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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.