Tuesday, April 11, 2017
► From KNKX — Time running out for Washington lawmakers to get budget deal — House Democrats and Senate Republicans have passed very different budgets and school funding plans… Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia) said negotiations can’t even start until House Democrats pass their committee-approved $3 billion tax plan. House Appropriations Committee Chair Timm Ormbsy (D-Spokane) said this is no time for pre-conditions: “This is when people get together as adults and discuss the differences and discuss paths to resolving them.”
ALSO at The Stand — Rival state budgets demonstrate party values
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Bill advances to force Sound Transit to alter license tax — A Democrat-drafted response to soaring Sound Transit car tabs passed out of a House committee Monday with backing of several Republican lawmakers. Under HB 2201, the regional transit authority must stop using a 2-decade-old depreciation schedule which overvalues vehicles and start using one adopted by the Legislature in 2006 which better reflects a car’s actual worth. Sound Transit would give owners a credit for any extra they paid under the old method, or a refund if they’ve already spent money to renew their tabs. While this would reduce a stream of revenue on which Sound Transit depends for future expansions, Democrats said it won’t impair the transit agency’s ability to carry out the $54 billion worth of projects in the Sound Transit 3 plan as promised.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Restore state funding for park, habitat projects (editorial) — Less than a year after passing legislation to reform the state’s grant program for funding of public lands and parks projects, Republicans on the House capital budget committee again are taking it upon themselves to pick and choose projects, rejecting those they don’t consider important. Those decisions were not intended to be theirs to make.
► In today’s Columbian — Lawmakers’ effort to compromise pays off — This legislative session, Southwest Washington lawmakers were determined to meet regularly, work cohesively and move past personality conflicts, which in previous years hindered what they could deliver for the region. The effort looks like it could be paying off in the Senate and House capital budgets.
► Speaking of “past personality conflicts,” also in today’s Columbian — Don Benton tapped to lead U.S. Selective Service System — Don Benton, a former state lawmaker from Vancouver who reportedly frustrated officials in his current role as the Environmental Protection Agency’s senior White House adviser, reportedly is being tapped to oversee the U.S. Selective Service System. Benton apparently clashed with officials at the EPA. Last month, the Washington Post reported Benton “piped up so frequently during policy discussions that he had been disinvited from many of them.”
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Legislators agree on need for bilingual teachers. But can’t agree on a plan. — A Senate bill proposed creating four pilot programs, including one in Pasco, to recruit bilingual teachers in high school. Another bill in the House would create a grant program for school districts to develop their own bilingual recruitment. Behind the scenes, lawmakers appear to be trying to combine the ideas into one program.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma teens get a jump on manufacturing careers with new apprentice program — Fifteen Tacoma Public Schools students will form the first cohort of a new apprenticeship program that will train students to work for local manufacturers. While they learn, they’ll earn money along with high school and college credits.
► In today’s News Tribune — 100-plus immigrants detained in Tacoma on hunger strike, activists say — More than 100 immigrants detained at the Northwest Detention Center on Tacoma’s Tideflats started a hunger strike Monday to protest the conditions at the facility, according to an immigrant rights group.
ALSO at The Stand — Hunger strikers decry conditions at Tacoma detention center
► In today’s Seattle Times — Child TV star turned Yale-educated lawyer leads ‘big fight’ for Northwest immigrants — Met Jorge Barón, the 44-year-old Seattle attorney — executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project — who’s a “legal hero” of Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a figure in constant demand as the nation’s immigration debate turns white-hot under President Donald Trump.
ALSO at The Stand — State, NWIRP offer guidance on federal immigration compliance
HIDE AND SEEK
► From USA Today — Republicans avoid town halls after health care votes — Fourteen Republicans from competitive congressional districts sit on the three congressional committees that voted last month for their party’s controversial health care plan before GOP leaders pulled the bill from the House floor because it lacked support to pass. The lack of town hall meetings in key swing districts during a spring break that lasts until April 23 underscores the party’s precarious political position on health care and peaking civic activism by progressives. The Republicans’ migration away from public forums has been going on for months, despite complaints from constituents and local media.
ALSO at The Stand — Who’s playing hide-and-seek at recess?
