Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced a three-year waiver from the federal government to expand Medicaid in his state. (Here) Indiana is the 27th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. The program is called Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 and is a continuation of the one-year plan initiated by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2007.
Today The Seattle Times printed an excellent editorial on the minimum wage debate by former Starbucks president, and WPC supporter, Howard Behar. The editorial offers some common sense perspective from a respected business leader, and admitted “pragmatic progressive,” on the controversial and often polarizing issue.
The Wall Street Journal published an outstanding editorial on the consequences of following in Europe’s footsteps by mandating unsustainably high wages for entry-level jobs. The editorial concludes America is “becoming more like Europe, with an economy unwelcoming to the unskilled and unprivileged trying to find an entry into the world of work.”
I’ve included the entire editorial below, but here is the CliffsNotes version:
A column in the February issue of Forbes magazine on the minimum wage features the panelists from WPC’s small business panel at the recent WPC Solutions Summit. Noting that Seattle is “ground zero” in the minimum wage war, the column, “The Real Minimum Wage: Zero,” details the compelling remarks of two of the panelists—former Starbucks president Howard Behar and small business owner Taylor Hoang—in response to Seattle’s $15 minimum wage:
The House Labor Committee is considering paid sick leave and paid vacation bills. Let’s examine the costs these mandates would impose on the non-union businesses that would be required to provide them.
HB 1356 would require employers with 5 or more employees to pay employees for 5, 7 or 9 days of sick leave per year, depending on the size of the company.
What do bills mandating paid sick leave (HB 1356), paid vacation (HB 1163) and triple pay for employees who work on Thanksgiving Day (HB 1694) have in common? Besides increasing the costs for employers, all three bills exempt workers from these benefits if they are a union member.
Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, did not include a "public option" health insurance plan, it did provide for federally-funded new companies to compete with existing carriers. These CO-OPs, or Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, were originally slated to receive $6 billion dollars of taxpayer loans at very favorable interest rates.
The labor-backed group Envision Spokane is reportedly working on a “Worker Bill of Rights” for the City of Spokane. Founded by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Envision Spokane is comprised of more than two-dozen unions, community organizations and groups with ties to national organizations.
Tomorrow, the House Environment Committee will hear the Governor's cap-and-trade legislation that would charge businesses that emit carbon dioxide. There has been debate about who is actually covered under the plan. Although the Department of Ecology says there are 130 organizations that will be hit, their list includes only 94.
With session entering its 12th day, lawmakers continue to introduce bills, proposing over 1,200 to date, while spending much of their working days in committee meetings and hearings. So far, the House has passed 14 bills out of committee, dealing with topics ranging from anti-freeze products to locksmith services.
The battle to increase the state’s minimum wage is in full swing in the Legislature. In just the second week of the Legislative Session, two bills have already been introduced to require employers to pay every worker a higher minimum wage.
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council recently released its annual “Washington State Economic Climate Study.” The report is charged with weighing a series of benchmarks under four main indicators (Innovation Drivers, Business Performance, Economic Growth and Competitiveness, Quality of Life) that are supposed to characterize the competitive environment of the state and measuring how Washington compares with other states.
Washington's constitution doesn't waste any time laying down the law when it comes to who is in charge:
ARTICLE 1, SECTION 1 POLITICAL POWER. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.
Among the nearly 1,000 bills and resolutions introduced by lawmakers so far are a number of proposed amendments to the state constitution. These are introduced as House or Senate Joint Resolutions, which, if passed by a two-thirds vote of both houses, would be submitted to a vote of the people in the coming November election. If a majority of voters approve, the proposed amendment becomes part of the state constitution.