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Posts published in February 2015

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Pilot error killed guard chopper pilots (Boise Statesman)
Locals move to North Dakota for high paying oil work (Lewiston Tribune)
Deseret Industries building anew in Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pine Ridge Mall tries to revive itself (Pocatello Journal)
E Idaho horse race backers try to save industry (Pocatello Journal)
Notably warm winter in eastern Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
More building permits in Twin Falls (TF Times News)

Burley Designs baby carrier profitable again (Eugene Register Guard)
Pub may be coming to UO student union (Eugene Register Guard)
Democrats not rushing to Kitzhaber's defense (Eugene Register Guard)
Jackson Co finances faring well (Medford Tribune)
Kitzhaber's private life emerges (Portland Oregonian)
School buses aging, creating hazards (Portland Oregonian)
$135m sought for pre-kindergarten (Salem Statesman Journal)

Options considered for new Marysville I-5 interchange (Everett Herald)
Former United Way director contests firing (Longview News)
Reviewing local food inspections (Olympian)
Local channels went dark on Tacoma cable (Tacoma News Tribune)
Gun rights advocates rally ay statehouse (Vancouver Columbian)
Farm piece-work rates at Supreme Court (Yakima Herald Republic)

Sourcing those industry regs

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

The headline on the Idaho Reporter story said, “Idaho lawmakers mandate car dealership hours,” but that’s only one piece of the tale. The remainder is the portion few Idahoans see but accounts for a lot of the much-despised regulation of industry.

This particular instance arrived February 3 before the House Transportation and Defense Committee, which was reviewing new Idaho Transportation Department rules. One of them required a certain number of hours per week car dealerships must keep their doors open to the public, and report their business hours to state regulators. By a thin margin, the committee approved the rule.

Several committee members argued that this was governmental regulatory overreach – a government agency seeking more power than it ought to have.

But the underlying story emerged when Representative Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, said that “We need to support this because people in the industry support it.”

What? The industry supports this added piece of government regulation?

You bet.

The motivations may be several. One car dealer warned of shady operators who might be hard to find if things go wrong during a purchase or later. There could also be some motivation to set the bar to entry in the business a little higher, excluding people who might try to start a small dealership working on weekends. Without trying to read minds here, there may be in all a mix of rationales, both public-serving and self-serving. But these motivations come chiefly from the industry. In the case of the car dealer hours rule, you would not have seen such general support from the industry if that industry wasn’t the basic source of the proposal.

The testimony indicated that the department wrote the rule, but it’s a very safe bet that the push for it came from the auto dealers themselves. Remember the governmental rules regulating banking hours? Recall who was pressing for that? Here’s a hint: It wasn’t either bureaucrats or consumer groups.

Anyone who draws a bright line between government and business poorly understands either. Business lobbyists visit the legislature every year for more laws and rules, but that’s only the proverbial iceberg tip. Many of them, or representatives for them, are a regular presence at agencies too. The savvier associations lobby agencies all year long to alter or adopt rules they see as in their benefit (and maybe the public’s as well). Revolving doors between the regulators and the regulated are commonplace at the federal level but show up in the states too.

Regulation of most of the business and professional organizations that are today regulated, from doctors and lawyers to surveyors and truckers, got started in most cases with requests from those industries that they be regulated. When the doctors first sought regulation, they wanted to weed out the quacks and improve professional quality, and raise the bar to entry to limit the number of doctors. It’s an old story.

Not that this is all bad. Government should be responsive, and it should listen to the regulated as well as the rest of the public. It’s called the right of redress.

And there are sometimes public interests to be considered too; in the auto hours case, several legislators argued that steady hours would be clearly a consumer benefit. Maybe so. (more…)

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Schools plan for loss of broadband service (Boise Statesman)
Tentative agreement between Boise and Uber (Boise Statesman)
Idaho may keep REAL ID in place (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Trbune)
Port workers plan no work on weekend (Lewiston Tribune)
Measles shots mandated for WSU staff (Moscow News)
Material for roads would get sales tax exemption (Nampa Press Tribune)
Melba schools want $9.5 million bond (Nampa Press Tribune)
'Constitutional carry' draws police criticism (Pocatello Journal)
Mumps showing up in Idaho (Pocstello Journal)
Unclear what will happen to area Radio Shack stores (Pocatello Journal)
Rangen starts getting its water delivery (TF Times News)
Bill would set March for presidential primary (TF Times News)

Recall effort launches against Kitzhaber (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
Pot often appears in Washburne Park (Eugene Register Guard)
Bats multiply at Tulelake Basin (KF Herald & News)
Ashland ski area re-opens (Medford Tribune)
Heavy storms hit SW Oregon (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
AG Rosemblum may consider Kitzhaber inquiry (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Former legislator Joe Burns dies at 90 (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New emails show Hayes ties between public, private (Portland Oregonian)
Many Asians coming to Portland (Portland Oregonian)
New road rules proposed in legisature (Salem Statesman Journal)

