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The 9th Order

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.

Don’t Expect a Budget Before This Time Next Year

By 9th Order | 0 Comments

With the implementation of federal health care reform, Medicaid enrollment is now split between the Department of Social Health Services and the new state Health Benefit Exchange (HealthPlanFinder). The result is a net reduction in federal matching funds for administration, duplication of efforts, and more confusion for enrollees.

Health Exchange Premium Rates to Go Up Almost 10%

By 9th Order | 0 Comments

Health Benefit Exchange (HBE) Advisory Committee members were not happy to hear that individual health plan premium rates in the HBE are expected to go up almost 10% on average in 2015. The Committee held its monthly meeting on June 5th in Olympia.


Schools Must Offer School Choice and Tutoring, Say Federal Officials

On Monday, the AP announced that Superintendent Dorn’s latest effort to avoid the consequences of losing Washington’s waiver from the federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), has failed. This means that school choice has arrived in Washington state. Parents with a child attending a school labelled as “needs to improve” under NCLB will be offered free transportation to a better school.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

SEIU Capitulates, Allows Home Healthcare Workers to Opt Out of Compelled Union Dues

Following on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month in Harris v. Quinn and the Freedom Foundation’s pledge to make sure the ruling is enforced in Washington state, Service Employees International Union Local 775 has begun allowing individual home healthcare providers to opt out of paying dues.

By Freedom Foundation (Libertarian)

Lack of Economic Progress & Opportunity Gap Holding Washington’s Kids Back

The 2014 KIDS COUNT data suggest that, while overall gains in education and health are welcome news and show progress is possible, declining economic security and racial and ethnic disparities are holding our kids and economy back. A future where progress is made for some and not others is unacceptable.

By Washington State Budget & Policy Center (liberal)

State Should Follow Seattle’s Lead, Increase Minimum Wage

at the same time the $15 minimum wage was advancing in Seattle, state legislators were putting together a proposal to increase the minimum wage across the state. The proposal is pretty simple. Over three years, the minimum wage increases, first to $10, then to $11, and then to $12.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

About That Mythical $8.7 Billion Tax Break

A competitive tax policy is not a “subsidy” that costs the state money. It is, rather, a pragmatic response to the marketplace, including the global competition for major industrial projects. Tax policies adopted in 2003 were essential for securing the 787. Extending those policies in 2013 helped to win the 777X.

By Washington Research Council (business)

Fair Pay for Washington

Fair pay is still out of reach for most women. Nationally, women working full time and year round take home an average of 77 cents to a man’s $1.00. African American women make only 64 cents and Latina women 55 cents for every $1.00 paid to White men.

By Economic Opportunity Institute (liberal)

Highest and Best Use…Or Not

As it turns out, holding onto a crumbling building, and even letting it slowly deteriorate, can be a terrific business proposition. As the surrounding neighborhood develops, growing in value by attracting new residents and businesses, a rundown piece of property can skyrocket in price.

By Sightline (Liberal)

State and Local Pension Payments Could Increase by $1.2 Billion for 2015-17

Accepting the actuarial recommended rates could increase the funds required for pensions in the 2015-17 budget by $1.2 billion (including local government – $482 million for just the state’s general fund). Another potential pension bombshell is currently sitting at the State Supreme Court as justices consider a union lawsuit that could add another billion plus in pension costs.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

The Governor’s “Trust Me” Approach to Clean Water

The new standards cannot be met with current technology (a point he acknowledged). To soothe that concern, he says if agencies decide a company or local government can’t meet the rules, they will be given a pass.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Our Economic Independence Taken by Right-Wing Extremists

The recent decision of the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court in the Harris v. Quinn case is another example of the one percent’s unrelenting erosion of the 99 percent’s economic independence.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

$60,000 to Establish New “Brand” for State Agency

No other agency has garnered as much public attention – for all the wrong reasons – as the troubled Puget Sound Partnership. Now, the director of this small 40-person state agency is asking state taxpayers to foot the bill for a $60,000 “rebrand”.

By Freedom Foundation (Libertarian)

A Modern Energy System for the Northwest

Establishing Energy Imbalance Markets in the Northwest is the single most important step the region can take right now to make our energy system more resilient to the impacts of climate change and to help integrate the clean energy resources like wind and solar that will help to slow climate change itself.

By Renewble Northwest (environmentalist)

SEIU Appears to Be Offering Some Home-Care Workers a Way to Avoid Paying Union Dues or ‘Shop Fees’

By BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

Several dozen home-care workers in Washington have been told by their union that they can avoid paying any union-related fees or dues in the wake of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Harris v. Quinn case. The notice to workers appears to have gone from Service Employees International Union 775 to select home care workers who have already objected to being in the union.

