Tuesday, February 19, 2019
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — State lawmakers consider more help for sick Hanford workers, while feds push back — Even as the federal government sues to stop a new Washington state law that helps Hanford workers, some state lawmakers are working to change the new law to allow even more ill workers to be compensated. Workers should not have to wait too long for resolution of the lawsuit. The federal government and the defendant in the lawsuit, the state of Washington, have told a federal judge that it likely can be resolved without going to trial.
ALSO at The Stand — Safety net strengthened for Hanford workers (by Nickolas Bumpaous from the WSLC’s 2018 Legislative Report)
► In today’s Seattle Times — Should the Legislature bring universal health care to Washington? — Universal health-care proposals in the Washington Legislature this year also come as Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee also push bills to design a “public option” plan for Washington’s health benefit exchange.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle construction still booming and won’t end anytime soon — There are 66 major projects underway now in the central part of the city, from South Lake Union to Sodo, up from 65 six months prior, according to the Downtown Seattle Association. What’s more, using permit plans, the group counted 32 new projects ready to get started soon, and another 129 in the pipeline for future years, figures that haven’t changed much.
► In today’s NY Times — 16 states sue to stop Trump’s use of emergency powers to build border wall — A coalition of 16 states, including California and New York, on Monday challenged Trump in court over his plan to use emergency powers to spend billions of dollars on his border wall. The lawsuit is part of a constitutional confrontation that Trump set off when he declared that he would spend billions of dollars more on border barriers than Congress had granted him. The clash raises questions over congressional control of spending, the scope of emergency powers granted to the president, and how far the courts are willing to go to settle such a dispute.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington is not among the 16 states suing at this point, although Gov. Jay Inslee said we are preparing to do so. Also there were protests nationwide yesterday over this fake emergency and Trump’s border security policies. See coverage of local protests from KIRO 7 (Seattle), Peninsula Daily News, Skagit Valley Herald, and the (Vancouver) Columbian.
► In today’s NY Times — Why Trump’s emergency mess means danger for the courts (by Robert Chesney) — Whether the president wins or loses, though, there is a serious risk that the final result will be a dangerous judicial precedent.
► From the AP — I owe how much? Americans shocked by impact of new tax law — The first tax filing season under the new federal tax law is proving to be surprising, confusing — and occasionally frightening — for some Americans, especially those accustomed to getting money back from the government. Take Andy Kraft and Amy Elias of Portland, Oregon. The couple had grown comfortable getting a small refund each year, a few hundred dollars or more. Then they found out they owe $10,160 this year.
► From The Hill — Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive — The Trump administration and key Republican lawmakers are playing defense after early data showed Americans are getting smaller tax refunds in the first filing season under the GOP tax law. The average refund size through Feb. 8 was 8.7 percent smaller than the same period last year, according to IRS figures.
► From Bloomberg — Gates says taxing capital gains is the best way to tap big fortunes — Bill Gates is concerned about the high budget deficits being run by the U.S., and said if taxes are ultimately increased to make up the shortfall, then it’s appropriate for wealthy people to pay much higher taxes.
► From the AP — Ginsburg returns to Supreme Court bench in public session — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back on the Supreme Court bench, eight weeks after surgery for lung cancer. The 85-year-old justice walked unassisted to her seat beside Chief Justice John Roberts when the court began its public session Tuesday.1
► From HuffPost — West Virginia teachers announce another statewide strike — West Virginia public school teachers plan to go on strike again Tuesday, nearly a year to the day after they began a historic walkout that inspired teacher strikes in other states. The unions representing teachers and other school personnel announced the new work stoppage Monday night at the statehouse in Charleston, as the GOP-controlled state Senate debated a charter-schools bill that teachers say would siphon money away from public schools.
EDITOR’S NOTE — When we fight, we win.
► From Vox — A record number of U.S. workers went on strike in 2018 — Last year’s labor unrest started with a teachers strike in West Virginia and ended with Marriott workers picketing across four states. A record number of U.S. workers went on strike or stopped working in 2018 because of labor disputes with employers, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 485,000 employees were involved in major work stoppages last year — the highest number since 1986, when flight attendants, garbage collectors, and steelworkers walked off the job.
► From Kotaku — An open letter to game developers from America’s largest labor organization — U.S. video game sales reached $43 billion in 2018, about 3.6 times greater than the film industry’s record-breaking box office. It’s a stunning accomplishment — one built by legions of tireless game developers. There’s nothing more powerful than throwing yourself into your craft, putting in day after day of passionate, hard work. Through the fog of sleepless nights that fade into morning, piles of crumpled Red Bull cans and incessant pressure from management, you have accomplished the unthinkable. You’ve built new worlds, designed new challenges and ushered in a new era of entertainment. Now it’s time for industry bosses to start treating you with hard-earned dignity and respect.
► From Variety — America’s biggest labor federation asks game developers to unionize — A leading figure from America’s biggest labor organization penned an open letter to game developers encouraging unionization across the games industry. AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler took to Kotaku with a post that asks workers in the games industry to fight for adequate pay, sensible work hours, and against toxic work conditions.
ALSO at The Stand — Why you should get excited about tech sector organizing (by Amy Yi)
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.