Washington Policy Blog

Bills on minimum wage, court reform, added spending, and cap-and-trade fill legislature’s busy week

January 30, 2015 in Blog

Entering the 19th day of the 105-day regular session, legislators have taken their first floor votes by the full membership, after a busy week of committee hearings.

The latest cost estimates for Obamacare

January 29, 2015 in Blog

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its latest estimates on the projected cost of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. (Available at www.cbo.gov) The CBO's original ten year estimate in 2010 was $940 billion. Its latest estimate is for the next four years (until 2019) and at $571 billion is evidently 20 percent lower than the original budget for that period.

Have state workers received no pay raises in six years?

January 29, 2015 in Blog

Governor Jay Inslee says state workers have not had a pay raise in six years.  He is referring, however, to only one kind of pay raise, a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).  Actually, nearly all state employees have received pay raises over the years, as automatic step increases and normal promotions, though not a formal COLA.  By narrowly parsing his words, Governor Inslee is giving the public the impression that state workers have had no pay raise at all for six years.

District elections for Supreme Court gets public hearing

January 29, 2015 in Blog

This morning the Senate Law & Justice Committee held a public hearing on SJR 8205: Amending the state Constitution so that justices of the supreme court are elected by qualified electors of a supreme court judicial district.

Legislators owe taxpayers a formal vote on expanding Medicaid in Washington state

January 28, 2015 in Blog

In 2013, legislators and the governor in Washington state decided to accept the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program. A formal vote was not taken, however. (Here)

Packed house hearing considers Governor Inslee’s cap and-trade tax bill; meeting to continue Thursday

January 28, 2015 in Blog

Tuesday’s public hearing on HB 1314 before the House Environment Committee, Governor Inslee’ sweeping cap-and-trade tax proposal, drew overflow crowds as hundreds of supporters and opponents packed the main hearing room and three overflow rooms, where the crowd could follow the proceedings on TV.

After taking testimony from about three dozen people, the hearing was adjourned.  The meeting will be continued on Thursday, January 29 starting at 8:00 am in House Hearing Room B, John L O’Brien Building, Olympia.

Governor Cuomo on teachers union—“Don’t say you represent students”

January 28, 2015 in Blog

In a meeting with editorial writers last week, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo critiqued the role of powerful teachers unions in our public education system. He said teachers unions represent themselves, not students.

Indiana expands Medicaid with a federal waiver

January 28, 2015 in Blog

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.

Former Starbucks President offers common sense perspective on the minimum wage debate

January 27, 2015 in Blog

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. 

Senate adopts remote testimony rules - work session from Tri-Cities February 4

January 27, 2015 in Blog

The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee has officially adopted rules for the use of remote testimony during the 2015 Legislative Session. As adopted by the F&O Committee:

SENATE REMOTE TESTIMONY PILOT PROJECT

WSJ opines America is becoming like Europe…and not in a good way

January 27, 2015 in Blog

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:

Forbes magazine highlights minimum wage panel at WPC Solutions Summit

January 27, 2015 in Blog

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:

With a $1.5 billion annual price tag, it's no wonder unions want special exemption from paid leave bills

January 26, 2015 in Blog

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. 

Bills imposing paid sick leave, paid vacation and triple pay for working Thanksgiving=hypocrisy, hypocrisy and more hypocrisy

January 26, 2015 in Blog

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.

Obamacare CO-OPs are starting to fail

January 26, 2015 in Blog

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.