Paul Ryan: An Opportunity to Cut Poverty

By Paul Ryan | USA Today Op-Ed

Let’s re-conceive the federal government’s role in providing a safety net for the poor. I’d start a pilot program, which I’d call the Opportunity Grant. It would consolidate up to 11 federal programs into one stream of funding to participating states. The idea would be to let states try different ways of providing aid and then to test the results — in short, more flexibility in exchange for more accountability.

Control of Olympia: It’s a Primary Free-For-All

By Chris Vance | Crosscut

The primary election is only two weeks away, and it will serve as the most reliable predictor of the November election results. My focus this year is on congressional races, and legislative races that can affect the balance of power in Olympia. Democrats need a net gain of two seats to retake control of the Senate floor. They effectively got one of those two seats when Sen. Rodney Tom chose to retire in Bellevue’s 48th Legislative District

Convention: Climate Change, ACA and More

By WSLC Stand

Unions should not consider efforts to address climate change as a threat to their jobs. Instead, they should recognize the dire necessity for solutions and have a seat at the table to shape policies in ways that protect existing jobs and create new ones in emerging clean-energy industries. That was a recurring theme in Tuesday’s opening session of the 2014 Constitutional Convention of the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC), AFL-CIO at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

Washington Loses Bid to Avoid Sending Out Failing School Letters


Washington state won’t get a pass this summer on telling parents that their kids attend failing schools, the federal government says. State Superintendent Randy Dorn said Monday it is unclear right now exactly how many schools will have to send letters home to parents, but that it will be “a majority” of schools in Washington. State officials will know for sure after they review test results that will come out in August, he said.

Washington Health Exchange Sounds the Alarm, Questions Deloitte

By Patrick Marshall | Seattle Times

One message came through loud and clear at Monday’s meeting of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s Operations Committee: It may not be time to panic about the health exchange’s problem-riddled invoicing and payments system, but it is time to sound the alarm and get all hands on deck.

The Warning Sign for State DOT in Skagit Bridge Collapse

By Seattle Times Editorial

At a time when passage of a transportation package is critical to relieve congestion and remedy a huge state highway maintenance backlog, and the DOT’s management has been called into question by a stuck tunneling machine, the last thing the agency needs is another black eye. Yet the National Transportation Safety Board finds that state highway officials demonstrated a chilling obliviousness to danger.

Payment Slip-Ups Still Plague State Health-Insurance Exchange

By Patrick Marshall | Seattle Times

Problems with handling customer premium payments continue to bedevil the Washington state health-insurance exchange. So much so that a joint legislative committee’s hearing featured an extended discussion about what’s being done and who’s responsible.

In Our View: Shine Light on Negotiations

By Columbian Editorial

When it comes to negotiations with public-employee unions, many states — including Oregon — require some openness in the negotiations. In Florida, for example, the bargaining is open, but strategy sessions involving just one side are closed. This makes sense as part of the art of negotiating process; but when both sides are meeting and discussing how to spend millions of taxpayer dollars, the people holding the pocketbook should be included.

STEM is Buzzword for Student Opportunity, from Tacoma to Washington, D.C.

By DEBBIE CAFAZZO | Tacoma News Tribune

One recommendation in last year’s Washington Roundtable report: The K-12 school system should enhance student interest in STEM subjects. Schools across the state have taken up the challenge. The report says that STEM workers in the greater Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area average $79,490. That compares with non-STEM workers at $45,072.

Lawmakers Quiz Health Insurance Exchange on Glitches, Budget

By Carol M. Ostrom | Seattle Times

Lawmakers grilled officials from Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange Thursday, making it clear they’ve heard plenty from constituents who say they’ve paid their premiums but still don’t have health coverage — in most cases because premiums, which they paid to the exchange, aren’t getting to the insurer. The lawmakers’ tales of patient woe were backed up by brokers, a representative of the state’s doctors and Len Sorrin, representing Premera Blue Cross.

Tumbling Down – State’s Jobless Rate Drops to 6-Year Low

By Marc Stiles | Puget Sound Business Journal

The state’s unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent in May to 5.8 percent last month. The nation’s rate was 6.1 percent. The primary job loss was in government, which was down 1,400 positions. Construction and manufacturing also lost 400 jobs each.

The EPA’s Carbon Plan Asks the Least from States that Pollute the Most

By Philip Wallach and Alex Abdun-Nabi | Washington Post Op-Ed

Two Brookings scholars write, “EPA asks the most from states that have made large past investments in natural gas or nuclear power, and those that have set themselves the most ambitious plans for developing renewable energy sources. EPA’s attempts to avoid picking fights may be admirably prudent, but it is not fair.”