Tuesday, March 4, 2014
► In today’s Salem S-J — Right-to-work among 12 ballot measures dropped — Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Monday that he has worked out a deal between Oregon’s public sector unions and the business community. Twelve ballot initiatives were dropped, including one that would have made Oregon’s public sector subject to “right to work” laws.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Anti-union initiatives withdrawn in Oregon
► In today’s Oregonian — Union ballot measure fight in Oregon: Why both sides backed away — Gov. John Kitzhaber brokered a cease-fire Monday that headed off a bitter ballot measure war on the November ballot over taxes and the structure of the state’s public employee unions. The deal — reached in a series of behind-the-scenes talks among some of the state’s major political players — led the rival groups to drop 13 initiatives.
WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNMENT
► From KPLU — ‘Heavy lift’ gas tax vote in Olympia breeds partisan mistrust — Senate Democrats don’t like the details of the latest plan from Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima). They also question if King has enough Republican votes to pass a gas tax hike even with Democrats on board.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Premera, Sen. Becker ruin good bill that would trim health costs (editorial) — As Rep. Eileen Cody said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a loaf of bread or a new car or bypass surgery – consumers should have access to critical information on quality and price before they make a purchase.” But Sen. Randi Becker, chairwoman of the Senate Health Care Committee, is more amenable to the wishes of Premera Blue Cross, which has quietly lobbied against a bill providing price transparency and information on quality, so those paying for health services can make more informed choices. Becker stripped out transparent pricing from the bill.
► From KPLU — Wash. Health Exchange beefs up call center for March rush, warns of long hold times — The Spokane-based call center got an average of more than 40,000 calls a day in January, but managed to answer just 15 percent of them. Of the rest, the vast majority got a message telling them to give up and call back later, while others hung up due to wait times that averaged 40 minutes or more.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Everett legislator says grant to aerospace group could be seen as a payoff — An Everett lawmaker is concerned that a $200,000 grant in the state Senate budget could be seen as a reward to an aerospace group with close ties to Boeing. Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett) questioned the last-minute addition of money for the Aerospace Futures Alliance. “I’m concerned about the perception of corruption,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s corruption. People could read that into it whether it’s true or not.”
► In today’s Olympian — New bills emerge to address teacher evals and No Child Left Behind waiver — Gov. Jay Inslee and state schools chief Randy Dorn said last week they’d be introducing a bill to bring Washington state’s teacher evaluation system in line with federal demands.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Georgia company agrees to buy Simpson Tacoma Kraft paper mill — Georgia-based packaging manufacturer RockTenn has agreed to buy the business and assets of Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company LLC for $343 million. The paper milling firm has about 425 employees, all of whom will be offered jobs under the new ownership, said a Simpson Lumber Company spokeswoman. Existing union contracts will be kept intact and carried over in the deal, the spokeswoman said.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Slow pace of mayor’s pay panel upsets labor, business — About halfway to the April 30 deadline to make a recommendation on raising the minimum wage in Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray’s income-inequality committee hasn’t gotten down to the tough issues of how much, how soon, who, if anyone, will be exempted, and how it will be enforced.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Supporters of the $15 minimum wage are urged to attend the Seattle City Council meeting this Wednesday night at 6 p.m. (gather at 5:30 p.m.) at Seattle Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave. Learn more.
► From KUOW — Seattle minimum wage activists prepare to fight against ‘swiss cheese’ plan — The people who have led the charge for the $15 minimum wage are preparing for a fight. Many doubt the city’s political leaders will offer up a proposal that is acceptable to them.
► From KPLU — Labor Secretary mum on whether he thinks Seattle’s $15 minimum wage is a good idea — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says he supports the idea of a higher minimum wage, but he wouldn’t comment on whether Seattle’s proposed rate of $15 per hour makes sense. Perez made the comments during a visit to Boeing’s Renton factory Monday.
► In today’s Washington Post — Is the Democrats’ minimum wage push working? — It’s too soon to know whether Democrats will be successful with any of their policy goals, or if voters will reward them for trying in November. But the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll does show that raising the minimum wage is something many voters are planning on thinking about this election season.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Teachers want more accountability of charter schools — AFT and In the Public Interest launched a new website Thursday, Cashing in on Kids, to track charter schools and the private companies that often run them on a for-profit basis. The two groups argue that corporate-run charter schools are doing a bad job of serving students and that there is little accountability for these companies.
► At Huffington Post — GOP bill to ‘Save America Workers’ would actually strip health care from 1 million of them, CBO finds (by Bob Cesca) — That’s right, 208 members of the House (the co-sponsors included seven Democrats) signed onto a bill that not only takes away the healthcare plans of a million Americans, but it also increases the deficit by tens of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, the bill has already passed through Ways & Means and is headed to a floor vote next week where surely more members will wrap their loving arms around a bill that amounts to legislative blowback against the GOP.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Co-sponsors include Washington’s own Reps. Dave Reichert and Doc Hastings.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Supreme Court to hear Amazon warehouse-pay case — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case in which Amazon.com warehouse workers are seeking compensation for the time they must wait to go through security screening at breaks or the end of shifts. Those lines can stretch as long as a half-hour a day during peak holiday-shopping seasons, according to the workers’ lawyer.
► At Think Progress — Paul Ryan’s audit of federal anti-poverty programs finds many are actually very effective — As Ryan’s own analysis points out, numerous progressive-minded spending programs have helped millions of Americans and significantly reduced the nation’s poverty rate.
► At Think Progress — Report finds taking a day off when sick is a privilege of the wealthy — More than 41 million people can’t take a paid day off when they or their family members fall ill. And this is a problem that affects low-income workers far more than the well off. Less than a third of those who make $19,000 a year or less have access to paid sick leave, compared to more than 80 percent of those who make $65,000 or more. Hispanic workers are also much less likely than other racial groups to be able to take a paid day off, as less than half get paid sick days.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.