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Release the hostages, Cruz vs. 1.5M Americans, it’s a Category 5

Wednesday, July 12, 2017




► In the (Everett) Herald — Cut capital budget’s tie to water rights dispute (editorial) — The state’s $4 billion capital budget, which provides the funding for construction of public schools, colleges, universities, community and youth facilities, parks, environmental projects and more, is being held up by the Republican-controlled Senate until lawmakers can resolve a disagreement over water rights for private development. Lawmakers in the House, frustrated with this year’s protracted sessions, passed their capital budget on a 92-1 vote early Saturday morning… What the Senate shouldn’t do is hold up the capital budget any longer. Projects important to communities throughout the state — and tied to 7,500 jobs in construction, engineering and natural resource rehabilitation — are being needlessly delayed.

► In today’s Columbian — Schools wary of new state budget — A week-and-a-half after the state Legislature adopted a budget with the goal of fully funding education, there remains ambiguity about what the decision will mean for taxpayers.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Bill to improve DOC unlikely to pass; GOP senator blames Inslee — Legislation intended to improve the state Department of Corrections — after last year’s revelations that offenders were being mistakenly released early — likely won’t pass this year. Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) blames the governor.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Eyman’s latest initiative returns to take on car tabs — Tim Eyman’s Initiative 947 would be decided by voters statewide, not just in the Puget Sound area where voters approved the ST3 car tab fees. Eyman argues that there are statewide implications to the tax increase in the Sound Transit district.

► In today’s Seattle Times — It’s no joke: The right is coming after college next (by Danny Westneat) — The news that Republicans now think college is bad for America reads like a parody. As with the rest of Trumpism, it would be a mistake not to take it seriously. Already in our state Legislature there are a slew of right-wing bills to try to regulate academic culture, to make political identity a factor in hiring decisions, and to sell off one of our six public institutions, The Evergreen State College — a bill backed by a third of the state House GOP caucus. Unfortunately, we appear to be just getting started on making America stupid again.




► From the Economic Opportunity Institute — UW minimum wage study: disconcerting, distorted and biased (by John Burbank) — The study is most disconcerting because the authors seemed to have foregone academic due diligence in their eagerness to publish this new narrative. Distortions, discrepancies and lack of objective contextual analysis undermine their data and the claims they promulgate.

ALSO at The Stand — Seattle minimum wage study tries to flip the script — and reality

► From Bloomberg — The overhyped Seattle minimum-wage disaster (by Barry Ritholtz) — The UW study’s methodology has been criticized for its failings. The biggest is that it excludes businesses with more than one location. In other words, no McDonald’s or other fast-food restaurant chains were included. Nor was Wal-Mart, or any of the countless other well-known retail and restaurant chains. This is a major flaw… I also have a beef with objectivity of the study’s lead researcher, Jacob Vigdor. He has written critically about minimum-wage laws in general, including this post from 2014: “The minimum wage is a lousy anti-poverty program.” Thus, he may not be the most objective person for assessing the impact of Seattle’s minimum wage laws.

► In the South Seattle Emerald — Wage increases are bad and other fairy tales (by Jonathan Rosenblum) — Strip away the data and analysis in the UW study and at its core you’ll find an ideological conviction that profit is paramount and living wages for workers are bad because they get in the way of unfettered business.




► From KNKX — SEIU accused of making more than $5M in unreported political contributions — Washington’s Attorney General’s Office has filed a major campaign finance lawsuit alleging that SEIU’s Washington State Council should have registered as a political committee and reported its spending. The State Council coordinates the political and legislative work of SEIU locals across Washington state.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle has most cranes in the country for 2nd year in a row — and lead is growing — For the second year in a row, Seattle has been named the crane capital of America — and no other city is even close, as the local construction boom transforming the city shows no signs of slowing. Seattle had 58 construction cranes towering over the skyline at the start of the month, about 60 percent more than any other U.S. city.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Skagit County report gives go-ahead for Tesoro refinery expansion — Skagit County officials say a proposed expansion at an oil refinery in Anacortes would have no significant environmental impacts, meaning the refinery can now apply for construction permits. Operation of the new equipment would bring 20 new full-time staff members to the refinery.




