Monday, December 7, 2015
► In the Seattle Times — What’s in a tax break? We should all know (editorial) — The state Department of Revenue declined to collect or release information on the bulk of the Boeing tax break. Instead, it chose to interpret the (tax break transparency) law in a way that keeps the full yearly value of Boeing’s tax benefits hidden for the next decade… Transparency legislation should be interpreted in a way that favors maximum disclosure, not continued secrecy. To make informed decisions, the public must know the actual cost of special tax deals made by lawmakers. This is especially important as the state struggles to fund education and other unmet needs.
► In the Columbian — State lawmakers struggle with ‘paramount duty’ of funding education — There’s little progress despite the state Supreme Court mandate to fully fund K-12 education, and $100,000-a-day fine for failing to do so.
► In the Spokesman-Review — McIntire’s tax plan better than Washington state’s present system (editorial) — The state treasurer has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that will cut the business and occupation tax, eliminate the state property tax, roll back the sales tax, and institute a 5% income tax dedicated to funding education.
► In the News Tribune — Hans Dunshee, new House budget writer, is a big personality at state Capitol — As the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Dunshee is one of the Legislature’s two chief budget writers, a job that includes hammering out and renegotiating details of the two-year, $38 billion spending plan lawmakers approved earlier this year. It’s a prestigious position for someone who projects such a down-home persona.
► In today’s News Tribune — Western State Hospital is broken, needs fixing (editorial) — There aren’t enough professionals to handle all the patients in the 827-bed institution. Staff members tell harrowing stories of assault. Patients aren’t safe enough. Working conditions can be harsh… Fixing the hospital will take additional millions from the Legislature. But not fixing it is already costing the taxpayers millions — and exposing patients and staff members to great harm.
► From KPLU — Seattle vote nears on unionizing Uber, Lyft drivers — The Seattle City Council is expected to vote next Monday on a bill that would allow collective bargaining by all the city’s for-hire drivers. Seattle is the first city to propose unions for workers in the “gig-based” economy, specifically drivers who work for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. Taxi and for-hire drivers would also be included. As the vote gets closer, the campaign has intensified.
► In the Bellingham Herald — Haggen to sell its remaining stores — Haggen is moving forward with plans to auction off its remaining core stores, including five in Whatcom County. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross signed an order on Friday, Dec. 4 approving the bidding procedures for the auction of the Bellingham grocer’s 33 core stores. The auction is scheduled to take place on Friday, Feb. 5, about a month later than the first proposed auction date.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Portland City Council votes to ‘Ban the Box’ — After a unanimous vote of the City Council, Portland joined a growing number of local governments that are “banning the box” and making sure that workers with past arrest and conviction histories have the opportunity to find work. The new code prevents employers from asking about prospective employees’ conviction history during job interviews.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The WSLC has passed a resolution to support local legislation to “ban the box” and “promote public education and community action that reduces unfair barriers to employment of people with records, thereby promoting the values of human dignity and work.”
► In the Bellingham Herald — Energy costs were a concern long before decision to shut down Intalco — Alcoa officials were concerned about the viability of Ferndale’s Intalco Works plant several months before the November layoff announcement that likely will cut jobs for 465 people.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Kaiser’s Trentwood plant continues to reinvent itself — To generations of Spokane residents, the Trentwood rolling mill represented steady, blue-collar employment, with the kind of paychecks that bought homes, put kids through college and paid for family vacations. Landing a union job there is still possible, though it’s a smaller operation than in the past.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Supreme Court to hear voting rights case, which could have implications in Yakima — In Evenwel v. Abbott, the plaintiffs are asking the justices to define the court’s principle of “one person, one vote” in a way that would require most election districts be drawn based on eligible voter population. Most districts, including Yakima’s new council elections system, are drawn based on a nearly equal distribution of total population.
► From AP — U.S. faces $1 billion in trade penalties for meat labels — The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that Canada and Mexico can slap more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation for meat labeling rules it says discriminated against Mexican and Canadian livestock. At issue were U.S. labels on packaged steaks and other cuts of meat that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.
► In today’s Washington Post — Pressure mounts for year-end spending deal — A bipartisan group of negotiators worked through the weekend in hopes of striking a year-end spending deal by the end of Monday so Congress has enough time to pass the legislation before Friday and avert a government shutdown.
► In the Seattle Times — No Child Left Behind education law getting needed reboot (editorial) — A new education law by Sen. Patty Murray promises more local control for school districts while maintaining federal oversight of student outcomes.
► In the Seattle Times — Not using immigrants’ skills, brainpower is just dumb (by Jerry Large) — Washington would benefit if the state helped more immigrants reach their potential.
► From Reuters — UAW wins historic victory in U.S. South with vote at VW plant — The United Auto Workers union won its first organizing vote at a foreign-owned auto assembly plant in the U.S. South on Friday, in a groundbreaking victory after decades of failed attempts. About 71 percent of skilled trades workers who cast ballots at Volkswagen AG’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to join the UAW, according to the company and the union. The skilled trades workers account for about 11% of the 1,450 hourly employees at the plant.
► In the Detroit Free Press — Fight economic inequality with collective bargaining (by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez) — Today, the Detroit Three are back in the black, transforming themselves to become more competitive and efficient… It is a textbook case of shared sacrifice leading to shared prosperity. And it is a triumph of collective bargaining, one of our most powerful forces for upward mobility and economic security.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.