WA tax breaks for aerospace may be tightened (Everett Herald)
Inslee supports limting vaccine exemptions (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Fed planw would oil eggs of salmon bird predators (Longview News)
Vaccinations missed by 4.6% of kindergartners (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Boeing machinists pay declined last year (Seattle Times)
Kitzhaber stuck in 'soap opera' ethics scandal (Seattle Times)
Foster parents criticize vaccination rule (Spokane Spokesman)
Dirt in rain puzzles scientists (Spokane Spokesman)
Burlington Northern plans $189m in WA rail effort (Vancouver Columbian)
Port shutdowns may continue (Yakima Herald Republic)

The vaccine pander

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

If you believe unvaccinated children should be allowed in public schools, you’d better stop reading right here and go back to your regular Faux Neus viewing ‘cause you’re not going to like what follows one damned bit.

Let me put it as simply as I can. Your unvaccinated child/grandchild has no God-given right to infect my vaccinated grandchildren. None. If your kid/grandkid doesn’t have a completed shot record in hand the first day of school, he/she should not be allowed on the bus. Period.

To see politicians running for any office teeter this way and that on such an important issue health should be a national embarrassment. The popular - but throughly unconscionable - practice of pandering to any given voter block by office seekers using mush-mouth answers on nearly any subject certainly is. On this one, is could also be deadly.

Watching Chris Christie wallow in the verbal swamp on this subject is embarrassing, though hardly out-of-character, for a guy who’s the only one who doesn’t realize his political career is nearly over. But Rand Paul is the one that disappoints most. First, because he’s a doctor. Second, because his response has been the nutcase echo of Michelle Bachman with this “I’ve heard of...” or “”someone told me...” B.S.. The man is a physician-by-training. He knows better. If he truly doesn’t, his medical career is just one bad diagnosis from landing him in malpractice court.

I’m old enough to remember measles epidemics. When I was in elementary school in East Wenatchee, two kids in my school died of measles. There were deaths in other schools, too. The vaccines at that time were weaker and usually given separately as opposed to the combination practice now. Even so, wise parents who’d seen measles epidemics in their lifetimes made sure their kids had the best protection - measles, mumps, diphtheria, etc..

Now, vaccines are much more effective. Medical and pharmaceutical professionals have better tools and more knowledge. We can protect nearly everyone from these once terrible diseases.

The right wing crazies continuing to peddle the fully discredited “research” of more than 30 years ago are putting their own families at risk if they practice what they’re trying to get the rest of us to believe. And if they ARE practicing by not vaccinating their offspring, then those kids should not be allowed to endanger the rest of us and ours. (more…)

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

New bill would allow permit-less concealed carry (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Moscow News)
UI student study looks into rural flight (Boise Statesman)
Guns, abortion arrive at Idaho Legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Clear Creek forest project approaches approval (Lewiston Tribune)
Longshore issues on Pacific port hit businesses (Lewiston Tribune)
Old Mercy Hospital at Nampa faces uncertainty (Nampa Press Tribune)
Federal Department of Justice looks into broadband (TF Times News)

No third case of severe flu at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Snowpack running especially low, temps high (Eugene Register Guard)
Obama budget calls for $18m for Klamath project (KF Herald & News)
Oregon has lowest vaccination race (KF Herald & News)
Round Up Association challenging property taxes (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber not likely to resign (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Umatilla Co asks local control on energy siting (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing Hayes' policy impacts (Portland Oregonian)
Former Representative Wes Cooley dies (Portland Oregonian)
Legislative leaders remark on Kitzhaber (Salem Statesman Journal)
Howard Hall ripped out at Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bill to require child vaccination, no matter beliefs (Everett Herald, Port Angeles News)
Everett Schools would expand kindergarten (Everett Herald)
Battle over smelt flushing limits at Lake Sacajawea (Longview News)
Kaiser health cost 2,000 with Weyco action (Longview News)
Oregonian tells Kitzhaber to resign (Longview Nwws)
State insurance exchange 81k behind enroll target (Olympian)
Haggen stores moves into major league status (Seattle Times)
Inslee learned from California on carbon caps (Seattle Times)
Telephone audit gives Spokane city $700k (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma restricts use of Weyerhaeuser mansion (Tacoma News Tribune)
Banfield Pet Hospital shows off headquarters plan (Vancouver Columbian)

The ObamaCare soap opera

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

The House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act on February 3. Then, this is not new. The House has voted nearly sixty times to either revoke the law or to make huge changes. But this time the House and the Senate are in Republican hands. So that means what was a symbolic act now has the potential of becoming law.

Well, maybe.

The Affordable Care Act is like a national soap opera that should rivet any audience. Will the law survive? What sort of challenges does it face legally and politically? And, most important, what does this daytime drama mean to Indian Country?

Here is the story so far.

