Wednesday, June 5, 2019
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Washington’s first major wildfire of 2019 grows to 5,000 acres in Grant County — A wildfire in Grant County – Washington’s first major fire event of 2019 – near the Wanapum Dam grew to more than 5,000 acres Tuesday as it burned its way east, forcing dozens of evacuations. Spokane saw the fire’s smoke slowly drift into the city through the afternoon, lowering air quality and screening surrounding hills with a smoky brown haze. By 8 p.m., Spokane’s air quality reached the worst in the country, according to the National Weather Service… Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said 2019 is already being one of the most active fire seasons on record.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing drone unit Insitu cuts workforce, dealing a blow to Columbia Gorge community — Boeing drone unit Insitu, which employs about 1,000 people in the Columbia River Gorge and about 500 elsewhere, said Tuesday it is cutting its workforce due to competitive pressures and a falloff in business. A person familiar with the details said the workforce will be cut by about 15 percent, which will slash more than 200 jobs.
► In today’s Olympian — Ostrom’s Mushroom farm near Lacey is closing, laying off 239 workers — Ostrom’s Mushroom Farm, a major Thurston County employer that has grown mushrooms near Lacey since the late 1960s, will close the farm by the end of the year and shift production to a new plant in the Yakima area.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima City Council gets rid of E-Verify requirement — The council decided at Tuesday’s meeting to get rid of a 2011 resolution that required businesses contracting with the city to use E-Verify to screen the background of their workers.
► In today’s Columbian — Lawmaker-to-lobbyist pivot needs addressing (editorial) — Last week, state Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-Maltby) announced that he was resigning from office to take a job as Amazon’s director of public policy for Washington. As a lobbyist, he will use his connections and his knowledge of Olympia’s inner workings to advocate for policy that benefits the company. There are questions about whether such a relationship benefits the people of Washington. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sought legislation this year that would establish a one-year “cooling off” period before state officials could work as lobbyists after leaving government; the legislation did not advance out of committee.
► In today’s Columbian — State health insurers’ proposed rate increase minor — Washington health insurers have proposed an average 0.96 percent rate increase for the individual market for 2020, the lowest proposed increase in nearly a decade.
► In today’s Washington Post — House passes immigration bill to protect ‘dreamers,’ offer a path to citizenship — The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would offer a path to citizenship to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children. The vote was 237 to 187 for the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would grant dreamers 10 years of legal residence status if they meet certain requirements. They would then receive permanent green cards after completing at least two years of higher education or military service, or after working for three years.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Rep. Newhouse splits with GOP on Dream Act, predicts Senate will reject it — Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside) joined with Democrats to pass the Dream and Promise Act. “I voted today to provide legal status for the many young people who are our teachers, nurses, firefighters, and members of our military. They are our neighbors and our friends and they have never truly known a home outside of the United States,” he said.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — House approves new Dream Act granting path to citizenship — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) is Washington’s only member of Congress who voted “no.” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) did not vote.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Feds go ahead with controversial plan to change radioactive waste standards — The Department of Energy is changing the way it classifies radioactive waste at Hanford and two other cleanup sites, which could change the standards for treating and disposing of some Hanford waste. DOE announced the change in how it will be interpreting the legal definition of what’s high level radioactive. Critics said it would allow DOE to cut corners, potentially leaving more difficult-to-retrieve waste in the bottom of Hanford storage tanks or not addressing tank waste that has leaked and spilled into the ground at Hanford. The Washington state attorney general called it “dangerous and wrong.”
► From Reuters — Ex-heads of U.S. Social Security Administration offer plan to fix agency’s customer service — A worsening customer service crisis at the Social Security Administration has prompted three of its former commissioners to urge the U.S. Congress to fix the annual budgeting process that has starved the agency of the resources it needs to do its job.
► From CNBC — Majority of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign workers say they want to unionize — If the effort is recognized, Warren’s campaign could be the third presidential campaign in history to unionize. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign employees became the first to secure a union contract when they did so last month.
► From CNBC — Trump’s North American trade deal must do more to protect U.S. jobs (by U.S. Rep. Andy Levin) — Trump’s new trade pact, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, includes sweetheart deals for the oil, gas and pharmaceutical industries that create huge problems for consumers. But it also perpetuates the original NAFTA’s core problem, the one the President himself has talked about most: shifting U.S. production to Mexico.
ALSO at The Stand — Tell Congress: No new NAFTA until it’s fixed
► In today’s Washington Post — Use of emergency declaration to impose tariffs on Mexico is legally questionable, scholars say — Trump is once again sailing in uncharted legal and constitutional waters. His promise to punish Mexico with escalating tariffs unless it controls what he calls the “invasion” of migrants across the southern border is premised on a law that has never been used either as a tool of immigration policy or tariffs.
► From Politico — Republicans threaten revolt, may block Trump’s Mexico tariffs
► In today’s NY Times — 11,000 people who prepare your airline food are considering a strike — This month, about 11,000 airline catering employees — the people who prepare and transport food and beverages that millions of passengers consume on flights each year — will vote on a first step toward a possible labor stoppage. Many make the minimum wage in their areas, or less, and toil in harsh conditions with limited benefits. But collectively, they have the power to disrupt the air travel network… recently, mechanics at Southwest Airlines won raises after a large increase in the number of maintenance issues they flagged forced flight delays and cancellations. D. Taylor, president of the hospitality-industry union Unite Here, which represents a majority of airline catering workers, did not rule out the possibility that his members’ actions could have similar effects.
EDITOR’S NOTE — LSG Sky Chefs is one of several airline catering firms serving Sea-Tac International Airport that are represented by UNITE HERE Local 8 and will be participating in this important vote.
► From Reuters — Canada appeals WTO ruling on U.S. lumber — Canada has appealed against a World Trade Organization panel ruling in a case it lost in April that would allow the United States to use “zeroing” to calculate anti-dumping tariffs on lumber, a WTO official said on Wednesday.
► In today’s NY Times — Companies see climate change hitting their bottom lines in the next 5 years — Many of the world’s biggest companies, from Silicon Valley tech firms to large European banks, are bracing for the prospect that climate change could substantially affect their bottom lines within the next five years, according to a new analysis of corporate disclosures.
► In today’s Washington Post — What a former Fox News anchor and McDonald’s workers have in common (by Gretchen Carlson) — McDonald’s does a world-class job of churning out predictably perfect french fries, milkshakes and hamburgers, but it has struggled to get something of much higher importance right across its 14,000 franchises in 100 countries — preventing sexual harassment. I started covering the experiences of McDonald’s workers for my documentary “ Gretchen Carlson: Breaking the Silence” last year when the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements were garnering huge amounts of publicity, in large part due to the fame of both offenders and victims. But the experiences of working-class women — whose jobs are often the only thing keeping their families from welfare or homelessness — have gone largely untold. That needs to change: As I know all too well, no matter who you are, or what power you have to protect yourself, sexual harassment has the same devastating impact.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.