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Archives: April 2009


Lawmaker: Swine flu outbreak comes as 40,000 Washingtonians are about to lose health coverage

Rep. Deb Wallace, D-Vancouver, says in an e-mail to her fellow House Democrats that she’s having second thoughts about the cuts that were made during the just-adjourned legislative session.

Perhaps, she says, lawmakers should consider shorter work weeks (for state workers, I assume) and other reductions to buy back some of the health care cuts.

And she’s suggesting it go on the special session agenda.

“We are going to be coming back in town soon to take care of unfinished business and I would like to suggest that we find a way to address this health emergency in the budget.”

From: Wallace, Rep. Deb
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 4:20 AM
To: @HDC Members
Cc: McCrady, Melinda
Subject: 3 a.m. thought

Many of you are probably having the same 3 a.m. thought that awoke me in the middle of the night. When we adjourned on Sunday the Swine Flu wasn’t on anyone’s agenda as it hadn’t erupted. Barely four days later and we are at a level 5 pandemic and we have just passed a budget to cut 40,000 people off of health care.

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Ace city hall reporter is leaving

I wanted to let Political Buzz readers know that we’re losing one of our best reporter/bloggers, Tacoma city hall reporter Jason Hagey.

After nine years at The News Tribune, Jason’s going to work as communications project manager for the Association of Washington Business (aka the state Chamber of Commerce) in Olympia.

Jason came to us in 2000 as a general assignment reporter, then moved to the Federal Way beat. He’s distinguished himself in six years on the City of Tacoma beat, where he’s covered and uncovered some great stories. He’s

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Special Session on May 14-15?

A source told me those dates are in play because school district Reduction in Force notices go out in May, and one bill — House Bill 1776 — may head off some of those.

The Everett Herald is saying the session will be May 13-15.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt says we don’t need a special session.

Senator Mike Hewitt’s statement on proposed special session

Today Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, issued this statement on the proposed legislative special session:

"I am dumbfounded at the mismanagement that brought us to this point. A special session will cost taxpayers at least twenty thousand dollars a day. Democrats had one-hundred-five days to finish their business. They wasted time, then tried to jam everything through in the final two days and failed.

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Tacoma Municipal Court offers a break to suspended drivers

The Tacoma Municipal Court is offering to work with its collection agency to waive interest charges and a portion of collection costs for people with outstanding criminal and traffic parking tickets and fines.

The offer, good during May and June, is intended to help people regain their driver’s licenses after the license has been revoked because of unpaid fines and fees, city officials said.

“Public safety is improved when drivers are licensed and insured,” Presiding Judge David Ladenburg said in a statement.

Drivers with outstanding tickets or fines may

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Rep. Ross Hunter makes it five candidates for KC executive

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, is the second legislator to jump into the race. Sen. Fred Jarrett is there, too.

As Finance Committee chairman, Hunter worked on a lot of bills to help local governments with their budget problems, that is, trying to give them the means to pay for public services. Those are called “taxes.” The locals got some flexibility, but only transit actually got any new taxing authority.

Let me double check that when I get back to work.

Credit this story to Joel Connelly at the seattlepi.com.


Governor asks state workers for reform ideas

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center passed on this letter the governor sent to state workers. She told reporters on Monday it’s now up to her and her administration to implement the budget the Legislature sent her.

Dear Fellow State Employee:

As you know, we just finished perhaps the toughest legislative session since the Great Depression. There may be a special session to complete a handful of items, but the truly heavy lifting is done including passage of the operating budget.

I know the last months have been hard for you and your families too. There is uncertainty about the future of programs to which you have dedicated your working life, as well as uncertainty about your own future.

Although overall budget uncertainty has ended, there is still a lot of hard work ahead as our agencies absorb and manage their way through budget cuts to balance a $9 billion shortfall. It is up to us to make this budget work as best we can!

All of us, as a team, must carry out the work ahead with great sensitivity and care. I know this is not just a budget document. It’s about all of you, the families who depend on you, and the citizens we all came to serve.

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Foss Waterway Seaport gets $750,000 in state budget

Tom Cashman of the Foss Waterway Seaport sent me this e-mail news release. I’m assuming the $750,000 he’s talking about was in the capital budget. The governor will take action on the budgets by May 19, perhaps earlier on capital budget because it’s all about “jobs,” dontcha know.

Governor, legislature deliver: Balfour Building receives funding for repairs
$750K approved for seismic work for home of Foss Waterway Seaport

TACOMA – Tacoma’s historic Balfour Dock Building on the Foss Waterway will get much needed public safety and seismic bracing now that the Governor’s request for $750,000 for the work was included in the 2009-2011 budget the legislature approved yesterday.

Built in 1900, the Balfour Building is located at the birthplace of the Port of Tacoma.

"We’re absolutely thrilled," said Tom Cashman, executive director of the Foss Waterway Seaport which leases the building from the city’s Foss Waterway Development Authority (FWDA). "It’s a grand old building, and we have exciting plans for it that will help showcase its tremendous size, its beauty and the important role it played in Tacoma’s maritime culture."

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Organized labor says it got the shaft in final days of session

I’m taking a few days off to recover from those final two weeks of session, which are not-stop action and news. But I’m checking my e-mail and will post item from time to time.

Here, David Groves at the state Labor Council gives his take on those final 24-48 hours.

A fitting end to an anti-worker session

In final hours, legislature removes benefits from unemployment bill,
cuts health funding for state employees, passes new tax breaks

If there was any doubt remaining about whether corporate interests superseded those of working families in the 2009 Legislature, it evaporated in the session’s final weekend.

The State Senate, where Democrats have a 31-18 majority, refused to concur with the House-approved version of SSB 5963, the unemployment insurance bill. The Senate voted to strip the bill of its restoration to a 4.0 benefit multiplier, an $8 to $19 weekly benefit increase that would have taken effect next year when the temporary benefit increase expires. The Senate also voted to CUT benefits by taking away the discretion of the Employment Security commissioner to award benefits in unique circumstances of good-cause quits.

What remained was a permanent business tax cut lowering 2010-2015 rates about $377 million, and when the economy recovers, about $1.6 billion every five years after that.

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