Morning Fizz

Reinstate Limits on Care and Eliminate Guaranteed Coverage

By Morning Fizz May 3, 2012

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz.

1. Dozens of women will announce plans later this morning to file a lawsuit against Washington State AG Rob McKenna, who is suing the federal government to overturn the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare.

The women are accusing McKenna of violating his duty to state residents. Specifically, the plaintiffs will point to the fact that overturning the ACA would allow insurers to reinstate lifetime limits on care and eliminate guaranteed coverage for birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other preventative care. The announcement is scheduled for this morning at 10, at the downtown YWCA.

Progressive attorney Knoll Lowney, who, you may remember, wreaked havoc on Republican Dino Rossi's 2008 bid for governor by filing a suit claiming Rossi had illegally colluded with the Building Industry of Association of Washington (forcing Rossi to give a highly publicized deposition at the height of the campaign), is heading up the McKenna suit.

2. In response to a request by state Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34, W. Seattle, Burien), Marko Liias (D-21, Edmonds) and Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne, Ballard), the state Utilities and Transportation Commission has asked the state code reviser for a ruling on whether the state should lift or modify the requirement that phone companies provide white (residential) pages to all residential customers.

Although cities can allow customers to opt out of receiving yellow (business) pages, as Seattle has done, they can't lift the mandate on white-pages delivery.

The letter, which notes that most people now have Internet access, continues, "Communities are also concerned with the environmental impact of printed directories, and local governments are beginning to encourage their citizens to forego these directors as a means of reducing waste and the expense created by directory disposal."

The ruling could ultimately lead cities to eliminate the requirement that phone companies provide white pages, or allow customers to opt out of receiving them.[pullquote]"I think this would harm challengers more than incumbents."—Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission Vice Chair Tarik Burney[/pullquote]

3. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission opted yesterday afternoon to wait a month before taking up a proposal by city council member Mike O'Brien to restrict the amount of money candidates for office can roll over from previous campaigns and to prohibit candidates from raising funds before January 1 of an election year.

In proposing postponement, commission chair Bill Sherman urged caution, saying that although he was "entirely sympathetic to the goals" of the proposal, he worried about potential unintended consequences---for example, what if placing time limits on contributions encourages incumbents to solicit huge amounts of money on the first day they're allowed to ask for contributions, thereby intimidating potential challengers out of the race?

Vice chair Tarik Burney added, "I'm just very skeptical that incumbents would raise less money under this proposal," which is one of the arguments proponents have made for the reforms. "I think this would harm challengers more than incumbents."

4. As we noted in yesterday's Jolt, the crew of Democratic candidates going for the open seat in the new 1st Congressional District (the Microsoft suburbs north all the way to the Canadian border) are busy locking up local labor endorsements in advance of this weekend's big statewide Washington State Labor Council endorsement confab—its COPE (Committee on Political Education) meeting.

One big deal labor endorsement we missed: Suzan DelBene got the endorsement of the local Communication Workers of America—techies in the telecom industry. The endorsement is a score for DelBene over one of her main rivals, progressive Darcy Burner, who was herself a CWA member.

Meanwhile, though not a labor endorsement, the Washington Dairy PAC endorsed state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) earlier this week, a bit of a slap at the Republican in the field, John Koster—a dairy farmer.

And in more one-upmanship, the 45th Legislative District, the eastside Seattle suburban turf that's in the 1st CD and (prior to the recent district overhaul) was home to Burner and Ruderman, gave Ruderman the 2/3 majority she needed for their sole endorsement last night.

In recommending Ruderman to the group, 45th Endorsement Chair Andrew Villeneuve wrote:
I want to emphasize what a tough decision this was. From a field of five, we were able to quickly narrow our choices down to three: Darcy Burner, Suzan DelBene, and Laura Ruderman. However, we then we had a difficult decision to make, for they are all strong Democratic women who are campaigning aggressively and campaigning well. We were impressed with each of them.

We very much enjoyed listening to Suzan DelBene's deep, substantive analysis of longstanding issues. And we appreciated Darcy Burner's insights as a problem solver and a strategist who has worked to organize progressive members of Congress in the District of Columbia.

But we were most impressed with Laura Ruderman.

Not only does she have a compelling plan to win, but she seems to be the candidate that the other candidates would be most comfortable supporting if they did not survive in August. That's our impression. And that says a lot about her. It is extremely important that we be united after the August winnowing election is over. We will need to get behind our candidate quickly; this will be a tough race in a very competitive district. We see Laura as a unifier, a team player, and a leader. We are very pleased to recommend her for endorsement.
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