Wednesday, January 10, 2018
► From KUOW — Seattle school bus drivers warn of another strike soon — The roughly 400 public school drivers who work for First Student in Seattle have rejected the latest contract offer from the company. The drivers already went on strike in Seattle for one day last fall. They say they’re ready to do it again because they’re not happy with the health benefits offered by First Student.
ALSO at The Stand — Seattle school bus driver strike imminent after 85% reject offer
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle contractor charged with felony for employee’s death in 2016 trench collapse — Harold Felton was working to re-connect a new sewer line to a West Seattle house when the trench where he was working caved in, burying him in wet soil. His boss is accused of criminal negligence in his January 2016 death in what is believed to be the first employer in state history to face felony charges in connection with an employee’s death.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Judge’s study calls for more security in Washington courtrooms — A courtroom security study has found that about half of the Superior Courts in Washington — where divorces are settled, lawsuits are argued and killers are sentenced — still do not have even the most basic security screenings that would prevent people from entering county courthouses.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee: ‘It’s our state’s destiny… to fight climate change’ — Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday delivered an impassioned plea for lawmakers to enact a tax on carbon pollution that would enable the state to step up its fight against the damaging effects of climate change. Inslee devoted almost half of his State of the State address to arguing for action against what he described as “an existential threat” to the health of individuals, businesses and the environment.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee releases details of proposed carbon tax — Inslee’s proposal would levy a $20-a-ton price on carbon emissions, said Reed Schuler, an Inslee policy adviser. That price would rise over time. The billions of dollars raised would support clean-energy projects, work to improve floodwater management and reduce risks of wildfires, and assistance to offset the tax’s impact on low-income communities. The state would start collecting the revenue in the 2020 budget year, with $726 million generated that year. The tax would raise a total of $3.3 billion over four years. If approved, Washington would join California and British Columbia in pricing carbon on the West Coast.
► From WFSE — Supplemental budget debate centers on public safety net — In the first legislative airing of the governor’s proposed supplemental budget, the Washington Federation of State Employees praised its attention to Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, but said it should act on Community Corrections and Children’s caseloads and parks funding.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Kreidler proposes plan to stabilize rural health care markets — His bill, co-sponsored by state Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) and state Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle), aims to increase coverage options while lowering premiums by as much as 10 percent. As drafted, the plan would assess fees on employer-provided group insurance plans to create a $200 million reinsurance program plan for high-risk patients.
► From The Stranger — Hey, look, a bill that addresses car tab fees without fucking over Sound Transit — Rep. Kristine Reeves (D-Federal Way) is sponsoring a bill that would allow drivers who owe $200 or more in car tab fees to pay those fees in installments throughout the year.
► In today’s Columbian — Enact the Washington Voting Rights Act (editorial) — The WVRA deserves quick passage… Republicans who believe in the foundations of democracy and who often laud local control should be able to see the wisdom in the WVRA. We encourage legislators of both parties to recognize the importance of the act and to help government become more representative of all constituents.
ALSO at The Stand — Quick action planned on bills to boost voting
► From AFL-CIO — Voting rights for millions at risk in Supreme court case — The case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), challenges a procedure the state of Ohio uses to remove voters from the registration rolls based on their failure to vote. The precedent set by this Supreme Court case will have ramifications for voting rights for generations and, if the court decides against APRI, it could potentially harm entire swaths of the voting public.
► In today’s Washington Post — Federal court voids North Carolina’s GOP-drawn congressional map for partisan gerrymandering — A federal court on Tuesday ruled that Republicans in North Carolina unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional districts in 2016 to ensure Republican “domination of the state’s congressional delegation.” The three-judge panel struck down the map and ordered the state’s General Assembly to come up with a substitute by Jan. 24. The decision was the first striking down of a congressional map, as opposed to a state legislative map, on the grounds that it was rigged in favor of a particular political party. Redistricting has historically been political and partisan to one degree or another.
► From AP — Senate Dems report slams Trump for ignoring new Russian meddling threats — A new report warns of deepening Russian interference throughout Europe and concludes that even as some Western democracies have responded with aggressive countermeasures, Trump has offered no strategic plan to safeguard the U.S. from again falling victim to the Kremlin’s systematic meddling.
► From The Hill — Trump, lawmakers take key step toward immigration deal — The president and lawmakers who are leading immigration talks on Capitol Hill agreed that an agreement should include four key components. It should protect an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation, beef up security along the U.S.-Mexico border, change the weighting given to family relationships when granting legal status and reform the diversity visa lottery program.
