Monday, September 15, 2014
► In the Bellingham Herald — Blaine voters may consider measure to weaken city-employees’ unions — Conservative activists have turned in signatures for two initiatives intended to challenge the political power of the unions representing city employees. If the petitions have the required number of signatures from registered voters in Blaine, it is still unclear when the petitions would appear on the ballot, if at all. One city official said he’s not sure the initiatives are legal.
EDITOR’S NOTE — So Blaine joins Chelan, Sequim and Shelton as the cities targeted so far by illegal ballot measures pushed by the right-wing Freedom Foundation in Olympia. Sequim and Shelton officials have already rejected the measures as illegal, but the deep-pocketed Foundation will likely sue to try to force them on the ballot anyway. The legal costs are already mounting for the taxpayers of the targeted cities. Learn more.
► In today’s Yakima Herald — Hop growers scramble for workers to harvest large crop — The seasonal scarcity of agricultural workers, many years a headache for the apple industry, now is affecting the Yakima Valley’s plentiful hop harvest, forcing the region’s two signature crops to compete for labor.
► In the (Everett) Herald — EvCC, teachers union settle legal dispute — After four years, a legal battle has ended between Everett Community College and the teachers union (AFT). The college spent about $300,000 in back pay, benefits and interest to four college counselors who lost their jobs in 2010. The college also offered the counselors their jobs back, and two have accepted.
► In today’s Seattle Times — ACA helps slash hospital charity costs in state — Washington hospitals provided nearly $154 million less in charity care in the first half of this year than in the first half of 2013, in many cases boosting the hospitals’ bottom lines. Hospitals attributed the plunge in charity care — about 30% — to the Affordable Care Act’s focus on reducing the number of uninsured patients.
► In today’s News Tribune — Schools: Go for grand bargain ASAP (editorial) — Finding that kind of money is going to be tough, because the Legislature has to walk and chew gum at the same time. The public schools must be funded — yet the highways can’t be left rotting, the mentally ill sleeping under bridges or the safety net in tatters. Nor can lawmakers further cannibalize higher education. The shrinkage of college opportunity in this state is already doing massive damage. Washington now leads the West in the rate of students who leave the state for distant universities — a self-inflicted brain drain. Lawmakers won’t get to full funding for the schools with business as usual. After the November elections, the legislative leaders and budget-writers of both parties must sit down and start negotiating the grand bargain they’ll need. It’s hard to imagine them getting this monumental job done this winter with the usual coyness, hostage-taking and eleventh-hour stare-downs.
► In the (Everett) Herald — McCleary: Change starts now (editorial) — The State Supreme Court gave lawmakers a pass until the end of the 2015 session to adequately fund education. The reprieve provides legislators adequate time to meet their obligation… Put everything on the table and take the long view. Leaders lead.
► In today’s Olympian — Court is holding state lawmakers accountable (editorial)
► In the (Everett) Herald — Replace the gas tax, but how? (editorial) — The state’s gas tax, 37.5 cents per gallon, isn’t automatically adjusted for inflation and doesn’t account for the increase in the number of vehicles with improved fuel efficiency. With each passing year, the revenue generated by the gas tax pays for less and less. The transportation commission, in the draft plan, calls for a transition from the gas tax to a road usage charge, basically treating transportation in general, and roads in particular, as a utility to be paid for based on how much of the service each of us use.
► In the News Tribune — 4 ethics complaints dismissed in Roach-Dahlquist race, but plenty remain — Allegations of impropriety continue to swirl in a right-leaning legislative district that straddles the Pierce and King county line. But as far as formal complaints go, there are now fewer to worry about.
► In today’s NY Times — Conservative experiment faces revolt in Kansas — Although every statewide elected official in Kansas is a Republican and President Obama lost the state by more than 20 points in the last election, GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s proudly conservative policies have turned out to be so divisive and his tax cuts have generated such a drop in state revenue that they have caused even many Republicans to revolt. Projections put state budget shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, raising questions of whether the state can adequately fund education in particular.
► At Huffington Post — 72% disapprove of Republicans in Congress — An astounding 72% percent of Americans say they are unhappy with Republicans in Congress, according to a recent Washs Post/ABC News poll. President Obama and the Democrats fared only a bit better, with 54% and 61% disapproving of them respectively.
► At Politico — 2014 voters gloomy about economy — By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.
► In today’s NY Times — A bigger midterm election turnout (editorial) — Will voters realize that decisions made on Nov. 4 will reverberate in laws not passed, roads not built and jobs not created?
► From Reuters — A minimum-wage hike finds hope in U.S. heartland — Voters in the Republican-controlled states of Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota will consider ballot initiatives in November that would raise the minimum wage above the national rate of $7.25 per hour. Activists on both sides of the issue say the proposals stand a good chance of passing.
► At Think Progress — Marriott will leave envelopes in rooms to encourage guests to tip housekeepers — Housekeeping isn’t considered a tipped occupation, so workers have to be paid at least the minimum wage. But the pay still tends to be very low. Median pay for all maids and housekeepers is $9.41 an hour, although some unionized Marriott housekeepers make $18.30 an hour… Tips will of course help, but a pay raise would lift their living standards even more. Hotel workers in Providence, RI, recognizing this, went on a hunger strike in June over demands for a $15 minimum wage.
► At Huffington Post — Senate Republicans vote to silence working Americans (by USW President Leo Gerard) — Forty-two Republican Senators on Thursday opposed advancing a proposed constitutional amendment called Democracy for All. It would have ended the one percent’s control over elections and politicians. It would have reversed the democracy-destroying Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions by permitting Congress and state legislatures to once again limit campaign spending. Republicans said no because they favor the system that indentures politicians to wealthy benefactors… While Republican politicians celebrate that outcome, most Americans do not. And that includes Republican voters. A poll in July by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found 73 percent of voters in the 12 most competitive Senate battleground states want the Citizens United ruling reversed, including significant majorities of Republicans.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.