Thursday, December 10, 2015
► From AP — Education law rewrite passes Congress — Those federally mandated math and reading tests will continue, but a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s education law will now give states — not the U.S. government — authority to decide how to use the results in evaluating teachers and schools. The Senate voted overwhelmingly, 85-12, to approve legislation rewriting the landmark No Child Left Behind education law of 2002. On Thursday, President Barack Obama will sign it into law. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington was one of the key architects of the bill, formally called the Every Student Succeeds Act, saying:
“I fought hard to break through the gridlock and dysfunction in Congress to get this done, because I heard from too many families that the old law simply wasn’t working for them.”
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — New U.S. education law removes sanctions against state schools
► In today’s Seattle Times — Widespread flooding slamming the region — Heavy rains and melting snow swelled rivers over their banks across Western Washington on Wednesday, as floodwaters endangered lives and homes in at least 11 counties while pouring over roadways, undermining hillsides and forcing widespread evacuations. Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency, which allows him to activate the Washington National Guard, if needed, and to request federal funds to help pay for extensive damage.
► In The Stranger — At a city-funded project to build homeless housing, charges of underpayment of immigrant workers — Jacinto Ramirez Reyes and Ivan Sanchez say that when they spoke out about the wage issues, their bosses at Puyallup-based VSA Construction threatened them with deportation. Sanchez says he continues to receive threatening phone calls that he believes come from VSA.
► From The Hill — Lawmakers to push spending deadline to Dec. 16 — Congress plans to push a deadline to fund the federal government into next week to avoid a shutdown on Friday.
► From The Hill — Dem fault lines emerge on ‘Cadillac tax’ — A two-year suspension of the 40 percent tax on high-cost health insurance plans is expected to appear in a year-end package of tax breaks known as “tax extenders,” though negotiations aren’t yet complete. However, there is a division, with some Democratic lawmakers, health experts and the White House pushing support for the tax.
► From The Hill — White House would ‘strongly oppose’ Cadillac tax repeal — White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that the Obama administration would “strongly oppose” any efforts to repeal the ACA’s so-called Cadillac tax, but stopped short of a full veto threat.
► From Politico — How Obama gets a vote on TPP before summer — If Obama is “willing to do retail politics the way he’s never done before,” there is probably close to a 50 percent chance Congress will vote on the pact before the summer break, [said some “fellow” on Tuesday.] That essentially means loading the implementing bill for the agreement with “sweeteners” to win over votes, he said.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Walmart’s policies have sent 400,000 jobs to China — According to the Economic Policy Institute, Chinese imports entering through Walmart in 2013 likely totaled at least $49.1 billion, and the combined effect of imports from and exports to China conducted through Walmart likely accounted for 15.3% of the growth of the total U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013. The Walmart-based trade deficit with China alone eliminated or displaced more than 400,000 U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2013.
► From the Atlantic — When will labor laws catch up with the ‘gig economy’? — Companies such as Uber will get regulated eventually, but whether that’s the best way to help on-demand workers is still being debated.
► In today’s NY Times — A middle ground between contract worker and employee — Initially, Munchery, an on-demand food preparation and delivery service, classified its drivers as independent contractors. Then, in 2013, it reversed course and made its drivers full-blown employees. The about-face suggests an ambiguity in the status of workers at Munchery and other on-demand companies like the car-hailing services Uber and Lyft.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Uber and other drivers want flexibility, not union bosses (by Michael Beckerman, CEO of the “Internet Association”) — Blah, blah, blah.
EDITOR’S NOTE — It is the Times copy desk and not the author who chose that rhetorical relic “union bosses” for the headline. For his part, the D.C. lobbyist who wrote this warns against the city’s legal defense costs without mentioning that his organization is likely to do the suing. His group is just a pass-through, carrying the water for Uber, Lyft, etc. so they can maintain a PR-safe distance from the fray. Bottom line: whenever the real bosses start talking about “worker flexibility” — you know, freedom from workers’ compensation if you’re injured at work, unemployment insurance if you’re laid off, the minimum wage and other such impositions — they are talking about the flexibility to bend over.
► From AP — Alaska governor proposes income tax to help plug budget gap — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is proposing instituting a personal income tax for the first time in 35 years as the oil-dependent state looks to plug a multibillion-dollar budget deficit amid chronically low prices.
► From AP — Clinton wins endorsement of federal workers’ union — American Federation of Government Employees union said it was backing Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. “These are both great people, I want to say that up front, but Secretary Clinton is the most powerful, she is the one who could drive an agenda and be a fighter for federal employees,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr.
► In today’s NY Times — The Trump effect, and how it spreads (editorial) — The other Republican candidates now fleeing Mr. Trump have in fact been peddling their own xenophobic views for months.
► On this day in 1967, at the age of 26, soul singer/songwriter extraordinaire Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash near Madison, Wis., along with several members of The Bar-Kays. Three days prior, Redding had recorded the iconic “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” which was to become his biggest hit song. And the day before the crash, Redding and his band had made this appearance on Cleveland’s “Upbeat” TV show. What a loss.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.