Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving - we'll be back on Monday

​We won't be posting anything new over the Thanksgiving holiday, but we'll be back at it on Monday, November 26.
In the meantime, we wish you and yours a safe and happy Turkey Day weekend. Whether you are gathering with family or friends, whether or not a turkey is involved, and whether you love this holiday or loathe it, it's a uniquely American celebration meant to bring people together.
And if your holiday plans include travel, be sure to check the state Department of Transportation's Traveler Information site for up-to-date info on road and weather conditions.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Washing tons of hazardous gunk out of our lives best be a top priority

Here's a delicious refrain that moms (and all good, upright dads, too) can always be counted on to sing out strong: Washing up after tasks large and small is the only real way to put a safe distance between oneself and potentially hazardous materials. No matter, my friend, if it's job-safety in the workplace or good-health practices on the home front, there's no substitute for washing up.

A very recent state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) press release reminds us that it takes but an instant of inattention, a single careless moment of one dropping one's guard for tragedy to strike. Serious, permanent injury awaits, looms for those who would dare dodge the simple, common-sense policies and procedures for safety at home and abroad.

Too, you had better believe that in the 2013 legislative session the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee will continue discussing the right ways and means for promoting high standards in workplace safety and health. Indeed, with their final pre-session update set in a Friday, Nov. 30, committee meeting, panel members are looking forward to a thorough update in this arena, including labor and business comments. The meeting will get started at 8 a.m. in House Hearing Room C, John L. O'Brien Building, right here on your Capitol Campus.

Also, Labor & Industries is holding a series of workshops (intended specifically for employers) both to bring folks up to speed on the law, in general, and to nail down hazards in the workplace, in particular. These free workshops will talk about 1) The best techniques for emergency hand-washing and eyewashing after an accident, and 2) The best techniques for preventing these accidents from even happening in the first place. The upcoming workshop schedule is:
  • Mount Vernon — Wednesday, Nov. 21, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Kelso — Tuesday, Nov. 27, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Spokane — Tuesday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Tacoma — Thursday, Dec. 20, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Mount Vernon — Thursday, Jan. 10, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Tukwila — Wednesday, Jan. 23, 9 a.m. to noon.
There will be other workshops in 2013. To learn more and/or to register for a workshop (pre-registration is required, by the by), please click Emergency Washing Workshop, or call 1-800-574-2829.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How do you like them blueberries?

We all know Washington is home to great apples and lots of them. Last year's crop was 109 million boxes and this year that number could grow to 121 million.
But did you know we're also breaking blueberry production records?
The Capital Press reports that we're looking at a 70 million-pound crop, up from 61 million last year. According to the Washington Blueberry Commission, Washington state has more than tripled its blueberry acres in the last five years, with much of the recent growth happening east of the Cascades.
Our neighbors in Oregon produced 65 million pounds of blueberries in 2011 and this year they're expecting up to 75 million pounds.
The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is forecasting almost 286 million pounds along the entire west coast for 2012. 50 blueberries weigh about one ounce; 286 million pounds is 4,576,000,000 ounces, which is 228,800,000,000 blueberries. Yeah, that's definitely a lot of berries! 56 percent of those will go to fresh market and the remainder will be processed.
Blueberries are becoming more and more popular around the world not only because they're really tasty, but also because they're really healthy. They are high in fiber, very low in fat and sodium and, compared to nearly 40 other fruits and vegetables, blueberries rank highest in disease-fighting antioxidants. 3.5 oz.—or around 175—fresh blueberries could deliver the equivalent antioxidant capacity of five servings of other fruits and vegetables.
How does a smoothie sound right about now?

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

If it ain't actually broke.......

In the aftermath of elections in Washington state, one phenomenon is as predictable as concession speeches and victory celebrations: There will be demands to change the law that allows the counting of mail ballots so long as they are postmarked by election day.
This year is no different, with newspaper editorials and op-eds calling for Washington to adopt the practice of Oregon -- the only other state with all-mail voting -- where ballots must be delivered to elections officials by election day to be counted.

The impetus for the demands is the delay of days or weeks in determining the outcome in close contests, due to processing of late-arriving ballots. That leaves candidates and politics junkies – categories which probably comprise most readers of The Advance – frustrated.

While all-mail voting eliminates the kind of election-day snafus that afflicted Florida on Nov. 6, it generally requires more time for verification and tabulating of the ballots.

So, critics say, why not speed things up by adopting the Oregon-like election-day deadline? Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed has joined the makes-perfect-sense chorus, pushing bills in the Legislature to effect the change.

Except that the case Reed and others make might not be quite so clear-cut. So argues David “Goldy” Goldstein of The Stranger in Seattle, who says that changing the deadline would do little to reduce the delays.

The problem, Goldstein says, is not that ballots arrive late – even in Washington, the overwhelming majority are delivered by the day after the election – but that elections officials can’t keep up with processing the ballots as they come in.

For Goldstein, the minimal reward from adopting the Oregon approach is outweighed by the risk: that some voters will be disenfranchised if their ballots are delayed in the mail through no fault of their own, or if they aren’t roused to vote by anything other than the excitement of election day itself. Besides, he says, most “ordinary” voters aren’t bothered by what we’ve got now.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Report: Marriage equality means jobs for Washington

Wedding bells for same-sex couples will bring an estimated $88.5 million to Washington state's economy in the next three years, according to a new report.

The Williams Institute did an analysis to predict the economic effect of the new laws in Maine, Maryland and Washington state, where lawmakers approved marriage equality and voters recently affirmed that decision after an initiative.

The Williams Institute based their estimates on census data and previous experiences in other states that have legalized same-sex marriage. The report predicts that half of all same-sex couples will marry in the first three years under the new law.

The economic projection does not include out-of-state couples traveling to these three states to get married. If you include those weddings, according to the study, it boosts the economic and jobs data even more. In the first year that Iowa had same-sex marriage, about 1,200 couples came to the state to hold wedding there. Such marriage tourism would boost Maine's economic activity from same-sex marriage from $15.5 million to $25 million and create up to 250 new jobs, according to the think tank.

Here's a link to the Williams Institute report: Wedding Spending in Maine, Maryland, and Washington will generate over $166 Million in the First Three Years

And here's the AP story: Wedding trade expects boost from gay-marriage laws

To read this story in Spanish, click here.