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The 9th Order

CarbonWA Kicks Off Their Carbon Tax Shift Campaign

By 9th Order

The next two years promise to be one of the most dramatic periods in the political history of Washington State. In addition to extraordinary state budget challenges, and an unusual mix of other issues that must be addressed, the state will see a showdown on climate change and carbon emissions. To date the Governor’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce has dominated the news, with its next meeting scheduled for September 9. But on Wednesday night just over fifty people squeezed into the Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar in Seattle for the CarbonWA Campaign Kickoff Social.

Friction At Board Meeting As Health Exchange Problems Continue

By 9th Order | 0 Comments

“The system fixes that were implemented have not resolved these defects, and instead, the number of detrimentally affected accounts has grown.” In a letter to Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board Members dated August 12, Premera Senior Vice-President Kitti Cramer provided details showing the health insurance premium aggregation and termination notice problems at the Exchange are far larger than previously thought.

Solar Energy Draws a Crowd

By 9th Order | 0 Comments

On June 30 the Washington State University Energy Program held a meeting in Olympia on Solar Energy in Washington State. The WSU Energy Program Director, Rep. Jake Fey, was joined by around fifty interested parties, representing everyone from the major utilities to leading environmental groups.

Ecosystem

Bring the Family! Labor Day Events Across State on Monday

Labor Day is a celebration of the incredible contributions of America’s working people. Several of the regional AFL-CIO central labor councils across Washington state are planning Labor Day picnics and events on Monday, Sept. 1 to celebrate and honor the working men and women who are the foundation of this state’s economy.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

New Brief: Initiative 1351 Class Size Reduction: A $4.7 Billion Unfunded Mandate with Dubious Educational Merit

It would increase state K–12 spending by $4.7 billion through 2019—over and above what must already be spent to comply with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. Local spending would also increase. The evidence on the benefits of class size reduction is mixed, but doing so for grades 4–12 appears to be a poor investment.

By Washington Research Council (business)

Our State’s Election System Limits Choices, Alienates Voters

All this adds up to the fact that in over one-third of all the races for state house and state senate there was no Democratic or no Republican candidate in the primary election. And because the top-two primary eliminated two more Republicans and one more Democrat from advancing to the general election, all in all more than 36% percent of the general election contests will be missing either a Democrat or a Republican.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

What Grade Did Your School Receive?

Results from the new Achievement Index for school year 2012-13 show that 4% of schools received an Exemplary rating (A), 12% received a Very Good rating (B), 23% received a Good rating (C), 25% received a Fair rating (D), 12% received an Underperforming rating (F), and 5% received a Lowest 5 Percent (F-). The remaining 18% of schools were not rated.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Carbon Pricing and Northwest Businesses

A properly designed carbon pricing policies in the Pacific Northwest can pencil out for the business community and can help point the way forward for the nation and the world. There are three ways to see that direct impacts of a carbon price on most businesses would be modest.

By Sightline (Liberal)

(Pay To) Park and Ride?

n July 2013, board members of the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, better known as Sound Transit, unanimously approved a pilot program to test several efficiency-boosting strategies for a woefully oversubscribed parking system. The pilot scheme was budgeted at $495,000 and set for a 2014 roll out, with three key measures: Parking permits, Real-time information on parking availability, and Rideshare collaboration.

By Sightline (Liberal)

Has the Number of Uninsured in Washington State Really Dropped?

According to the Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s office, we know that 290,000 people lost or were forced off their existing health insurnance because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We have no idea how many of the 1 million newly insured on the exchange were previously uninsured.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Amicus Brief to State Supreme Court: New Revenue Needed to Meet McCleary Requirements

The amicus brief recommends that the court encourage the legislature to raise additional revenue that is stable and dependable in order to fully fund basic education. Failing to raise revenue to meet our education funding needs would result in cuts to other areas of the state budget that kids need to thrive.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

Tentative Deal Reached to End Grain Lockout

The withdrawal of taxpayer-funded escorts for grain inspectors was criticized by some conservative officials and newspapers, but it “rightfully put the state in a neutral position regarding this management dispute,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

Let’s Sue Republicans for Promoting Export of U.S. Jobs

Senate Republicans two weeks ago prevented repair of a law that 99.99 percent of Americans hate and condemn and would vote 50 times to repeal, given the chance. The GOP blocked a bill that would have ended tax breaks bestowed on corporations for offshoring factories and jobs. Send the GOP a message. A lawsuit would be one gesture. But big time election losses would work better.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

A Glimpse of How Climate Orthodoxy Is Undermining Environmental Benefit

The environment doesn’t care how carbon reductions are achieved, but environmentalists do and they want you to sacrifice. At issue are carbon offsets, investments in projects that cut carbon emissions. The Governor’s proposal limits such investments to only 10 percent of carbon reductions. This is a dramatic reduction from 49 percent limit proposed by Governor Gregoire.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Inslee Caves to Union, and Union Approves

Inslee’s elimination of police protection and his refusal to allow United Grain Co. to pay for the protection of inspectors all points to one fact: The governor of Washington State is taking the side of the union which is making threats against state employees.

