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Bills, bills, bills ● Trade deficit explodes ● Blocking overtime pay

Wednesday, March 6, 2019




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Next Renewable signs agreement to hire union labor to build biodiesel plant — NEXT Renewable Fuels signed a Memorandum of Understanding with two regional union groups, pledging to hire union labor to build its proposed $1.1 billion renewable diesel plant at Port Westward, the company announced Tuesday. NEXT wants to start operating the plant by 2021 on Port of Columbia County land north of Clatskanie along the Columbia River.




► From KNKX — Analysis: No shortage of bills nearly halfway through the legislative session — State lawmakers are approaching the halfway point of their 105-day session, and they’re closing in on the deadline to pass non-budget-related bills out of their house of origin. Democrats control both chambers this year, and they’re flexing their majority muscles. “This one stands out on a couple of fronts,” Jenkins said of the session. “First, just the sheer number of bills that have been introduced.” The nearly 2,500 bills average out to about 17 bills per member of the Legislature, he said. “That’s a lot of legislation.”

ALSO see the latest WSLC Legislative Update newsletter for a status report on labor-supported bills.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Most Spokane County property owners will pay less in taxes this year as school funding changes — Thanks in part to changes made at the state level on funding for public education, 83 percent of property owners will pay less this year in taxes than they did in 2018, the Spokane County treasurer’s and assessor’s offices reported Tuesday.




► In today’s Washington Post — Trump promised to shrink the trade deficit. Instead it exploded. — The Commerce Department said Wednesday that — despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies — the United States last year posted a $891.2 billion merchandise trade deficit, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history. The trade gap with China also hit a record $419 billion. It has been evident for months that the president was failing to shrink a trade gap that he calls “unsustainable” and that he says represents a massive transfer of wealth from Americans to foreigners.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Plus, we’re paying $10 billion in welfare for tariff-harmed farmers.

► In today’s Washington Post — Trump’s economic hoaxes just collided with reality (by Dana Milbank) — Clearly, two years into the Trump presidency, both West Virginia and the coal industry remain in bad shape. Coal-plant closures nationwide reached a near-record in 2018, production was off sharply, and U.S. coal consumption hit a 40-year low… A new study, by a group that includes the World Bank’s chief economist, found that “workers in very Republican counties bore the brunt of the costs of the trade war.” They, like the coal miners, the steelworkers and West Virginians — those whom Trump’s trade adviser recently dubbed “Trump people” — are the ultimate victims of Trump’s economic hoax.

► In today’s Washington Post — From $22 an hour to $11: GM job cuts in Ohio show a hot economy is still leaving parts of America behind — With GM set to shut down production here Wednesday, Lordstown shows how the nation’s booming jobs market is still leaving vast segments of America behind. Last year was the best for manufacturing jobs in more than two decades, but the Youngstown, Ohio, region where Lordstown is located has continued to lose manufacturing jobs in recent years.

► From The Hill — Dems offer legislation to tax financial transactions — The House bill has the backing of a number of members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including the group’s co-chairs, Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) Under the legislation, sales of stocks, bonds and derivatives would be taxed at a rate of 0.1 percent. The bill is endorsed by groups including the AFL-CIO, Americans for Tax Fairness, Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen.

► From The Hill — Senate GOP eyes big vote against Trump — Opposition to Trump’s emergency border declaration is snowballing in the Senate, forcing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to scramble for a way to avoid a major embarrassment for the president.

► From TPM — Poll: Majority of voters think Trump has committed crimes — A strong majority of voters believe Trump has committed crimes before he became president and a plurality believe he’s committed crimes since his inauguration, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.




► From the AP — CEO says Southwest is losing millions weekly in labor fight — The CEO of Southwest Airlines says that a spike in planes grounded by mechanics’ concerns is costing the carrier millions each week by causing more delayed and canceled flights. Southwest says some workers are writing up minor mechanical problems and grounding planes to gain leverage in negotiations over a new labor contract. Mechanics rejected a proposed deal last year, and the sides remain apart on wages and outsourcing. The union denies that mechanics are conducting a work slowdown. It says they are simply doing their job and keeping the airline safe.

► From EPI — Wage growth for low-wage workers has been strongest in states with minimum wage increases — Wage growth at the 10th percentile in states with at least one minimum wage increase from 2013 to 2018 was more than 50 percent faster than in states without any minimum wage increases (13.0 percent vs. 8.4 percent). As expected — given women’s greater likelihood of being in low-wage jobs and thus greater likelihood of being helped by minimum wage increases — this result is even stronger for women (13.0 percent vs. 6.0 percent).




► From the American Prospect — Trump to keep millions of workers from getting overtime pay — The Trump administration is close to publishing a new proposal that would dramatically weaken the Obama’s 2016 rule updating overtime pay laws. Bloomberg is reporting that the Trump administration is about to publish a rule with a dramatically lower cutoff, at around $35,000 a year for a full-year worker. A preliminary calculation suggests well over half of the workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under the 2016 rule would be left behind by Trump administration rule.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The good news is that the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, with the strong support of Gov. Jay Inslee, is expected to announce a long-overdue update of state overtime pay rules that will protect more Washington workers.


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

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