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Advocates for Washington families support balancing Unemployment Insurance tax cuts (price tag: $478 million) with a $15 children's benefit (price: $202 million) to help 170,000 struggling families, instead of enacting a proposed training benefit that might impact 1,900 people. While many in business lobbying groups remain dedicated to tax cuts without relief for our families, friends and neighbors, this may be one of the only opportunities our state legislators have to make positive change in 2011. That's why we remain hopeful that legislators on both sides of the aisle will set aside historic differences and embrace this win-win-win proposal that helps business, families and our economy. Read today's WSLC Legislative Update, which also includes updates on paid family leave insurance and a referendum to temporarily suspend tax breaks we can no longer afford.
► In today's Tri-City Herald -- Food prices on the rise -- Consumers have enjoyed food prices the past two years that were below normal inflation, but now markets are returning to where they were headed before the recession hit and prices on food staples such as cereal are expected to rise sharply.
► In today's Tri-City Herald -- Lawmakers in Olympia weigh business tax cut -- Organized labor came out in force Monday, some bringing their children, to a Senate committee to say the help has to touch more families living on the brink. The room was overflowing as the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee considered the changes.
► From AP -- State lawmakers pressed to act on business tax cut -- Lawmakers were pressed to quickly act on two bills that Gov. Gregoire's office says will save hundreds of millions of dollars for businesses and help spur the state's economy. But labor organizations and others are opposing parts of the bills, saying it doesn't help alleviate the financial crunch families without jobs have.
► In today's Bellingham Herald -- Fighting for balance important in legislature this year (Sen. Kevin Ranker column) -- There is no question that we'll face even tougher choices this year than ever before as we prepare to make historic reductions to critical public services, but my underlying priorities are clear. We must defend our critical public services and engage in a conversation about protecting policies that save and reforming aspects that drag us down. This session I'll be fighting for balance.
► Today from AP -- Boeing delays 787 delivery until at least July -- The company had most recently said that deliveries would begin next month, nearly three years late, but an electrical fire on a plane in November halted flight testing and another delay has been widely anticipated. Even before the fire, however, production problems have led to repeated disruptions for jet, which made its first flight in December 2009.
► In today's -- WSDOT worker killed by falling tree was 12-year veteran -- Billy "Bud" Rhynalds, 66, was setting up safety cones at downed power line on a highway near Carnation Sunday night when he was hit on the head by a tree that fell on his truck.
► In today's (Everett) Herald -- Everett firefighters launch newsletter -- The goal of the newsletter is to establish better communication between firefighters and those they serve, said IAFF Local 46 President Paul Gagnon. The first issue was all about thanking voters for the levy lid lift.
► At Publicola -- Feds, state at impasse over tunnel beneath Seattle's Federal Building -- The feds say the deep-bore tunnel can't go under the building until the state resolves a number of major issues.
► In the Seattle Times -- On labor issues, follow the way of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Michael Honey column) -- The Rev. Martin Luther King described the civil-rights movement as only phase one of his movement. The second phase would be a struggle for economic equality, by which he meant increased opportunity for the unemployed poor and union rights for the working poor.
(Michael Honey will discuss his new book tonight at 6 p.m. at the University Bookstore, 4326 University Way SE, in Seattle. Also, the UW Center for Labor Studies welcomes Honey to lead a discussion, "History and Memory: Revisiting King's Vision of Labor Rights and Economic Justice," this Friday at 3:30 p.m. at UW's Smith Hall, Room 407. Click here for details on both events.)
More State Legislature news:
► In today's Kitsap Sun -- Haigh files bills to suspend class-size, teacher-pay initiatives -- Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton) said she hates the bills, but they are part of Gov. Chris Gregoire's plan to get rid of the deficit. If passed, they will trim at least $1.1 billion of the state's predicted $4.6 billion deficit for the 2011-2013 biennium.
► At SeattlePI.com -- Bad budget may halt school construction -- Gregoire's austere budget plan could mean that school construction projects approved by local voters might not get built.
► In today's News Tribune -- Community college funding jumble -- Dozens of similar construction projects jostle for attention in the growing state two-year college system. College presidents have a way to rank those projects so they can share, not squabble over, a shrinking pot of state money. But Gov. Gregoire's budget proposal scrambles the community college system's ranked list, using different criteria to decide which projects should win funding.
► In today's Kitsap Sun -- Bill proposes to split up DSHS -- A bill sponsored by 39 state representatives from both parties aims to break up the supersized DSHS into four smaller agencies. DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus opposed that effort in committee testimony Monday.
► In the NY Times -- U.S. to sue 4 states over laws requiring union secret-ballot votes -- The NLRB plans to sue Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah in an effort to invalidate recently approved state constitutional amendments that prohibit private sector workers from choosing a union through a process known as card check. The board asserts that the amendments conflict with federal laws and are pre-empted by those laws.
► From AP -- Union campaign to boost image of public workers -- Union leaders plan to launch a multimillion dollar campaign to boost the image of government workers and fend off pay cuts and benefit rollbacks in states under fiscal siege. The scope of the effort is unusual in a non-election year, and it signals a growing concern that unions could lose significant clout in states where the political climate has changed with Republicans in control in many states.
► At Politico -- Repeal vote is just GOP's first step on health care -- In the end, the House repeal vote is just for show. The real work begins immediately afterward, with Republicans using every legislative and political tool at their disposal to wage a two-year campaign against the overhaul. And there won’t be anything subtle about this slow-drip strategy as Republicans aim to erode public confidence in the law and, they hope, make it so politically unpalatable that even some Democrats turn against it.
► From AP -- Experts cast doubt on "job-killing" label on health reform -- Republicans have titled their effort to overturn the law the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," and that's their favorite talking point against it. But independent experts say such a conclusion is premature and unfounded.
► In The Hill -- Obama launches review to target "excessive" regulations -- President Obama says he will sign an executive order to trim outdated and ineffective regulations that impede economic growth. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Obama said the country's complex regulatory structures have sometimes had a "chilling effect" on job growth and, giving a nod to the priorities of the new House Republican majority, observed that small businesses often feel that burden.
► In today's NY Times -- UAW looking beyond Big 3 for survival, union president says -- The future of the United Auto Workers is directly tied to its ability to sign up workers at U.S. plants owned by foreign-based car companies, UAW President Bob King said in a speech to members.
► In today's NY Times -- For Chinese leader's visit, U.S. to take bolder tack -- The White House has prepared for the visit by dispatching several officials to publicly lay down challenges for Hu Jintao.
► Today in The Onion -- When you hire Union Plumbers, you hire trained professionals who won't %@& your wife (op-ed) -- Any customer who hires myself or one of my colleagues can rest assured his bathtub will be snug as a bug and his wife will be left in the same condition as the plumber found her. WARNING: Contains language that may offend some, particularly folks in the construction trades. :)
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO