Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.
Topic: washington state
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March 4, 2014 at 6:11 AM
Opinion Northwest recently asked for readers’ thoughts on Congress’ failure so far to extend federal unemployment insurance. The Feb. 21 blog post followed this editorial calling on lawmakers to help struggling but active job-seekers.
Within days, the post received more than 300 responses from across the country — the map at the top of this post shows locations of responses we received. Many people explained how the temporary assistance had helped them to keep their families housed and their Internet connections available so that they could post their resumes online. A few disagreed with the extension, saying it discourages the long-term unemployed from trying harder to find work. Older workers offered heart-wrenching stories about the difficulty of getting an interview and holding on to a position in today’s economy. During the process of verifying a few different writers’ identities, a few phone numbers were disconnected.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate is plotting again to pass an extension measure with the help of some Republicans. The Congressional Budget Office outlined the benefits of a short-term fix in this Dec. 3 analysis. “Recipients of the additional benefits would increase their spending on consumer goods and services. That increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would, particularly given the expected slack in the capital and labor markets,” the report concludes.
Here in Washington state, the Employment Security Department reports about 28,000 people exhausted their federal benefits on Dec. 28 after Congress failed to act. Since then, the agency estimates thousands more drop out of the system every week.
What happens to them now?
Scroll down to read some of their stories.
Support a federal extension of unemployment insurance:
I support the extension due to the fact that I lost my job of 29 years in June. My benefits ran out in January. No one will hire me due to my age. I’m 64 years old. Having 26 weeks is not long enough to find a job at my age. It is devastating to our budget with first the loss of a long-term job, and then no unemployment to help with expenses. My job loss was due to my position being eliminated. I would have loved to continue working until I was old enough to retire, but my employer had other plans. We have now had to put our home up for sale, we sold our second vehicle and have cut out anything possible to cut back. I’ve gone from a job that paid over $3,000 a month, to unemployment at less than half of that amount, and now down to zero for my income — it is hard to live on just my husband’s Social Security. I need to work, and have worked since I was a teenager. I need the extra weeks of unemployment to carry me until I can find a job. It is not right to not extend the benefits to those of us who are struggling to find a job. Something needs to be done to help all us who are out of work.
— Sharon Washburn, Yakima (more…)
February 21, 2014 at 6:03 AM
The Seattle Times’ Monday editorial calling on Congress to extend unemployment benefits has received some heavy online traffic. Obviously, this issue hits a nerve for many of you out there who are searching for work or know someone who is. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:
In Washington state, at least 28,000 job-seekers so far have lost a critical financial lifeline. Many have put this money immediately into their local economies. It’s how they have afforded basic necessities such as rent, gas, groceries and utilities…
Without an extension, thousands more throughout Washington will continue to lose emergency federal assistance each week after their regular state benefits run out at 26 weeks.
Workers looking for jobs beyond that period now make up nearly 30 percent of the state’s unemployed population. There is an average of three applicants for every job opening.
There’s good reason for lawmakers to return from recess and re-start this debate. According to a January Quinnipiac University poll, 58 percent of respondents support continuing this financial lifeline for those who’ve exhausted their state benefits.
Share your thoughts with us in the form below. (more…)
November 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM
In New Jersey last week, Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election provided a shining example of how Republicans nationwide might woo more women and Latino voters. (Here’s a link to a New York Times report on that race.)
Two days later, I was reminded why those two voter blocs tend to lean toward Democratic candidates when former Washington GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur posted this message to his Twitter account:
iI missed all the fun at State HQ today as the left wing witches and hags protested and got arrested. They look so old and ugly…#wagop
— Kirby Wilbur (@KirbyWilbur) November 8, 2013
Wilbur’s low-blow comment followed the arrest last Thursday of 33 women after they staged a non-violent sit-in at the Washington State Republican Party’s Bellevue headquarters. As The Seattle Times’ Lornet Turnbull reported, Mayor Mike McGinn’s wife, Peggy Lynch, was among those arrested after calling on the state’s GOP congressional delegates to urge a vote on comprehensive immigration reform before year’s end.
When asked by Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner whether his tweet was appropriate, Wilbur responded, “Yup.” Someone give this man a clue. This is not how you bring new voters into the party.
Women have played a critical role in keeping the immigration reform debate alive in recent months. For good reason, too. Women and children make up three-quarters of the country’s immigrant population, according to We Belong Together co-chair and OneAmerica founder Pramila Jayapal. (Read this Colorlines report on how women have more to lose if reform efforts go nowhere.) Jayapal warns women immigrants are more susceptible to abuse from partners and employers. Without legal status, crimes against them often go unreported and victims lack access to critical services.
Thursday’s act of civil disobedience in Bellevue would not have occurred in the first place if lawmakers just did their job to discuss ways to fix the country’s broken immigration system. With 16 days left in the session, the House is on the verge of squandering a bipartisan opportunity to pass landmark reforms. Washington’s Republican delegates must join the three other members of their party who’ve already spoken up to urge a vote.
Here’s an excerpt from our board’s Saturday editorial in The Seattle Times, which supports a House Democratic effort to pass the Senate’s version of a comprehensive immigration package that includes a path to citizenship:
While U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, is a leader in the House Democrats’ effort as a bill sponsor, disappointingly none of Washington’s House Republicans are agitating for immigration reform.
Religious leaders, business owners and farmers are on board. A statewide survey released in September by KCTS 9 and Latino Votes shows 73 percent of 800 respondents support allowing law-abiding workers a process to come out of the shadows.
