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Washington State News Archive

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"Error made tax change permanent: Legislators intended to limit levy lift to 6 years"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) Oops. Temporary levy lids aren't working the way they're supposed to. Property tax levies are limited to 1% per year except in special circumstances. If approved by voters, the levy can be more than 1% for a special circumstance or for no more than six years--or so people thought. The Legislature amended RCW 84.55.050 by a large margin in the 2007 legislative session. Now the Department of Revenue says the wording is such that the lifting of levy lids may be permanent. Legislators say they'll make the levy lids temporary in the next legislative session. - 09/04/2007

"Abuse of water laws jeopardizes supply for people, fish"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Department of Ecology is warning that a loophole in water-rights permit laws will endanger the state water supply if it isn’t plugged soon. Currently rural homes are not required to have water permits for their wells if they are drawing 5,000 gallons or less of water per year. However, the Department of Ecology says that some developers are abusing this law, subdividing housing developments into smaller clusters of homes so that they will not have to wait in line for a water permit. Neither the state nor the counties have been closely monitoring the issue until recently, when the Department of Ecology won a lawsuit against a developer for seeking an inordinate number of water-rights exemptions. The state has asked counties to more vigilantly review water-rights permits. - 09/04/2007

"Mattel recalls 800,000 toys worldwide"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Recalls.gov is a federal website devoted to products recalled for for safety reasons. Mattel toys made in China have shown up there quite a lot lately. Many of the toys had lead paint which is banned in the U.S. Lead paint is tied to lead poisoning, and children are very vulnerable to it. The majority of toys purchased in America come from China. Now the U.S. government and toy companies are talking about voluntary testing of imported toys. - 09/05/2007

"GAO report pronounces increased troop level in Iraq show little effect"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Government Accountability Office released a report concluding that insurgent attacks against civilians in Iraq have remained steady since February, and that more Iraqis are fleeing their homes in fear of violence. The GAO report contradicts reports released by the White House and by intelligence agencies, which have maintained that the troop surge has decreased violence in the region. The GAO report says that the Iraqi government has failed to meet at least 11 of the 18 benchmarks it set for itself. - 09/05/2007

"Signing up dog to vote brings $250 fine"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sit! Stay! Vote! Good dog! A Federal Way woman who registered her dog to vote as a protest against voter registration laws has agreed to pay a $250 fine and perform ten hours of community service. The woman claimed she sent in the registration with her dog’s paw print as the signature to protest the law that allows voters to mail in registrations without proof of photo identification. - 09/05/2007

"DOE to ship plutonium off Hanford"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Department of Energy will be shipping 2,300 canisters of plutonium from the closed Plutonium Finishing Plant to the Savannah River National Laboratory in Georgia. Getting rid of the plutonium makes cleaning up the site much easier. It also reduces the security costs that come with storing plutonium. The Savannah River National Laboratory will convert some of the plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors at the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility. - 09/06/2007

"Microsoft giving workers free ride--with its own bus system"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Microsoft is now providing a bus service for its employees living in the Seattle area. The 14-bus service will initially only be able to handle about 1,000 employees, but public transit proponents are lauding the move, saying that the King County Metro bus system has not been able to evolve quickly enough to handle the transportation demands of the area. Washington state law requires employers with more than 100 employees to encourage carpooling and provide a transportation program to discourage single-car-commuting. Even so, Microsoft is one of only a few companies that actually provide their own bus system for employees, due to the extremely high costs involved. - 09/07/2007

"Kennewick family returning to Russia after being denied religious asylum"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Alexander Korotkov family is being deported to Russia after their request for religious asylum was turned down. This is happening despite other members of their extended family being granted religious asylum. Efforts by Senator Cantwell and Representative Hastings proved fruitless. Religious tolerance is eroding in Russia. - 09/07/2007

"Makah leaders promise to punish whale hunters"--Peninsula Daily News
Five members of the Makah tribe illegally hunted and killed a gray whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca Saturday. With the permission of the U.S. federal government, the Makah tribe had previously hunted a gray whale in 1999, which the tribe had cited as a right granted in the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay. However, Saturday’s hunt was not sanctioned by the tribe or the federal government. In addition to facing charges within the tribe, the perpetrators may be prosecuted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The environmental impact of the 1999 hunt is still being assessed to determine if the tribe will be allowed to continue the legal whale hunts. - 09/10/2007