By SHIFT (conservative)

As Many as 1 in 5 State Health Exchange Enrollees Affected by Technical Problems, Staff Concedes

By Carol M. Ostrom | Seattle Times

A lack of transparency in describing and fixing technical problems became an issue in Thursday’s Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board meeting. Glitches and technical problems have affected as many as 28,000 people trying to buy health insurance through the Washington Healthplanfinder online marketplace, said associate operations director Brad Finnegan.

Health-Benefit Exchange Budget Grows; Will More Spending Mean More Revenue?

By Carol M. Ostrom | Seattle Times

Because revenue generated by the exchange goes into the state’s general fund, to be doled out later by the Legislature, the $59.2 budget approved by the exchange board Thursday will require lawmakers to lift a $40 million cap established early on in the Affordable Care Act’s history.

Washington Test Scores Hold Steady Over 3 Years

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP AP | Bellingham Herald

Washington public school students are doing about as well on state tests as they have done over the past few years, but many more schools are failing to meet federal standards because the rules have changed, state education officials announced Wednesday. During a news conference, Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn called those federal requirements crazy.

State to Offer More Health-Insurance Choices Next Year

By Carol M. Ostrom | Seattle Times

Ninety individual health plans sold by 10 insurers will likely make their way into Washington’s exchange marketplace for 2015, if the Washington Health Benefit Exchange board approves them Thursday, as expected. The number of 2015 plans, which will be offered on the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange beginning Nov. 15, has nearly doubled from the exchange’s inaugural year, when eight insurers were approved to sell 46 plans.

Politics to Blame for Coal Roadblock

By Longview Daily News Editorial

Another example of the politics surrounding coal came last year, when outside groups and individuals spent more than $1 million to help ensure the election of four pro-environment candidates to the Whatcom County Council, where candidates normally spend less than $25,000 for a single race. The council will need to permit the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export facility there.

Washington State Should Reject Coal Terminals

By Olympian Editorial | Bellingham Herald

The Oregon environmental victory should create renewed momentum in Washington against the Longview and Bellingham terminal proposals. Add in China’s recent announcement that it hopes to wean itself off coal and reduce its coal consumption levels and environmental progress appears probable.

Longshore Workers at NW Ports Ratify Contract with Grain Operators

By Aaron Corvin | Seattle Times

Longshore workers at grain export terminals in Northwest ports have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new collective-bargaining agreement with several multinational grain companies, ending two years of negotiations and a 18-month lockout at the United Grain terminal in Vancouver, Wash9ngton.

Amgen: A Lesson in State’s Tax Break Policy

By State Rep. Reuven Carlyle | Crosscut

We should openly acknowledge that while small companies are often disproportionately impacted by tax policy, large multinational companies are rarely impacted by state tax policy in ways that drive their major national and global business decisions. Let’s stop pretending that state tax exemptions and benefits are central drivers of a vast majority of large-scale global business decisions — or at least let’s require disclosure of the data that would make the case for the tax benefits.

Why State Schools Are Failing Federal Standards

By Seattle Times Editorial

Voters should remember the consequences of lawmakers’ refusal to comply with federal law: School districts have lost control over millions of dollars intended to help struggling students. Opposition from the left and the right sunk the bill and Washington became the first state in the nation to lose the waiver.

State Wants More Time to Stop ‘Parking’ Mental Patients in ERs

By JORDAN SCHRADER | Olympian

Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration said Friday that it has identified an extra 145 beds, including some in Lakewood and Olympia, and authorized spending up to $30 million to fill them. But state lawyers asked the Washington Supreme Court for a four-month reprieve from the court’s Aug. 7 ruling that it’s illegal to leave people detained in emergency rooms waiting for mental health treatment.

State’s Boarding Ban is Delayed Until Justices Can Rule

By Paige Cornwell | Seattle Times

The state Supreme Court’s ban on the controversial practice known as psychiatric boarding will not go into effect until the court rules on a motion asking for a 120 day delay. The ban was originally scheduled to take effect Wednesday. There is no deadline for the court’s ultimate response to the state’s Friday motion, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Fixes for Insurance Exchange Have Cost

By Jim Camden | Spokesman-Review

A special enrollment period will last from Wednesday through Nov. 14, allowing customers with unresolved problems to sign up for different plans or with different companies, the state’s top insurance official said Monday. Earlier this month, they said customers with billing problems could make payments directly to the insurance carrier.

Union Membership Down, Political Spending Up

By E21

While nationally unionization rates have fallen from 16 percent in 1990 to below 11 percent today (now 7 percent for private sector workers and 35 percent for public sector workers), total political spending in constant dollars is nearly 80 times higher.

2015–17 Budget Preview: McCleary Not the Only Cloud on the Budget Horizon

By Washington Research Council Policy Brief

The upshot is that even before considering new education funding under the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, legislators face a significant budget challenge. If voters approve Initiative 1351 (which would reduce class sizes), the outlook will be much worse.