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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.

"FBI makes new bid to find 1971 skyjacker"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
D. B. Cooper, where are you? Did you survive parachuting into the mountains of Southwest Washington? Are you telling stories that nobody in your nursing home believes? The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to know. D. B. Cooper parachuted with $200,000 from an airliner he hijacked on Nov. 24, 1971 and became famous at a time when airliner hijacking was relatively common. There has been no sign of D. B. since, other than some of the money that washed up on the Columbia River years later. Aviation security arrangements at airports and on airliners started to be put in place in reaction to the hijackings of the 1960s and 1970s. - 01/02/2008

"Report underscores dearth of social workers in Washington"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
According to a study released by nonprofit group American Humane, Washington’s Children’s Administration would need to hire a total of 1,540 workers in order to satisfy the needs of the state’s population. State officials say hiring that many new workers is unlikely, but Gov. Gregoire said she wants to look more closely at how the Children’s Administration can utilize the workers they have. Putting pressure on social workers’ time is a new policy that says they must visit each child under supervision once a month. Although the Children’s Administration has recently hired about 400 more social workers, the number of children needing services has risen from 9,000 in 2004 to 10,000 currently. - 01/01/2008

"State catches fraud ring getting unemployment"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A new state data mining unit has helped uncover a nation-wide ring of scammers who have collected approximately $400,000 in unemployment benefits from Washington. Investigators say that Washington has higher unemployment benefits compared to many states, so it is often the target of scammers. The fraud ring was discovered by tracking a cell phone number used by the people in the ring to report to the unemployment office. People caught trying to collect benefits illegally are required to pay back the money with interest, and starting this year the penalties will become more stringent. - 01/02/2008

"Spokane to annex Costco area: Land along Division to be absorbed April 1"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The City of Spokane is going to grow at Spokane County's expense--literally (because this is all about money). The city is going to annex 120 acres along its northern boundary. The area is built up and includes a sale tax generator otherwise known as Costco. The city justified the annexation under a provision of the Growth Management Act that allows cities to annex adjacent areas characterized by urban growth. The Spokane County Boundary Review Board lopped off 14 acres from the city's request. Even so, the city will gain $160,000 in property taxes alone. However, $120,00 will be going to theSpokane County Fire District no. 9 which is responsible for the area. - 01/03/2008

"Reed urges ‘rational’ election system"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Secretary of State Sam Reed is proposing a regional presidential-primary election system to the legislature this year. For the 2012 presidential elections, he wants to see primary votes consolidated into four single days for the four regions of the country. The proposed system would eliminate the need for states to jockey for early primary spots in order to influence the presidential elections. Reed is also proposing that the state send out a voter pamphlet to all registered voters for the August primaries. - 01/04/2008

"WA avalanche death record blamed on heavy snow, carelessness"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
People need to realize this is a bad year for avalanches in the Cascades. They need to act with caution in the mountains, especially in the backcountry. Washington has had the most avalanche-related deaths in North America this winter. Five people died in the backcountry when there was extreme avalanche danger. The Department of Transportation takes active and passive measures to reduce avalanche danger along highways in mountain passes. (Traffic information for mountain passes can be found here.) The U.S. Forest Service's Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center has an excellent website that includes forecasts and accident data. - 01/04/2008

"State targets auto thieves"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority, a newly formed group created by the state legislature, will allocate up to $12 million in funds to help law enforcement agencies combat auto theft. A $10 surcharge that has been added to traffic tickets will go towards arresting thieves, educating the public, and possibly also towards providing equipment such as bait cars to local agencies that otherwise might not have enough funds. Reported thefts in the state seem to be declining. In addition to handing out grants, the Authority will also research where the most crimes seem to happen and determine how best to fight it. - 01/07/2008

"Higher wage does not draw Idaho workers across border"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
The minimum wage for nonfarm jobs in Washington is $8.07 per hour. The minimum wage for nonfarm jobs in Idaho is $5.85. Business owners in Spokane County are surprised they don't see more people coming across the border from Kootenai County to work in Washington. After all the per capita income is lower in Kootenai County than it is in Spokane County. However, it turns out that the closer a business in Idaho is to the state line, the more likely it is that the business pays a minimum wage above the Idaho minimum wage level. The U.S. Department of Labor has a webpage illustrating minimum wages set by states across the country. - 01/07/2008

"Sobriety checks would need judges’ OK, Gregoire says"--Everett Herald
Governor Gregoire is hoping to set up a limited plan allowing roadside sobriety checkpoints, despite a 1988 state Supreme Court decision that said they were unconstitutional. In her new plan, the checkpoints would be set up in locations where research showed a high number of drunk driving-related incidents occurred. The research would be presented to a judge in order to obtain a warrant for the checkpoint. Washington would be the 39th state to allow sobriety checkpoints if the legislature and courts approve Gregoire’s plan. Fatalities in the state due to drunk driving has increased 30 percent in the last two years. - 01/08/2008

"Colville Tribes can pursue mining giant over pollution"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Pollution flows downstream regardless of borders, and somebody has to be responsbile for cleaning it up. The United States Supreme Court upheld a ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that members of the Colville Tribes can sue a Canadian company under the Superfund Act. Teck Cominco is a Canadian company that owns a smelter located on the Columbia River just north of the U.S.-Canadian border. The smelter dumped slag containing heavy metals in the river for 88 years. Studies showed that the heavy metals accumulated in the Columbia, including the Lake Roosevelt reservoir bordering the Colville Reservation. The heavy metals were found in fish and sediments along the bed of the river and lake. Members of the Colville Tribes sued when Teck Cominco cut a deal with the Bush Administration to study the problem rather than start cleaning up the heavy metals. Teck Cominco argued that since the heavy metals came from a foreign country, they weren't responsible for cleaning up them in the U.S. The Court sided with the Indians. - 01/08/2008