"Gen. Petraeus Goes Before Congress"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
General David Petraeus, commander of Coalition forces in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, will testify in front of Congress on the situation in Iraq. They will be at a joint hearing of the House Armed Forces and House Foreign Relations Comittees today and at a joint hearing of the Senate Armed Forces and Senate Foreign Relations Committees tomorrow. It is not known if they will change any minds, but it's possible that whatever they say will be used by both supporters and opponents of the current surge in troop levels there. Petraeus and Crocker will be facing questions raised by recent critical reports on Iraq that were issued by the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the House Armed Froces Committee - 09/10/2007

"Smith, Larsen critical of Iraq policy"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) and Dick Larsen (D-Everett) were not convinced by General Petraeus’ and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday indicating success in Iraq. Both politicians remain skeptical of the administration’s current course in Iraq and support legislation calling for troop withdrawal to begin 120 days after its passage. - 09/11/2007

"State sets aside $1 million to study underground water storage at Southridge "--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Pouring water down a hole in the ground can be compared to putting money in the bank. Water can be pumped into the aquifer when there's a water surplus and pumped out when there's a water shortage. It's called aquifer storage and recovery. The Department of Ecology is funding a study of a possible aquifer storage site in a basalt formation near Kennewick. - 09/11/2007

"Energy case goes back to FERC: 9th Circuit Court ruling may involve Avista Corp. in more legal battles"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) Remember the days of Enron, skyrocketing energy costs, and market manipulation? Utilities, companies, and organizations such as the Port of Seattle that paid through the nose for power during those days remember, and they want their money back. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision in their favor in August. The ruling stated that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not consider all the evidence when it upheld energy contracts (see June 25-26, 2003) with Enron in 2003. A large, recent FERC document gives evidence of Enron's market manipulation. Avista, a power utility in Eastern Washington, dealt in power futures at that time and does not want old energy contracts revisited and opened to lawsuits. - 09/12/2007

"New law requires corporate officers to register"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Employment Security Department is now requiring that all corporate officers and business owners register with the department. The new law was enacted to cut down on people receiving unemployment benefits when they are not eligible. The Employment Security Department sent a form out last week to all registered corporate officers asking for addresses, social security numbers, and stock information. The department has assured the public that everyone's personal information will be kept secure. - 09/12/2007

"A different kind of catch"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Fish and Wildlife have combined forces to combat crime in the fishing community along the Puyallup and Carbon rivers. This season, law enforcers are increasing their presence with uniformed and undercover officers to discourage car break-ins, drug use, and assaults, as well as other violations of the laws such as fishing without a license, fishing with illegal hooks, and fishing in closed waters. - 09/13/2007

"Dredging project at full throttle"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Army Corps of Engineers is dredging, digging, and blasting a deeper channel in the Columbia for 103 miles from the ocean to the Vancouver-Portland area. They are deepening the shipping lane from 40 to 43 feet so larger freighters can reach the ports of Longview, Vancouver, Kalama, and Portland. These ports handle an important amount of trade. - 09/13/2007

"Senator puts block on Wild Sky bill"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Legislation that aims to protect 106,000 acres of wilderness in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has had a hold put on it by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Sen. Coburn has also put holds on several other bills, in a move to limit Congressional spending. These “holds” block bills from a quick floor vote and force a floor debate for approval, something usually reserved for issues of larger significance. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Dick Larsen are confident that the bill, which comes with a $19 million price tag, will eventually be passed. - 09/14/2007

"Connell, Franklin County hope consultants hold the key"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Connell is a rural community with a population of 3,205. Now it's hiring consultants to figure out what the impact will be of expanding the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center from holding 600 to 2,048 inmates and hiring 500 more employees. The Department of Corrections is expanding Coyote Ridge so it won't have to send so many inmates out of state due to a shortage of prison beds. The additional inmates and staff will create population growth in the area. The consultants' job will be to figure out what the effect will be on local schools, services, and transportation. - 09/17/2007

