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Countdown to closure, Fast Track in the House, making rent…

Monday, June 1, 2015




game-of-chicken► In the Seattle Times — State makes plans for possible government shutdown — They insist a government shutdown is unlikely, but state officials have drawn up plans including park closures and less monitoring of ex-prisoners in case bickering legislators fail to reach a budget agreement by June 30.

► From AP — Bill for first special legislative session: $108,000 so far — A newspaper review finds that the 30-day legislative special session so far has cost taxpayers $108,000 in payments to cover lawmakers’ daily expenses.

ALSO at The Stand — Senate shows ‘open contempt’ for state workers as shutdown looms (Statement by WSLC President Jeff Johnson)

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Bill gives tax breaks to companies in 4 cities in exchange for job creation — Marysville and Arlington will soon have a new tool to help attract businesses to an industrial area they share: a tax break. A bill passed by state lawmakers last week allows the cities to exempt companies from paying a portion of property taxes if they create a minimum of 25 jobs that pay at least $18 an hour. SB 5761 was passed by the Senate and House on Thursday, the final day of the first special session. It will now go to Gov. Jay Inslee for his expected signature.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Extra-special session has press corps at a loss for words (Spin Control) — A recent committee exchange between Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) did not sit well with the SEIU, which may be regretting the $1,700 it gave to Hill instead of his Democratic challenger. The union is “very disappointed” Hill implied there is something corrupt about union contributions, Adam Glickman, its secretary-treasurer, said: “We don’t hear similar concerns about contributions from large corporations that are seeking millions or billions of dollars in tax exemptions.”

GEO-group-transport► In the Olympian — Backup plan for overflowing Washington prisons: Send inmates to Michigan — The state’s backup plan for dealing with its prison space crunch might benefit a private company while making it harder on families to visit their incarcerated loved ones. Even if state lawmakers agree to build a new prison in south Thurston County to house a growing inmate population — no sure thing — officials could still send inmates out of state while it’s being built. Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner signed a deal May 13 with Florida-based GEO Group in case that’s necessary.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Charter-school backers resist state’s traditional financial-reporting rules — The state wants charter schools to follow the same rules as other public schools when it comes to keeping their budgets. But charter proponents say the regulations would give OSPI too much oversight over the publicly funded but independently run schools.

► From Huffington Post — Poll shows that a tax increase can be popular, even among Republicans — Respondents in a survey became much more supportive when they were told that the plan would only increase business licensing fees, and that it would be applied to corporations, not individuals. They expressed even more support when they were told the funds would be used to “reduce class size, expand reading programs and increase high school graduation rates.”




► In today’s NY Times — Obama’s trade deal faces bipartisan peril in the House — The bruising battle over President Obama’s push for the power to negotiate two potentially far-reaching trade pacts will shift this week to the House, where the White House faces entrenched opposition from Democrats and the stirring of rebellion from the Republicans’ right flank.

► From KPLU — Trade-dependent Washington state awaits vote on ‘Fast-Track’ trade bill — Forty percent of jobs in Washington state are tied to trade, but the issue of creating new free trade agreements is divisive.

Fast-Track-Reichert_signs► From AP — Obama’s trade agenda faces tough battle heading into House — One House leadership option is to “divide the question” on the Senate-passed bill. That would allow separate votes on fast-track and TAA. But some Democrats, have raised the possibility of voting heavily against TAA to sabotage their main target, fast track. And many are unhappy that the assistance package would be partly funded by Medicare cuts.

ALSO at The Stand — Reichert blasted for Fast Track’s Medicare cuts

► From Huffington Post — Obama’s trade deal is tangled in the intricate web of Malaysia’s slavery problem — The task of watering down the anti-slavery language in the Senate-approved Fast Track bill is made more challenging by the exploding humanitarian catastrophe in Malasia, which couldn’t come at a worse time for trade deal negotiators, who have argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in the words of Obama, will be “the most progressive trade deal in history.”

ALSO at The Stand — Larsen backs Fast Track, but will be fight slavery, Medicare cuts?

► From Politico — Labor has found a Democrat to punish on trade — The AFL-CIO has been threatening for weeks to make an example of a Democrat who supports giving the president fast-track trade authority — a warning shot to others leaning that way. And now they’ve picked their man: Sacramento’s Ami Bera, a two-term congressman who barely held on to his seat in one of last year’s most expensive House races. The union leaders are going after Bera hard. And they say they don’t care if it means that a Republican wins the seat instead.




rent-broadway► In today’s Seattle Times — $15 wage would make big difference to renters across U.S. (by Gene Balk) — The cost of rent is at the crux of the fight for a much higher minimum wage… I looked at data for Seattle and a selection of 14 other cities around the U.S. Based on my analysis, in 14 of the cities — including Seattle — full-time, minimum-wage workers don’t earn enough to rent even a modest apartment. But the data also show how the impact of raising the minimum to $15 in cities across the country would be profound. It could mean the difference in being able to comfortably afford what is easily the single biggest expense for minimum-wage workers: rent.

► In the Seattle Times — Mayor Murray’s pick to head labor agency upsets some — Mayor Ed Murray named Dylan Orr to lead Seattle’s new Office of Labor Standards, but some labor leaders blasted Murray for surprising them by picking someone other than one of four candidates recommended by a search committee of stakeholders.

► In today’s News Tribune — Congressman Adam Smith talks immigration detention — U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said there are a couple of reasons why he’s been focused on the issue of immigration detention recently.




► In today’s Washington Post — Obama administration clashes with friends over workers’ comp — President Obama’s administration, with support from House Republicans, is pushing reductions to workers’ compensation for federal employees — to the consternation of fellow Democrats and his union allies.




► In case you missed it… In the latest video in his series on how to fix the economy, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich argues that stronger unions are a critical component. Unions, Reich explains, are key to increasing stagnant wages and boosting a shrinking middle class.


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