December 11, 2017
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Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell appointed to tax bill conference committee

U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have been appointed to the conference committee that is reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the tax reforms and cuts passed by the two chambers of Congress. The bipartisan group of U.S. representatives and senators will produce a final version of the bill for votes in the House and Senate -- the last step before the bill goes to the president for his signature.

"The conference committee, where the House and Senate bills will be reconciled, is the last chance for Democrats to influence the tax bill that has moved through Congress at blinding speed," The Seattle Times writes. "The House and Senate versions of the bill reduce the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, raise the standard deduction for individuals but eliminate many other deductions."

Both senators opposed the bill, and say they are particularly interested in the proposed elimination of state and local tax deductions, including sales taxes.

The Times reports that Murray and Cantwell are joined on the committee by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Tom Carper of Delaware, as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. On Wednesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed to the committee Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Tim Scott of South Carolina and John Thune of South Dakota.

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Bridging the Skills Gap

Look to community colleges for diverse tech-industry talent

By Sheila Edwards Lange, president of Seattle Central College

Seattle's technology industry has a diversity problem. While tech companies have publicly committed to changing their hiring practices, people of color and women are still being left out of what feels more and more like an exclusive club.

Only one in five STEM workers identify as black or Latino, and less than 25 percent of STEM jobs are held by women. With equity front and center at the recent Washington STEM Summit, we must do more than talk. We must work together -- and two-year colleges are a natural partner in the effort to achieve this important goal...

It is not hard to see the tremendous potential of teaming up, where colleges such as ours and tech companies work together to create cutting-edge programs that teach the skills they need, in ways that are accessible to diverse students. Working together, we can train more local workers to fill the growing number of great jobs in the technology sector, thousands of which remain unfilled..

Read the full op-ed in The Seattle Times
Dams Provide Clean, Green Power

Inslee support for possible dam-breaching 'unfathomable'

By Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch

This issue needs to be decided at the highest level. You can't manage a hydro system this big and this important from the bench. Congress passed the laws that protect endangered species, and it paid for the dams in the first place. It is in the best position to decide whether we take a balanced view, or submit to environmental overkill.

You'd think a governor so concerned with our carbon footprint would be interested in preserving clean power in the Pacific Northwest. There really is no middle ground here, and he ought to know better. What's he saying? Dam breaching is OK if we just take a little from the top?

Read the full news release
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