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Washington State News Archive

Below are archived news items for the current month. To view a previous month, choose it from the list below.

"State asks where people drank, drove"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Tulalip Casino is the number one business that people stopped for driving under the influence listed as the place they had their last drink. In Seattle, Qwest Field topped the list. The state Liquor Control Board keeps data on the last places people reported drinking after being stopped so that state and local law enforcement officers know the areas to target for drunk drivers, and can pinpoint establishments that may need to come under investigation. The Liquor Control Board said that some businesses can be slapped with citations for not monitoring customer drinking closely enough. - 01/01/2009

"Interlock law now in effect"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
Getting arrested for drunk driving in Washington doesn't necessilary mean losing your driver's license--if you're willing to get an ignition interlock device installed in your car and the license that goes with it. This device measures alcohol in your breath. It keeps the car from starting if the alcohol level is too high. Your regular driver's license is revoked during the time you must have an ignition interlock on your car. You'll have an Ignition Interlock License. Washington passed this law because many people who lost their licenses for drunk driving continued to drive any way. The vast majority of states have some sort of ignition interlock law. By the way, it's up to the person who has an ignition interlock device to pay for it. - 01/02/2009

"Brewers, vintners debate fairness of state law"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Small wineries and breweries argue that Washington’s liquor laws favor larger companies, keeping the price of alcohol too high for smaller companies to survive. Washington has a three-tiered system for selling alcohol, and nobody selling in one tier can have a financial interest in another tier. As the system now stands, wineries and breweries sell their products to wholesalers, who then sell to retailers. This is seen by some as an unfair system, although there are some exceptions to those rules. A few different lobbying groups will be vying for attention this legislative session as they try to get the laws to work in their favor. - 01/04/2009

"County sees spike in concealed weapon permit requests"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Clark County Sheriff's Office has seen a noticeable increase in requests for concealed weapons permits. Concealed weapon permits in Washington state are issued on the local level. People convicted of certain crimes or were involuntarily commited to mental health treatment can be refused concealed weapon permits. Residents from certain other states can carry concealed weapons in Washington if their state has a reciprocal agreement with Washington. - 01/05/2009

"Safety nets fail victims of domestic violence"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A report released by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence indicates that government safety nets may not be enough to save victims of domestic violence, because people don’t know where they can turn for help. The report says that instead of going to police or other government agencies, domestic violence victims often turn to a friend or neighbor for assistance. Sixty-eight people were killed in Washington as a result of domestic violence during the two-year time period encompassed by the study. The Coalition Against Domestic Violence proposes that the best way to help victims is to get the word out about programs set up to provide protection. Some state courts and county agencies offer advocacy services, and there are state and national domestic abuse hotlines as well. - 01/05/2009

"Flood watch in effect today"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
In Spokane the weather outside has been frightful so it's probably more delightful to stay inside. There's been record snowfall. Now flooding could be next with rain and warming temperatures coming in the next few days. Spokane isn't the only part of the state that has worries about flooding. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that "Naches River could be on the rise". Flooding isn't the only danger from the coming rain. The Vancouver Columbian has an article "Weather service warns of landslides, debris flows". When the ground gets saturated with water, you can get landslides. An article in the Wenatchee World, "Runoff forecast better but still lacking", points out that parts of the state are still below their normal snowpacks. After all, winter snow feeds streams and rivers in the spring. - 01/06/2009

"School chief sets final closure proposal"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The final list of Seattle public schools that will be closed next year is being submitted today to the school board for approval. The Seattle Schools Superintendent and the school board decided that some schools must be closed in order to balance enrollment and save money. Some schools in the city are overcrowded while others are struggling to keep up the student population. The district also plans to shift some students to different schools, and will move some programs to different locations. Although the estimated savings provided by the closures comes in at a total of about $50 million, the district may lose students as a result. - 01/07/2009

"DOT crew blasts ‘Old Faithful’ to prevent slides"--Wenatchee World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Some old army tanks end up as scrap metal, some end up as war memorials in parks, and one is used to control avalanches. A surplus tank is one of the tools the Washington State Department of Transportation uses to trigger avalanches in controlled situations. The tank is located on Stevens Pass, near the town of Wellington, the site of a particularly deadly avalanche. Artillery can be used to trigger avalanches when it's too dangerous for people to go to the avalanche chutes and set charges. The Washington State Department of Transportation has several passes to maintain during winter months. Sometimes this means stopping traffic while avalanche control is done. As the Yakima Herald-Republic reports "Storm closes major Cascade passes in Washington". - 01/07/2009