Turn back to to 1974. President Gerald Ford signed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act into law, a measure that modernized the federal delivery of health care in Indian Country. But that law had an expiration date; it needed another act of Congress to renew it. And that did not happen. Congress let the bill lapse despite repeated attempts. That’s where the story takes a turn. The whole health care reform debate was heating up and folks in Congress decided to roll the Indian Health Care Improvement Act into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This language was shortened to the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” — and it’s now the law of the land. The Indian health provisions were made permanent so future Congresses would not have to renew them.

The Affordable Care Act had other benefits to Indian Country. The law improved funding channels for Indian health facilities, a source of money that’s growing during lean budget years. Next year’s Indian Health Service budget estimates more than $1.1 billion collected from Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration and private insurance.

But Republicans have been adamantly against the Affordable Care Act. Four years ago a Republican House was elected and that body started voting over and over to repeal the law. But nothing ever happened because the Democratic controlled Senate ignored the actions in the House.

But like any good soap opera there are new characters joining the story. The Supreme Court could strike down part of the law, causing a lot of confusion. And the Senate is now run by Republicans who will definitely consider the House legislation to repeal the law. This will not be easy. The Senate usually needs 60 votes in order to pass legislation (stopping the threat of a filibuster). And there are not 60 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

That's another twist. Democrats were short 60 votes back in 2010 — so they turned to an arcane process called budget reconciliation that allowed the legislation to pass with a simple majority, or 51 votes. Now many Republicans are asking their party leaders to do the same thing and use the budget reconciliation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That idea would probably work if there was a Republican in the White House. But you can bet that President Barack Obama will veto any attempt to roll back his signature health care legislation. So that means Congress would need a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto. There are not nearly enough votes in either the House or the Senate to do that.

But many Republicans see repeal (enacted or not) as an important statement that will define the 2016 election campaigns. (more…)

The Kitzhaber press conference

The much-referenced press conference by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber last week, as he discussed various issues concerning Cylvia Hayes and his office.

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Former racing boss followed rules on WY job (Boise Statesman)
Several animal care, cruelty bills in the works (Boise Statesman)
Clearwater Paper declares loss last year (Lewiston Tribune)
Profiling Rep. Dan Rudolph (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow plans single-stream recyclilng (Moscow News)
WA bill would block many vaccine exemptions (Moscow News)
Kerby bill proposes more scholarships (Nampa Press Tribune)
Measles vaccines urged at Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Conflicting reports emerge on school growth (TF Times News)
Aquifer recharge this winter insufficient so far (TF Times News)

Possible third infection of blood disease (Eugene Register Guard)
New Eugene call center adds 350 jobs (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene timeline for Civic Stadium buy extended (Eugene Register Guard)
Oregonian calls on Kitzhaber to resign (KF Herald & News)
Klamath battle continues on "In God we trust" (KF Herald & News)
IOT President Maples drops from Ohio job race (KF Herald & News)
Medford mulls Coker Butte annexation (Medford Tribune)
Three top Harry & David's officers depart (Medford Tribune)
Concerns about oil prices at Coos Bay gas plant (Medford Tribune)
Committee goes to work on marijuana bills (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon deadline for immunization approaches (Portland Oregonian)
Governor's website loses page for first lady (Portland Oregonian)
Bill lets terminal patients take unapproved drugs (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett nurses go public about contract issues (Everett Herald)
Legislative testimony take from remote areas (Kennewick Herald)
Legislators call for talks on Spokane med school plan (Kennewick Herald)
Senate approved Hatfield hemp legislation (Longview News)
Tighter limits planned for vaccations (Olympian)
Changes ahead for Olympia artesian park (Olympian)
Measles patient shows at Olympia peninsula (Port Angeles News)
Sites considered for sports arenas (Seattle Times)
Seattle minimum wage law soon to arrive (Seattle Times)
Review of vaccinations in Spokane area (Spokane Spokesman)
Washington considers moving its wolves (Spokane Spokesman)
Legislators try to push electric cars (Tacoma News Tribune)
Columbia Land Trust buys 51 key Rock Creek acres (Vancouver Columbian)
Legislature looks at fireworks regulation (Vancouver Columbian)

Timing is everything

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

Once again, Cynthia Sewell at the DAILY PAPER has shown the “power of the press.”

Idaho Horse Racing Commission director Frank Lamb resigned his position following Sewell’s disclosure of his dual role as a regulator in Idaho while simultaneously acting as a paid lobbyist advocating the slot machines in Wyoming.

Lamb’s job fell under the Department of State Police.

At issue was the practice of gambling on casino-like slot machines and calling them “instant racing or historical racing.” The GUARDIAN has declared them to be slot machines for several years and at the beginning of this year’s legislative session many lawmakers agreed.

There is a bill, presented by Idaho Indian tribes, seeking to repeal the 2013 approval of electronic gaming on horse races on the machines. Some legislators say they were “duped or hoodwinked,” into approving the machines because the machines in place are not the same as those approved in 2013.