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Why we’re #1 | USPS slowdown harms businesses | GOP: ‘Defund America’

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

 


COVID-19

 

► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 24 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 356,536 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 736) and 5,186 deaths.

► From the Tri-City Herald — WSU COVID cases spike and Benton cases top 15,000 — The WSU COVID dashboard showed the case rate among WSU students rising rapidly over the last month, without a corresponding increase in other Whitman County residents.

► From The Hill — Teachers union ‘not convinced’ on CDC guidance to reduce classroom spacing — In a letter to the CDC and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, AFT President Randi Weingarten pressed for additional recommendations on mitigation measures like ventilation, testing and effective cleaning: “We are not convinced that the evidence supports changing physical distancing requirements at this time. Our concern is that the cited studies do not identify the baseline mitigation strategies needed to support 3 feet of physical distancing.”

► From Politico — Biden’s school reopening promise faces aging bus drivers, vaccine scarcity — Those are just two of several reasons many schools could remain closed for in-person learning despite the administration’s best efforts at reopening them.

► From the Washington Post — Deaths from coronavirus on the rise worldwide after weeks of decline, warns WHOGlobal deaths due to covid-19 are on the rise following weeks of steady increases in the number of new cases, according to the World Health Organization. Also, new infections fell around the world for six consecutive weeks in January and February but recently began climbing again under pressure from more transmissible variants and the relaxation of restrictions — a phenomenon also observed in the United States.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► From the Washington State Wire — Report: Washington State’s safety net serves workers better than any other state — A recent Oxfam America report ranks Washington State as having the best safety net in the country for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In determining its rankings, the report evaluated 27 policies and laws related to worker protections, health care, and unemployment in effect between February 15 and July 1, 2020. Washington received an overall score of 76.41 points out of 100 possible points. New Jersey was second on the list with a score of 72.17 points. Alabama, which sat at the bottom of the list, only received 17.76 points. Broken down by category, the report ranks Washington first in the nation for its unemployment policies, 2nd for worker protections, and 10th for health care. The state received positive scores for having expanded Medicaid, implementing a moratorium on evictions and utilities shutoffs, having mandated paid sick and family leave, and expanding telehealth services.

EDITOR’S NOTE — It’s no coincidence that Washington was also recently ranked as the state with the strongest unions. Washington’s labor movement fought to create that safety net for workers and every year in Olympia defends it from attempts to cut those protections.

The Stand (Sept. 4, 2020) — Washington’s #1 for workers amid pandemic

► From the (Everett) Herald — Urgent responses to the Blake decision emerge in Olympia — When the state Supreme Court tossed out the state’s felony drug possession law a month ago, Democratic leaders sounded resigned, and content, to wait until 2022 to respond to what is known as the Blake decision. Not any more. Concerns about potential fallout — such as people getting out of jail, losing out on treatment or maybe being owed sizable refunds for fines they paid — are spurring cities, counties and law enforcement agencies to plead with lawmakers to act. They are, now.

► From the Seattle Times — Overturned drug law is in Legislature’s court (editorial) — The Legislature’s task of writing a new law giving courts meaningful powers without rekindling drug-war failures will require careful work… The Legislature must not make hasty decisions about drug laws when the decisions come with immense personal and societal consequences.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Insurers told to stop using credit scores to set rates — Insurers must stop using credit scores to set rates for home, auto and renter’s insurance policies under an emergency rule issued Tuesday by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. He has long argued that use of credit scores is discriminatory and results in people with low incomes and people of color paying more for coverage.

 


LOCAL

 

► From the Spokesman-Review — A Spokane business has been hampered by sluggish USPS service. Proposed mail changes could make it worse. — “It’s kind of shocking how bad things are,” collectible-seller Chuck Foster said. “In the past, it’s been surprising how reliable the mail was. It was really rare for First-Class Mail to take more than a couple of days, three days tops, to get to the other side of the country. Now it’s taking seven days, 10 days, two weeks sometimes.” Now, just as small business owners like Foster who count on the Postal Service are hoping for a return to reliable service, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has unveiled plans to overhaul the agency that could further slow mail delivery… Foster said he has nothing but respect for the postal workers who have scrambled to keep the mail moving throughout the pandemic. Instead, he directs his frustration toward those he believes have turned the Postal Service into an unsustainable institution. “I blame Congress,” he said. “I blame Louis DeJoy. I mean, these mail carriers and clerks, they’re shockingly overworked.”