"Pasco receives $400K help from feds"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
Some federal recovery money is being used to deal with the problem of foreclosures. Pasco is getting $400,000 from federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program to prevent foreclosed properties from blighting neighborhoods. The money can be used in a number of ways: it can be spent on purchasing or demolishing foreclosed properties or helping people avoid foreclosure. The money come comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) administers the program on the state level. CTED calculated the areas of greatest need by taking a number of factors into account. CTED was assisted by the Washington state office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation - 01/08/2009

"More than 40,000 urged to evacuate Pierce County homes – so far"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
With rivers rising fast, county and city officials as well as sheriff departments urged all residents of Orting, as well as some residents of Puyallup, Sumner and Fife to evacuate to higher ground on Wednesday. Interstate-5 in Lewis County was closed for several miles in each direction due to flooding on the roadway, and may be closed for up to four days. Officials say this is the worst flooding event in several years. Sixty-two highways have been closed throughout the state due to flooding and avalanche danger, and Amtrak has cancelled its Portland-Seattle route due to landslides and high water. Many areas of Western Washington received record amounts of rain yesterday, which combined with snowmelt are spelling disaster for those who live in floodplains. - 01/08/2009

"Reed, others form big plans: Joint effort under way for Election Day changes"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Secretary of State Sam Reed and state Rep. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) both have ideas of how they’d like to change the voting process in Washington. Reed and Hunt both agree that names for major political parties in the top-two primary need to be standardized so that voters know which party candidates belong to. As the law now stands, candidates are allowed to identify themselves however they wish, which led to some confusion in the last election. Reed and Hunt would also like all 39 counties to go to mail-in ballots only, and Reed is pushing for online voting for overseas and military ballots. Other suggestions for change include moving the deadline for voter registration nearer to election day, and finding a better system of restoring election rights to felons who have served their time and paid their fines. - 01/11/2009

"Tri-City schools brace for statewide budget cuts "--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
Shortfalls in the state budget will cause shortfalls in local budgets. School district budgets in eastern Washington are a case in point. The governor's proposed budget has cuts for for K-12 education funding; the House and Senate budgets will most likely cut K-12 funding, too. All school districts will lose funding for meeting I-728 limits on class size. Poorer rural districts will lose funding for levy equalization which directs state funds to school districts with lower tax revenues (see slides 18 & 19). - 01/12/2009

"Marijuana patient/dealer: ‘I betrayed the trust’"--Wenatchee World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Antonio Tucker could become the poster child for law enforcement officials who oppose medicinal marijuana. He had a permit to grow marijuana for his personal use to alleviate a medical condition. He didn't have a permit to sell it. His customer was an informant working for the Chelan County Sheriff's office. Medicinal marijuana is a hazy front in the war on drugs. Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Medicinal marijuana is legal under Washington state law due to I-692 that passed in 1998. The Governor's Council on Substance Abuse, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Washington State Medical Association have all weighed in on this issue. - 01/13/2009

"Democrats look to add 25,000 jobs"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
State senate democrats have unveiled a plan that they hope will stimulate the economy and add jobs at a time when both elements are in short supply. The plan focuses heavily on “green” initiatives, such as tax incentives for making homes and businesses more energy efficient. Other parts of the plan include tax breaks to small businesses who add family-wage jobs, greater investment in communities, entrepreneurial support, and extension of broadband Internet service to rural areas. Democrats propose funding this plan through borrowing from the state’s general fund, as well as from the unemployment insurance fund. State Republicans say they wish the plan called for more ways to preserve jobs, rather than just creating new ones. - 01/14/2009

"County dares state rebuke over building rules: Commissioners say old, new development must share costs of clean water"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Clark County Commissioners and the Washington State Department of Ecology don't agree on rules for stormwater runoff in unincorporated Clark County. The Commissioners amended its stormwater rules (see section 40.380 in the Clark County Code) to be less stringent than the state's stormwater rules. The state rules are tighter, especially for new developments. The County Commissioners feel new developments are singled out by the state. Given Clark County's rapid growth, new developments are are very common there. The new county rules, while looser, would raise fees on existing buildings, especially those in towns. - 01/14/2009

