Wednesday, January 20, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 20 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 291,989 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,401) and 3,940 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 11)
► From the Washington Post — In his first inaugural event, Joe Biden presides over somber memorial for the 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID — President-elect Joe Biden opened his inaugural commemorations Tuesday evening by honoring the 400,000 Americans who have died in the coronavirus pandemic, marking the final hours before his swearing-in with a somber reminder of the struggles facing the nation he will lead Wednesday.
► From HuffPost — Nurse sings ‘Amazing Grace’ in powerful Biden-Harris COVID-19 memorial — Lori Marie Key, a Detroit nurse who went viral for singing the song at her hospital, gave an emotional rendition at the inauguration eve memorial for COVID victims.
► From Safety + Health — More hospital safety cuts could exacerbate COVID-19 pandemic, nurses union warns — Pushing back on calls to roll back certain workplace safety rules, National Nurses United contends hospital industry cost-cutting has put health care worker safety at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the “current staffing and capacity crises.”
► From the News Tribune — Can Washington state realistically do 45,000 vaccinations a day? It’s worth a shot (editorial) — We’re in the bottom third of states in administering vaccines, so bold new steps are necessary.
► From HuffPost — Black Americans are getting vaccinated at lower rates than White Americans, study finds — Black and Asian Americans are among the most hard-hit communities, but experts are concerned about whether proper resources and information are reaching them.
► From the AP — New CDC director takes over beleaguered agency amid crisis
► From Crosscut — Washington state braces for potential violence on Inauguration Day — The National Guard and State Patrol are ready to protect the Capitol, but most of the excitement will likely be in the other Washington.
► From the AP — Gas tax hike part of House Democrats’ transportation plan — Democratic leaders in the Washington state House on Tuesday unveiled a 16-year, $25.8 billion transportation package that includes an 18-cent increase in the gas tax and a new fee on carbon emissions. The Everett Herald reported that supporters have said the new revenue is needed to cover the cost of projects like the replacement of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River and the removal of state-owned culverts that are blocking fish passage.
► From Washington State Wire — Bill expanding unemployment benefits headed to Senate floor next Wednesday — SB 5061 would increase the minimum weekly unemployment benefit amount from 15% to 20% of the average weekly wage passed out of executive session Monday with bipartisan support and will be among the first bills brought to the floor this session.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The WSLC supports passage of SB 5061.
TODAY at The Stand — Legislators: Immigrant families need income assistance, too
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Ecology denies permit for Kalama methanol plant, NWIW has appeal option — In a setback for the proposed $2.3 billion Kalama methanol plant, the state Department of Ecology Tuesday denied a key permit for the project, citing a “significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions and inconsistencies with the Shoreline Management Act,” as principal reasons. The project’s future is unclear, as applicants have 21 days to appeal the decision to the Shoreline Hearings Board. The board could uphold Ecology’s decision, overturn it, or make a more nuanced decision, according to Ecology.
► From the Columbian — Millennium parent company files for Chapter 11; Columbia River site goes back to Alcoa — After Millennium Bulk Terminals’ parent company filed for bankruptcy this month, the fate of the proposed coal terminal on the old Reynolds Aluminum Co. site is again in doubt, with opponents to the terminal calling the project dead.
► From The Olympian — Bill would require schools to reopen during COVID-19 once certain metrics are met — Lucinda Young with the Washington Education Association said the group is opposed, pointing mainly to the virus’ ever-changing nature that she said makes it difficult to put specific metrics into law that trigger specific actions. School boards need to be able to stay flexible in meeting communities’ needs, she said. She also said some schools don’t have the space necessary for social distancing, or face other obstacles such as outdated HVAC systems, windows that won’t open, or staffing shortages.
► From the Seattle Times — There’s a civil war all right, only right now it’s inside the Republican Party (by Danny Westneat) — Instead of an internal reckoning, the party has decided to wage a scorched-earth campaign against three out of its four most successful remaining elected officials, in a blue state no less.