► A related story from Investopedia — Goldman Sachs concludes Obamacare added 500,000 jobs — One of the Republicans’ central claims about the Affordable Care Act is that it kills American jobs. But is that accurate? Not according to Goldman Sachs. Researchers at the investment bank found that employment in the healthcare and social assistance sectors saw a marked increase after parts of Obamacare went into effect in 2012… By contrast, the initial bill the Republicans tried to pass in March would result in 24 million fewer insured Americans over a 10-year period, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate.
► From Politico — Why Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan could wind up in a ditch — President Donald Trump is counting on his $1 trillion infrastructure proposal to produce the kind of bipartisan legislative victory that has eluded him on health care and pretty much everything else. Instead, he’s running into familiar roadblocks: suspicious Democrats, a divided GOP and questions about the math.
► From the AFL-CIO — Congress should keep promises to mine workers — Congress has until April 30 to pass legislation that would make sure we continue to keep this promise. On that day, the extension Congress passed in December will expire, as will funding for many retired mine workers’ health care. Call 855-976-9914 to tell Congress to pass the Miners Protection Act.
ALSO at The Stand — Time running out for Congress to act on mine workers’ benefits
► From TPM — Social Security advocates sound the alarm about the latest Trump tax plan — Lobbyists aligned with the Trump administration are pushing for the elimination of the 12.4 percent payroll tax, which is the overwhelming source of revenue for the Social Security trust funds. “They will sell it as a tax cut for the middle class, but really this is undermining middle class economic security, and the ability to retire,” said Nancy Altman of Social Security Works.
► From TPM — Poll: Sanders is most popular senator among constituents; McConnell is least — Seventy-five percent of Sanders’ constituents approved of his performance in office, compared to 21 percent who disapproved, according to the Morning Consult poll. Forty-four percent of Kentuckians approve of McConnell’s performance, compared to 47 who disapprove. McConnell is the only senator to receive a net disapproval from his constituents.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Patty Murray is 59% approval vs. 29% disapproval, and Maria Cantwell is 56% vs. 27%.
► In today’s Washington Post — The Senate may be developing an electoral college issue (by Philip Bump) — By one metric, lawmakers representing less than half of the country are passing measures in the chamber.
► In today’s NY Times — Kansas House race brings surprise for GOP: competition — A special election in a district held by Republicans for over two decades has suddenly appeared to tighten.
► In the Washington Post — EPA staffer leaves with a bang, blasting agency policies under Trump — When Mike Cox quit, he did so with gusto. After 25 years, the Bainbridge Island, Wash., man retired last week from the Environmental Protection Agency with a tough message for the boss, Administrator Scott Pruitt:
“I, along with many EPA staff, are becoming increasing alarmed about the direction of EPA under your leadership… The policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children breath is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.”
► From Bloomberg — Membership in many unions down, numbers good for others — Plant closings and anti-union legislation caused some of the nation’s largest unions to lose thousands of members in 2016 and some labor groups have struggled to bounce back and organize new members quickly in response, said Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University. The USW lost about 20,000 members in 2016; the UFCW about 14,000; and the Teamsters and Machinists about 5,500 each. But the UAW and SEIU saw increases in membership, in part, because of a focus on organizing large units of workers at universities.
ALSO at The Stand — Union membership is up again in Washington state — An estimated 539,000 Washington state residents belonged to labor unions in 2016, an increase of 39,000 from the previous year. With its 17.4 percent union membership rate, Washington is now the 5th most unionized state in the nation.
► From The Hill — SEIU cutting headquarters staff — The Service Employees International Union is reportedly laying off staff at its headquarters after spending about $60 million on politics and lobbying and $19 million on the Fight for 15 movement in 2016. The union is looking to shed 30 percent of its budget in 2017, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry announced in December, after the results of the 2016 presidential race.
► From AP — Retailers make sharp job cuts as consumers migrate online — Retail stores are cutting jobs at the sharpest pace in more than seven years, with 60,600 jobs eliminated in the past two months.
► From The Hill — Alabama governor resigns amid sex scandal — What began as a sex scandal that cost him his 50-year marriage ended with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s (R) resignation Monday, hours after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor crimes.
► In today’s NY Times — Federal judge says Texas Voter ID law intentionally discriminates — The judge ruled that the law was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.