Monday, April 1, 2019
► In the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin — Deadline nears for nurse break legislation — A bill to mandate uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses and other health care workers is fast approaching two critical deadlines. SHB 1155 is before the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, which held a hearing on it last week. Wednesday is the cutoff date for it to be passed out of committee, and April 17 is deadline for passage by the Senate. Registered nurses and other caregivers in Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities are backing the bill. Among them is Brenda Gales-Groom, an RN at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, who said the legislation is needed for patient protection. “Medical staff in Washington aren’t always as alert as they should be because they’re often hungry, tired and overworked,” she said. “When we work long shifts without uninterrupted breaks, we are more likely to make medical errors, putting patient safety at risk.”
ALSO at The Stand — Hospital caregivers’ unions: SHB 1155 is urgently needed
TAKE ACTION! Please visit BreaksAreALifesaver.org to send your state senator a message to vote YES on this important patient-safety legislation. SHB 1155 will help ensure our nurses and caregivers are well-rested and alert, and help reduce medical errors and ensure quality care for Washingtonians.
► In the Seattle Times — Senate lawmakers propose a budget with a different idea for a capital-gains tax — Washington Senate Democrats’ proposed two-year state budget calls for funding education and mental-health priorities by changing a home-seller tax and closing three tax breaks, including one that benefits opioid distributors being sued by the state. It proposes a capital-gains tax would apply to about 8,000 Washingtonians. The new revenue would pay for a property-tax cut for some seniors and would ease the burden for about 400,000 low-income households by funding the Working Families Tax Credit. “Our tax code is broken, and we’re trying to … put forward a thoughtful proposal that will help fix our state’s upside-down tax code,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane).
ALSO at The Stand — Senate Democrats: State budget proposal puts people first
► In the (Everett) Herald — State tax proposals will boost revenue, fairness (editorial) — Beyond the revenue the House Democrats’ tax proposals would generate, there’s one more reason to advance them: basic tax fairness in Washington state, for residents and businesses. Three tax proposals that House Democrats hope to advance can begin to better balance the tax system while funding investments that will also pay off in improved outcomes for the state’s lower- and middle-income families.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC applauds House Democrats’ budget plan
► In the News Tribune — Restoring school levy flexibility in Washington would be sweet music to our ears (by Puyallup teacher Karen McNamara) — Educators across our state are encouraging their lawmakers in Olympia to restore levy flexibility, to trust local voters to make decisions about things like extra counselors, arts programs and smaller class sizes.
► In the Seattle Times — As ferry system is ‘hanging by a thread,’ lawmakers debate transportation budgets to fund new boats — Facing demands to replace decades-old ferries, remove barriers to fish migration at a multibillion-dollar cost and build highway projects promised in past years, state lawmakers unveiled plans last week for Washington’s next transportation budget.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Whidbey shipbuilder wants a shot at the next ferry contract — Nichols Brothers has been a subcontractor. The state might extend a deal with Portland-based Vigor.
► In the Seattle Times — Initiative campaign to bring back affirmative action in Washington state is $1.3 million in debt — The campaign to allow affirmative action in Washington state gathered nearly 400,000 signatures last fall, more than any initiative to the Legislature in state history, and more than enough to ensure that either the lawmakers will repeal the ban on affirmative action or the people will vote on it in November. But the campaign is also deeply in debt, owing more than $1.3 million to the people and companies who collected the signatures to qualify the initiative for success.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Tax breaks are the weapon Boeing uses to mug Washington state (by Shawn Vestal) — Washington state politicians have lavished gifts upon its sweetheart corporation like no other state, all in the name of protecting jobs. The $8.7 billion tax-credit package Inslee announced in 2013, after a rushed, secretive, three-day special session, was the biggest kiss any state has ever given any corporation. It secured no commitment from Boeing in return – just the hope that $8.7 billion would be the price of the company’s loyalty. Over the next few years, Boeing eliminated around 4,000 jobs anyway. Now that Inslee and Carlyle are speaking frankly (about the tax breaks), their earlier statements seem like confessions of the North Korean variety: forced and fake. It was surely not an easy position for them to be in, and the threat of losing Boeing — even just some of Boeing — understandably weighed heavy on their minds. But we should hope for a smaller gulf between the public pronouncements of our leaders and their honest opinions.
► From Bloomberg — Ethiopia wavers on timing of report on Boeing 737 MAX jet crash — A preliminary report into the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet last month is nearing release but the exact timing is uncertain, as investigators seek to shed light on a disaster that has rocked the credibility of Boeing Co.