► In today’s NY Times — GOP senators vow to unveil health bill Thursday, despite deep divisions — The weeklong July 4 recess only seemed to generate more doubts about the Senate bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) signaled that he was not ready to give up on his party’s seven-year-old promise to gut President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

► From The Hill — Study: Cruz amendment could raise premiums for 1.5M with pre-existing conditions — The proposed amendment, which is being considered by GOP leadership, would essentially let insurers sell plans that don’t meet Affordable Care Act requirements as long as they also sell plans that do. An analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation says that premiums for those ObamaCare-compliant plans would “skyrocket,” impacting about 1.5 million people with pre-existing conditions who will also become ineligible for subsidies under the bill.

► From The Hill — Ten House Democrats propose plan to fix ObamaCare — Ten House Democrats are proposing a plan to stabilize the Affordable Care Act markets and reduce premiums. The proposal was drafted by the New Democrat Coalition of moderate Democrats.

EDITOR’S NOTE — One of the 10 Dems proposing this plan is Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-1st), who has called on Speaker Paul Ryan to work with Democrats on health care. The Entire Staff of The Stand’s initial analysis of the New Democats’ plan: On the upside, it would allow a Medicare buy-in option for people nearing retirement age, an apparent step toward the public option that should have been part of the Affordable Care Act in the first place. On the downside, it includes an expansion of catastrophic high-deductible plans for younger enrollees that cover only “essential health benefits.” Defining what’s essential is always problematic and, although such plans would offer lower monthly premiums, creaming young people from the insurance pool will raise premiums for everyone else.


► In today’s NY Times — Republicans reluctantly acknowledge a failure at governing — Their senatorially painful decision announced on Tuesday to sacrifice some of lawmakers’ usually sacrosanct August recess was a public confession that they have not gotten the job done even while controlling the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. In deciding to forgo at least the first two weeks of their regular summer getaway, Senator Mitch McConnell and his colleagues essentially admitted that they could not afford to go home to face constituents without making a concerted effort to pass contentious health care legislation and put some other points on the board.




► In today’s Washington Post — ‘Category 5 hurricane’: White House under siege by Trump Jr.’s Russia revelations — President Trump — who has been hidden from public view since returning last weekend from a divisive international summit — is enraged that the Russia cloud still hangs over his presidency and is exasperated that his eldest son and namesake has become engulfed by it, said people who have spoken with him this week.

► In today’s Washington Post — Trump dysfunction follows family from the campaign to the White House (by James Hohmann) — The more details that emerge about how Trump’s campaign really operated behind the scenes — and how paralyzed his White House is now — the clearer it becomes that the president is in way over his head.

► In today’s NY Times — Donald Trump Jr. makes the Russian connection (editorial) — In language so blunt and obvious it would make a Hollywood screenwriter blush, the emails confirm what the president, his son and others have denied repeatedly for more than a year: that top members of the Trump campaign met with representatives of the Russian government in the expectation of help in damaging Hillary Clinton and getting Donald Trump elected… Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are maintaining their head-between-the-knees position as the Trump plane spirals downward.

► From Bloomberg — Trump team unlikely to fight for NAFTA worker safety rewrite — Economists and global trade specialists say they can’t see the Trump administration demanding significant changes to NAFTA’s side labor agreement. That comes as a bitter pill — though not an unexpected one — to labor advocates, who see the possibility of new talks as a perfect opportunity to rip up a labor pact that, in their view, has never gone far enough to protect workers on the job.

► From HuffPost — House Republicans add $1.6 billion for Trump’s border wall in Homeland Security budget — Uh, no. Mexico will not pay for it.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) and Dan Newhouse (R-4th) are members on the House Appropriations Committee that just released this budget.




► From Noisey — More than 100 Guitar Center employees ratify their first union contract — Despite the music retail giant’s union-busting efforts, four stores have won raises and healthcare for over 100 workers.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Are YOU interested in getting raises and health care? Form a union!


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