December 15, 2014
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Tacoma could have mandatory paid sick leave policy, $15 minimum wage

The Tacoma City Council will move forward this week on a paid sick leave policy that would require businesses to pay for at least three sick days per year. Meanwhile, activists filed an initiative to put a $15 minimum wage law "with teeth" on the Tacoma ballot in 2015.

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State Senate, House reorganize, pick committee heads

The Senate and House leadership picked new committee heads and reorganized their committee structures last week.

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King, Pierce county councils squabble over method to fill open state House seat

To meet or not to meet? If King and Pierce counties can't agree on when and where to vote on a replacement for the late Rep. Roger Freeman by Dec. 28, the duty will fall to Gov. Jay Inslee.

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Supreme Court rules that security checks aren't paid time

The nation's high court ruled in favor of Amazon in a case asking whether workers should be paid for time spent waiting in security lines at the end of their shifts.

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Passages: Former Rep. Brian Sullivan dies in Alaska

Brian Sullivan, an Army veteran who represented the Tacoma area as a Democrat in the state House from 1997 to 2001, was killed last week in Alaska in an apparent homicide.

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Legislature to study pay-per-mile fees to possibly replace gas tax

The Legislature will be asked in January to give final approval to a pilot project that would charge drivers for miles traveled. The Road Usage Charge would eventually replace the gas tax, which is seeing declining revenues as hybrids and electric vehicles increase in popularity.

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Battelle again earns top grades from Department of Energy

For the seventh year in a row, Battelle's national laboratory operations in Richland met or bested America's other nine Department of Energy Office of Science labs. Of particular note was its operation of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory and PNNL's A-plus grade for work to modernize the nation's electrical grid.

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Columbia Generating Station turns 30

The Pacific Northwest's only nuclear-powered electrical generating station finished its third decade of operation over the weekend -- and this clean, reliable baseload generating facility is only halfway through its operating life.

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Washington's apple harvest sets records

Washington's apple growers harvested 150 million boxes this year, slightly less than predicted but far above the previous record of 129 million boxes set in 2012.

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CAN WE AFFORD IT?

Budget 101: State employee pay raises 'financially feasible'?

By Rob McKenna, Smarter Government Washington

Under state law, any collectively bargained pay raises and benefit increases for state employees must be declared "financially feasible for the state" by the Office of Financial Management (OFM). While this review sounds like a good idea, it isn't useful if OFM chooses to willfully ignore reality so that it can give its stamp of approval.

That's the situation the state currently finds itself in. The Governor's Office negotiated pay and benefit hikes with state employee unions, and OFM has declared the new costs to be financially feasible "considering the state's obligations...in combination with the current and forecasted economic and revenue conditions for Washington.

Apparently OFM considers the McCleary education funding case to be mere detail...

READ MORE: Click here for the full commentary at Smarter Government Washington
WHAT WORKS

State can move forward on transportation -- by looking back

By Sen. Curtis King

Amid all the finger-pointing and half-truths regarding the Legislature's alleged failure to pass and fund a transportation plan, a glance back at the 2003 "nickel package" provides the best tutorial on how to successfully get a transportation-revenue package through the Legislature and to the governor's desk. The themes from over a decade ago run startlingly parallel to today.

READ MORE: Click here for the full commentary in Crosscut
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