Tuesday, January 20, 2015
► In today’s Seattle Times — Race issues and recent police clashes at heart of MLK rally — One after another, pastors and civic leaders spoke Monday of police brutality and racism and of how decades after the civil-rights movement, the problems still linger, the feelings still raw. And on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, they spoke of how this year’s march and rally should resonate even more, following the deaths last summer of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City, both at the hands of the police.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Crowd of 2,000 turns out for Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade — About 2,000 people took to downtown Spokane streets Monday to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and reflect on the ongoing difficulty of race relations in America. It was a young crowd, too.
► In today’s NY Times — MLK’s birthday marked by protests over deaths of black men — A new generation of activists, angered by the deaths of several unarmed African-Americans in confrontations with the police, demanded that the traditional holiday rituals of speechmaking, community service and prayer breakfasts give way to denunciations of injustice and inequality.
► From AP — Labor dispute at West Coast sea ports doesn’t take a holiday — On Monday, ports where longshoremen typically would be busy loading and unloading containers from massive ocean-going ships were unusually quiet. Operators of terminals at ports including at the massive Los Angeles-Long Beach complex ordered crews that were far smaller than normal, saying they needed to organize dockside yards already congested with containers of goods — not work at normal capacity to add more containers. As a result, cranes sat idle and companies that want their ships unloaded and released back onto the ocean had to wait.
ALSO at The Stand — ILWU, community rally Thursday in Tacoma — Join the ILWU Community Rally and March starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22 at Tollefson Plaza, S. 17th and Pacific Ave. in Tacoma. All union members and community supporters are urged to join this rally, scheduled when hundreds of ILWU members would normally be going to work on the shifts that have been closed down. Join ILWU members as they defend the middle class, their union, and a strong economy for all workers. Please wear your work gear — hard hats, safety vests, coveralls.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Ag-gag bill not in public’s best interest (editorial) — HB 1104 is an “ag-gag” bill intended to squelch revelations about cruel or unsafe conditions in the facilities that process our food. This bill would not protect the public’s safety. It would shield producers who may be jeopardizing public health.
► In the News Tribune — Don’t criminalize farm-abuse whistleblowing (editorial) — Whose interest is served by these so-called “ag-gag” laws? Certainly not the public’s. If anything, the public’s interest has been well served by undercover whistleblowers who have filmed sometimes illegal activity. Their actions have resulted in improvements to food quality, worker safety and treatment of animals.
► In today’s Seattle Times — New state minimum wage? Why some foreign guests earn $3 more — This year’s federally mandated wages for temporary agriculture guest workers are significantly higher than state minimum wages — too high, growers complain…. (And yet) last year Washington farmers brought in nearly triple the 3,194 guest workers they used in 2011, and the demand for legal, imported labor is expected only to grow.
► In the (Everett) Herald — State must budget more for long-term care (by Brendan Williams) — Legislators must build upon what Gov. Inslee has proposed lest more misery be created through facility closures and the displacement of vulnerable Washingtonians and their caregivers.
► In today’s News Tribune — Inslee’s plan to cut prison time for property crime draws mixed response — Prosecutors, crime victims and state legislators are some of the voices in the debate over Inslee’s proposal to change how property crime offenders are held accountable.
► In today’s Columbian — Rep. Wylie wants sales-tax exemption for Papa Murphy’s — Papa Murphy’s Take ‘n’ Bake Pizza executives said their product is best served hot, fresh — and without a side of sales tax.
STATE OF THE UNION
► From AP — In tonight’s State of the Union, Obama aims to influence debate — Key elements of the economic proposals President Barack Obama will outline appear to be aimed at driving the debate in the 2016 election on income inequality and middle-class economic issues, rather than setting a realistic agenda for Congress.
► From AP — Republicans gearing up for fight against Obama’s tax increase proposal — Republican lawmakers are already signaling they will do what they can to block President Barack Obama’s pitch for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.
► In The Hill — GOP split over taxing the wealthy, poll finds — Republican voters are divided over the idea of increasing taxes on wealthy U.S. taxpayers, according to a new GBA Strategies poll. When asked whether they support raising the tax rate on personal income above $1 million annually, 36% of Republicans supported the plan and 47% of Republicans were opposed. The rest were undecided. But when asked whether they supported raising the personal income tax on those earning $1 million a year to 50 percent, “the same rate taxed under President Reagan,” Republicans shifted their support, with 53% supporting and 33% opposing.
