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Fast Track update, budget deal undone, the cost of for-profit college…

Tuesday, June 9, 2015




► From Politico — Labor makes last-ditch effort to stop Fast Track — The Coalition to Stop Fast Track announced Monday that labor leaders, including the AFL-CIO, will buy TV ads in congressional districts nationwide — including Washington state — where Democrats have announced intentions to vote for or are still deciding whether to support President Obama’s request for authority to “fast-track” trade deals through Congress.

ALSO at The Stand — Will Washington put Fast Track over the top?

WA-congress-fast-track► From The Hill — Top 10 undecided House members to watch on trade — The 10 lawmakers who could be the difference between passage and failure of Fast Track include Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA).

► From Politico — Washington state Dem to support Fast Track — Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) on Monday became the 19th House Democrat to say she would back fast-track trade authority for President Obama.

ALSO at The Stand — As DelBene backs Fast Track, trade talking points belie reality (by Jeff Johnson, June 3)

► From Politico — Labor runs ads slamming Rep. Kathleen Rice for backing trade bill — The AFL-CIO has made a six-figure ad buy in New York against Rep. Kathleen Rice, slamming the freshman lawmaker for pledging to vote for Fast Track. She initially said she opposed the controversial measure, but over the weekend, she announced she would support the bill.

Obama-pointing► From AP — Seeking trade votes, Obama offers help to Dems who vote yes — The president has been dangling a carrot in front of Democrats in the form of a promise to campaign for them in 2016 if they face primary challenges or attacks by unions that have vehemently opposed his trade agenda.

► From a few miles south of here — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Fast Track — “Here’s the bottom line: Do we want to live in an America where the middle class is going to be wiped out because we’ve pulled down all the barriers between very low-wage countries, low-enforcement countries, low labor-standard countries, low-environmental standard countries, and our economy, which then creates tremendous pressure for our own wages and standards to diminish?”




braun-john► From AP — Senate budget negotiator: No deal on spending level yet — A Senate budget negotiator disputed statements made last week that indicated lawmakers had reached a tentative deal on the size of the state’s next two-year budget, saying Monday that the announcement was “premature.” Republican Sen. John Braun said that talks with House Democrats are still ongoing, but that there’s still no agreement on the overall spending level of the budget, tentative or otherwise.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Budget negotiators reportedly agreed last Friday to a proposal to “split the difference” between the latest Democratic and Republican budget proposals. Word on the street is that when that deal was taken back to the Republican caucus, staffers determined new revenue would be necessary to pay for it. The red-meat wing of the caucus — perhaps led by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) — freaked out and sent negotiators back to the table to undo the compromise.

► In today’s Olympian — Washington lawmakers leave ‘No Child Left Behind’ fix to Congress — State lawmakers have largely abandoned their bid to regain Washington’s waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, and instead are waiting on Congress to save them from the sanctions imposed by the federal school accountability law.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Some state workers to see new option for health-care coverage — The new health-benefit offerings would emphasize cost targets and care quality over the traditional fee-for-service model that prevails today.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Idahoans back boost in minimum wage, poll finds — Seventy percent of Idahoans favor raising the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour from the current $7.25, according to a new independent poll, though the state’s Republican-controlled legislature has been unenthusiastic.




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Kaiser Permanante, unions reach deal on 3-year contract — After two months of talks, Kaiser Permanente has reached a tentative, three-year contract with 28 unions that would expand health benefits and increase pay, the company and unions announced Monday. The contract affects 206 Kaiser workers in the Kelso/Longview area and 105,000 nationwide. A ratification vote is planned later this summer.

15Mar18-space-needle_front► In the PSBJ — Union says Space Needle offers members ‘poison candy’ as labor dispute heats up — Union employees at the Space Needle on Monday said they walked away last week from a month-long mediation with the owners of the Needle. The two sides have met in mediation for around 40 hours over the past weeks, including late into the night Thursday, when union officials said they walked away after Needle managers showed little sign of movement on key issues.

ALSO at The Stand — Space Needle refuses to budget; union walks out of mediation

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima council OKs options for elections stay — The Yakima City Council will ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider a full or partial stay of this year’s elections. In a 4-3 vote Monday, the council approved a resolution asking for a stay and cited the city’s old elections system as the preferred method for voting this year.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Solution to soaring rents tougher than $15 wage, Seattle officials find — Looking for an encore to the $15 minimum-wage law they approved last year, Seattle officials may settle on linkage fees from developers, a tool that could be used to finance more affordable housing.

► In today’s Oregonian — Portland roofing company agrees to pay nearly $38K in overtime wages to 32 workers — Ri-Ky failed to pay roofers at the required overtime rate of 1½ times their regular hourly pay and instead paid many of the overtime hours worked at an even lower rate than the regular pay and in cash.




obama-ACA-signing► From The Hill — Republicans fear they will win ACA court battle — Republicans in Congress are worried the Supreme Court will hand them a major headache this month if it rules against the federal health insurance exchanges in more than 30 states, ending subsidies for millions of people. While the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular, two new polls show a majority of Americans don’t want to do away with its subsidies, a core component of the law.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Of course, from the start, the law dubbed “Obamacare” has remained unpopular. But ask voters about its individual components — blocking insurers from restricting coverage for pre-existing conditions, banning caps on coverage, covering children through age 25, offering subsidies for people who can’t afford health care, eliminating the “donut hole” in Medicare drug coverage, etc. — all of these elements are popular.

► From Politico — Obama: Supreme Court wrong to take up ACA challenge — “This should be an easy case, frankly it shouldn’t have even been taken up,” Obama said. He declined to answer questions about his contingency plans if the Supreme Court rules against the health care subsidies. “I think it’s important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who’ve looked at this would expect them to do.”

► From Vox — The glaring contradiction at the heart of the GOP’s ACA plans — The problem is that all five Republican plans to fix the ACA if the Supreme Court rules against the law also try to repeal the ACA at the same time. The result is that all five plans try to fix a political problem for Republicans — the Supreme Court, at the behest of the Republican Party, has just ripped insurance from millions of Americans — by creating a new political problem for Republicans.




walker-scott-be-right-back► From Politico — Scott Walker’s revolt back home — While Scott Walker chatted up Iowans last weekend, his fellow Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature continued to rework Walker’s budget, having already reversed politically unpopular cuts to education, among other things. It’s a scene that’s played out more than once this spring as lawmakers wrangle with various issues. His frequent out-of-state trips have given Democrats plenty of fodder to declare Walker an absentee governor placing his expected presidential run above the needs of Wisconsinites.

► From the Daily Beast — Ex-cons need jobs, too (by Eleanor Clift) — Why everyone from the Koch brothers to the AFL-CIO is signing on to a movement to get more convicted felons back in the workforce.




for-profit-colleges► In today’s NY Times — Government to forgive student loans at Corinthian colleges — In a move against what he called “the ethics of payday lending” in higher education, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that the Education Department would forgive the federal loans of tens of thousands of students who attended Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit college company that closed and filed for bankruptcy last month, amid widespread charges of fraud. He also said the department planned to develop a process to allow any student — whether from Corinthian or elsewhere — to be forgiven their loans if they had been defrauded by their colleges. Taxpayers could pay a huge price for forgiving so many federal loans.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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