Quite a few things went by unremarked by this blog last week and during an extra day off yesterday – including a pretty huge rally by state workers in the Rotunda at noon Monday.
*First, my favorite (humorously intentional) misleading headline from yesterday's rally: “Dozens dead as public storms legislature.” Here’s the more straightforward version. And here’s a labor roundup on the rallies that included as many as 2,000 members of the Washington Federation of State Employees.
Lastly here is "> my piece from Friday’s print edition about the federation’s ratification of a contract for July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2013, that cuts their pay by 3 percent and raises the worker share of health insurance premiums from 12 percent to 15 percent.
*Former state Republican Party chairman Luke Esser has returned to the capitol where he once served as a senator. But he’s paired up as lobbyist for one unexpected client – the Service Employees International Union Local 775 Northwest, which has given more heavily to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire than Esser, according to this Sound Politics report.
*Speaking of common cause, Democrats and Republicans are making political friendship in a bid to reward Washington for having one of the country’s few solvent unemployment funds, according to this Senate Democratic blog post. The Herald has a story with links to a list of 31 states in the red or owing the federal government’s rescue fund.
*On a similar theme, Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla and Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, are sponsors of a bill limiting the rehiring of retired state workers. Senate Bill 5852 intends to stop the 2001 state policy letting workers retire then get a state job and collect both a paycheck and retirement check. Abuses of the system include employees pre-arranging a rehire and apparently working more hours than intended by lawmakers, according to a news release from Hewitt (not posted online yet).
*Again, Brown has written here about the recent bipartisanship in the Senate and its potential for the rest of session on major reforms to pensions, debt for capital projects and other measures.*Changing course, Tacoma lawyer John Ladenburg is mulling another run for attorney general after losing to Republican Rob McKenna in 2008. McKenna is seen as a likely candidate for governor in 2012, which opens the field.
King County Council member Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, is already in the race. Reagan Dunn is rumored as the GOP’s successor to two-term McKenna but he told the Seattle Times he wasn’t aware of a Dunn for AG web address set up by King County Republicans but that he’d consider running if McKenna goes for governor.
*Lawmakers are introducing fewer bills this year, and some credit goes to the slow economic recovery and resulting budget morass at the Capitol. Our news partner Jordan Schrader has it wrapped up here.
There's more stuff to mention that I'll have to batch up in another post later today or tomorrow.