budget that was a shadow of their original proposal. That was the signal to the Republican Senate that it was their turn to make a big move. So over the weekend they got together and passed… well, pretty much the same budget they’d passed a couple of months before. Only this time they did it with five fewer votes. To put it in the refined technical terms of bargaining, the Senate Republicans gave the House Democrats the finger.
► In today’s Olympian — New Evergreen College union ratifies contract — Members of a new labor union at The Evergreen State College ratified their first contract Thursday on a 52-2 vote, according to the Washington Federation of State Employees. The federation is the umbrella organization for the more than 55-member Evergreen Student Support Services Staff Union, which went on strike for one day last month after failing to strike a deal after 17 months.
ALSO at The Stand — WFSE unit ratifies contract with Evergreen State College (June 14)
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing’s Renton plant bustling, despite job cuts elsewhere — Despite the recent spate of bad employment news from Boeing, there is only good news out of the jet-maker’s Renton assembly plant. Boeing expects to hire several hundred more Machinists there this year. The increase, driven by an ambitious ramp-up in output, contrasts with layoffs at the Everett widebody plant and the move of hundreds of other Boeing jobs out of state, which have prompted questions about the company’s overall plans here.
► In the PS Business Journal — Horizon Air, flight attendants reach tentative contract deal — The airline, a unit of Seattle-based Alaska Air Group Inc., said it’s reached a tentative five-year contract deal with its 500 flight attendants (AFA) that “includes pay raises, quality of life improvements and more flexible scheduling.”
► At Its Our Airport — State fines Alaska Airlines, contractors for workers’ toxic exposures — The state Department of Labor and Industries has issued new citations for multiple serious health and safety violations against Alaska Airlines and two of its contractors for failing to protect workers from exposure to corrosive cleaning chemicals, caustic jet fuel, blood borne pathogens, and body fluids including vomit, urine, feces and blood.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Low wages may be good for business, but who else? (by Shawn Vestal) — Occasionally, we hear from the business community about the wonders of the business climate in Idaho. Usually, though, those praising the Gem State’s business-friendliness don’t point out that one of the reasons is this: Employees are paid less — and in some cases a lot less — than most employees elsewhere.
► At Politico — On immigration, hurry up and wait — The Senate finished its first week of debate Thursday on a massive immigration reform bill — with almost nothing to show for it. Senators delivered hours of speeches and filed dozens of amendments. But they never figured out a way to begin casting votes on all of those proposed changes.
► In today’s Washington Post — House leader proposes new postal ‘reform’ plan (our quotes) — The chief House architect of a Postal Service overhaul that failed to gain traction in the last Congress is back with new draft legislation that would allow the financially ailing agency to move to five-day delivery and ban it from entering no-layoff agreements with employees. To broaden support for a bill criticized by Democrats as too partisan and anti-labor, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is attempting to soften opposition with his new proposal, released Thursday. It would allow the Postal Service to scrap an annual $6 billion payment to pre-fund health costs for future retirees, a major concession that is likely to help the bill’s chances in the Senate.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The National Association of Letter Carriers says Issa’s new proposal “has a number of major problems.”
► In The Hill — GOP labor bills limit ‘micro unions,’ require secret ballots — Legislation introduced in the House and Senate on Thursday would cut back on the ability of unions to form among smaller groups of workers and require that workers use a secret ballot when voting to organize.
EDITOR’S NOTE — To be clear, which this story is not, the latter bill would prevent employers from voluntarily recognizing a union when a majority of their employees sign cards indicating they want one.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Ohio union members stand with fired teacher Carla Hale — It was her mom’s obituary that got Carla Hale fired. The six words sealed the deal? “Survived by Carla & her partner.” Hale, who taught physical education at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, for 19 years, was fired in March, weeks after the obit ran. Hale said she was fired for being in a gay relationship. Now, local unions represented by the Central Ohio Labor Council are supporting supporting Hale in her fight to be reinstated.
► In today’s Washington Post — NSA revelations, modified wheat cast a pall on U.S. trade talks with Europe — Chances for a broad trade deal between the United States and the European Union are fading following recent revelations about U.S. electronic surveillance programs, oversight of genetically modified food and other issues, according to officials and analysts.
► In today’s NY Times — Sympathy for the Luddites — Today, a much darker picture of the effects of technology on labor is emerging. In this picture, highly educated workers are as likely as less educated workers to find themselves displaced and devalued, and pushing for more education may create as many problems as it solves.
► This day in 1975, America hit No. 1 with “Sister Golden Hair.” Songwriter Gerry Beckley admitted the opening guitar riff was “inspired” by George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” a 1970 song the former Beatle was found in court to have “subconsciously” plagiarized from the 1963 hit, “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons. At press time, The Entire Staff of The Stand could find no evidence that America ever paid The Chiffons.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.