► In today’s Washington Post — Federal judge gives respite to ‘dreamers’, says DACA can’t end while lawsuit is pending — The order by U.S. District Judge William Alsup issued Tuesday says safeguards against deportation must remain in place for the nearly 690,000 immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while a legal challenge to ending the Obama-era program proceeds. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to terminate the program on Sept. 5 and said no renewal applications would be accepted after Oct. 5. Under the administration’s plan, permits that expired after March 5 could not be renewed. But Alsup ruled that while the lawsuit is pending, anyone who had DACA status when the program was rescinded Sept. 5 can renew it, officials said. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the decision “outrageous”
► In today’s Washington Post — With DACA in the balance, Democrats ponder whether to force a shutdown — Party leaders are walking a tightrope in negotiations over a spending deal, wielding their leverage but trying to avoid the peril of an election-year shutdown that could rally the GOP base and alienate swing voters.
► In today’s LA Times — Trump order upends future for a generation of Salvadorans who now must leave U.S. — As they built their lives in the United States year after year, many Salvadorans considered their stay anything but temporary. They were dishwashers who worked their way to being big-rig drivers, day laborers who became factory machinists. They got married, had kids, bought houses. El Salvador — its gang violence and suffocating poverty — seemed increasingly distant.
► In today’s Washington Post — She has a baby and a job, and loves them both. But she fears she’ll be paying off student debt until she dies. — Three years ago, Sarah Pool’s student loans totaled $60,000. She has paid steadily ever since and now owes $69,000 — more than twice the income she earns working as a children’s librarian. She clings to a glimmer of hope in a loan forgiveness program — and she’s terrified it will be quietly eliminated.
► From McClatchy — Under pressure, Trump team backs off proposal to cull foreign tech workforce — After McClatchy reported over New Year’s weekend that the agency was weighing a specific policy shift that would prevent foreign tech industry workers from keeping their visas longer than six years, the agency reversed course on that proposal.
► From NPR — Rep. Darrell Issa to retire, adding to record GOP exodus from Congress — Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced he will not seek re-election, adding to a record number of House Republicans heading for the exits ahead of the 2018 midterms — perhaps seeing the writing on the wall of a possible wave election.
► From HuffPost — Most Americans oppose federal crackdown on state-legal marijuana
► From MSNBC — McConnell decries ‘obstruction’ on judicial nominees, irony weeps (by Steve Benen) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke on the Senate floor Monday afternoon about one of his favorite subjects: “obstruction in the judicial confirmation process.” In practical terms, the Democratic minority is doing exactly what McConnell and his Republican brethren did during the Obama era, when Democrats ran the chamber for six years. But more to the point, if we’re going to talk about “needless obstruction” of judicial nominees, can we also talk about the fact that Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat?
TODAY IN PRIVATIZATION
► In today’s NY Times — Using private contractors, IRS paid $20 million to collect $6.7 million in tax debts — When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked at his confirmation hearing what he thought about using private companies to collect money owed to the government, he replied that it “seems like a very obvious thing to do.” It may have been obvious, but it certainly was not economical. Private debt collectors cost the Internal Revenue Service $20 million in the past fiscal year, but brought in only $6.7 million in back taxes, the agency’s taxpayer advocate reported Wednesday. That was less than 1 percent of the amount assigned for collection. What’s more, private contractors in some cases were paid 25 percent commissions on collections that the I.R.S. made without their help.
► From Delaware Online — Right-to-work proposal defeated in Sussex County — A proposed right-to-work ordinance was defeated by Sussex County Council on Tuesday. Councilman Rob Arlett, who introduced the ordinance in October, was the only member of council who voted in favor of the measure, which was defeated by a 4-1 vote.
► In today’s NY Times — Toyota, Mazda are said to pick Alabama for $1.6 billion plant — The Japanese automakers are planning to build an assembly plant that is expected to employ about 4,000 people and open by 2021.
► MUST-READ from The Hill — Trump’s presidency hangs on whether he can be honest under oath (by Gregory Wallance) — Not surprisingly, Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller has notified President Trump’s attorneys that he may want to interview the president as part of his investigation of alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia and any related obstruction of justice. Depending on how Trump responds to the request and how he handles any interview (likely to be under oath), Mueller’s investigation could soon conclude without an accusation of wrongdoing against the president — or it could end the Trump presidency… If an investigation that simply seeks the truth ends the Trump presidency, it will be quite fitting.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.