All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Union creep raids Freedom Foundation lobby

It’s been a while since we last ridiculed the juvenile antics of the Northwest Accountability Project (NAP), a union-backed 501(c)(4) nonprofit devoted to, “shining a light on extremism and the moneyed special interests that attempt to bring an agenda of hate and division to Washington and Oregon.” It accomplishes these lofty goals largely by writing “mean tweets” about the Freedom Foundation.

This week, however, NAP really kicked it up a notch.

In the middle of the afternoon, NAP’s executive director/sole employee Peter Starzynski, (whose Twitter handle is, no joke, @Starz_InThe_Sky) decided to pay a visit to the Freedom Foundation’s Olympia office.

Casting furtive glances over his shoulder, Starzynski darted into the lobby, grabbed a bunch of publications from a display table and quickly made his escape, leaving Freedom Foundation staff dumbfounded as to why anyone in their right mind would make the four-hour-plus roundtrip drive from Portland to Olympia and back to steal the top-secret material we have sitting out for anyone to take.

The best part is that the whole episode was captured on film by the Freedom Foundation’s security system.

For verification purposes, here’s a photo of Starzynski wearing his trademark jeans and sport coat combo.

It’s too bad @Starz_InThe_Sky was too hurried to smile for the camera, but at least there’s #oneless dangerous Freedom Foundation publication out there to pollute the minds of the innocent.

Among other things, Starzinsky made off with a stack of flyers entitled, “10 Things to Ask SEIU,” which includes penetrating questions like:
  • “Why hasn’t the union informed IPs of their right to choose for themselves whether to pay union dues under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Harris v. Quinn?”
  • “Why have union reps been caught on tape lying to IPs about their rights?”
  • “Why are SEIU 775 dues higher than any other SEIU union in the Pacific northwest and twice as high as dues for state employees?”
  • “Why did the union illegally conceal $1.4 million in political campaign contributions, leading to a $44,000 fine after it was sued by the state Attorney General?”
Perhaps, now that Starzynski has a copy of the flyer (available online here for literally anyone on earth), he can “shine a light” on the answers for us.

Starzynski also seemed especially interested in the Freedom Foundation donation envelopes. Of course we’d be happy to have his support but, for those wondering, it is possible to donate through our website; you don’t have to drive to Olympia and sneak envelopes from the lobby.
Stunts like this are pretty much par for the course with NAP.

Earlier this year, Spokesman-Review columnist Sue Lani Madsen wrote a blistering takedown of NAP, explaining:
In the eyes of the Northwest Accountability Project, those supporting a conservative worldview are extremists threatening ‘the middle class, our environment, our education, and personal freedom.’ Their website demands the ‘Freedom Foundation must reveal their true agenda and stop lying to the public.’
Here’s the irony. The Freedom Foundation is upfront about its true agenda to ‘reverse the stranglehold public-sector unions have on our government.’ It’s not hidden. You can find photos and contact information for all staff members on the organization’s website. They answer their phone. And they used to proudly post a list of trustees and major donors, until groups like the Northwest Accountability Project used it as a hit list…
It’s the ultimate irony. Finding anyone to hold accountable for the Northwest Accountability Project required digging into corporate registration records with the secretary of state. Only two names appear: Kevin Rudiger, research coordinator for the Service Employees International Union, and Andrew Biviano, an attorney who recently resigned as chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Party. The physical address matches Biviano’s work address.
Biviano was surprised to hear he was still listed, saying he has not been associated with the group since mid-2017. Phone calls to Rudiger and to the contact number for the Northwest Accountability Project were not returned, nor were emails.
Maybe next time Starzynski visits he’ll stick around for a chat. I’m sure we’d have a lot to talk about.

