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Archives: Feb. 2013

Feb.
28th

Senate Republicans move ‘lite’ version of state worker pension reform; wellness and contracting out bills also OK’d by budget committee

Facing a deadline this week for passing fiscal bills, the Senate Ways and Means Committee gave approval early Thursday evening to three proposals opposed by state-employee groups.

One proposal, Senate Bill 5851, gives new state employees the option of entering into a 401(k)-style retirement plan, called the Washington Public Employees Savings Plan.

Offered by Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey of Oak Harbor, the concept appears to be a lighter, kinder version of the one pushed by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, who wants  to force new hires and current state employees younger than 45 into defined contribution

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Feb.
27th

UPDATE – (Smirking) House Democrats to offer ‘training wage’ for new lawmakers

Rep. Mike Sells

We’ll see if they actually file a bill. But four House Democrats apparently are going to introduce snarky legislation this week that hits back at Republicans trying to poke holes in Washington’s state minimum wage law, which at $9.19 per hour is the highest in the country.

Liberal advocacy group Fuse announced that Democratic Reps. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, Mike Sells of Everett, Sherri Appleton of Poulsbo and Timm Ormsby of Spokane will hold a press conference at noon

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Feb.
26th

Contracting out measure for Enterprise Services draws some critics in Senate hearing

The Senate Ways and Means Committee gave a hearing Tuesday to a bill that would give the state Department of Enterprise Services more leeway in contracting out for software services. Senate Bill 5717 is sponsored by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who sponsored the agency-consolidation bill in 2011 that created DES through a merger of five agencies into three.

The testimony was mixed – with major state landlords and state employees questioning the need for the measure. TVW carried the hearing here (testimony starts about 2:15 hours in).

But Baumgartner, a Spokane Republican, said

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Feb.
26th

Sen. Tom’s pension idea emerges as potential Senate trading card for K-12 education taxes

It’s still early in this year’s 105 day session at the Washington state Capitol. But it’s not too early to point out again that the Republican-dominated coalition in charge of the Senate is passing bills that could be valuable trading cards late in session when serious discussions of raising new revenues for K-12 public schools get going in earnest.

Until yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom and members of his Majority Coalition Caucus have been singularly hostile toward taxes. But as we reported here today, Tom’s  proposal to end fixed-payment pensions for state worker younger than 45 took a beating in the Monday

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Feb.
25th

Gambling Commission director Day leaving for job in Massachusetts

 

The Washington State Gambling Commission announced today that director Rick Day is leaving his post after 11 1/2 years to take a job leading Massachusetts’ new gambling regulatory agency. Deputy director Dave Trujillo was appointed by the commission to take Day’s place on an interim basis.

The commission’s announcement, linked here, says in part:

Director Rick Day announced at the February meeting of the Washington State
Gambling Commission (WSGC) he is resigning effective March 15, 2013.

Rick was appointed Director of the WSGC in August 2001. Rick began his law
enforcement career

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Feb.
25th

New proposal would end fixed-benefit pensions for younger state workers; unions fighting back at hearing today

A new pension proposal from Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom would use a 401(k)-style benefit option for certain Washington state employees younger than 45 years of age. Senate Bill 5856 gets a hearing at 1:30 p.m. today in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and the Washington Federation of State Employees began denouncing the proposal in an alert to members late Saturday.

The proposal by Tom, a fiscally conservative Democrat from the wealthy enclave Medina, appears to go further than a plan

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Feb.
21st

Senate panel explores value of state-worker wellness programs and collective bargaining for health benefits

A proposal to require state workers to participate in wellness programs as part of receiving state-subsidized health insurance plans got a hearing Thursday. Labor unions opposed both the mandate and a proposal to strip health-care benefits from the pay contracts that workers negotiate with the governor.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, sponsored Senate Bill 5811, saying he thinks the state must get a handle on health costs triggered by smoking and obesity. In testimony he cited King County’s well-regarded program, which Gov. Jay Inslee cited on the campaign trail last year, as an example of where the state should

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Feb.
19th

Update – Worker home-assignments bill gets lukewarm support in hearing; won’t pass at cutoff

The Washington Federation of State Employees and the governor’s policy advisers were pretty much neutral today on a bill that would let state agencies give tasks to workers sent home due to allegations of wrongdoing, avoiding the waste of paying workers doing nothing. The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Matt Manweller of Ellensburg got a hearing in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee. Manweller testified that the goal was to allow employees on home reassignment to help out in some way by doing part of their jobs without “being in the environment where the conflict

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