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Legislative preview, Dodd-Frank fight, Joe unchained…

Friday, January 9, 2015




► In today’s News Tribune — Education, mental health, among key issues leading into legislative session— Funding for K-12 education dominated discussions Thursday when lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee spoke about the upcoming legislative session to reporters gathered for an Associated Press forum in Olympia. Lawmakers will convene for the start of the 105-day session Monday.

► In today’s Columbian — Inslee wants session to be productive, comprehensive — In a legislative session sure to be dominated by education funding, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday he hopes lawmakers address other pressing issues facing the state, including safety concerns surrounding oil-by-rail transport. The governor struck an optimistic tone when it came to a possible transportation package passing this legislative session.

reykdal-chris► MUST-READ in the (Everett) Herald — Less support for higher-ed hurts students (by Rep. Chris Reykdal) — Students and families from Washington state own at least $18.3 billion in student loan debt, with $1.4 billion in additional borrowing last year alone. More than 771,000 Washingtonians now hold student loans. It’s time we address this bubble before it pops! Our anti-tax hysteria is the largest contributor to this crisis. The rhetoric of over-taxation is not supported by the facts. As demand continues to rise for services such as high-quality schools, colleges and universities, adequate prison facilities and mental health treatment, the revenues that pay for those services are shrinking as a share of our collective income.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — GOP’s Andy Hill says revenue is up, so no tax hike needed — Sen. Andy Hill, the Republican who heads the Ways and Means Committee, insisted Thursday that any claim the state budget faces a deficit is a myth because revenue will be about $3 billion higher for the next two-year budget cycle than the current one.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Of course, after years of anti-tax hysteria and continual budget cuts in all areas of state government, current spending levels are so low that the Legislature is in contempt of court for abject failure of its paramount duty (public education) and funding other services (like mental health, to name one). And speaking of anti-tax hysteria…

eyman-thumbs-up► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Eyman applauds Ericksen’s two-thirds-to-raise-taxes proposal — Sen. Doug Ericksen’s proposed two-thirds rule for the state Senate? Tim Eyman approves.

► In the Seattle Times — Inslee appoints Federal Way school board member to Legislature — Gov. Jay Inslee has named Federal Way School Board member Carol Gregory to fill the 30th District State House seat vacated by the Oct. 29 death of Rep. Roger Freeman. Gregory, a Democrat, was the first choice of Democratic party groups and was recommended unanimously by the Metropolitan King County Council last month.

► In today’s Seattle Times — From state job to lobbying gig? Officials want ‘cooling-off’ year first — A new ethics bill to be proposed in the Legislature would impose a one-year “cooling off” period barring state elected officials, agency directors and other top staff from lobbying state government for a year after leaving their jobs.




► In the P.S. Business Journal — Beleaguered Boeing 747 gets a lift with order for three jets — The Boeing 747’s long downward slide got a boost back up Thursday when the company announced it is close to finalizing an order for three 747-8 freighter aircraft.

► In the Daily News — Council renews Longview firefighters’ contract — Local firefighters will be getting cost-of-living raises after their contracts were renewed through the end of 2016.




WA-GOP-uninsured► In today’s NY Times — House fires shot at ACA, seeking to alter critical coverage rule — The House on Thursday easily passed legislation that would redefine a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act, brushing aside qualms from conservatives and liberals who fear the bill would prompt employers to cut worker hours to avoid being forced to offer them health insurance.

ALSO at The Stand — GOP jeopardizes health care for 1 million — All Washington Democrats voted against this measure. Republican Reps. Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, and freshman Dan Newhouse all voted for it.

► In The Hill — Business groups cheer passage of ACA workweek bill — A chorus of business groups is cheering the passage of a House bill that strikes at the ACA mandate that all employers provide insurance to their workers.

