Monday, March 2, 2015
► From Reuters — Union, Shell to resume talks in U.S. refinery strike on March 4 — Negotiations to settle the largest U.S. refinery strike are set to resume on March 4, the union and lead oil company negotiator said on Friday, the 27th day of the work stoppage. Talks between Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell and the United Steelworkers union broke off on Feb. 20 after refinery owners balked at a settlement. A total of 6,550 workers are walking picket lines at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of U.S. domestic production capacity.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Refinery strikers are in a fight for their lives (by Jonathan Rosenblum)
► In the (Everett) Herald — Boeing gives 319 workers layoff notices — Boeing says it has notified 319 employees in Washington they will be laid off as of April 24. The announcement comes as the Legislature considers two bills that would link the state’s tax breaks for aerospace companies to job and wage levels, a legislative device known as a clawback.
► In the Seattle Times — Gas-tax increase hits surprise bump in state Senate — The Republican-controlled Senate began floor votes Friday on a state transportation package, only to have the day’s progress brought to a halt by Democrats. Frustrated after the passage of some Republican-favored proposals, Democrats tried to turn around and use a recent GOP rules change on tax votes against the majority party.
► At PubliCola — Democrats test Republican two-thirds rule, shut down Senate transportation vote — The move accomplished two things: 1) It delayed the transportation package which is loaded with Republican provisions such as raiding the toxic cleanup account, gutting environmental review on permitting, and preventing Gov. Inslee from enacting low-carbon fuel standards. And 2) it cues up a formal challenge to the Republicans’ end run around the state Supreme Court’s anti-Eyman ruling.
► In the Seattle Times — State Senate doing its oily best to ignore us on transportation (by Danny Westneat) — The state Senate is doing its best to ignore a plan that would tax big polluters to pay for transportation. But it’s catching on with a group that used to matter in democracy: the people.
► In today’s Olympian — Some parts of state budget can’t be raided for schools — As lawmakers struggle this year to find the money to comply with court mandates to fund schools and mental health services, complicating the budget picture is the reality that those aren’t the only programs the state legally must fund. The OFM estimates that roughly two-thirds of the state budget is protected, meaning those programs are ones the state is required to pay for either under the state constitution, under past court decisions, or by agreement with the federal government.
► In the Seattle Times — Keep higher education healthy and affordable (editorial) — The Washington Legislature should ensure the higher education budget does not suffer as lawmakers meet a mandate to fully fund public K-12 education.
► Meanwhile in Georgia… from AP — Lawmakers may end tax break on jet fuel — Republican Rep. Earl Ehrhart bristled at Delta’s opposition to eliminating the tax break while its CEO has been a prominent backer of more revenue to improve Georgia’s roads and other infrastructure. “It’s been said that we need to step up and tax individuals in our district for transportation,” Ehrhart said. “After you.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Sigh.
► From KPLU — UW School Of Law to start clinic for worker rights — UW law students have long done clinical work, helping people who couldn’t afford an attorney navigate the legal system. Now, the school will also offer an employment law clinic in collaboration with UAW Local 4121, which represents teaching assistants and some other workers on the UW campus.
ALSO at The Stand — UW School of Law, UAW 4121 announce reboot of legal clinic
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — More time for Washington state residents to buy private health insurance — Washington residents who still need to buy private health insurance through the state exchange have until April 17 to do so because enrollment has been extended.
► In the News Tribune — The Rev. Bill Bichsel, longtime weapons protester and Tacoma-born priest, dead at 86 — For nearly 40 years, the Rev. Bill Bichsel protested against U.S. military programs and weapons, resulting in dozens of arrests and making the Jesuit priest one of the most visible and admired protesters in the Pacific Northwest.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Value workers as shareholders (editorial) — According to most measures, the economy is humming along, healthy and growing. Which, in capitalistic theory, is a good thing, but it turns out that once again, it’s mostly those who are already wealthy that are benefiting from the economic gains.
► From Huffington Post — House Republicans call one-week timeout on DHS shutdown drama — The House of Representatives voted Friday night to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, so they can come back and have the same fight this Friday. The GOP had been hoping to use the DHS funding battle to block President Barack Obama’s latest executive actions on immigration.
► From Congress– Kilmer calls on House to approve DHS funding — “Are we willing to tell workers like that, who lend a hand at a moment’s notice – to go without pay or take a furlough? And are we willing to tell communities in need that when they call for help there is no one there?”
