Tuesday, January 31, 2017
► In today’s Seattle Times — Republicans and Democrats offer competing voting-rights bills in Legislature — The three bills — SB 5067, SB 5068 and SB 5267 — would remove a 1994 state restriction that prevents most Washington cities from replacing an at-large voting system with district elections.
► In today’s News Tribune — Republicans regain control of the state Senate as lawmaker is replaced — Five Eastern Washington counties have picked Republican state Rep. Shelly Short to replace Brian Dansel, a Republican who left the Senate for a job in the federal government. A Republican-led coalition (24 Republicans plus “Democrat” Tim Sheldon of Potlatch) normally has a narrow 25-24 majority in the chamber.
► From AP — Republican Rep. Jesse Young restricted from supervising staff — Republican Rep. Jesse Young has been restricted from dealing with his legislative assistants for at least a year after accusations of mistreatment. In a Dec. 13 letter sent from a House attorney, Young was notified that the chamber was taking actions to address a “pattern of hostile and intimidating behavior.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Young is the prime sponsor of a bill to force laid-off workers to perform community service in order to receive unemployment benefits, and co-sponsor of a bill (prime sponsored by fellow right-wing extremist Rep. Matt Shea) to make Washington a “right-to-work” (for less) state.
► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Grays Harbor County collective bargaining staying behind doors — A resolution to make the collective-bargaining process public for union contracts with Grays Harbor County failed to gather enough traction with the commissioners to earn a vote. Commissioner Wes Cormier had moved to approve the resolution, but the motion died for lack of a second. The resolution itself was subject to a hefty amount of opposition from a crowded conference room during Monday’s commission meeting.
► In today’s Olympian — Providence St. Peter Hospital workers to hold picket and rally — Employees at Providence St. Peter Hospital who have been working under an expired contract plan to hit the picket line from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The “Stand with St. Pete’s Caregivers” event is being hosted by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at the hospital at 413 Lilly Road NE in Olympia. It is open to the public, and will include a rally that begins at 5 p.m. SEIU represents nearly 500 workers at the hospital, including licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, cooks and housekeepers.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Radioactive spread at Hanford briefly halts demolition — Demolition of Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant halted Monday after a spread of radioactive contamination outside the plant Friday afternoon.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
► In today’s NY Times — Trump fires acting Attorney General who defied him — President Trump fired his acting attorney general on Monday night, removing her as the nation’s top law enforcement officer after she defiantly refused to defend his executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries. In an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, the president declared in a statement that Sally Q. Yates had betrayed the administration by announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend Trump’s order against legal challenges.
ALSO at The Stand — Trump’s Muslim travel ban ‘fans flames of racism, xenophobia’ (statement by WSLC President Jeff Johnson)
► From Yahoo News — Six people who were trapped by Trump’s travel ban — As the new ban on people entering from certain Muslim countries took effect at airports across the country, details replaced generalized accusations. Now refugees, guest workers and green card holders acquired faces and names. Now they were doctors, industrial engineers, young adults orphaned by Taliban bombs, elderly parents of American citizens, widowed mothers of American soldiers, interpreters who had risked their lives for American troops.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — He got his green card last week, but now might not be able to see his parents for years
► From AP — Washington is 1st state to sue Trump over immigration order — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson declared Monday that he was suing President Donald Trump over his temporary ban on immigration from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations, making it the first state to announce a legal action against the Trump administration over one of its policies.
► In today’s News Tribune — Washington stands against Trump’s border bigotry (editorial) — Donald Trump has never been one to speak softly, but he’s pleased to carry the proverbial big stick. Now he’s swinging it wildly, kneecapping some of the world’s most desperate people. His executive order against refugees and other immigrants from select Muslim-majority countries must not be tolerated.
► In today’s Seattle Times — A morally bankrupt, inept executive order on immigration (editorial) — President Trump’s executive order on immigration revealed an unacceptable level of ignorance and incompetence.