-- Maxford Nelsen, for the Freedom Foundation

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

WA Leg - End of session update

The Legislature adjourned Sine Die on Thursday, March 8. It was only the second time since 2009 the Legislature has adjourned on time. It was a fast and furious session – starting with a Hirst solution and passage of the capital budget in the first two weeks. The last few weeks were action-packed included some very interesting twists in the legislative plot. There are a number of issues to apprise you of in this email update. Let’s talk taxes first.
Property taxes
I am sure property owners have received their property tax statements by now, and there are likely some that are not happy or in a little bit of shock. Due to changes in state education funding, the McCleary fix, some are seeing substantial increases. The Legislature did pass property tax relief – but I am very disappointed on when and how much. Democrats decided to move the property tax relief to 2019. It may be difficult for many to even realize they are getting a property tax break by the time it kicks in. They also decided to use money that was supposed to go to our rainy day fund. Because they were not taking money out of the rainy day fund, they only needed a simple majority, rather than a super majority, to do it. Many of us question the constitutionality of the move.
I will remind you, I introduced House Bill 2303 at the beginning of session to reduce the property tax in 2018. We have been pushing for this since we arrived in January. With four years of record revenue increases we could have given some back this year! Since the operating budget was enacted last June, state revenue projections have increased by $2.7 billion. However, the majority party decided not to do that and instead played politics with a property tax break our taxpayers deserved, while increasing spending dramatically. I believe doing this will force a tax increase in 2019, very counterproductive to say the least.
You can watch comments I made to Q13 Fox TV in their story: Some lawmakers say property tax relief passed by lawmakers is not enough.
Operating budget
I voted against the operating budget, Senate Bill 6032. While we were able to defeat the carbon tax and a capital gains tax, the budget still increases spending substantially. Spending is up 16 percent over the last biennium. There was also no transparency in the budget process. Republicans were left out of the budget negotiations, and the budget was voted on before the ink was dry.
After a lot of hard work, we were finally able to get a tourism bill through the Legislature. We passed Senate Bill 5251, the companion bill to my House Bill 1123, which puts a tourism marketing plan in place for the first time since 2011, when the statewide tourism office was cut out of the budget.
The bill directs 0.2 percent of retail sales taxes collected on lodging, car rentals, and restaurants, up to $1.5 million in 2019, and up to $3 million per biennium after 2019, to fund the implementation of the statewide tourism marketing plan. The bill would also require the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to evaluate the work of the WTMA.
It is a great return on investment and it is efficient. The private industry must put up two dollars for each dollar the state invests. This is a big win for our region and the tourism industry throughout Washington state.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

No choice for healthcare workers!

The Washington State legislature enacted a bill SB6699 to force home care workers to join the Service Employees International Union or not have a job. They don’t want heath care workers to have a choice – but they know they shouldn’t say that.  Washington State should have transparent government.  Forcing workers into secret, dues/bribery-paying, arrangements is the wrong way to go.

The bill is on Inslee's desk at the time of this writing  --  send the governor an email stating your opposition. This legislation has been in the works since 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that “quasi-public” employees – like the home care workers in SEIU, many of whom take care of family members – cannot be forced to join a union or pay fees to one. They are free to leave SEIU entirely, which the union doesn’t like at all. SEIU has been working with Gov. Inslee’s office since 2014 to get around this freedom and lock workers back into the union.

All this is being done to keep a fat percentage of union dues money flowing into the hands of union bosses and crooked politicians.  Its as corrupt as things can get to be.  Unions no longer exist to advance the workers' causes, but to fatten the fats cats who run the unions and the corrupt politicians who enrich themselves off the public trust.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

SEIU corrupts health care workers rights

SEIU is working hard to keep home health care workers in the dark about their right to leave the union (for background, click here). SEIU also wants to move the administration of home health care workers out of the state's hands.

How often do you see a government employee union want to contract out state work? That alone tells you something unusual (and fishy) is going on here. The union wants it because then home health care workers would not have the same rights to leave SEIU if they choose. This is about keeping the union dues flowing in from low-wage workers to SEIU, and preventing people from exercising the rights the Supreme Court has said they have.

Gov. Inslee and many legislative Democrats are bending over backwards to help SEIU, which is a major contributor to Democrats. They, too, benefit from keeping the dues money flowing. They're doing this even though contracting out to an outside entity will actually be far more expensive than keeping the task within DSHS. And they're pushing an anti-transparency bill even though every newspaper editorial board that has weighed in calls it a bad idea.