"States fight for clean air"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Twelve states including Washington are awaiting a ruling from the Environment Protection Agency telling them whether or not they can change their emission standards. California started the process two years ago by vowing to reduce emissions from vehicles by 30 percent in the next ten years. They are still waiting for the EPA’s waiver, which would allow 11 other states to piggy-back on the ruling and put the tougher standards into effect in their individual states. When Congress approved the Clean Air Act in 1970, it allowed California to set its own standards as long as the EPA granted approval. The auto industry has acknowledged that it has lobbied against allowing the tougher emissions standards. - 09/16/2007

"State's goal: Steer clear of mortgage quagmire"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Governor Gregoire announced that she is forming a new task force to keep Washington’s economy strong in the wake of the home mortgage crisis raging through other states. Although the Washington housing market is thus far healthier than other areas, thanks in large part to the state’s sound economy, Gregoire isn’t taking any chances. Despite the rosy picture, home foreclosures are up 20 percent from last year. The new task force will educate consumers by adding to information already in place about different loan options, and will study ways to keep the economy afloat. - 09/18/2007

"Senior care deal may be mediated"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A two and a half year dispute between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Human Services Council may be going to mediation. DSHS has contracted the Human Services Council to be the Area Agency on Aging for a five county area in south central Washington. It is supposed to provide social services to senior citizens. DSHS charges that the Human Services Council spends too much on administrative costs and practices poor bookkeeping. DSHS wants to break its contract with the Human Services for those reasons. A federal judge says the problems might be worked out though mediation. - 09/18/2007

"Discovery Bay shot with lead? Residents’ complaint lures EPA to site of shooting range"--Peninsula Daily News
Accusations of lead contamination in the bay is leading to an Environmental Protection Agency visit for local shooting range Security Services Northwest. The shooting range has not allowed the state Department of Ecology to investigate its site in the past, so department officials are hoping they can tag along on the EPA’s visit. The woman who complained has also filed a petition against the range’s plan to rezone 40 acres in Jefferson County in order to move the shooting range to a new site. - 09/19/2007

"Reservoir could spread Hanford pollution"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The proposed Black Rock Reservoir could make the nuclear waste problem at Hanford much worse. A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Washington State Department of Ecology says that seepage from the reservoir could carry plumes of radioactive materials to the Columbia River. The reservoir's site is seven miles from Hanford. It would hold 1.6 million acre feet of water. An acre foot of water equals 325,851 gallons, and the reservoir would lose tens of thousands of acre feet of water to seepage each year. - 09/19/2007

"Quarter of state's foster parents can't be reached"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A survey of foster parents in the state reveals that the Department of Social and Health Services did not have working phone numbers for about 1,000 of the 3,800 parents in its database. This study comes just as lawyers prepare to go back to court to review DSHS’ progress after a class-action lawsuit settlement in 2004 demanded that changes be made in the DSHS system. The Braam settlement called for 54 different benchmarks to be met within seven years, including reducing caseload levels per social worker and 24-hour response time to emergency referrals. - 09/20/2007

"State agencies blast Port of Kalama power project plan"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Energy Northwest, a consortium of 20 utilities, is running into opposition for its plan to build the Pacific Mountain Energy Project power plant at Kalama. The Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development and the Department of Ecology have requested that the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council let them intervene in the permitting process for the power plant. The Departments feel Energy Northwest is too vague in its plans for carbon reduction through carbon sequestration. - 09/20/2007

"Canadian loonie equal to U.S. dollar"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
For the first time since 1976, the Canadian loonie is on par with the U.S. dollar. The strength of the Canadian currency is attributed to Canada’s strong commodity exports, as well as its comparably stable interest rates. According to U.S. Customs statistics, the upswing in the value of the loonie is luring many Canadian shoppers south of the border, which is good news for Washington retailers. - 09/21/2007

