Wednesday, February 4, 2015
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Tesoro steelworkers on strike in Anacortes — Tesoso spokesman Matthew Gill said Monday that the Anacortes refinery was prepared for the strike and brought in the management team to take over operations Sunday as steelworkers left the job. “If we didn’t think we could do it safely, we wouldn’t do it,” he said.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — On the picket line in Anacortes, workplace safety tops concerns (statement by WSLC President Jeff Johnson)
► From Reuters — Tough talk from Shell, union as refinery pay talks resume — Negotiations were getting underway late on Tuesday between Royal Dutch Shell and union leaders over a new wage contract for U.S. refinery workers who have been on strike for three days, both sides said. The two camps have been at an impasse since the union called walkouts early on Sunday for the first time since 1980 at nine plants with about 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity, saying Shell left the negotiating table when talks broke down. The meeting on Tuesday evening is being held as both sides use increasingly strident language to talk about the dispute, ramping up their rhetoric in private and public.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Why the gas tax isn’t keeping pace with state’s needs — A fixed-rate tax like Washington’s, which collects a specific number of cents on each gallon of gas sold, is “the most unsustainable type of gas tax,” the report states, largely because of increasing fuel efficiency and the ever-rising costs of construction… In Washington, the percentage of the transportation budget funded by gas tax appears to be dropping — it is listed as 23 percent of the 2013-15 transportation budget’s projected revenue of $9.165 billion, compared to 32.5 percent of the $7.9 billion revenue in the 2011-13 budget.
► From KUOW — Legislation would mandate bigger crews on oil trains — A set of bills would require all freight trains coming through Washington to have a minimum of two crew members. Trains carrying hazardous materials would be required to have a third crew member at the rear of the train. Oil trains more than 50 cars long would be required to have two crew members at the rear of the train.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Lawmakers want to include financial information on proposed initiatives — More than half the state Senate is sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment intended to keep costly measures off the ballot unless they have a means of paying for themselves. There’s a companion version in the House.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Enrollment falling far short of state health exchange’s goal — The Feb. 15 deadline is looming for people to sign up for individual insurance plans sold through Washington Healthplanfinder. But, for a number of reasons, enrollment numbers are considerably short of goals.
► In today’s News Tribune — Bill would end daylight saving time in Washington state — The ritual of springing forward and falling back — and spending days (or longer) catching up on adjusting every clock in the home — is being questioned by lawmakers who would like to see it come to an end.
EDITOR’S NOTE — SayWA(t-time-is-it?)
► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Women in Washington state earn 79% of what men earn — That’s worse than the national average, where women earn 82.1 percent of what men earn.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) and Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) are sponsoring the Equal Pay Opportunity Act (HB 1646 / SB 5630) to address income disparities, employer discrimination and retaliation practices, and reaffirms Washington’s longstanding pursuit of equality in the workplace. The bills would require employers to provide a valid reason, such as education, training, or experience to validate disparities in pay. It will also permit workers to discuss their pay without fear of retaliation from their employer. These conversations will allow all employees to better understand their positions and determine if they are indeed being paid unfairly.
► In today’s Huffington Post — Why the fight for pay equity is so important (by AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes) — Women are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of American households, while bringing home 23 percent less than their male counterparts. I’m sure you know someone in your community who falls in this category. The fact that women are not paid fairly means there is less money available for families’ everyday needs, less for investments in our children’s futures and, when added over a lifetime of work, substantially less for retirement.
► In today’s NY Times — House GOP again votes to repeal ACA — The House vote, 239 to 186, generally followed party lines. No Democrats voted for repeal. Democrats said it was the 56th time since 2011 that the House had voted to repeal or undermine some or all of the law, which was adopted in 2010 without any Republican votes.
► At Wonkette — Let’s repeal Obamacare: 56th time’s a charm — Republicans are 56 votes and several years into “repeal and replace”… And federal spending is projected to be way less under Obamacare than it was projected to be without Obamacare. So why in the hell would you take away the ACA if you are a Republican who has zero ideas about how to replace this framework, and also who pretends to care about spending?
► At Huffington Post — Senate Democrats block DHS funding bill that guts Dreamer protections — Senate Democrats blocked a bill on Tuesday that would have funded the Department of Homeland Security while gutting key Obama administration immigration policies, including one that keeps undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from being deported.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Both Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted “no.” Washington’s GOP Reps. Dave Reichert, Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Jaime Herrera Beutler all voted for the bill killing immigration protections, and all Washington Democrats voted “no.”
► At Roll Call — Dems unified, in campaign mode, on immigration orders — The gavel had barely dropped on Senate Republicans’ failed first attempt to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration when the Democratic campaign arm started blasting GOP senators for their votes.
► In today’s Washington Post — Furloughs again loom at IRS and DHS — Budget uncertainties could lead to employee furloughs at two agencies.
► In the Washington Post — Six ways the White House budget would affect federal workers — The White House’s 2016 budget would change the way federal agencies operate and treat their employees, with proposals ranging from pay raises to agency consolidations.
► In the Washington Post — We have seen free community college succeed (by Randi Weingarten) — In 1965, the original federal Higher Education Act was passed, as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, in order to give all citizens an affordable path to college. Fifty years later, that focus has been lost and student debt has soared to more than a trillion dollars, as students have borrowed in ever-increasing amounts to cover the price of attending college. Obama’s new plan restores and reshapes the HEA’s original commitment.
► From NPR — Economists say millennials should consider career in trades — As the economy continues to recover, economists are seeing stark differences between people with high school and college degrees. The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high for Americans with a high school diploma as for those with a four-year college degree or more. But economists say that doesn’t mean everybody needs a four-year degree. In fact, millions of good-paying jobs are opening up in the trades. And some pay better than what the average college graduate makes.
► In today’s NY Times — When a company is fined, taxpayers often share the bill — A tax loophole permits companies to save millions of dollars by deducting any court-ordered punitive damages as an ordinary business expense. The result, critics say, is that taxpayers are in effect subsidizing corporate misconduct.
► At TPM — MLK’s mother was assassinated, too: The forgotten women of Black History Month — On June 30, 1973, Alberta Williams King was gunned down while she played the organ for the “Lord’s Prayer” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a Christian civil rights activist, she was assassinated… just like her son, Martin Luther King, Jr. But most people remember only one.
► In The Hill — GOP senator: Forcing food workers to wash hands in bathroom not necessary — A freshman GOP senator argued this week that the government should not require food workers to wash their hands after using the toilet, saying “the market will take care of that.” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) called routine hygiene rules an example of government overreach at an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.