► From the News Tribune — Court: Amtrak, not engineer, liable for deadly 2017 derailment near DuPont — A Pierce County Superior Court judge has ruled that Amtrak is strictly liable for the claim of its engineer who sued for his injuries after a deadly 2017 derailment near DuPont.

► From Crosscut — City council backs off from deeper cuts to Seattle Police Department — A federally appointed monitor is raising questions about the council’s budget decisions.

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From The Hill — Democrats plan to squeeze GOP over filibuster — As the House passes several big policy priorities, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is vowing that he will put the bills on the floor this year, setting up high-profile showdowns on President Biden’s campaign promises. Democrats say the strategy is two-fold: It will make Republicans go on the record in opposition and could demonstrate to Democrats wary of reforming the legislative filibuster that much of their agenda will be stuck in limbo without reforms.

EDITOR’S NOTE — These “policy priorities” should include the PRO Act.

► From the Washington Post — Republicans sound early note of opposition against $3 trillion White House infrastructure planCongressional Republicans on Tuesday sounded off in early opposition to President Biden’s still-forming plans to push a roughly $3 trillion infrastructure and social welfare reform package, signaling a tough political slog on the horizon for Democrats hoping to deliver the White House another legislative win. Even before Biden had formally debuted his proposal, GOP lawmakers took issue with the scope of the president’s blueprint — and the tax increases the administration is eyeing to pay for it — injecting new uncertainty into a debate that some on both sides initially hoped might be bipartisan.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Republicans are fine with multi-trillion dollar tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, but investing in our nation’s infrastructure? Not so much. The modern GOP’s slogan might as well be: “Defund America.”

► From The Hill — Congress wonders how to pay for Biden’s infrastructure proposal — The $3 trillion price tag on President Biden’s infrastructure and climate proposal is a sign of the White House’s increasing embrace of deficit-financed spending.

► From Politico — Senate Democratic moderates push for minimum wage compromise — Moderate Senate Democrats are pushing their leaders for a more modest approach to the party’s signature minimum wage hike, arguing for a compromise that can attract broader support after the defeat of a $15 hourly wage proposal.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From Politico — Black workers, hammered by pandemic, now being left behind in recovery — Structural inequities in the U.S. labor market that have affected Black and Hispanic workers’ ability to advance out of low-paying jobs, as well as discrimination in hiring practices, are also likely having an effect.

► From Reuters — In Amazon union election, votes cast by some ineligible ex-employees could swing outcome — Although Emily Stone’s employment at an Amazon.com Inc warehouse ended on Feb. 1, she still received a ballot for her former company’s union election in the weeks following her departure and a text asking her to vote no. She is not alone. Reuters spoke or texted with 19 people Amazon listed to receive a ballot for the election even though they now no longer work at the company. At least two of them already voted, they told Reuters.

► From Reuters — Pope orders salary cuts for cardinals, clerics, to save jobs of employees — Pope Francis has ordered cardinals to take a 10% pay cut and reduced the salaries of most other clerics working in the Vatican in order to save jobs of employees as the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Holy See’s income.

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

► From the Guardian — U.S. democracy on the brink: Republicans wage ‘coordinated onslaught’ on voting rights — 2021 should have should have been a year to celebrate. By the time election officials and courts declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history,” a larger truth was apparent: democracy had prevailed. But 2021 has been far from a celebration of democracy. It’s been the opposite – American democracy is under attack. Seizing on Donald Trump’s lies about fraud in the 2020 election, Republicans have launched a brazen attack on voting, part of an effort to entrench control over a rapidly changing electorate by changing the rules of democracy. As of mid-February, 253 bills were pending to restrict voting in 43 states. Many of those restrictions take direct aim at mail-in and early voting, the very policies that led to November’s record turnout. Republicans have openly talked about their intentions. “Everybody shouldn’t be voting,” John Kavanagh, a Republican in the Arizona state legislature, told CNN earlier this month. “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.”

Some Republicans say that their efforts to put new voting restrictions in place are part of an effort to restore confidence in elections and prevent voter fraud, which is extremely rare. But others have shown that their motivation is anti-democratic. Trump dismissed proposals to make it easier to vote last year by saying: “You’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

The Stand (March 4) — AFL-CIO hails voting rights bill, urges swift Senate action

 


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

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