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The 9th Order

Solar Energy Draws a Crowd

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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

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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.

Ecosystem

Gov. Inslee Asks Businesses to Help Shape Climate Change Policy

Inslee called for businesses to contribute their expertise, acumen and knowledge of technological capacity to the formation of draft climate change policies. AWB VP Gary Chandler noted, “Our biggest issue that you will hear us talk about is competitiveness. We’ve got to make sure that our manufacturers stay competitive with those in other states.”

By AWB Business Watch (business)

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)

Storage Problems No Reason to Reject Renewable Power

By Jeff Morris | Bellingham Herald Op-Ed

The Chair of the State House Technology Committee writes, “Tell your utility provider to make the duck chart walk, talk and quack like a duck instead of using it as excuse not to move forward on a clean technology future.”

Get Northwest Grain Shipments Going Again

By Seattle Times Editorial

Gov. Jay Inslee jeopardizes the smooth flow of wheat exports from Washington ports with a decision that essentially shuts down one of the state’s most important grain terminals. The dispute is about hiring practices — should the union decide who works, or should employers do the hiring?

Pension Council Sets Contribution Rates That Will Jump Up in 2015 for State Workers, Taxpayers

By BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

The impact on budget writers in the 2015-17 biennium is still expected to be significant – up to $100 million, according to House Appropriations Committee chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina. But Hunter said the phase-in reflects the philosophical approach taken on other pension changes in order to make the step-up in payments easier for local government, state budgets and employees.

Washington State, U.S. Department of Education Still at Odds Over ‘No Child’ Law

By AP | Oregonian

Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s plan to give schools a break from student-testing mandates in the federal No Child Left Behind law appears to be working in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Only one state has actually lost the flexibility Duncan began promoting in 2011: Washington. Duncan has told Washington the state can have its waiver back anytime it wants to change its teacher-evaluation system.

Blue Crush: How the Left Took Over the Democratic Party

By DOUG SOSNIK | Politico Magazine

A former Bill Clinton political strategist writes, “Even if Hilary Clinton runs, her candidacy won’t preempt the party’s eventual takeover by the activist forces.,,The Republican Party’s inability to adapt to America’s cultural shifts and demographic changes is creating an enormous opportunity for Democrats. However, in an age of political alienation where the majority of Americans lack faith in their institutions in general—and their federal government in particular—Democratic activists will need to reconcile the public’s desire for smaller government with their own progressive impulses.”

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.

If Only the U.S. Had Stayed Out of WWI

By DAVID A. STOCKMAN | Japan Times Op-Ed

On the 100th anniversary of World War I, President Reagan’s budget director writes, “Indeed, absent Wilson’s crusade, there would have been no allied victory, no punitive peace — and no war reparations…Likewise, there would have been no Hitler…”

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.

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.

Health Insurance Exchange Contractor Catches Flak for Glitches

By BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

On the more pointed question posed by Sims and others — can the exchange be assured problems will be fixed — Venugopal was not so firm. He said that investigators have still not been able to determine what is causing a recurrence of voucher and payment issues, which appear to be fixed for some accounts, only to spring up with others.