Monday, February 8, 2016
► In the Seattle Times — WSDOT chief ousted by Senate Republicans after 3 years on job — In a show of political muscle, Republican state senators Friday fired Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson by refusing to confirm her — some three years after her appointment by Gov. Jay Inslee. It immediately ended Peterson’s tenure, and raised questions about how much lawmakers will be able to cooperate for the rest of the session.
ALSO at The Stand — Senate Republicans shame, harm state with Lynn Peterson’s firing (by Jeff Johnson)
MORE coverage from the Associated Press — Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) on Lynn Peterson: “She’s racist.”
► In the Seattle Times — 405 toll lanes may have been trigger for Peterson’s firing — Some powerful swing-district lawmakers, notably Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) turned against a toll concept that both parties have supported. I-405 became a way to turn widespread traffic frustrations against Inslee, a Democrat.
► From AP — Corrections secretary resigns amid early release controversy — Washington state Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke resigned on Saturday amid a controversy over the early release of prisoners, telling a Republican senator he hoped his departure would satisfy the “need for blood.”
► From AP — Bill seeks partial automatic voter registration — Two measures, SB 6379 and HB 2682, would automatically register people who aren’t on the voter rolls but already have or apply for an enhanced driver’s license or commercial driver’s licenses. Those who receive social services that verify citizenship or get health insurance through the state health exchange also would be automatically registered.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Senate panel OKs bill to name agriculture whistleblowers — Farm industry have urged lawmakers to support a bill banning the investigation of anonymous tips. SB 6551 was passed with bipartisan support by the Senate Agriculture, Water, and Rural Economic Development Committee.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Mumm left speechless at hearing on Baumgartner bill — Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm traveled to Olympia to speak against his bill that would block Spokane’s (and other cities’) minimum wage ordinance, but she was never given the opportunity to speak at the public hearing chaired by… Sen. Baumgartner.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Labor board says KapStone and union have reached impasse — KapStone has won a key legal victory in its ongoing dispute with the pulp and paper union, and it will not be forced to return to the bargaining table, at least for now. The NLRB agreed that KapStone acted in good faith when it declared a bargaining impasse with the millworkers’ union on Aug. 3. That’s when the company implemented its latest contract offer, even though the union had rejected it. Separately, NLRB officials said that the union’s 12-day walkout in August and September was an economic strike — one meant to force the company into contract concessions — and not an unfair labor practice strike. NLRB’s stance means KapStone could have legally hired permanent replacement workers, although it allowed most workers to return to work once the union ended its walkout.
► In today’s Columbian — Impasse over Battle Ground teachers’ contract — In Battle Ground, the teachers union and school district officials are living up to the town’s name. More sparks likely will fly at tonight’s school board meeting. The two sides are heading back to the contract bargaining table Friday as they try to reach a contract for the current school year.
► In the Seattle Times — Grocer is green but unions see red — New Seasons, the Portland-based small-format grocer that emphasizes regional, organic food, hasn’t even opened its first store in the Seattle area and already there’s opposition. Labor groups are criticizing News Seasons’ working conditions, citing news articles about the grocer’s “anti-union climate” and health and safety violations records.
► In the Seattle Times — Massive, speedy robots ready to build composite wings for Boeing 777X — Next summer, Boeing will start using the machines to manufacture wing skins and spars for 777X development and production.
► A related video from the North Carolina AFL-CIO — NC workers explain “good jobs” to a kid robot
► In the (Everett) Herald — Carbon tax measure, I-732, might be on Washington ballot — I-732’s main points include instituting a $25-per-metric ton tax on carbon emissions from fossil fuels. It would also reduce the state sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent and effectively eliminate Washington’s B&O tax.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC opposes Initiative 732 carbon tax
► From Think Progress — Republican candidates call raising taxes on millionaires ‘class warfare’ — Though ABC moderators noted that “68 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on people making more than $1 million,” all candidates who answered refused to endorse such a proposal, with some calling the notion “class warfare,” and others implying that those on welfare live better than those who work.
► From Think Progress — What working class New Hampshire voters think of the GOP candidates’ poverty plans — During Saturday night’s debate, the only candidate to touch on the issue of wages was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who noted that while it’s impossible to survive on the current federal minimum, he doesn’t support raising it.
► In today’s NY Times — The time-loop party (by Paul Krugman) — Republican candidates keep repeating their canned policy statements, despite evidence that these prescriptions have failed in the real world.
► From Huffington Post — TPP would further emasculate America (by Leo W. Gerard) — NAFTA and the TPP are giant greenbacks for multinational corporations. CEOs close U.S. factories, destroy the lives of American workers and collect bigger profits as a result of the less-than-subsistence wages they pay foreign labor. Meanwhile, NAFTA, the TPP and the rest of the free trade schemes are sapping U.S. industrial strength, shipping it overseas. They’re emasculating America.
ALSO at The Stand — 2 things you can do TODAY to stop TPP
► In today’s — States not waiting to close gender age gap — The issue has gone nowhere in Congress. So states are forging ahead on their own efforts. They have passed a string of equal pay laws in recent years, and more proposals have been introduced in two dozen states so far this year.
► In today’s NY Times — Unsafe lead levels in tap water not limited to Flint — Unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city — in Durham and Greenville, N.C., in 2006; in Columbia, S.C., in 2005; and last July in Jackson, Miss., where officials waited six months to disclose the contamination — as well as in scores of other places in recent years. Federal officials and many scientists agree that most of the nation’s 53,000 community water systems provide safe drinking water. But such episodes are unsettling reminders of what experts say are holes in the safety net of rules and procedures intended to keep water not just lead-free, but free of all poisons.
ALSO at The Stand — Government run like a business has poisoned our children
► From Huffington Post — Don’t believe the Walmart hype: Here’s proof it still isn’t paying its workers enough — A new Demos brief argues that Walmart wages and schedules still aren’t livable. Demos finds that the new $10 an hour wage “still does not provide enough income to support the basic needs of a single adult working Walmart’s full-time schedule of 34 hours per week in any state in the country.”
► From the Institute for Southern Studies — Union membership creeps upward in the South — In the 13 Southern states, the number of workers belonging to unions grew from 2.2 million in 2014, or 5.2 percent of the workforce, to 2.4 million by the end of 2015, or 5.5 percent of Southern workers.
ALSO at The Stand — Union membership up in Washington state
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.