Yet Republican U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, Dave Reichert of Auburn, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas and Doc Hastings of Pasco remain strangely ambivalent on an issue that has major implications for each of their districts.
They should urge the House Republican leadership to schedule a vote.
October 1, 2013 at 8:15 AM
In “Breaking Bad” a Washington state drama, Walter White’s blue meth would’ve been the bomb 10 years ago.
That’s when, by some measures, meth peaked as the drug of choice. It was an “epidemic” in news reports (including mine).
But meth’s decline has skipped notice. Like Walter White (no spoilers), meth skipped town, but is still dangerous.
The Department of Ecology spill response section’s 20 years of data on methamphetamine contamination sites is the best single measure of the rise and fall of local meth production (above). When state troopers or rural cops bust a lab, the guys in yellow from the DOE show up (click here for county-level data). The past several years aren’t on the chart, but spill response manager David Byers reports that the trend continued: 95 in 2010; 46 in 2011; 84 in 2012; and 37 through August 2013.
Another measure — state hospital admissions with amphetamine diagnosis — tracks a similar pattern (right).
This trend reflects huge emphasis and resources — and a smarter strategy than just busting down meth-lab doors. Local police tracked meth-lab cooks as if they were mafia kingpins. And Washington in 2010 joined at least 18 other states in a national effort to track, via pharmacy sales, the precursor ingredients used to manufacture meth.
All this is not to say meth has vanished, like Saul Goodman’s vacuum-cleaner guy’s deluxe package. This report from University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute shows that meth is the fourth-leading drug cited as primary for King County treatment admissions in 2012 (alcohol 3,438; heroin 2,064; marijuana 1,834 and meth, 955). But the curve has been bent.
You know what hasn’t changed? Government’s willingness to spend money fighting a shrinking meth trade. Sen. Patty Murray “saved” the state meth initiative in 2010 with a $2.2 million federal appropriation.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Hank Schrader would be proud.
August 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Big, if belated, news this morning is Washington state’s victory before the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals in its efforts to get the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to follow the law on a long-term nuclear waste repository.
In its 2-1 ruling, the appeals panel ordered the NRC to resume its work on whether Yucca Mountain, Nev., would be a viable site for the long-term storage of the nation’s commercial nuclear waste now stored on nuclear plants around the country. Besides the waste stored at Washington state’s lone nuclear plant, Columbia Generating Station in Richland, Washington state is acutely affected because the Hanford Nuclear Reservation contains more than 50 years of Cold War-era nuclear defense waste, also intended for long-term disposal at Yucca Mountain.
The Obama administration and its NRC violated the law when they unilaterally stopped work on studying the Yucca Mountain site, which Congress designated the nation’s long-term repository in 1987. About $10 billion has been spent studying and preparing the site.
This episode is rife with political gamesmanship, as I detailed in this 2010 column. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has bitterly opposed the Yucca Mountain site in his home state, and candidate Barack Obama, in 2008, campaigned in Nevada against the site. Reid, a Democrat, was able to get his former aide, Gregory Jaczko, appointed NRC chairman, which began a sorry episode in the commission’s long history as a reputable and regulatory agency. Jaczko stopped the work before a much-anticipated study, known as Volume III, was to be released. The study is said to contain technological data that could shed light on whether Yucca Mountain was viable as a longterm site.
In the majority opinion, Circuit Chief Judge Brett Kavanaugh, wrote:
This case has serious implications for our constitutional structure. It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law in the manner asserted in this case by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Our decision today rests on the constitutional authority of Congress, and the respect that the Executive and the Judiciary properly owe to Congress in the circumstances here.
If the NRC follows the court’s ruling and the law, at the very least, the agency should be able to release the critical Volume III study to shed some actual technical light on this critical public policy issue that has been so utterly obfuscated by political shenanigans.
May 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Tuesday’s editorial argues there’s a difference between health systems that merge and those that are setting up a new working relationship. I urge us all to resist painting UW Medicine‘s latest community hospital ally, PeaceHealth, with the same broad brush that many might be tempted to apply to the entire Catholic hospital system.
The UW Medicine-PeaceHealth “strategic affiliation” announced last week is more or less a referral network that is intended to serve two major purposes. First, officials say their goal is to provide patients of all backgrounds with seamless care in an age of complex health care reforms that will demand better outcomes. Second, we’re looking at an opportunity to train the next generation of doctors, nurses and hospital employees.
The public should not confuse this “strategic affiliation” with the other emerging trend in Washington state that will soon lead to half of all hospital beds being run by Catholic-affiliated hospitals. I certainly have some concerns about this, as previously expressed by Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat and tracked by MergerWatch.org. I believe patients in publicly-subsidized hospitals deserve to have access to the full range of health services — including abortion care, scientifically-proven stem-cell procedures and end-of-life services. At some point, lawmakers may have to set some parameters.
Of course, each hospital should be judged on its own merits. After spending considerable time on the phone with the key players in this “strategic affiliation,” including UW Medicine Chief Health System Officer Johnese Spisso and PeaceHealth Chief Strategy Officer Peter Adler, I don’t believe this particular alliance is an attempt by the Catholic church to take over the university’s venerable teaching hospital and limit what future doctors and nurses are trained to do.
April 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Does a Richland florist have the right to provide service to a gay man for years, then decide she won’t do business with him when he tells her he’s using the flowers in his wedding ceremony to another man?
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson doesn’t think so. Discrimination is discrimination, and Washington treats the institution of marriage the same for all after the passage of Referendum 74 last November.