Thursday, January 17, 2019
► MUST-SEE in today’s Washington Post — Shut down, fed up (graphics with video) — The partial government shutdown is now the longest in American history, and hundreds of thousands of people are feeling the strain. These are their stories.
ALSO at The Stand — Join EPA staff at rally to end shutdown TODAY in Seattle — Federal employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, who have been furloughed amid the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history, will rally with their supporters on Thursday, Jan. 17 from noon to 1 p.m. outside the offices of the EPA Region 10 office at Park Place Building, 1200 6th Ave. in Seattle. The message: Stop the Shutdown!
► In today’s NY Times — White House redefines who is essential to get parts of government moving again — As the government shutdown stretches into its fourth week, the Trump administration is reinterpreting longstanding rules to open the federal government piece by piece, forcing thousands of workers to report to work without pay, many of them in sectors that could minimize damage to the president’s base.
► From KING TV — Sen. Murray highlights plight of Washington woman during shutdown
► In today’s Washington Post — TSA acknowledges financial stress of shutdown is forcing growing number of officers to stay home — Faced with growing numbers of call-outs by its workers — and images of some of them lining up for food donations — TSA leaders acknowledged Wednesday that “many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.” Significant numbers of TSA agents have not been coming to work, either because of financial hardship or to underscore their opposition to being forced to work without pay. And the agency said the call-outs are rising.
► In today’s Washington Post — Back pay approved for furloughed federal employees once shutdown ends — When funding is restored to federal agencies shuttered by the partial government shutdown, employees who have been on unpaid furloughs will receive back pay.
► From Politico — Farmers cut off from their federal lifelines as shutdown persists — With the growing season just months away, some farmers say the government shutdown is threatening their ability to buy seeds, land and fertilizer in time to plant major crops like corn and wheat this year.
► In today’s Washington Post — Shutdown may create a ripple of disruptions for travelers — The shutdown is costing the tourism industry more than $100 million a day, according to an analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.
► In today’s NY Times — In a West Wing in transition, Trump tries to stand firm on the shutdown — “We are getting crushed!” Mr. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after watching some recent coverage of the shutdown.
► In the Renton Reporter — Issaquah School District disagrees with district office personnel, paraeducators unions — Office professionals and paraeducators working with the Issaquah School District voted to authorize a strike. A strike committee will be formed to determine when the strike will begin. The vote to authorize a strike comes after workers filed grievances against the school district stating parts of their previous agreement with the district are not being honored.
ALSO at the Stand — Support staff at Issaquah schools vote to authorize strike
► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver school district, union dig in on contract dispute — Vancouver Public Schools Wednesday stood by its denial that the district has canceled or otherwise withdrawn from its tentative agreement with its support staff union.
► From the NW Labor Press — Reversing course, OHSU agrees to recognize grad student union — Back in September, Oregon Health and Science University argued that its 250 full-time graduate student researchers shouldn’t be allowed to unionize — because they’re not really public employees under the law. In December, university executives changed their mind, and OHSU dropped its legal objection.
► In the Inlander — Inslee’s ‘public option’ plan to reduce health care costs is ambitious — and untested — Inslee’s “Cascade Care” public option plan would make his administration an insurance negotiator, tasking it with picking at least one insurer to offer ACA exchange coverage for the entire state. By wielding its powerful bargaining power, the argument goes, the state government could drive down prices, cap reimbursement rates and expand access in the individual market.
ALSO at The Stand — Inslee backs ‘public option’ for health care
EDITOR’S NOTE — In this story, Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax) says, “As a general rule, I know my constituents are not in favor of universal health care.”
► In today’s News Tribune — State job safety enforcers go over the top with $58,400 L&I fine of Tacoma Rainiers (editorial) — It’s understandable that workplace health-and-safety regulators would emphasize preventing falls. Still, imposing such a large fine for a first-time offense was needlessly harsh, and categorizing it as a “willful” violation — the most severe penalty in L&I’’s arsenal — smacks of disproportionate treatment.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Food stamp funds going out early in Washington state amid shutdown — State officials said this week that recipients of the federal food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will receive February benefits by Sunday. This is a workaround by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure minimal disruption to benefits.
► BREAKING from Politico — Trump administration separated thousands more migrants than previously known — The Trump administration separated thousands more migrant kids at the border than it previously acknowledged, and the separations began months before the policy was announced, according to a federal audit released Thursday morning.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Congress must join appeal to defend the ACA (editorial) — If tens of millions are to keep the coverage they have now, and more than 130 million with pre-existing conditions are to keep theirs, the ACA must be successfully defended in the courts, and Congress must continue to look for ways to keep costs down for everyone.
► From TPM — Trump’s companies boosted foreign worker visa use to 10-year high — President Trump may have ratcheted up his anti-immigration efforts in recent months, but his family companies appear to be using foreign workers at a higher rate than ever before. The Trump Organization requested and received at least 192 visas for foreign workers in 2018, according to Department of Labor data. That number appears to be the highest for the company going back to at least 2008 and likely much earlier, based on public records.
► From CNN — Los Angeles teachers’ strike keeps growing as the standoff ‘feels like… playing chicken’ — The tug of war between Los Angeles teachers and their school district may be shifting toward the teachers as picket lines keep growing, the teachers’ union said. “For two days in a row, we had over 50,000 people downtown saying we want educational justice in Los Angeles,” United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said Wednesday.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — How you, your union can support striking LA teachers
► In today’s Washington Post — Why the L.A. teachers strike is so uncomfortable for so many Democrats — There’s an underlying theme (to the strike): Does a genuine public commitment exist to support traditional public school districts against privatization efforts? And it’s not just Republicans vs. Democrats. Democrats have been fighting one another over the future of public education for years.
► In the Wichita Eagle — Wichita ‘claws back’ $100,000 in tax breaks from company that created too few jobs — Fiber Dynamics hasn’t had to pay city property taxes since 2008, an estimated value of more than $500,000. Now, it has to pay $100,000 in back taxes because it didn’t create enough jobs, based on a new agreement with the city.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.