Thursday, January 23, 2014
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Most Hanford layoffs cancelled — Hanford contractors laid off just 12 workers this week, far fewer than the 289 they were authorized to let go. Up to 450 layoffs were being considered when it looked as though Hanford cleanup might be hampered by another congressional continuing resolution with flat funding for Hanford because of no federal fiscal 2014 budget. There also was the possibility of another forced federal budget cut, also called a sequester. Instead, Congress approved a fiscal 2014 budget last week that increased spending at Hanford to about $2.2 billion, or $186 million more than was available in fiscal 2013.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Thank you, Sen. Murray!
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane school board approves first charter application — Spokane will be home to Washington’s first charter school. The state’s second-largest school district made the leap Wednesday in a historic school board vote to unanimously approve one of three charter school applicants: Pride Prep, which plans to begin taking students in the fall of 2015.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma City Grocer, first store in decades in downtown core, to close — The Tacoma City Grocer will close in the next few weeks. The IGA-branded store opened to much fanfare in September 2011. The non-union store was picketed by a local union representing most grocery workers in Pierce County for 16 months, from opening day until until a year ago.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Alaska Air reports record Q4 — The airline reported fourth-quarter net income rose to a record $77 million, or $1.10 per diluted share, from $50 million, or 70 cents a year earlier, besting analysts’ expectations.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Now they can afford more attorney (and Port lobbying) fees to try to block the will of SeaTac voters!
► In today’s Seattle Times — New state budget may not be needed, says Ways & Means chair — Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill said he’s not sure the Legislature needs to pass a state operating budget this year. Democrats, who control the House and governor’s office, disagree. They contend that Republicans are just trying to avoid a discussion about additional funding for education this year.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Things turn nasty in Olympia over climate change — Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican Sen. Curtis King may have set down their poison pens but are no closer to forging agreement on a transportation funding package. Their exchange of stinging missives last week on low-carbon fuel standards continues to punctuate negotiations and imperil chances of a bipartisan deal getting inked this session.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — North Spokane Corridor prospects bleak, legislators say — Don’t get your hopes up for new money to finish the north-south freeway, a group of business, civic and political leaders from Spokane were told. The chances the Legislature will pass a package of big highway and bridge projects funded by a gasoline tax are almost nonexistent.
► In today’s Olympian — Discover Pass called success, but Republicans disagree — Washington’s pay-to-play system for its state recreation lands is working, officials say. But Republican budget writers don’t see a future in charging visitors the $30-a-year parking fee.
► At WFSE.org — Dawg gone it! UW called on the carpet again! — WFSE has filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Public Employment Relations Commission against UW for unilaterally outsourcing Husky Stadium maintenance.
► At PubliCola — Senate Republicans set to demote Sen. Hobbs — The Republican dominated Majority Coalition Caucus is about to get more Republican-dominated. In a floor vote over committee chairs this morning, the MCC is expected to take away State Sen. Steve Hobbs’ (D-Lake Stevens) sole chairmanship of the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee and make him co-chair with freshman Republican Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard).
► At PubliCola — Isn’t it weird that… — Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland) has proposed a bill to impose uniform B&O tax rates — going, pointedly, with the preferential Boeing rate of .002904 vs. the current twelve different B&O rates for different business classifications. But as it turns out, Haler’s proposal would actually end up doubling the rate on farm product companies.
► In P.S. Business Journal — Boeing adds hundreds of S.C. 787 contract workers — Boeing is adding hundreds of contract workers at its 787 assembly in North Charleston, S.C., as the company struggles to increase 787 production while reducing costs. Last year, South Carolina constructed 14 of the completed 787s while Everett constructed 51 and Boeing wants to increase South Carolina production to a third of all 120 787s it plans to deliver in 2014.
► From Bloomberg — Why is the 787 Dreamliner such a hassle for Norwegian Air? — In what is becoming routine for the Scandinavian discount airline, passengers sat through a lengthy delay after one of its 787s suffered a fuel leak in Bangkok on Sunday. Veteran airline observers consider Norwegian’s frequent 787 troubles puzzling, given that the airline is using the airplane for the type of trip for which it was designed: frequent long-haul flying.
► In The (Albany, NY) Capital — N.Y. lawmakers, unions try to stop a ‘fast track’ trade deal — A bipartisan group of lawmakers, union leaders and environmental activists on Tuesday announced their opposition to a controversial trade deal that supporters are pushing to “fast-track” through Congress.
ALSO at The Stand — Sign petition to derail’ fast track’ in Congress
► In The Hill — Obama State of the Union to focus on income inequality — A president who has yet to add to the big legislative accomplishments of his first term will call for raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour and extending federal unemployment benefits that expired last month. He will also discuss energy and college affordability, two other issues that relate to the economic mobility message that is a major White House theme ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
► At Huffington Post — Americans of both parties agree income inequality is growing, but disagree how to fix it — Americans across both parties see a growing chasm between the wealthiest and the rest of the country, according to a Pew Research/USA Today poll released Thursday. But opinions on inequality’s causes, and its ideal solutions, are often filtered through a partisan lens, with Democrats in favor of government intervention and Republicans skeptical of programs aiding the poor.
► In today’s NY Times — Treasury secretary send warning on debt limit — Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned Congress on Wednesday that the government would most likely exhaust its ability to borrow in late February, setting up yet another fiscal showdown with Republicans, and this time earlier than congressional leaders had anticipated.
► In today’s NY Times — U.S. panel suggests ways to reduce voting delays — A bipartisan panel created by President Obama after many voters waited hours to cast ballots in 2012 on Wednesday recommended ways to keep delays to no more than a half-hour. After surveying local officials, the commission warned that voting machines bought a decade ago, when federal funds were made available as a post-recount remedy, are breaking down or obsolete.
EDITOR’S NOTE — You’re doing a heck of a job, Diebold.
► In The Hill — Survey: Rate of uninsured drops to lowest point in a year — The amount of people who lack health insurance has dropped to its lowest level in more than a year, according to a poll. The U.S. uninsured rate has dropped to 16.1 percent — down from 17.3 percent in December.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Unions warn T-Mobile/Sprint merger would be bad for consumers, workers — The CWA issued a press release Tuesday stating that the deal “raises deep concerns about what is in the best interests of U.S. consumers and workers at T-Mobile.”
► At TPM — Heritage Foundation might be shedding some of its crazy soon — In its first year under former senator and tea party godfather Jim DeMint, there was a growing consensus — and concern — that the foundation once renowned for its intellectual rigor might now be more of a political advocacy outlet than a home for scholarly research, albeit of the conservative variety. That’s why Heritage’s most recent hire could mark a potential return to normalcy and respectability for the foundation.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, this Washington’s favorite conservative stink tank, the Freedom Foundation, is headed in the opposite direction. They’ve hired former BIAW Boss Tom McCabe, the man who “bled Washington’s struggling residential construction industry dry with millions in campaign spending for failed state campaigns.” McCabe vows to make pushing a union-busting “right-to-work” law in Washington his singular focus. After all, what better way to address the growing income inequality that has accompanied declining unionization rates than to kill unions!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.