"Federal government may finance 40 percent of light rail extension"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Federal Transit Administration has announced that it will finance $813 million of the Seattle light rail project slated to bring light rail trains to areas of the city. The federal money will fund the line from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington campus, which will cost a total of $1.9 billion. Two lines are slated to open this year, between downtown and Tukwila and Tukwila to SeaTac airport. Sound Transit expects the rail from UW to be completed by 2016, including a stop in Capitol Hill. The FTA expects to approve the grant this year, and there have been no objections from Congress. - 01/15/2009

"Ice age flood trail gets closer to reality"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
In a rare Sunday session, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would create a trail tracking the route of the last ice age floods. The 600-mile trail as proposed would run from Montana to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Sen. Maria Cantwell originally sponsored the bill, which is now included with about 150 other bills in a wide-ranging public lands package. The bill package approved by the Senate also includes protections for the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail, provisions for 2 million acres to be set aside as wilderness in the West, and provisions for a program to study ocean acidification. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the package soon. - 01/16/2009

"Expect state to impose burn bans in Mid-Columbia "--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-Cities Herald
A temperature inversion is hovering over Washington state. In this situation air quality is the first to go taking health with it. The temperature inversion is starting to trigger burn bans that limit or prohibit indoor and outdoor burning. Washington tightened its laws on burn bans in the 2008 legislative session. Washington's air quality standards are stricter than the federal air quality standards. You can use this interactive map to see if there's a burn ban in your area. - 01/20/2009

"Judge grants Obama request to suspend Gitmo trial"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
On his first day as president, Barack Obama requested, along with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, that the trial of Omar Khadr be suspended for 120 days. Khadr is a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who is accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan. A military judge has agreed to the request. The order has fueled rumors that President Obama intends to close the detention center at Guantanamo and do away with the military tribunals that have been used to try “enemy combatants” since September 11, 2001. Khadr’s lawyer hopes that his client can be tried in a U.S. civilian court or extradited to Canada (Khadr is Canadian). - 01/21/2009

"Longview couple among those turned away from inauguration ceremony"--Longview Daily News
First, the demand for tickets to President Obama's inauguration far exceeded the supply. Then, as one Longview couple discovered, there wasn't enough room in the ticket holders' viewing area for all the people who had tickets. Security conscious authorities were concerned about crowd control. By the time they were turned away it was too late to get a vantage point to see or hear the President's inaugural address. (You can compare President Obama's address to President Lincoln's second inaugural address as published in the Congressional Globe, predecessor to the Congressional Record--and a different version of Lincoln's inaugural address as it appeared in the Walla Walla Statesman on March 17, 1865.) - 01/21/2009

"Winter’s damages piling up: Storm, floods reached disaster proportions"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
Snow melts and flood waters recede, but the costs from this winter's weather are still piling up. The Emergency Management Division is now estimating weather-related damages at $100 million. The Governor first issued a state of emergency on December 24 for snow storms and updated it on January 10 to include heavy flooding. The Emergency Management Division has disaster assistance information for households, businesses, and local governments. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has disaster relief information for households. The Small Business Administration has information about disaster relief for businesses. The federal Department of Agriculture's Farm Services Agency has disaster relief information for farmers. - 01/22/2009

"By 2010, WASL is history"--Everett Herald
The state’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, says he is overhauling the WASL, the statewide student assessment test. Starting next year, he plans on introducing elementary students to the Measurements of Student Progress tests, and high school students to the High School Proficiency Exams, which he says students will still need to pass in order to graduate. Dorn claims that the new tests will be shorter and will be computerized, but says that the difficulty level will remain the same. Many teachers’ unions and education groups applaud doing away with the WASL, saying that tests shouldn’t stand in the way of graduation. Legislators and business leaders argue that the state needs to have stringent standards in place in order to allow students to graduate. - 01/22/2009

"State might limit young hunters"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
After the shooting death of a hiker last year by a 14-year-old hunter, lawmakers are putting forth bills to require adult supervision of hunters under the age of 15. Bills in both the house and senate are expected to be forthcoming. Prior to 1994 adult supervision had been required of underage hunters, but another law passed in that year inadvertently did away with that requirement. Rep. Brian Blake is also sponsoring another bill in the house requiring hikers to wear bright orange clothing on public lands. The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife says that last year’s death was the only one between 1980 and 2008 to involve a non-hunter. - 01/23/2009