► At Huffington Post — We have a cure for what ails the State of the Union (by AFSCME President Lee Saunders) — When President Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday, he’ll be able to bask in the glow of an economy that’s much stronger than it was when he took office. We’ve finally emerged from the crash of 2008. We’ve had 58 consecutive months of job growth. Unemployment is declining. Productivity is up. Yet, most Americans aren’t exactly high-fiving each other. Never mind the state of the union; the state of their households isn’t great.
► In The Hill — McCain amendment would scuttle Jones Act (by Rep. Linda Sanchez) — When the Senate reconvenes this week to continue its debate of the Keystone pipeline, they are set to consider an amendment that would gut American jobs and endanger our national security. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has introduced an amendment to the Keystone bill that would eliminate the U.S. construction requirements of the Jones Act. Enacted over 90 years ago, the Jones Act requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S. flag ships owned by U.S. citizens and constructed in the U.S.
► At Longshore Shipping News — Petition to protest Jones Act from Congressional attack — Not are shipping firms in extreme risk of being undercut by foreign-flagged shipping should the Jones Act be repealed, but the future of every U.S. shipyard, naval architect, marine engineer and U.S. mariner be put in jeopardy. If you’d like to weigh in on this petition, click here. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.
► In The Hill — White House targets Dems in trade blitz — President Obama is tasking every member of his Cabinet to round up votes from Democrats for fast-track negotiating power, which would give Obama leverage to complete trade negotiations by preventing Congress from amending his agreements. About 80 House Democrats have been targeted in the effort, and Cabinet members are divvying up those names based on their personal relationships with the members.
► At Politico — Left, right mobilize against Obama’s trade push — Political opposites are pushing back on trade just as President Barack Obama unleashes his Cabinet on Capitol Hill for an aggressive lobbying campaign to promote his plans. The White House’s goal: persuading the president’s own party to join with Republicans to give him a critical piece of legislation that would fast-track congressional approval of the largest free-trade agreements in history.
► At Politico — Republicans target Social Security disability — House Republicans kick-started a bigger fire than many imagined with an opening day rules change that revived Social Security as a hot issue for this Congress — and the 2016 presidential elections. The upshot could be a one-two punch Democrats most fear: a first-round debate over disability funding in 2016 followed by a bigger battle over all of Social Security in 2017, when Republicans hope to control both Congress and the White House.
► At TPM — Top senator: Dems better not give an inch on Social Security — Democrats need to gird for a new battle with Republicans over Social Security and be prepared not to yield any ground in defense of the program, said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). He also expressed confidence that President Obama would hold strong on Social Security, despite concerns among Social Security advocates that the president has shown a willingness to negotiate over the program in the past.
► At TPM — SCOTUS ruling against ACA would threaten GOP in 2016 elections — A Supreme Court decision to overturn Obamacare subsidies would directly affect millions of Americans in key swing states and pose a political dilemma for Republicans ahead of the 2016 election — at least unless they can get behind a viable health care alternative. A ruling in the looming case King v. Burwell could wipe out health insurance subsidies for some 3 million Americans in a dozen states that could decide the 2016 election and rely on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange, according to new research.
► At Yahoo News — Selling out for big business: business as usual on Capitol Hill (by Wendell Potter) — In coming weeks, we can expect the Republican-controlled Congress to push two Obamacare bills that would hike profits for some businesses. What we can’t expect, from either Republicans or Democrats, unfortunately, is any effort to help families, even those with insurance, to stay out of bankruptcy court because of mounting medical bills.
► From Reuters — California nurses reach contract agreement, cancel strike — About 18,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics in central and northern California will receive raises of 14 percent over three years under a tentative agreement averting a potential strike, the union (CNA/NNU) said on Sunday.
► In the Charleston P-G — Gov. Nikki Haley in new anti-union ad from Boeing South Carolina — A new radio ad features Gov. Nikki Haley urging Boeing South Carolina workers not to join the International Association of Machinists union.
► In the Minneapolis S-T — Debate on right-to-work in Wisconsin unlikely soon; coalition opposing it grows — A group of business leaders opposed to making Wisconsin a right-to-work state announced 50 new members Monday, while Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said any debate over the idea likely won’t happen until after the April 7 election.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.