► In today’s NY Times — New ACA bill would hurt workers, increase federal deficit (by Teresa Tritch) — Under the law’s 30-hour a week threshold, the only workers at any real risk of having their hours cut [by employers trying to avoid ACA penalties] are those who typically work right around 30 hours a week — about 7 percent of the workforce. If the threshold were raised to 40 hours, as the bill proposes, the workers at risk of having their hours cut would be those who typically work right around 40 hours a week — nearly half of the workforce.

wall-st-rules► At Politico — Dem moderates, liberals lash out over Dodd-Frank — Moderate House Democrats are warring with the dominant liberal faction over the leftward shift of the caucus, arguing that they’ll never win back the majority if they don’t change their message. Tension reached a boiling point during a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday over the party’s stance toward Wall Street banks, according to multiple sources at the meeting… The vocal infighting highlights the growing divide between the large bloc of “Warren liberals” and the dwindling number of moderate Democrats — a fight that will likely continue next week when Republicans make their second attempt to change the controversial Dodd-Frank law.

EDITOR’S NOTE — All but one of Washington’s Democratic Congressional delegation are members of the “moderate” pro-business New Democratic Coalition described in this article. Its 47 members include Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, and Adam Smith. Only Rep. Jim McDermott is not a member. As reported yesterday in The Stand, DelBene, Kilmer, and Larsen were among 35 Democrats who voted with Republicans this week on the measure to relax Dodd-Frank restrictions. Heck, McDermott, and Smith voted “no” on the measure, which was also opposed by House Democratic leaders and President Obama.

► A related story in The Hill — Poll: Record numbers identify as ‘liberal’ — The percentage of Americans who identify as “liberal” has reached a record high of 24 percent, according to Gallup polling. The results come amid a resurgence in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, exemplified by figures such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom liberal groups are urging to run for president. The percentage of liberals has risen steadily since 1992, when 17 percent identified as such.

► In The Hill — Momentum builds in Congress for raising the federal gas tax — Record-low gas prices across the U.S. have given rise to fresh talk in Washington of raising the federal gas tax for the first time in over 20 years, with leading Republicans now saying a hike must not be ruled out.

► From AP — Obama to propose offering free community college — The White House on Thursday announced a proposal that President Barack Obama said would make community college “free for everybody who is willing to work for it.” But administration officials provided no details about the program’s costs or where the money would come to pay for it.




► Today at AFL-CIO Now — With 252,000 new jobs, December unemployment drops to 5.6% — Over the year, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.1 percentage points and the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.7 million. Job growth in 2014 — 2.95 million new jobs — was the best since 1999. But as speakers at this week’s AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages pointed out, even with better job growth this year, wages remain stagnant.

► From The Daily Show — #TurtleBrag and Still War — Earlier this week, Sen. Mitch McConnell said Republicans should get the credit for recent improvements in the economy despite the fact that the GOP wasn’t even in control of the Senate yet. On Thursday night’s “Daily Show,” Jon Stewart explained why.




boehner-john-15mcconnell-mitch► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — Voodoo Time Machine (by Paul Krugman) — McConnell’s self-aggrandizement is funny, it’s also scary, because it’s a symptom of his party’s epistemic closure… Congress is now controlled by men who never acknowledge error, let alone learn from their mistakes… We’re looking at a political subculture in which ideological tenets are simply not to be questioned, no matter what. Supply-side economics is valid no matter what actually happens to the economy, guaranteed health insurance must be a failure even if it’s working… We can’t have meaningful cooperation when we can’t agree on reality, when even establishment figures in the Republican Party essentially believe that facts have a liberal bias.

happy-days► In today’s Washington Post — How a better economy could mean more poor Americans go hungry — Falling unemployment rates are triggering a provision of the 1996 welfare reform act that cuts off food stamp recipients without dependent children if they don’t meet certain work requirements within three months. Roughly 1 million food stamp recipients will not be able to meet that deadline, a new report says.




► On Dec. 22, we lost British rock and blues singer Joe Cocker. His gravelly voice and unusual writhing stage presence were legendary — and famously mimicked by John Belushi on SNL. He’s best known for his covers of other artists’ hits, including The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” and Ray Charles’ “You Are So Beautiful,” but a reader has requested that The Entire Staff of The Stand honor Cocker’s memory with the following song, another cover of a Ray Charles song. Enjoy and R.I.P., Joe.


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