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The 9th Order

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

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)

Inslee Decision Stops State from Facilitating United Grain lockout

While the state provided escort services, United Grain was able to carry on business as usual while depriving some 50 workers of their jobs and providing little incentive for the company to reach a negotiated settlement with the union.

By WSLC Stand (Union)

Environmentalists Vow to Continue Fight in Whatcom after Oregon Coal Terminal Is Rejected

By RALPH SCHWARTZ | Bellingham Herald

Environmentalists in Whatcom County and Seattle declared a victory in their regional fight against coal terminals, after the state of Oregon on Monday, Aug. 18, rejected a permit for construction of the Coyote Island Terminal at the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River. On the other hand, the nonprofit Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports said the decision “hurts all trade-related industries and workers in our region.”

A Limit on Lawmakers’ Free Lunches

By John Stang | Crosscut

The Washington Legislative Ethics Board has come up a definition for the word “infrequent”: 12 or less. That appears to be the number of free meals a state legislator will be able to accept from lobbyists in a year. In a 5-to-3 vote on Tuesday, the ethics board tentatively set one dozen meals as the proposed limit. A final vote by the board is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Our Dismal Primary Turnout: 31 Percent

By Joseph O'Sullivan | Seattle Times

The Secretary of State’s game-face tweet about other states being much worse has merit. Only 10 percent of primary voters turned out this year in Maine; 11.4 percent in Texas, 18 percent in Illinois; 25 percent in California, according to one roundup.

America’s Half-Century of Polarization, in One GIF

By Philip Bump | Washington Post

By far the most interesting thing about this animation is how the density of the colors increases. In the late 1980s, most counties were fairly bipartisan. By 2000, there are a lot of very strong red counties — a trend that increases.

Lawmakers Turn Up the Heat on Troubled Ferry System

By Mike Lindblom and Joseph O'Sullivan | Seattle Times

Mechanical problems, errors and personnel issues are prompting lawmakers and others to discuss how to fix the Washington State Ferries system. As lawmakers call for hearings and sackings, the head of Washington State Ferries says the public ought to focus on what he calls an unparalleled safety and reliability record.

Primary Tallies Spell Trouble for Democrats

By Chris Vance | Crosscut

We have watched the State Senate races all year, and all the Republicans save Hill received 56 percent or 57 percent of the primary vote. At 54 percent, Hill’s race is the only one that seems somewhat competitive. Republicans have a chance to gain at least two seats and lower the margin in the state House of Representatives to less than 10 seats.

State Supreme Court to Decide if Charter Schools Are Constitutional

By AP | Seattle Times

The Washington Supreme Court announced Friday it would consider whether a voter-approved charter school law violates the state constitution. Oral arguments concerning the lawsuit brought by charter-school opponents have been scheduled for Oct. 28. The arguments will focus on the part of the lawsuit concerning whether charter schools meet the state definition of a “common school” and whether they are eligible for dollars set aside for those schools.

State Plans 50 Mental-Health Beds to Start Addressing Court Mandate

By JORDAN SCHRADER | Olympian

Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration plans to add 50 beds in the next two weeks for mentally ill patients who the State Supreme Court said can no longer be detained in emergency rooms while waiting for treatment at overcrowded state facilities.

Fix for Washington Health Exchange

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP AP | The Daily News

People having trouble using the insurance they purchased through the Washington health exchange because of billing problems can now pay their insurance company directly, thanks to an agreement worked out by the governor and the state insurance commissioner. For the past seven months, the health exchange has been trying to solve the problems.

Washington’s High Court Says Psychiatric Boarding Is Unlawful

By Valerie Bauman | Puget Sound Business Journal

Psychiatric boarding – the practice of detaining patients with mental health problems without treatment because of limited psychiatric beds – is unlawful, according to a unanimous opinion the Washington state Supreme Court issued Wednesday. In a state with too few psychiatric beds, the decision is both a victory for mental health advocates and a problem without a clear solution.

Republicans Appear Well-Poised to Hold State Senate

By Chris Vance | Crosscut

Thousands of more ballots will be counted in the coming days, but the results from the 2014 primary have already produced some major surprises — the biggest surprise being the overall strength of Republicans. If these results mirror the voting in November, Republicans will hold the Senate, and gain a handful of seats in the House.

As Oysters Die, Climate Policy Goes on the Stump

By CORAL DAVENPOR | New York Times

Mr. Inslee, who is campaigning for his agenda across the state this summer with oyster farmers in tow, is trying to position himself as America’s leading governor in the climate change fight.

Add State Hospital Beds, or Cut Them?

By JORDAN SCHRADER | Olympian

Washington ranks near the bottom of states in its number of psychiatric beds by population, partly because of budget cuts by the Legislature. Patients who are involuntarily committed for mental illness are supposed to go to state hospitals or other certified treatment facilities. But the waiting list for Western State beds has stood at 30 people or even higher. They end up waiting in emergency rooms without proper treatment for their mental illness.