Friday, February 16, 2018
► From AP — Revenue forecast brings good news for Washington lawmakers — As lawmakers prepare to unveil their supplemental budget proposals next week they received good news Thursday about state revenue projections that look to increase by about $1.3 billion more than expected through 2021. Overall state revenues increased by nearly $628 million for the current two-year budget that ends mid-2019.
EDITOR’S NOTE — What’s driving Washington’s economy — as these slides from the Revenue Forecast Council’s presentation illustrate — are income and job growth that is outpacing the rest of the country. Wages are rising in Washington. And that’s not killing jobs (as some would have you believe), it’s growing jobs as those wages are being injected into the local economy. This is one of the principal arguments that advocates for Initiative 1433 made, that raising the state minimum wage was good for workers AND good for the economy. Today’s lesson: strong unions and public policies that promote higher wages are good for Washington state.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — As state revenue surges, lawmakers vow property tax relief — Property owners are enduring a spike in their tax bills. Increased home values is one reason. Another is the state ratcheted up the tax rate to raise money to cover costs associated with the McCleary school funding case. Now lawmakers in both parties want to soften the blow by essentially buying down the increase for 2018.
► From Crosscut — City workers call on Seattle Council to stop office harassment — Once-quiet meetings among City of Seattle employees concerned about harassment and discrimination in the workplace have begun to spill into the public eye this week. The Seattle Silence Breakers, a growing group of mostly female city workers, held a rally on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday, breaking their silence and demanding changes to how the city addresses complaints.
► From Crosscut — Prominent activist among immigrants exposed by state DOL — Nationally known immigrant-rights activist Maru Mora Villalpando, currently under threat of deportation, stood defiantly in front of the Department of Licensing in her hometown of Bellingham to call attention to the proof that the agency shared her personal information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
► From KUOW — Immigrant advocates pressure Washington’s licensing chief to step down — Latino Civic Alliance, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Washington, El Centro De La Raza, and multiple other groups are calling for Pat Kohler to resign as director of the state’s Department of Licensing.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle labor leader David Rolf on unions and how they can evolve (podcast)
► In today’s NY Times — Senate rejects immigration plans, leaving fate of Dreamers uncertain — The Senate summarily blocked three measures on Thursday — including one backed by President Trump — to resolve the fate of the so-called Dreamers, leaving hundreds of thousands of them facing an uncertain future.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Needing 60 votes for passage, the Senate voted rejected Trump’s plan (releasing the Dreamers he has taken hostage, $25 billion for a wall, new restrictions on legal immigration) on a 39-60 vote. The Coons-McCain plan (path to citizenship for Dreamers, no wall money but some improved border security) failed 52-47. The “Common Sense” supposedly bipartisan plan ($25 billion for border security including a wall, path to citizenship for Dreamers but not their parents) failed 54-45. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted against Trump’s plan but for the other two.
► From The Hill — Supreme Court to have closed door meeting on DACA — The Supreme Court will hold a closed-door meeting to decide whether to take up a lower court opinion that blocked the White House plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is at the forefront of the debate on illegal immigration.
► From Reuters — U.S. court says Trump travel ban unlawfully discriminates against Muslims — President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries violates the U.S. Constitution by discriminating on the basis of religion, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday in another legal setback for the policy.
► From the AFL-CIO — Trump administration should rescind proposal that allows bosses to pocket working people’s tips — This would result in an estimated $5.8 billion in lost wages for workers each year―wages that they rightfully earned. And most of that would come from women’s pockets. Nearly 70% of tipped workers are women, and a majority of them work in the restaurant industry, which suffers from some of the highest rates of sexual harassment in the entire labor market. This rule would exacerbate sexual harassment because workers will now depend on the whims of owners to get their tips back.
► From The Hill — Business groups pressing for repeal of ACA employer mandate — After repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in December, business groups are demanding Congress also take action on the employer mandate — which requires most employers to offer insurance to their workers or face fines — arguing that having one without the other is inequitable.
► From The Nation — The Family Medical Leave Act is a quarter-century old this year—and in desperate need of an update (by Michelle Chen) — Working parents are therefore now waiting for the United States to join other modern countries and offer comprehensive paid family leave. States like California [and Washington!] provide workers with partial wage compensation through a dedicated payroll-based tax system for family leave, and even pro-business “family values” conservatives now promote some form of national subsidized paid-leave program.
► In today’s Washington Post — More than 40 percent of Trump’s first Cabinet-level picks have faced ethical or other controversies — President Trump came to Washington promising to “drain the swamp.” But after less than 13 months, more than 40 percent of the people he originally picked for Cabinet-level jobs have faced ethical or other controversies. And the list has grown quickly in recent weeks.
► In the (WVa.) Tribune-Review — West Virginia teachers vote to authorize statewide strike — Teachers and school service personnel in West Virginia could be heading for a statewide strike. Leaders of two of the state’s teachers’ unions, AFT-West Virginia and West Virginia Education Association, announced the decision.
► From The Hill — Could this be the moment the labor movement has been waiting for? (by Krystal Ball) — Teachers, school service personnel and other public employees in West Virginia are on the verge of a historic statewide walkout over pay that’s near the worst in the country. With no sign that the Republican-dominated legislature is going to accede to the teachers’ demands for a decent wage, the only avenue left is a coordinated statewide walkout… If you’re surprised to see a resurgence in progressive radical action coming from West Virginia, then it’s time you toss out your old stereotypes of West Virginians as an endlessly trod-upon people who don’t understand their own self-interest and reflexively back Republicans. You may also want to revisit your history. West Virginia was a cradle of militant unionism and the site of some of the most storied, important battles between labor and management.
► Last night, a movie that The New York Times calls “a defining moment for black America” opened in theaters across the U.S. It’s Black Panther, a big-budget superhero movie written, directed, designed by and starring almost exclusively black talent. As nerds who collected Marvel Comics in our youth (and still have them), The Entire Staff of The Stand will certainly be among the opening weekend crowds. By all accounts, it’s a fantastic movie and so is the soundtrack by the greatest rapper alive, Kendrick Lamar. Writes the L.A. Times: “‘This may be the night that my dreams might let me know / All the stars are closer,’ SZA sings in ‘All the Stars,’ a yearning duet with Lamar, and the lyric could be the inner monologue of a young woman watching Black Panther and finally recognizing an image of herself on-screen.” Enjoy!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.