► In today’s Columbian — Ban harmful, dangerous (editorial)
LOCAL COVERAGE of continuing protests/actions at Sea-Tac Airport, the Peace Arch in Blaine, the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Google workers walking out of their Seattle and Kirkland offices, and students at UW-Tacoma.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Speaker defends Trump order amid GOP concerns — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump’s divisive executive order on refugees and immigration, arguing that while the rollout was bumpy, the policy is consistent with Republican principles.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Speaking of Republican principles, you’ll be relieved to hear that on Sunday, while the entire nation was in its second day of uproar over Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at banning Muslims from entry into the United States, Republicans in Washington were huddling at their annual Roanoke Conference in Ocean Shores also discussing religious freedom. However, “The First Freedom: Why Religious Liberty is Important, and How It Can Be Defended in Washington State,” was a panel about passing state laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, similar to the one signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence in Indiana, which allows people to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against others, i.e. refuse service to LGBTQ people. The above-mentioned Rep. Jesse Young — whose “pattern of hostile and intimidating behavior” has led to restrictions on his interactions with legislative assistants — is among the co-sponsors of this religious freedom bill in Washington.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► From Think Progress — Report: Obamacare repeal could cost the United States 1.2 million jobs — A repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is popularly known, could reduce job growth by almost 1.2 million in 2019, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute. Although Republicans, who voted in favor of a repeal, say that cutting taxes associated with Obamacare would stimulate the economy, the report found that cuts for the ultra-wealthy are simply not enough, and would actually slow economic growth. The states that would lose the most jobs include Arizona, West Virginia, and Oregon.
ALSO at The Stand — Affordable Care Act is not dead yet — keep up the fight (by Rep. Rick Larsen)
► From Politico — Republican split on Obamacare strategy evident during private meeting — Congressional Republicans during a private meeting Thursday morning agonized over how best to repeal and replace Obamacare, a discussion that highlighted the vast divisions among the GOP rank-in-file, according to an audio recording of the session received by Politico.
► From AFL-CIO Now — There’s still time to sign up for the Affordable Care Act (but the deadline is TODAY!) — Let your friends and family, who may need coverage because they don’t get health care benefits through their jobs or Medicare, know that there’s still time to enroll at Healthcare.gov or their state marketplace. The deadline is Jan. 31.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington state residents: visit HealthPlanFinder.org.
► In today’s News Tribune — Federal hiring freeze covers civilian jobs at JBLM, Madigan — President Donald Trump’s recent executive order to freeze federal hiring affects military facilities and veterans in Western Washington. Joint-Base Lewis-McChord is among the biggest employers of federal civilian workers in Washington, providing close to 14,000 civil-service jobs. At Madigan Army Medical Center, more than 3,400 of 5,200 employees are civilians. The hosptial has about 560 job openings, ranging from surgical specialists to administrative support staff.
ALSO at the Stand — Federal hiring freeze is killing jobs, hurting vets
► From Think Progress — What it’s like to work for Trump’s labor pick: chaos and danger — Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants and President Trump’s pick to run the Labor Department, would oversee the country’s only agency dedicated to helping workers and improving their working conditions. Yet stories continue to pour out from employees of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants he oversees describing a workplace full of danger, chaos, and low pay. A new report released by Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Patty Murray (WA) shared with ThinkProgress highlights some of their experiences.
► BREAKING from The Hill — Dems boycott confirmation votes for Trump nominees — Senate Democrats on Tuesday refused to attend a committee vote on two President Trump’s more controversial nominees, effectively delaying their consideration. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted votes to advance Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin, his selection to head the Treasury Department.
► From KNKX — White House says Obama’s order on LGBTQ rights will stay in effect — An executive order protecting gays and lesbians who work for federal contractors “will remain intact” at President Trump’s direction, the White House says. The move could allay concerns that Trump might end recently adopted protections against an anti-LGBTQ workplace.
► From AP — Trump’s voter fraud expert registered in 3 states — A man who President Donald Trump has promoted as an authority on voter fraud was registered to vote in multiple states during the 2016 presidential election.
► In today’s NY Times — President Bannon? (editorial) — In giving right-wing agitator Steve Bannon an official role in national security policy making, Trump has not simply broken with tradition but has embraced the risk of politicizing national security, or giving the impression of doing so… As a candidate, Trump was immensely gratified by the applause at his rallies for Bannon’s jingoism. Yet now casually weaponized in executive orders, those same ideas are alienating American allies and damaging the presidency.
► In today’s Huffington Post — The Huffington Post ratifies union contract — The Huffington Post ratified its first union contract Monday, becoming the largest digital news site to collectively bargain amid a series of newsroom organizing drives.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.