Plus, statements from Reps. Suzan Delbene, Rick Larsen, Dave Reichert, Adam Smith, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who says: ” I stand opposed to the President’s unilateral executive overreach on immigration… That is why I will continue this fight.”
► From Roll Call — McMorris Rodgers says there’s no deal for clean DHS bill — Tea Partiers wanted a DHS funding bill that included provisions to defund the money needed for President Obama to carry out his immigration executive orders, which would allow for 5 million illegal immigrants legal status.
► From The Hill — Centrist Dems ready strike against Warren wing — For months, moderate Democrats have kept silent as Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) barbed attacks against Wall Street, income inequality and the “rigged economy” thrilled the base and stirred desire for a more populist approach. But with the race for the White House set to begin, centrists are moving to seize back the agenda. The New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.
EDITOR’S NOTE — All but one of Washington’s Democratic Congressional delegation are members of this “moderate” pro-business New Democratic Coalition. Its 46 members include Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, and Adam Smith. Only Rep. Jim McDermott is not a member.
► From AP — This Supreme Court case could make elections even more undemocratic — In a reversal of the usual worries about political influence on electoral map-making, the Supreme Court is being asked to let raw politics play an even bigger role in the drawing of congressional district boundaries. The court hears argument Monday in an appeal by Republican lawmakers in Arizona against the state’s voter-approved independent redistricting commission for creating the districts of U.S. House members. A decision striking down the commission probably would doom a similar system in neighboring California, and could affect districting commissions in 11 other states.
► In Sunday’s NY Times — The phony legal attack on health care (editorial) — King v. Burwell, which could tear a huge hole in the Affordable Care Act, is a marvel of reverse-engineered absurdity.
► In the Seattle Times — Fix but don’t jettison Affordable Care Act (by Mike Kreidler) — Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, it will be time for opponents to finally stop the antics and offer workable suggestions for making reforms that help more individuals and families get health insurance.
► In the LA Times — How longshoremen command $100K salaries in era of globalization and automation — How the Pacific longshoremen have weathered forces that have crippled many unions is a tale of foresight, geography and technology. A deal cut by union leaders half a century ago allowed workers to share in the gains from innovations in efficiency, such as modern shipping containers. Another key move: organizing all West Coast ports in the 1930s under a single contract, which prevents shipping companies from pitting workers at neighboring ports against one another.
► From Reuters — Right-to-work legislation advances in Wisconsin statehouse — A Wisconsin legislative panel was due on Monday to review a state Senate-passed bill that would allow private-sector employees to avoid joining a union or paying union dues even when working under union-negotiated contracts. Gov. Scott Walker supports the legislation.
► From KTVO — Gov. Scott Walker taking heat for comparing union workers to ISIS — Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is taking considerable heat from both the left and the right after making comments in which he compared his fight against unions in Wisconsin to the nation’s fight against the terror group ISIS.
► In The Hill — Warren dings Walker over comments on unions and ISIS
EDITOR’S NOTE — Which brings us to…
► In Sunday’s NY Times — G.O.P. race starts in the lavish haunts of rich donors — In one resort town after another, the Republican presidential hopefuls are making their case to exclusive gatherings of donors whose wealth was unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
► In Sunday’s Washington Post — At donor summit, GOP 2016 hopefuls talk foreign policy and fiscal issues — Scott Walker, who has struggled to find his footing on foreign affairs, contended that “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” was then-President Ronald Reagan’s move to bust a 1981 strike of air-traffic controllers, firing some 11,000 of them.
► From Rolling Stone — Scott Walker. God’s gift to the Democratic Party. — Conventional Wisdom would hold that no candidate who’s on record comparing hardworking, law-abiding Americans to mass torture-killers would stand a chance in a general election. But in so holding, Conventional Wisdom would be missing the current point of the exercise from Walker’s perspective, which is to win the nomination. And the sad fact is, you can probably win the Republican Party nomination doing things like comparing unionized state workers to ISIS, or hinting that the president hates America… If that’s where this is going – if the Republican Party runs with someone like Walker instead of having the courage to tell their voters to stop calling the rest of us terrorists and traitors – then they deserve to lose again and lose badly. Forget about how offensive it is, that schtick doesn’t work anymore, not even for them.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.