"Tax initiative may harm local agencies"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Washington voters will find Initiative 960 on the ballot this November. I-960 would require, among other things, "either a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature or voter approval for all tax increases." Supporters say it would force state government to prioritize spending. Opponents say it's unconstitutional and could shift spending on areas such as transportation to local governments. The Association of Washington Cities is concerned that state money for local governments would be cut since you don't always get what you don't pay for. According to the Office of Financial Managment, I-690 could cost the state up to $1.8 million a year to comply with its provisions. - 09/24/2007

"State's primary is in hands of top court"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Initiative 872, passed by voters in 2004 but rejected as unconstitutional by two courts, is now going to the U.S. Supreme Court. The initiative allowed the top two vote-getters in state primaries to advance to the general election, regardless of the candidates’ party affiliations. If the law had gone into effect, it could have meant that two candidates of the same party could vie for the same seat. However, the political parties challenged the law and it has been tied up in court since voters approved it three years ago. Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna contends that a similar decision involving California indicated the state has a good chance of winning the lawsuit and reinstating I-872. - 09/24/2007

"Gregoire threatens lawsuit over kids' health care"--Olympia Olympian
The governor announced that the state of Washington would sue the federal government if new rules go into effect limiting state funding of children’s healthcare programs. At the heart of the dispute is reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which President Bush has said he will veto. Gregoire claims that 8,100 children in the state will be affected by the new rules, although no children in Washington are at risk of losing their coverage even if the federal government does not continue funding at current levels. - 09/25/2007

"Future looks hazy for gorge air quality"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area earned its status because of its magnificient scenery--just don't count on seeing it on a clear day. Pollution from both the east and west ends of the Gorge causes continual haze. Since the Gorge is the border between Washington and Oregon, agencies from both states are involved in trying to solve the problem. The Southwest Clean Air Agency in Washington and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are heavily involved in trying to improve air quality in the Gorge. A recent study suggests that there are so many sources of pollution, including a major power plant, that haze will continue to obscure the scenery. - 09/26/2007

"Federal Way considers juvenile curfew"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Following in the footsteps of Tacoma and Auburn, Federal Way is thinking of implementing a curfew that would require minors to be off the streets during the hours of 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. Exceptions would be made for jobs, emergencies, and various other situations. In 2003 a juvenile curfew law passed in Sumner was struck down by the Supreme Court for infringing on the rights of minors, but neither Tacoma’s nor Auburn’s laws have been challenged. Federal Way says it is trying to curb crimes committed during those hours and keep teens safe. - 09/26/2007

"GPS to keep track of state's worst sex offenders"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Gov. Gregoire has announced that the state cannot wait for the 2008 legislature to convene in order to start GPS tracking of level 3 sex offenders. She will tap into emergency funds so that the program can start tagging offenders as early as next week. Historically the Dept. of Corrections has only been able to use GPS tracking devices as a partial confinement method; the new program will allow them to use it as a supervisory tool. However, the current laws only call for tracking of offenders convicted since June 2006. Republicans say they will push for more stringent sex offender laws in the next legislative session. - 09/27/2007

"Drill focuses on farm terrorism"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
FBI agents, National Guard troops, and officials from the Dept. of Agriculture descended on a farm near Monroe Thursday to participate in an “agroterrorism” drill. The drill was meant to prepare law enforcement agencies and other government officials for emergency response to terrorism that focuses on agriculture and livestock. Bioterrorism, such as infecting farm animals with foot-and-mouth disease, could wreak havoc on the nation because the disease is highly contagious and would devastate the billion-dollar livestock industry. The beef industry alone contributes $3.6 billion to the Washington economy. Officials are hoping these drills will ensure a timely response to such threats. - 09/28/2007

"Experts: aquifer can't keep pace with development"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) People from Rathdrum to Tum Tum draw water from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prarie Aquifer at an unsustainable rate. This problem is complicated by Rathdrum being in Idaho, Tum Tum being in Washington, and the fast growing Spokane-Coeur d'Alene corridor being in the middle, squarely on top of the aquifer. People in both states realize there's a problem--now the trick is to do something about it. Local leaders from both states met to discuss the situation. Any solution is complicated by differing state laws. For example, a private well in Washington is limited to drawing 5,000 gallons a day while a private well in Idaho can draw 13,000 gallons a day. - 09/28/2007


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