"Stimulus bill has $2.8B for Washington projects"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the economic stimulus bill, could bring $2.8 billion to Washington state for Medicaid and infrastructure projects such as bridge repair and replacment, highways. (a summary of the bill as currently written can be found here. The Washington State Department of Transportaiton has hundreds of projects that are either under consideration or in progress. - 01/23/2009

"Dozens of patients cut from state's high-risk insurance pool"--Seattle Times
The Washington State Health Insurance Pool purged two dozen patients from its rolls when the patients failed to respond to letters and phone calls for renewal. The state insurance pool is a last resort for people with terminal or chronic diseases who have been declined by private medical insurance, and the plan comes with eligibility process. Unfortunately, many people on the plan may be too sick to fill out the appropriate forms and make copies of required paperwork. Officials for the insurance pool say that patients have until January 31 to turn in their paperwork before they will have to file an official appeal. - 01/26/2009

"No codling moth disruptions so far in shipments to Taiwan"--Wenatchee World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The codling moth is not cuddly--in fact finding its larvae in a shipment of apples can scuttle millions of dollars of fruit exports. The Washington apple industry gave a sigh of relief when no codling moth larvae were found in recent shipments of apples to Taiwan. When such larvae were found in apple shipments to Taiwan in 2004-2005, that market was closed to Washington apples for four months at the cost of $17.7 million. Taiwan has strict import controls when agricultural pests are involved. Given the importance of exports to Washington's apple growers, nobody likes the codling moth. - 01/26/2009

"House majority rolls out bill to cut $640 million"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
State democrats in the House of Representatives announced today their cutback proposal, calling it the “Early Action Savings” bill. Senate democrats unveiled their “Belt-tightening” bill last week. The house plan would cut some payments to health care providers but retain health care for children in low-income households and care for disabled adults. Similar to the senate democrat’s plan, the house bill calls for a continuation of the state’s hiring freeze and out-of-state travel restrictions. To see when the next hearing on a bill is scheduled, visit the legislative calendar. Hashing out the budget for the next biennium is the next item of business for the legislature; see the governor’s proposal here. - 01/27/2009

"Postmaster General: Mail days may need to be cut"--Seattle Times
The Postmaster General has asked Congress to repeal the requirement that forces the postal service to deliver mail six days a week. The U.S. Postal Service is looking for ways to cut costs in the wake of large budget deficits and decreased mail volume. The day that gets cut will not necessarily be Saturday, but could be another day of the week with light mail volume. So far, the postal service has cut costs by $1 billion every year since 2002, but deficits remain. The sea-change in communication trends from mail to online transactions and email has hurt business for the federal service. In an independent study, the Postal Regulatory Commission showed cutting back to five-day delivery could save billions of dollars. - 01/28/2009

"Workers ponder what to do after mills close"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Weyerhaeuser recently announced the immediate closure of two mills located in Grays Harbor County. The news is devastating for many residents, as the mills were one of the only sources of employment in the local area. Lumber mills have been a mainstay in Aberdeen and Grays Harbor County for generations. Weyerhaeuser has said it will offer job counseling and severance packages to laid off workers, but with Starbucks, Boeing, and Microsoft also shedding thousands of jobs, the economic downturn is hitting the state hard. Senate Democrats have included job training and extended unemployment benefits in their economic stimulus package, which has not yet been passed. - 01/29/2009

"Removal of sea lions to resume"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
A federal judge has decided not to grant the stay of execution for sea lions requested by the Human Society. Last year the National Marine Fisheries Service decided to allow Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to kill up to 425 sea lions over five years in order to preserve salmon runs. Sea lions eat salmon, and some are particularly voracious. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that sea lions kill up to 4 percent of salmon runs annually, although that number can vary from year to year. The Human Society has argued that hydroelectric dams and fishermen kill more salmon than sea lions. A 1994 federal law allows states to kill sea lions that interfere with the salmon population. Originally officials agreed that they would try to trap and remove the offending sea lions, but the practice was halted after a group of trapped sea lions died unexpectedly. - 01/30/2009


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