August 12, 2019
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Murray highlights new bill that would help close rural broadband gap

Washington’s senior senator has introduced a new bill that would increase access to broadband. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray discussed the Digital Equity Act of 2019 during a visit to Wenatchee last week.

Murray heard from teacher Camille Jones and others that addressed the challenges of inconsistent access to broadband, and training to use it.

“Teachers have such a potential to be a great resource to close gaps in digital equity for our students,” Jones said, as reported in NCW Life. “The concern that I have in the disparities amongst teachers’ own skills in the digital world, and if we want to be a better resource to our students to learn, we need some support to also learn the skills ourselves.”

The Digital Equity Act would create two grant programs with $125 million each to support projects at the state and local level to support digital equity, where all communities have the information technology capacity necessary for full participation in society, according to Murray’s news release.

Many people take reliable broadband as a given, she noted.

“But for far too many individuals and families—including those from communities of color, people with disabilities, low-income households, and rural communities—getting online isn’t so easy to do, and I strongly believe that in 2019, we shouldn’t be a country of haves and have-nots when it comes to using the internet,” Murray said in the release.



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Solutions Needed


Washington's China trade dilemma

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Trade-dependent Washington state is in a tight spot as the U.S.-China trade war escalates.

Voters should start thinking now about what course they'd like to see the White House take if the trade war continues beyond 2020.

While just 37% of Washingtonians voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, the majority are now depending on him to successfully address China's ongoing theft of intellectual-property and unfair trade practices harming the state's economy.

Whether Trump's unpredictability, bombast and use of tariffs as a bludgeon result in a good outcome remains to be seen. Patience with his tactics will wear thinner if there's no progress this year and the U.S. enters a recession. Then the risk is that Trump caves, letting China off the hook and giving Wall Street a bump ahead of the election.

Both parties share some blame. The Democrats' 2016 presidential candidate joined Trump in turning against the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by President Obama. That multilateral trade agreement could have prevented this dispute. It would have imposed fair-trade rules around the Pacific Rim. That bloc would pressure China to comply without resorting to blunt and painful tariffs. Still undetermined is whether Trump has the right strategy, tactics and execution...

Republicans must be ready to seek change if Trump fails, and Democrats must be ready with an equal or better strategy to address China's unfair practices and improve trade relations.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
Lawsuits Aren't the Answer on Climate


No Matter Which Way You Turn, Climate Litigation Hits the AEP Precedent Roadblock

By the Manufacturers' Accountability Project

Plaintiffs and supporters of the climate lawsuits filed against energy manufacturers are cheering recent decisions by federal judges to send cases in Rhode Island, Baltimore, and several California jurisdictions to state courts. The proponents of the cases are desperate to escape federal court, which have continually rejected climate liability suits. But, those cheers will be short-lived, as the cases have no more validity in state court. Mitigating the impacts of climate change is not a liability issue for either state or federal court. Selling and using energy is not a violation of tort law; it is necessary to modern life. Figuring out how best to address climate change concerns along with other key aspects of national energy policy, including affordability and energy independence, is the province of Congress and federal agencies.

In American Electric Power (AEP) v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court made these points abundantly clear, stating that the judiciary is not the venue for making climate change public policy judgments:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the unanimous majority opinion, stressed that setting national energy policy to account for climate change concerns was "within national legislative power," and that Congress and EPA are "better equipped to do the job than individual district judges issuing ad hoc, case-by-case" decisions...

What has become clear is that climate change is a shared global challenge whose solution won't be found in a courtroom. Rhode Island and the other communities that want to do something about climate change should join with manufacturers on energy innovations, not target them for baseless litigation.

Read the full column from the National Association of Manufacturers