Crosscut

The Daily Troll: Welcome, foreign tech workers. The perks of legislating. Gorilla resurgence.

A new bill would go even further than Microsoft suggested in allowing high-tech workers from abroad. AP rummages through records to find what expenses legislators put on the taxpayers' dime. Kidnapping near Everett Community College campus.

By Joe Copeland

January 29, 2013.

Immigration and workers

With a sudden blossoming of rational immigration reform, the U.S. Senate introduced a bill today that would create opportunities for U.S. companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals in computing and other fields. It's an important issue for the Pacific Northwest. As a Seattle Times report by D.C. correspondent Kyung M. Song notes, the bill from two Democrats and two Republicans largely mirrors a proposal from Microsoft last year. Tech companies may actually be happier about this version, which would allow more workers to come here for smaller immigration fees than the tech giant originally suggested. It seems that when Congress sets its mind to deregulating, it really goes all in.

Reimbursing our lawmakers

Does your employer pay your dry-cleaning bill? Cover the cost of a sweet Bose headset, or your home Internet service? No? Then you must not be a Washington state legislator. In a story featured on The Seattle Times home page today, the Associated Press examined expense reimbursements for state legislators and found that various lawmakers are getting tax dollars to pay for those and other costs.

The two top senators, Majority Leader Rodney Tom and Minority Leader Ed Murray, received reimbursements for the Bose headset (Tom) and part of the cost of home Internet service (Murray). Murray has raised fair points about whether minor expense charges are newsworthy — after all, we pay legislators as part-timers and expect them to be on the job pretty much 24/7. Still, it's an entertaining story. A Times poll even made decent use of the usually worthless online poll, asking, "Should the public pick up the tab for dry cleaning the clothes state lawmakers wear on the job?" At last check, 93.2 percent were saying no.

Capital punishment

Eliminating state executions may be a lost cause politically, but several legislators are willing to give it a try. There's at least one Republican speaking up already for the change — Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla (her courageous stand on marriage equality went viral). Crosscut's John Stang reports from Olympia: 

Two bills were introduced Tuesday to eliminate the death penalty in Washington — replacing the punishment for first-degree murder with life imprisonment without parole. Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, submitted the House bill (HB 1504), while Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle introduced the Senate bill.

Carlyle, Rep.Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, and Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, issued a joint statement on why they want the death penalty repealed: "There is meaningful value in uniting behind our shared convictions that life has value and that the death penalty is below us as a civilized society. ... We believe the death penalty is immoral, unfairly implemented and appeals to society's most violent instincts rather than love and compassion."

Getaway driver

The Everett Police Department is just releasing frightening details about a bank robbery last Wednesday that took place on a busy Everett street. The Herald reports that the robber actually kidnapped an Everett Community College student after the robbery as she returned to her car near campus, forcing her to act as getaway driver for the Wells Fargo branch holdup. He then made her drive him around for hours. Police are distributing a high-quality security photo of the robber.

The college reportedly didn't learn of the incident until late Monday, and the administration alerted the campus community today. No explanation from the Everett Police Department about why they didn't mention the kidnapping earlier. Only in Snohomish County?

Ivan the gorilla

"The One and Only Ivan," a children's book about Tacoma's Ivan the Gorilla, has won the prestigious 2013 Newberry Medal, according to seattlepi.com's Vanessa Ho. Author Katherine Applegate wrote the book about the famous gorilla who was kept alone in a cage at a Tacoma shopping mall for 27 years, before finally being moved to an Atlanta zoo to live out his life amid grass and trees. "Ivan’s transformative emergence from the 'Ape at Exit 8' to 'The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback,' comes to life through the gorilla’s own distinct narrative voice, which is filled with wry humor, deep emotion and thought-provoking insights into the nature of friendship, hope and humanity," said the Newberry selection committee. 

Expect kids all over the country to grow up with Ivan's story in their memory banks. Perhaps one of these young readers will eventually write their own happy-ever-after story about Woodland Park Zoo's elephants, for whom even a zoo is much too small.

Here's a trailer for the book (Yes, books have trailers now too.)

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Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.

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Printed on July 28, 2014