► In the Olympian — LNG site resumes permit process after new report backs findings of earlier review — More than a year after calling for an environmental review of Puget Sound Energy’s planned liquified natural gas plant being constructed on Tacoma’s Tideflats, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency released the final report Friday. It maintains the plant would “result in an overall decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, a net beneficial impact compared to the no-action alternative.”
► In the Seattle Times — As Seattle school district displaces teachers, educators of color worry about relationships with students — Nearly 150 full-time-equivalent school employees will have to transfer schools in response to projected declines in enrollment and budget cuts.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Union questions response to derailment, chemical fire that closed Eastern Washington rail line — A Union Pacific rail line in Eastern Washington has reopened after a 23-car derailment and a subsequent chemical spill and fire that left union officials raising questions about the response.
► In the Washington Post — For Trump’s ‘Party of Healthcare,’ there is no health-care plan — Republicans have no intention of heeding President Trump’s urgent demands for a new health-care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, fearing the potential political damage that such a proposal could cause in 2020 and hoping he will soon drop the idea, according to interviews with numerous GOP lawmakers, legislative staffers and administration aides. Not only is there no such health-care overhaul in the works on Capitol Hill — there are no plans to make such a plan.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump White House presses threat to close U.S.-Mexico border this week — The White House doubled down Sunday on President Trump’s threat to close the U.S. border with Mexico, despite warnings that the move would inflict immediate economic damage on American consumers and businesses while doing little to stem a tide of migrants clamoring to enter the United States.
► From Bloomberg — Report: The Department of Education has spent $1 billion on charter school waste, fraud — In 1994, the Charter School Fund was added to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); in 1995 it began dispersing federal funds to states so that states could use the money to pilot charter schools. Since then, the CSP has handed over about $4 billion to support charter schools, and there are supposed to be some federal guidelines attached to the process. But a new report charges that roughly $1 billion of that has been lost to fraud and waste in the charter school sector.
► In today’s Washington Post — 2020 Census likely target of hacking, disinformation campaigns, officials say — The U.S. government is urgently working to safeguard against hacking and disinformation campaigns as, in a cost-cutting move, it plans to count about 330 million people largely online for the first time. Cybersecurity experts say it may put the survey at unprecedented risk in a nation embroiled in fallout from Russian interference in the 2016 election.
► In today’s Washington Post — House Judiciary plans vote this week to subpoena Mueller’s report — The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to obtain the full report, escalating a feud with the Justice Department over a lengthy document detailing findings about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
► In the NY Times — Patients ‘hit the call bell and nobody comes.’ Hospital nurses demand ‘safe staffing’ levels. — More than 10,000 nurses are demanding a sharp increase in their ranks at three of New York City’s biggest hospital systems — Mount Sinai, NewYork-Presbyterian and Montefiore. Their union, the New York State Nurses Association, has threatened to strike over staffing levels, an issue that has become an increasing source of contention at hospitals around the country… Last year, staffing disputes were a central topic when nurses in five states picketed and threatened to strike hospitals operated by HCA, one of the country’s largest health care providers… Nurses and their unions often cite as a model the rules California adopted 20 years ago, which require hospitals to maintain prescribed ratios of nurses to patients in each treatment unit.
► From Bloomberg — GM squeezed $118 million from its Ohio workers, then it shut the plant — Union workers are livid that they agreed to make $118 million a year in annual concessions to save the plant in mid 2017, only to have GM effectively threaten to close it down a year and a half later.
► In today’s NY Times — A CEO who’s scared for America (by David Leonhardt) — “For the past four decades,” CEO Peter Georgescu has written, “capitalism has been slowly committing suicide.” He says he owes his success to a post-World War II culture that fostered a sense of community over individuality. Corporate executives didn’t pay themselves outlandish salaries. Workers enjoyed consistently rising wages. Things began to change after the 1970s. Stakeholder capitalism — which, Georgescu says, optimized the well-being of customers, employees, shareholders and the nation — gave way to short-term shareholder-only capitalism. Profits have soared at the expense of worker pay. The wealth of the median family today is lower than two decades ago. Life expectancy has actually fallen in the last few years. Not since 2004 has a majority of Americans said they were satisfied with the country’s direction. “Capitalism is a brilliant factory for prosperity. Brilliant,” Georgescu says. “And yet the version of capitalism we have created here works for only a minority of people.”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.