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‘Yes’ on school levies | Trumka unloads | Democratic decline

Wednesday, January 24, 2018




► In today’s News Tribune — Renew levies, vote yes for strong schools (editorial) — Long after McCleary fades into history, South Sound schools will need levy and bond aid to cover programs, facilities and staff (such as school nurses) not funded by the state. What the Legislature did was centered on Washington’s “paramount duty” under the constitution to provide a basic education. But local communities — whether urban, suburban or rural — have a duty of their own. To produce thriving, well-rounded students who will eventually run our society, local schools need to be better than basic.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Legislation in Olympia targets sexual harassment in the workplace — Thanks to the awareness brought by the #MeToo movement, the Legislature will hear bills Wednesday aimed at harassment in private workplaces. Two bills would remove obstacles that hinder employees from coming forward with claims, said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), who introduced the proposals. One would ensure employment contracts don’t block employees from speaking publicly about sexual-harassment allegations, while the other would secure an employee’s right to file a claim. A third bill would create a group to develop model practices intended to make the workplace safer from sexual harassment.

► In today’s News Tribune — For the first time, a woman will be honored with her name on a Capitol Campus building — The Helen Sommers Building name legislation passed this year following a protracted fight over the name in 2017 between Republicans and Democrats that also held up a symbolic tribute to the late Sen. Andy Hill.

► From The Stranger — Bill seeks to make it easier for formerly incarcerated people to vacate their convictions — If you’ve gone to prison in Washington state, odds are you’ve come out with debt. Legal financial obligations, or LFOs, accrue interest while you’re imprisoned. Failure to pay them off can land you back in jail. But Washington does allow some former prisoners to rehabilitate — after they’ve paid their LFOs. Too often, however, LFOs saddle people long after they’ve fulfilled the other commitments of their probation. And while formerly incarcerated people are trying to pay off their debt, a conviction prevents them from gaining stable housing or a job. A new bill seeks to change that, by allowing certain lower level convictions to be scrubbed before LFOs are fully paid.

► In today’s Olympian — Panel OKs low carbon fuels standard — A state House committee has approved a measure that would require fuel producers and importers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with gasoline and other transportation fuels.

► In today’s Columbian — Local Democratic PAC plans to disband after complaints — A political action committee associated with the local Democratic Party has stated that it will disband after being targeted by a conservative activist who has filed hundreds of complaints against similar organizations and politicians across the state.




► In today’s Oregonian — Oregon voters overwhelmingly pass health care taxes — Oregon’s Medicaid program survived intact Tuesday, after voters approved hundreds of millions of dollars in health care taxes in a special election. Measure 101, which led 61 percent to 39 percent with returns partially tallied, was the only issue on the ballot. It will raise $210 million to $320 million in taxes on Oregon’s largest hospitals and many health insurance policies by 2019. Voters’ wide approval of the tax deal was a victory for Democrats, who put the deal together and brokered enough votes in the Legislature to pass it, and for the health care industry, which bankrolled the “yes” campaign and will benefit from the resulting $1 billion-plus that will be spent on Oregonians’ health care. 




► From KNKX — Burien’s first Latino mayor is the son of undocumented farmworkers — For the first time in Burien’s 25-year history, the mayor is a member of the city’s Latino community. Newly-elected City Council Member Jimmy Matta was chosen by his peers to serve as mayor in a meeting Monday evening. Matta’s elevation to mayor follows a contentious local election in which immigration and changing demographics were flashpoints.

ALSO at The Stand — Path to Power candidate training Mar. 28-30




► In today’s NY Times — Union chief says Trump, having ‘actively hurt’ workers, is losing support — The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, who flirted with an alliance with President Trump, delivered a searing critique on Tuesday of the president’s first year, saying that he had used the White House “to actively hurt working people” and favor corporate interests. “Broken promises are bad enough,” Trumka said during a meeting with reporters. “But President Trump has also used his office to actively hurt working people. He has joined with corporations and their political allies to undermine the right of workers to bargain collectively. He has taken money out of our pockets and made our workplace less safe. He has divided our country, abandoned our values and given cover to racism and other forms of bigotry.”

