Morning Fizz: Far Beyond Contraception
1. The rumors are coming in about who Mayor Ed Murray is going to appoint as his new transportation director at SDOT; the announcement is scheduled for tomorrow.
People are saying it's a man, and that bike advocates will be pleased with him, and that this pro-bikes fellow is from out of town.
One thing we've confirmed, and we'll leave it at this as we try to confirm more: he's closely associated with a serious transit rock star.
2. Washington state's current and prospective congressional delegation weighed in yesterday on the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 5-4 ruling that corporations can decide not to provide federally mandated health care—in this case, certain forms of birth control—if they (the corporation) have a "sincerely held religious belief" that providing the health care would be sinful or immoral.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) was one of the first to weigh in yesterday, vowing to address the ruling through legislation. “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court sets a dangerous precedent and takes us closer to a time in history when women had no choice and no voice," Murray said in a statement. "When 99 percent of women report having used birth control at one point in their life, allowing their boss to call the shots about their access to this critical health service should be inconceivable in this day and age."
On the opposite side of the aisle, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5), the highest ranking woman in the U.S. House, applauded the decision, calling it "a victory for religious freedom and the American people.”
And Republican Pedro Celis, who's running against Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-1), crowed on his Facebook page, "HobbyLobby has won a big victory for religious freedom today! Great decision by the Supreme Court and another defeat for Obamacare."
As for Rep. DelBene. She said in a statement:
“I’m very disappointed by the Court’s decision.
“With this ruling, the Court has allowed employers to impose their religious beliefs on their workers. A woman’s boss should never be the one to make healthcare decisions for her – these decisions should be between her and her doctor.
“Birth control is a critical component of women’s healthcare. Ninety-nine percent of women use birth control at some point in their lives, and more than 600,000 women in Washington state have benefited from the requirement that insurance companies provide preventative healthcare free of charge.
“The Supreme Court’s decision could also have serious consequences far beyond contraception. While the Court’s decision suggests that today’s ruling applies only to contraceptive coverage, I am troubled by the opportunity it creates for employers to potentially object to further medical services on religious grounds.
“In the coming weeks, I’ll be working with my colleagues in Congress to address this ruling and to ensure women’s access to birth control is protected.”
3. Speaking of the Hobby Lobby decision, Erica had her say yesterday, here's Josh's: Justice Alito's reasoning that the Affordable Care Act mandate to cover reproductive health didn't pass the Strict Scrutiny Test under congress' Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which only allows exemptions to laws if there are other ways for the state to achieve a compelling interest, actually creates a window for liberals.
Here's the NYT: "Justice Alito said he accepted for the sake of argument that the government had a compelling interest in making sure women have access to contraception. But he said there were ways of doing that without violating the companies’ religious rights. The government could pay for the coverage, he said. ..."
Which (and Fizz hates to say it today, but thank you Justice Alito) brings us to the health care solution that lefties advocated for all along: Single Payer.
With the government paying for health care, there'd be no infringement on "sincerely held" religious beliefs nor a hurdle for women to have access to contraceptives.
4. Seattle City Light director Jorge Carrasco, who caught a ton of grief recently after he took a pay raise that could amount to more than $100,000 and hired a consultant to burnish the utility's online image, was forced last week to release his personal utility records to the Seattle Times, which asked for the documents in a public records request.
Apparently annoyed at the Times' most recent request, City Light released the documents to most of the local media (as opposed to simply handing the records to the Times, which would be more standard policy); the documents show that Carrasco's most expensive bill was in January 2014, totaling 182.54.