UNDATED (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading on continuing concerns about surging COVID-19 infections in key regional markets like Japan. Benchmarks fell Tuesday in Japan, China and South Korea in morning trading, although shares rose in Australia. Gains for several Big Tech stocks helped push the S&P and the Nasdaq to more record highs the day before on Wall Street. Global investors have their eyes on several key U.S. economic reports later this week, including consumer confidence on Tuesday and the closely watched monthly employment survey from the Labor Department on Friday.
Honolulu to require vaccine or negative test at restaurants
HONOLULU (AP) — The mayor of Honolulu says the city will soon require patrons of restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and other establishments to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for COVID-19.
The rule takes effect on Sept. 13 and is aimed at helping the city beat back a surge in cases from the highly contagious delta variant. Honolulu joins other cities such as New Orleans and New York that have implemented similar requirements. Children under the age of 12 will be exempt. Employees of the establishments will have to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing. Businesses that don’t comply could be fined or shut down.
Portland, Ore., city workers must be vaccinated
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — City employees in Portland, Oregon, must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — or obtain a medical or religious exemption — by the middle of October or they will be fired.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and all four City Commissioners wrote Monday in a letter to municipal workers that “we must do everything within our power to end this pandemic and restore our community’s health.” The city will require its approximately 6,800 employees to either submit proof of vaccination, show they are in the process of being vaccinated or apply for an exemption by Sept. 10. They must be fully vaccinated or granted an exemption by Oct. 18. The letter says that those who fail to meet the deadline “will be put on a list for separation from employment.”
Texas utility settles over sky-high energy bills from freeze
UNDATED (AP) — The electric utility Griddy Energy has reached a settlement with Texas state officials over crushing electric bills its customers received after the deadly February winter storm and cold wave.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office announced the settlement Monday, having sued Griddy after customers received bills totaling many thousands of dollars. Griddy went bankrupt and confirmed a liquidation plan that releases its customers from any outstanding bills. Griddy Energy sold power to consumers at wholesale prices plus a $9.99 monthly fee. Its rates skyrocketed during the February freeze when the state grid operators raised wholesale prices to $9,000 per megawatt-hour.
California lawmakers vote to limit secret settlements
SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California Legislature has voted to guarantee people can call out their bosses publicly in most harassment and discrimination cases.
California law already bans nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment, discrimination and assault. The bill lawmakers approved Monday would extend that law to include other things like discrimination based on race, gender identity or sexual orientation. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom now must decide whether to sign the bill into law. The measure would still allow nondisclosure agreements if the employee wants one to protect their identity. But it would not let the company require such an agreement.
Alaska lawmakers face crunch to pay checks from oil wealth
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska residents don’t know how much money they might get from the state’s oil wealth this year, or even when they might get the unique payout just for living in the oil-dependent state.
It’s left many upset. Frustrated residents have told lawmakers that they’re tired of them setting an arbitrary amount for checks. Some oppose politicians taking money that they contend should go toward checks instead for government expenses. Others agree lawmakers need to make tough decisions on the state’s financial future but say a balance must be struck between paying checks each year, providing government services and investing in the still-young state.
ENBRIDGE ENERGY-LINE 3
Minnesota court deals yet another setback to pipeline foes
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed a decision by state pollution regulators to issue a water quality certification for Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 crude oil pipeline.
It’s the latest setback for opponents as the project nears completion. The court ruled that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s approval was “supported by substantial evidence in the record.” Under federal law, the MPCA was required to certify whether the project met state and federal clean water standards. The agency concluded that it did. Nearly 900 Line 3 opponents have been arrested at protests along the route across northern Minnesota and in St. Paul.
Starbucks unionization effort brews at 3 Buffalo-area cafes
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Workers at three Starbucks coffee shops in the Buffalo, New York, area filed petitions Monday with the National Labor Relations Board asking for a vote on union representation, the latest development in a nationwide, pandemic-era reckoning on wages and working conditions.
Employees at the stores told The New York Times they were seeking to organize under the Starbucks Workers United banner to address chronic problems such as understaffing and insufficient training. An organizing committee of four-dozen workers sent a letter last week to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson asking for assurance that employees won’t face reprisals. In a statement, the company said: “We respect our partners’ right to organize but believe that they would not find it necessary given our pro-partner environment.”