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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

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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.

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.

Ecosystem

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)

New Entrants for Washington’s Exchange and a Proposed Budget for 2015

McKinsey recently looked at health insurance carrier participation, plan offerings, and premium changes in the health exchanges of 12 states, including Washington. One of the new exchange applicants, Illinois-based Health Alliance, says it’s applying to participate in Washington Healthplanfinder not for the private plan customers, but because it wants to expand its Medicaid managed care business.

By Washington Research Council (business)

Superintendent Dorn Seeks to Deny Parents Access to School Choice and Free Tutoring

In a sternly-worded statement today, the state’s highest public education official, Superintendent Randy Dorn, announced he is seeking to keep parents from learning about school choice and free tutoring services to which their children may be entitled under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

By Washington Policy Center (conservative)

Governor Inslee – Abide by the Law

In the wake ruling on June 30 in the U.S. Supreme Court allowing home healthcare workers in Illinois to decline union participation, the Freedom Foundation sent a letter today to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee calling on him to recognize the ruling also applies to employees in this state.

By Freedom Foundation (conservative)

Four Carbon Pricing Pitfalls to Avoid

The EU cap-and-trade program limits carbon dioxide emissions from more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 28 participating countries, covering 45 percent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s what Oregon and Washington can learn from the EU’s missteps.

By Sightline (Liberal)

Word from AG: Two Advisory Votes on 2014 Ballot

The first of this year’s measures is Advisory Vote No. 8. It is the result of Senate Bill 6505, which deals with the elimination of agricultural tax preferences for various aspects of the marijuana industry. The second is Advisory Vote No. 9 , which is a result of Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1287. That measure imposes the leasehold excise tax on certain leasehold interests in tribal property.

By Washington State Secretary of State

Washington State Work & Family Agenda 2015

A Washington Paycheck Fairness Act will protect workers from being fired or retaliated against for inquiring about or discussing compensation; and require employers to justify differences in career opportunities and in pay based on factors not related to race or gender. Washington’s FAMLI Act will provide income when workers must take extended leaves of up to 12 weeks for the birth or adoption of a child, or the serious health condition of the worker or a close family member, through low-cost insurance financed by payroll premiums.

By Economic Opportunity Institute (liberal)

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.

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.

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.”

Gun-Show Loophole Initiative at 70 Percent in Statewide Poll

By Joel Connelly | Seattle PI

Initiative 594, designed to close the “gun-show loophole,” is headed into the fall campaign with 70 percent support in the latest statewide Elway Poll. The survey found much greater backing for I-594 than the 46 percent registered for rival Initiative 591, sponsored by gun-rights activists.

The Coming Democratic Schism

By Thomas B. Edsall | New York Times Op-Ed

There is a striking generational split in the Democratic electorate. Even though younger voters lean toward the Democratic Party, they clearly do not fit into traditional left-right categories. An overwhelming majority of the older cohort, 83-12, believes that “government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means more debt,” while a majority of the younger Democratic respondents, 56-39, believes “government cannot afford to do much more.”

Pension Committee Looks for Middle-Way on Rising Retirement Costs for State, Local Government and Employees

By BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

The upshot is potentially a $1.2 billion bill next year for state and local government employers for the coming two-year budget cycle, and employees could be on the hook for $408 million more. But a phase-in of payments is possible. The Pension Funding Council meets July 28 and has the formal job of setting rates paid by state workers, teachers and local government workers, as well as governments in 2015-17.

Time for Cathy McMorris Rodgers to Take Stand for Boeing, Export-Import Bank

By Seattle Times Editorial

International competition for Boeing on display at the Farnborough Air Show shows why GOP leaders can’t play games with the Export-Import Bank. Worried bank advocates say it’s not just about Boeing. Ninety percent of the Ex-Im Bank’s loans go to small businesses.

Thwart Highway Traffic Jams with State, Federal Investment

By Steve Mullin | Seattle Times Op-Ed

Washington state needs Congress to act this summer by depositing funds into the Highway Trust Fund to ensure its solvency, writes guest columnist Washington Roundtable President Steve Mullin. Washington’s state lawmakers have to do their part too. Legislators should commit to a new state transportation investment package as soon as they reconvene in Olympia.

Class-Size Initiative Is Disingenuous

By Dick Davis | Everett Herald Op-Ed

A more honest approach was taken in 2004 with Initiative 884. It proposed a one-cent sales tax increase to boost funding for the K-12 system, early learning programs and higher education. Voters rejected it 60-40. No wonder I-1351 hides its costs.