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More data centers, our trade negotiators, presenteeism…

Wednesday, July 8, 2015




► In the PSBJ — Quincy could get 2 or 3 more data centers after lawmakers pass tax breaks — The Port of Quincy (and the IBEW) successfully lobbied the Legislature to extend tax credits for companies looking to build data centers in the city through 2024.

GEO-group-transport► In today’s Seattle Times — Alternatives to reform prisons to reduce outsourcing and reoffending (by Joseph Lehman and David Keenan) — As the Legislature was struggling to fund our state’s education system, the State Department of Corrections was preparing to give upward of $60,000 per day to a private company to house state prisoners. The GEO Group, a for-profit prison company, has contracted with the DOC to house 1,000 Washington inmates nearly 2,000 miles away in Michigan. Rather than outsourcing our state’s public-safety operations to a private company with a questionable track record, Washington should take steps to break the cycle of mass incarceration, saving precious tax dollars and making us all safer.

► In today’s News Tribune — Initiative 1351 divides Senate Democrats — Five members of the Democratic minority joined all Republicans except Sen. Pam Roach in trying to suspend class-size reduction initiative, but they couldn’t summon the two-thirds majority required.

► In the PSBJ — Washington uninsured rate drops dramatically post Obamacare — Washington managed to cut the uninsured rate in the state to 8.65 percent this year, from 14 percent in 2013.

► In today’s Seattle Times — State’s presidential primary next year mostly for show — Washington’s presidential primary will return in 2016, but it’ll remain mostly for show. The state budget enacted this month included $11.5 million to pay for the primary, which had been canceled in 2012 due to cost concerns. Some critics argue the primary should remained shelved since the political parties are free to ignore it.




► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima council drops bid to stay election — The Yakima City Council on Tuesday formally abandoned its effort to stay this year’s elections under a new court-ordered system. However, the council did vote to file a limited appeal of the $1.8 million in legal costs awarded by the same court to the ACLU of Washington, which sued to change city elections under the federal Voting Rights Act.

Nadella-Microsoft► In today’s Seattle Times — Microsoft to cut 7,800 jobs — Microsoft said Wednesday that it is taking a $7.6 billion charge and laying off as many as 7,800 employees as the company scales back the troubled Nokia phone hardware business it bought last year. The layoffs will primarily come in the phone unit, but won’t be limited to that business and will be carried out over the next several months, Chief Executive Satya Nadella.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — KapStone, AWPPW to continue federal mediation — The threat of an immediate strike at KapStone’s Longview pulp and paper mill eased Tuesday after union officials said they will continue to meet with the company and federal mediators next week.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Construction job growth booming in Whatcom County — With plenty of residential and hotel projects this spring, Whatcom County ranked second in the nation when it came to growth in construction jobs in May.




► From Reuters — European Parliament backs compromise in step towards U.S. trade deal — European lawmakers have backed a compromise plan designed to spur negotiations on a trade pact between the European Union and the United States. Opposition to the proposed trade pact has focused on its provision for private arbitration. European opponents say this would allow U.S. multinationals to challenge European food and environmental laws on the grounds they restrict commerce. The U.S. is making it a condition of their trade negotiations that there is a dispute body.

corporate-flag-tradeEDITOR’S NOTE — That’s right. The controversial “investor-to-state dispute resolution process” (ISDS) that create corporate courts outside nations’ judicial systems are not something being imposed on the U.S. in these trade agreements, it’s something WE ARE DEMANDING in negotiations. Why? Because it’s not elected representatives of the American public who are at the bargaining table, it’s representatives of multinational corporations that we’ve invited to represent the United States.

► In today’s NY Times — Republicans aim to hamper Obama’s policies with spending bills — From environmental and work force regulations to health care and contraception, congressional Republicans are using spending bills to try to dismantle President Obama’s policies, setting up a fiscal feud this fall that could lead to a government shutdown.

► From Huffington Post — Congress stays on course for another shutdown showdown — Coming back from its Independence Day vacation, Congress appeared no closer Tuesday to finding a way to avoid yet another government shutdown showdown in the fall.

► In today’s Washington Post — Short-term highway fix becoming more likely; inversions have not stopped — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used his floor speech on Wednesday to acknowledge that a short-term fix to the Highway Trust Fund is likely and to blame Republicans. Meanwhile, last year’s drama over companies moving their headquarters overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes has largely died down but reports indicate the trend hasn’t ended.




Unions-Work-reducing-inequality► MUST-READ from the Hill — Income inequality is an issue that cuts across party lines (by David Russell) — To say that the liberal side of the Democratic Party has a timely issue is obvious. What is not nearly so obvious is that the potential for the economic argument could well gain traction across party lines and the diverse sectors of ethnic and religious groupings… Most Americans are intimately familiar with, and struggle with, their diminished economic circumstances, but they don’t relate their circumstances to a systemic problem. If it were possible to make them aware that their circumstance were system-wide, and that there were creditable political alternatives that could change those circumstances, it is an issue that has the potential of influencing at least 90 percent of wage earners and as many voters.

► From TPM — What else was buried in that Wisconsin bill to gut transparency — A provision in a Wisconsin budget package that would have gutted the state’s open records laws were scrapped after the Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the GOP legislative leadership came under intense scrutiny. However, a number of other consequential policy initiatives tucked into the larger budget bill remain intact. Some provisions appear to double down on Walker’s longstanding war on labor.

► From Politico — Want to meet America’s worst racists? Come to the Northwest — Much of the national debate over racism in the aftermath of last month’s mass murder in Charleston, S.C., has focused on the South and its strange and sometimes jarring nostalgia for the Confederacy. And yet tucked away in the Pacific Northwest is a vicious group that most people have never heard of but the nation’s most virulent online racists know well. The group is called the Northwest Front and its final solution to the race “problem,” if you will, is to expel non-white people from the Pacific Northwest and to establish a mono-racial republic there.




► In the P.S. Business Journal — Why ‘presenteeism’ is a big threat to your company’s productivity — A company with employees who are physically present at work but not functioning at their full potential because of an illness or other medical condition may have a “presenteeism” problem. Presenteeism is one of the largest threats to productivity, and its impact can rival that of absenteeism. In addition, presenteeism can have far-reaching consequences, affecting coworkers, clients and vendors alike, which compounds the situation further. There are a number of ways to address it, including implementing paid time off.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Huh. Who knew?


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