► LIVE from the Washington Post — Biden sworn in; Harris makes history, shattering gender and racial barriers — President Joe Biden took the oath of office as the nation’s 46th president Wednesday at an inauguration like no other, amid a raging pandemic, in a city that has become a fortress of fences, concrete barriers and security checkpoints. Vice President Kamala D. Harris’s swearing-in shattered gender and racial barriers.
TODAY at The Stand — Watch the Biden-Harris inauguration LIVE — The action continues all day, and we’ve got a live stream at The Stand!
► From the Washington Post — Kamala D. Harris makes history. What will she do with it? — The Black daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, alumna of Howard University and California-bred former prosecutor will walk into history as no one has before. She is, to her supporters, the long-awaited torchbearer for centuries of women, people of color, and others whose ambitions were denied and who never saw themselves reflected in the nation’s leadership before — a woman who will break a ceiling that once seemed out of reach. But what substance will emerge from the breakthrough is not yet clear, for absent a few issues, Harris has become better known for what she is against than specifics about where her passions lie.
► From CBS News — On first day as president, Biden to issue 17 executive actions on COVID, climate change, immigration and more — The executive actions will make changes to the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic and try to ease some of the financial strain placed on Americans resulting from the pandemic. But other executive actions directly target and undo his predecessor’s actions on the environment, immigration, the U.S. census, and regulatory changes.
► From Kilmer.House.gov — Kilmer encourages Biden administration to repeal harmful anti-worker executive orders — Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6th) led a letter to President-elect Joe Biden to encourage his administration to repeal executive actions taken by the preceding administration that have eroded essential rights and protections for federal workers. “In order to restore these essential rights and protections and to reaffirm our support for federal workers, these harmful executive actions must be repealed,” they wrote.
► From Politico — Biden’s narrow path to an infrastructure dream — Biden wants to enact a mammoth infrastructure plan that would juice the economy, boost hiring and fight climate change, an enormously ambitious effort he’s pitched as a cornerstone of his presidency. Achieving even a fraction of it will require Biden to secure new funding streams or expand debt-fueled spending, potentially upend the way infrastructure policy typically works and ensure hundreds of Democratic lawmakers in a closely divided Congress remain in lockstep, with no room for error.
► From The Hill — McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag — McConnell’s decision to drop the filibuster into the discussion over how to organize a split Senate drew fierce pushback from outside groups, which urged Democrats to reject the GOP leader’s gambit.
► From the PR Newswire — EMILY’s List employees are latest to form a union with OPEIU — Employees at the D.C.-based EMILY’s List are the latest to join the growing number of nonprofit employees choosing to be represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO, and its Nonprofit Employees United (NEU). EMILY’s List management voluntarily recognized the staff union through a card check process conducted by a neutral party. Contract negotiations will begin in the coming weeks. Since its launch in mid-2019, more than 1,000 nonprofit workers at dozens of workplaces throughout the country have organized with OPEIU’s NEU.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Want a voice on the job at your non-profit? Get a union! Learn more about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From The Hill — Spokesperson for Alphabet Workers Union says company failing to ‘act ethically,’ ‘live up’ to expectations — Alex Gorowara, a software engineer for Google and volunteer spokesperson for the new Alphabet Workers Union, on Thursday, said that the group aims to push Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to adopt more policies concerning growth opportunities and inclusivity in the workplace.
The Stand (Jan. 5) — New union at Google invites all Alphabet employees to join
► From the Wisconsin State Journal — As COVID-19 work slows, GE Healthcare lays off about 140 employees in Madison — GE Healthcare has laid off about 140 employees at its Madison facility as the need for new ventilators and anesthesia machines has decreased, according to Machinists union representatives.
► From the Washington Post — Kroger unknowingly funneled donations to a militia group. After the Capitol riots, it’s cutting them out. — One of the nonprofits being funded through Kroger’s community rewards program was the Indiana Oath Keepers — the local branch of a self-styled militia group whose members are now accused of planning to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.