ALSO at The Stand — Trump’s Labor Dept. wants to let bosses confiscate workers’ tips

► From Politico — Trump sets his Cabinet free to shape an agenda — Since the start of the year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has quietly opened the door to sharply limiting Medicaid; DHS has revoked a special immigration status for Salvadorans; and the Department of Interior has moved to open up federal land to offshore drilling.

► In today’s Washington Post — Potential citizenship question in 2020 Census could shift power to rural America — A request by the Justice Department to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census could shift the nation’s balance of political power from cities to more rural communities over the next decade and give Republicans a new advantage drawing electoral boundaries.

► From The Hill — Koch groups urge Trump to oppose gas tax increase — Groups backed by wealthy GOP donors Charles and David Koch are urging President Trump to oppose an increase in the federal gas tax, as the administration plans to push an infrastructure package this year.

► In today’s NY Times — Trump’s tariffs will not bring back manufacturing jobs (editorial) — The move will most likely raise the price of solar panels and washing machines in coming years and yet may not even lead to many more jobs.

► In today’s Washington Post — Your guide to the anti-FBI conspiracy theories rippling through conservative media — The memo. The text messages. The dossier. We sort through the emergent allegations made by the president’s defenders, including why some might be considered with a grain of salt.

EDITOR’S NOTE — …and promoted by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).

► In today’s Washington Post — Schumer rescinds offer to Trump on border wall — Hopes for a fresh start on immigration slammed into reality as the Senate’s top Democrat withdrew an offer to help pay for a wall and the White House called an emerging bipartisan plan “dead on arrival.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — Wise up, liberals: Your hand is too weak right now to go all-in (by Danny Westneat) — Listen, liberals: When you’re marooned this deep in the wilderness, a good day sometimes means not getting more lost. The Democrats were fortunate to wriggle out of this ill-advised shutdown with the Children’s Health Insurance Program saved, as well as no additional ground on immigration given up. You should be saying “whew!” and then focusing laserlike on your only way out: the next elections. Instead you’re bludgeoning your own. Which means your opponents have you right where they want you. The Democrats are being pilloried by their own supporters for caving and selling out in this week’s government shutdown. My take is that they were fortunate to wriggle out of it without losing a lot more.

► From The Onion — Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren assure Dreamers they’ll never stop fighting for the 2020 nomination




► In today’s Seattle Times — Starbucks plans pay hike, added benefits for employees — The Seattle coffee giant says it’s spending $250 million to improve pay with a second raise this year, stock grants, and a new sick-pay program for its 150,000 U.S. workers.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Tax bill will help fund 5,000 layoffs, Kimberly-Clark says — The Dallas-based maker of Kleenex, Huggies, Kotex and other consumer products plans to use some of its tax windfall to cover the costs of shrinking its workforce by as much as 13 percent as it shutters factories and reorganizes operations.

► From HuffPost — Toys ‘R’ Us to close 180 stores across U.S. — Toys “R” Us Inc said it will shut about one-fifth of its stores in the United States in the coming months, as the toy store chain tries to emerge from one of the largest ever bankruptcies by a specialty retailer.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Closures include the store in Everett.

► From Splinter — Slate staffers vote to unionize in defiance of stiff management resistance — Slate editorial employees voted to unionize on Tuesday after a 10-month battle that saw staffers at the magazine run up against stiff resistance from management. Voters from the proposed 54-person bargaining unit voted to organize by a margin of 45-7.




► From Splinter — How the decline of unions is (harming) the Democratic Party (by Hamilton Nolan) — When Reagan took office, about one in four American workers were union members. Today, about one in 10 American workers are union members. This decline in bargaining power for the working class is one of the most important reasons for the staggering rise in economic inequality during the same time period. All of this has been accompanied by a steady campaign by the right to make labor laws more hostile to union organizing. No tool has been more valuable for that purpose than “right to work” laws at the state level, which make it extremely difficult for unions to fund themselves and maintain power over time, by undermining their ability to collect dues. Today, the entire South is “right to work.”

It’s not hard to see that this is all a cycle: Unions decline; the economic power of working class people declines; the Democratic party weakens; Republicans push through laws that further weaken unions; etc. One of the things that sucks about the modern Democratic Party is that it has utterly failed to protect the ability of workers to organize in much of the country. Now, a new research paper by three economists quantifies exactly how counterproductive the failure to protect organized labor has been for the Democratic Party itself.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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