Tunnel work closer
Longshore union workers are going to allow the state to proceed with its largest transportation project, at least for now, according to Gov. Jay Inslee. The drilling of the waterfront tunnel should restart in a few days, but there's still a need for a permanent settlement of the dispute over whether workers from the longshore or other unions will get the handful of tunnel-related jobs. The Puget Sound Business Journal notes that Inslee pointed to the rapid replacement of the collapsed Skagit River I-5 bridge as a model for how to get things done. The labor dispute has already cost the tunnel project several weeks from its 14-month schedule. There may be no good reason to be nervous about the overall project, but we will feel better when the earth gets moving again. — J.C.
Boeing today put a stretched 787 Dreamliner in the air for the first time, in a test flight from Everett's Paine Field late this morning. The plane was scheduled to fly for about five hours before landing at Seattle's Boeing Field. Ray Conner, head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, called the new, longer version the 787's sweet spot, The Herald reported. It will carry 250 to 290 passengers, depending on configuration. That's about 40 more than existing Dreamliners and promises to make for some profitable new long-distance routes. Just remember: A stretched version doesn't mean that you will be able to stretch — unless you're in that up-front section that most of us trudge past on our way to the back of the plane. — J.C.
Main Street vs. Wall Street
In an online survey of 210 Washington small business owners by Main Street of Alliance of Washington a whopping 92 percent of the respondents, from 42 cities across the state, agreed that large corporations are not paying their fair share of federal taxes. . Some 77 percent of respondents supported a small tax — a fraction of 1 percent — on Wall Street transactions such as stocks, bonds, derivatives and other items. The Alliance conducted the survey to provide feedback to Congress as it readies for another debate on raising the federal debt ceiling, said Tiffany Turner, Alliance member and owner of the Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, WA. The Alliance has roughly 2,500 members; most employ less than 50 people. — J.S.
Think globally, tax locally
The Port of Seattle could see an uptick in container traffic under a new bill that Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray introduced on Tuesday. Their Maritime Goods Movement Act would replace the long-established Harbor Maintenance Tax with a “maritime goods movement user fee.” The old HMT was approved in 1986 to cover maintenance projects at U.S. ports. But in today's globalized economy shippers avoid the tax by delivering cargo to Canadian and Mexican ports then shipping the goods via truck and rail into the U.S.
The new fee would apply to all foreign cargo arriving in the U.S. by sea or land. Supporters of the new MGMA, which include the Port of Seattle, say eliminating the harbor tax will increase cargo traffic at U.S. ports by lowering costs for shippers. A 2012 Federal Maritime Commission study estimates that if the harbor tax were removed, half of U.S.-bound freight that is now initially shipped to Canadian ports would be offloaded on domestic docks. — B.L.
Safer to speak Spanish
Pierce County has issued a ruling that local law enforcement officers cannot stretch out a traffic stop or other detention to ask detainees about their immigration status or nationality. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the ACLU of Washington called the decision a victory for fair treatment of immigrants. The ruling grew out of a case in which Kitsap County deputies became interested in two men and a woman who were speaking Spanish as they harvested shellfish. After the trio drove off, the deputies pulled them over, and asked about a defective headlight and their fishing licenses. Those issues were resolved, but the three were held until Border Patrol agents arrived, according to the Immigrants Rights Project and the ACLU. An immigration case against the individuals was later dismissed. Superior Court Judge Kathryn J. Nelson issued the ruling Aug. 16, but it just became final. — J.C.
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