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Morning Wire: Changes to state labor law, Paine Field, and Congress disruptors

We try to cover the politics, personalities and political economy of the State of Washington.  We also try to curate for you interesting news bites that are worthy of a quick read.  Our 2018 Re-Wire Policy Conference is similar:  quick topics and sessions that get you the most important information happening in Olympia and Washington State government.

We’re still a few months out, but our Early Bird rates will be ending soon.  So, if you know you want to be with us, you can save a few bucks by getting signed up early!

With help from Emily Boerger and Marjie High

1. The biggest change to state labor law since $15?

The Washington State Dept. of Labor and Industries is set to release a proposed rule this week that would mandate overtime compensation for salaried workers making up to $74,880 per year.  We read and summarized the stakeholder feedback for you here, but if you want to take a look at the 24 letters yourself, check them out here.

Currently, the state law from 1977 allows practically any salaried employee making more than $24,000 to be exempt from overtime.  Salaried workers currently average 49 hours per week, according to a study by the Gallup Organization.  According to Working Washington, this amounts to $4.2 billion in lost payroll.

2.  Labor resistance to carbon initiative growing

As election day draws closer, campaigning for and against statewide ballot initiatives is ramping up. Initiative 1631, the state’s carbon pricing initiative, is not only facing opposition from the oil industry, but from a growing number of labor and building trade unions as well.

We spoke with Lee Newgent, a consultant focused on labor outreach for the “No on I-1631” campaign, about the growing labor resistance to the carbon fee initiative and the campaign’s biggest concerns with the initiative. Newgent says: “we believe that climate change is real and we believe that we need to do something to address it. But our issue with 1631 is that it’s just not the right plan.” You can read his full comments here.

3.  NYT polling results: 8th CD in a dead heat

After making 40,568 phone calls, and speaking to 505 people, the New York Times poll in the 8th Congressional District shows the race in a dead heat. The poll shows Democrat Kim Schrier with 46 percent of the vote, Republican Dino Rossi with 45 percent, and 9 percent report being undecided. With a margin of error at ±4.6, the race appears to be a tossup.

The NYT poll broke down its results by demographic, by geographic location, and over time as the polling calls were made. You can explore the graphics here. The poll also asked responders about their views on key federal issues like healthcare. Forty-eight percent of those polled said they support repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and interestingly, 52 percent said they support “the creation of a national insurance program, in which every American would get insurance from a single government plan.”

4. Update on commercial airline service at Paine Field

Over the weekend, commercial airline service at Paine Field in Everett moved one step closer as the project’s latest Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) was released. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requested the additional assessment after Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines put forth a new proposal seeking to increase the daily departures leaving the airport.

According to the report, the new proposal will have minor environmental impacts related to emissions, noise, and traffic use, but overall it will “not result in significant cumulative impacts.” The environmental assessment is available for public comment from September 29, 2018 to November 2, 2018 with a public hearing scheduled for October 29, 2018. Following the release of the new EA, Paine Field still anticipates beginning commercial flight operations in early 2019.

5. Republicans may gain two NW governorships

In what is supposed to be a Blue Wave year, Republicans are in position to pick up two NW governors’ mansions.  In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown – a close ally of Gov. Jay Inslee – is doing everything she can to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Rep. Knute Buehler continues to campaign strong there.  Real Clear Politics has moved that race into a Toss Up category.

In Alaska, where an independent governor faces both a Democrat and a Republican, it looks like the Republican Mike Dunleavy is well in the lead where his potential block of opposition voters is split by two candidates.  This is contrary to the narrative of a Blue Wave – something that would still seem to be happening.  But, it’s not much of a Blue Wave if incumbents are losing to Republican challengers, is it?

6. Predictions and disruptions in the midterms, the 116th Congress, and the 2020 elections

Washington DC’s Bruce Mehlman, published a new slide deck on Monday outlining the continued sources of disruption in the federal government related to the midterms, the lame duck session of Congress, the 116th Congress, and the 2020 elections. The slide deck, entitled, “The Chaos Continues,” paints a complex and precarious picture of our federal political landscape.

Our key takeaways from Mehlman’s presentation: heading into the new year, 15-20 percent of the House will be new and there will be significant turnover in committee leadership. Regardless of who wins in the midterms, the 115th Congress still has several important lines of business to address, while also balancing the election of a new House Speaker. And heading into the 2020 elections, both parties have important decisions to make in regards to the direction they want to take their party.