Wednesday, October 4, 2017
► In the Yakima H-R — Labor issues at the forefront of NAFTA talks — Lynne Dodson, secretary treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, says while trade agreements of late, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, have included labor standards like those prohibiting child or forced labor, what matters more is whether such standards will be enforced. “Even those that have good labor language … there’s no enforcement mechanism,” said Dodson.
► In today’s News Tribune — Charity care ills run deeper than Tacoma hospital (editorial) — A state Attorney General lawsuit raises questions about whether St. Joseph Medical Center is unlawfully denying charity care to some patients. One thing seems clear: The Tacoma hospital is not alone in struggling to meet the state’s 1989 charity care law.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Today is Day 165 of our state’s capital construction budget being held hostage by Senate Republicans over an unrelated property/water rights issue. The GOP’s hardball strategy to force the reversal of a state Supreme Court decision on rural water rights has cost our state an untold number of construction jobs on projects either suspended or delayed this summer and fall. And now public employees are losing their jobs as well, with more layoffs on the way. When will this nonsense end?
The Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 is asking everyone to call Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) at 360-786-7692 and urge him to end the capital construction budget impasse. As Senate Floor Leader and a member of both the Ways & Means and Rules committees, Fain is uniquely positioned to break the logjam and end this growing crisis. You can also call your own legislators with that same message via the Legislature’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
► From TPM — ACA stabilization talks languish in Congress as rate hikes hit states — After blowing past a self-imposed September deadline for passing a bill to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s volatile individual market and prevent massive rate hikes from hitting people across the country, the negotiations around that bill are on life support, languishing without the backing of Republican leaders. This week, health insurance plans across the country submitted their final rates for 2018, many requesting massive double-digit rate hikes and explicitly citing uncertainty around Congress and the president’s plans for the individual market.
► In today’s (Vancouver) Columbian — Failing on health care (editorial) — Congress missed a Saturday deadline for funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for 9 million children from low-income families. That leaves states with only money from the previous budget cycle. Washington officials say CHIP funding will be exhausted by the first quarter of 2018; in Oregon, money is expected to run out by the end of this year… While Republican attempts to repeal the ACA have received much attention, efforts to simply undermine it often have flown under the radar… Instability in the Affordable Care Act has contributed mightily to enormous premium increases for the coming year.
► In today’s NY Times — Republicans are reconsidering full repeal of state and local tax deduction — Republican leaders are backing away from a proposal to fully repeal an expensive tax break used by more than 40 million tax filers to deduct state and local taxes amid pushback from fellow lawmakers whose residents rely on the popular provision.
► In today’s Washington Post — The report Trump officials don’t want you to see (by ) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been lately claiming that nearly all of the corporate tax burden is passed on to workers. It’s an argument that he has to make if he hopes to sell the administration’s tax cuts as a helping hand for the Forgotten Man. But his own staff’s previous research found that 82 percent of corporate taxes were borne by capital owners, and 18 percent were borne by labor. So now, the Treasury Department has taken the unusual — unprecedented? — step of quietly deleting the inconvenient findings from its website. In removing the report, Trump officials are making it easier to conceal what their tax plan does, and whom it helps.
► In the Pittsburgh P-G — Coal state senators push new legislation to shore up miners’ pensions — Lawmakers gathered in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to press for fresh legislation to shore up pensions for about 117,000 union coal miners at risk of losing their retirement savings amid a coal industry decline. Yet significant political hurdles remain, even after Congress managed to extend health care benefits for 22,000 retired miners in May just as those benefits were set to expire.
► From the People’s World — AFL-CIO, several unions send volunteers to Puerto Rico — Some 275 volunteers — pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and other workers — will take off on October 4 on a union-sponsored relief mission to hurricane-smashed Puerto Rico, the AFL-CIO announced. They’ll join 50 nurses, marshaled by National Nurses United on October 3, on the same plane. Together, the unionists will head to the island commonwealth, whose 3.4 million residents lack power, food, drinkable water and other resources, two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit.
► From The Guardian — Trump appears to complain about cost of relief effort — Trump told local officials: “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack. But that’s fine because we’ve saved a lot of lives.”
► Not in The Onion, but HuffPost — Trump helps suffering Puerto Ricans by throwing paper towels at them — Video of the event shows him tossing the paper towels like a child trying to play basketball.
► In the Missouri Times — AFL-CIO announces national convention in St. Louis — The AFL-CIO announced that it will be holding its 2017 national convention on October 22-25 at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. The convention is expected to allow union advocates to strategize for labor reform, under the theme “Join Together. Fight Together. Win Together.”
► From The Guardian — Too poor to vote: how Alabama’s ‘new poll tax’ bars thousands of people from voting — Randi Lynn Williams assumes she will never be able to afford to vote again. The 38-year-old resident of Dothan, Alabama, lost her right to vote in 2008, when she was convicted of fraudulent use of a credit card. She was on probation for over two years, then served a few months behind bars ending in early 2011, at which point she would have been eligible to vote in most states. In Maine and Vermont, she would have never lost that right in the first place. But in Alabama and eight other states from Nevada to Tennessee, anyone who has lost the franchise cannot regain it until they pay off any outstanding court fines, legal fees and victim restitution. In Alabama, that requirement has fostered an underclass of thousands of people who are unable to vote because they do not have enough money.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.