The governor and these legislators are withstanding the pressure so they can aid their ally and contributor. If this is about principles, it's sure hard to see it.

-Rob McKenna

Friday, February 16, 2018

Governor’s carbon tax is not about carbon reduction

By Rep. Cary Condotta

With just about three weeks remaining in the legislative session a lot of the focus will be on reaching an agreement on our three supplemental budgets – operating, capital and transportation. There shouldn’t be much tweaking to the transportation budget or the capital budget, since we just passed a two-year capital spending plan.
The operating budget negotiations will be the focus. A big part of that debate will revolve around new revenue – or taxes. There continues to be a thirst for new tax revenue in Olympia. This session there seems to be no end to bills that raise or create new taxes.
There are proposals to raise B&O taxes, a capital gains excise tax (a form of income tax), the sugar and sweetener tax modeled after the city of Seattle’s policy – but on a larger scale, a wireless device tax, and of course the one gaining the most attention – a carbon tax. Why is this needed with the new revenue report showing the largest increase in taxpayer revenue yet?
There are a few different carbon tax proposals out there, but I want to focus on the governor’s plan, Senate Bill 6203. I touched on his proposal in a previous update, but I think it is imperative we continue to discuss this proposal. The governor has been in the 12th District and eastern Washington making a big push for his idea.
His plan has been modified recently – now taxing carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants starting at $10 per metric ton beginning July, 2019. It has some other changes, but what hasn’t changed is who it is going to impact – those who can least afford it: lower-income and middle class families.
The governor’s staff admitted that his proposal would increase the costs of fuel, natural gas and energy bills for consumers. His plan amounts to a 10-cent gas tax right out of the gate.
The governor claims private companies and corporations are coming around and many are supportive. That isn’t surprising, many may fall under one of the more than 50 carve outs, or exemptions, that are built into his plan, including “aircraft fuel.” So, a person who decides to fly their jet to the Bahamas for a getaway weekend would not pay a carbon tax, but the people needing to heat their homes or commute to work will be.
Investor-owned utilities also get a free pass under the governor’s proposal. Consumers will pay more, but the utilities are able to claim a credit against the carbon tax and reinvest the money back into the utility if they have a clean energy investment plan. You can understand why public utility districts like it.
Reducing carbon emissions is a reasonable idea. However, the governor’s plan seems to be more about raising revenue than reducing carbon. The tax would increase by 3.5 percent each year, plus inflation. It is projected to raise about $700 million over the first two years. If it were about reducing carbon, where are the incentives in the proposal for carbon reduction? If this is about carbon and not revenue, where is the off-setting tax reduction to make it revenue neutral? These questions need to be asked.
House Republicans have an incentive-laden measure, House Bill 2283, that passed out of the House Technology and Economic Development with a strong, bipartisan vote of 13-4. It is now in the House Finance Committee.
Finally, as I have questioned before, why would the governor tax our power? Washington state has some of the cleanest power in the world. Once again, this plan does very little to reduce carbon in the 12th District. We should be concentrating on the transportation sector which is what I am doing with House Bill 2339 and House Bill 2340 – incentivizing the use of electric cars and fleets of semis. This approach is far less costly and will have much better results.
Keep in mind, as the federal government is considering a twenty-five-cent gas tax increase, the price of fuel will increase dramatically. This means our two biggest industries will be directly affected. Price inputs will accelerate on all farm and agriculture production. Farmers do not control prices so the small guys will be squeezed out.
Tourism will be directly affected. When fuel prices rise into the mid-$3 range people don’t travel nearly as much. RV traffic will be reduced as well.
The bottom line is that the cost of the governor’s proposal will be put on the backs of the citizens of Washington state – increased energy costs, higher prices for groceries, goods and services, as well as a hike in the gas tax. There are better ways to do this, but not in a manner that seems to be more about the money and less about addressing our carbon footprint.

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“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
-- Joseph Stalin