"McCain, Clinton look ahead after wins"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Despite some expectations coming out of the Iowa caucuses, Senators Hillary Clinton (D) and John McCain (R), pulled off victories in the New Hampshire primaries yesterday. Senator Clinton won her party’s primary with approximately 39 percent of the vote, while Senator McCain came in first with 37 percent of the Republican vote. The next states to vote in primaries or caucuses are Michigan, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida. Several other states will vote on Super Tuesday, February 5. Washington voters will get a chance to cast their votes in the caucuses (Democratic) (Republican) on February 9, and then again in the primaries on February 19. - 01/09/2008

"Bush signs gun-control measure: Critics say bill has 'more bad … than good'"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
President Bush signed HR 2640, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement and Amendments Act, into law. The Act was written after a mentally ill student killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in April 2007. This atrocity prompted a national study of mentally ill people and public safety. This Act addressed part of the issue by strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for people attempting to purchase firearms. While some gun rights groups and gun control groups supported it, others criticized for not going far enough. - 01/09/2008

"Hanford workers prepare for high-risk excavation of waste" Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
There's a reason it's called hazardous waste. Washington Closure Hanford is a contractor cleaning up nuclear waste sites in the River Corridor on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. It is about to deal with buried radioactive wastes that could catch fire when exposed to oxygen. The danger is very real because the waste was stored in barrels that might be corroded (to get an idea of this corrosion, see pictures of corroded barrels at other nuclear sites). While it is dangerous to move these barrels, it more dangerous to leave them where the waste could contaminate groundwater and reach the Columbia River. - 01/10/2008

"New initiative sparks end-of-life debate"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Former Governor Booth Gardner filed a petition with the Secretary of State’s office yesterday that would give Washington a death-with-dignity law similar to Oregon’s. The initiative would allow terminally ill patients with approximately six months to live the option of taking their own life through prescription medication. Anti-abuse mechanisms are written into the initiative, requiring two witnesses to testify to the patient’s mental competence and two doctors to examine the patient and concur that the patient is terminally ill. 224,880 signatures are required to get the initiative on the ballot. Voters rejected a similar initiative in 1991, but Gardner says this one has better controls written into it. - 01/10/2008

"US unveils new drivers’ license rules"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Starting in 2011, all Americans and U.S. residents born after 1964 will be required to carry a special security-enhanced drivers’ license in order to board airplanes and enter federal buildings. The Department of Homeland Security is hoping to have all states comply with new rules by 2011, and will add in more requirements in 2014. The so-called REAL ID, which will require applicants to have social security numbers, proof of immigrant status, and photographs on file, is garnering objections from the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is unhappy that putting REAL ID into place will mean that several federal and state agencies will share personal information about citizens, which they say makes that information more vulnerable to theft. - 01/11/2008

"Application for Cashmere casino rejected"--Wenatchee World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Colville Tribes are not going to be building a casino in Cashmere any time soon. The Office of Indian Gaming Management, a branch of the the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior, turned down the Colville Tribes' application along with 21 other applications to build casinos on off-resrvation lands. The Tribal Chairman downplayed the denial saying there were no immediate plans to build a casino in Cashmere and, in any case, the tribes would work closely with the community before undertaking such a project. Tribal casinos are also regulated by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) under the authority of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Meanwhile "Indian Gaming Commission OKs Cowlitz tribe ordinance", an article in the January 10 issue of the Longview Daily News, says that the NGIC approved an ordinance written by the Cowlitz Tribe as part of its plans to build a casino near La Center. - 01/10/2008

"Makah hopeful about whaling again by 2010"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Despite the slow movement of governmental clearances, the Makah tribe is hoping to get the green light to continue hunting gray whales within a year or two. They hope to be able to hunt 20 whales over a five year period after they receive a waiver excusing them from the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In 1999 the Makah tribe was allowed to begin hunting gray whales again because the species was removed from the endangered list, but was ordered to stop when an environmental group obtained a court order against the hunts. The tribe has completed environmental impact reports as part of the waiver process. Now that the world population of gray whales is up to about 20,000, the International Whaling Commission will allow them to hunt up to 20 over five years, which will likely not have a significant impact on the population. - 01/14/2008

"Health department turns to MySpace to promote STD education"--Longivew Daily News - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Cowlitz County Health Department is using virtual social networking to counteract the negative consequences of physical social networking. The Department has started a MySpace page to educate people about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STD rates have been rising among younger people. The Washington State Deaprtment of Health leads the fight against STDs in the state. Its website includes factsheets about STDs and STD statistics by county. - 01/14/2008

"Avalanche season already bad this year -- and it's early"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
This winter's extreme avalanche danger has already resulted in the deaths of nine people. The combination of heavy snows and very unstable conditions are likely to get worse before they get better. The Forest Service National Avalanche Center has safety tips for skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers who are going into the backcountry. At the same time, "Budget cuts again imperil avalanche forecasts: Many agencies depend on small operation to warn of winter dangers", an article in the January 11 issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, says that the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center is threatend by loss of what little funding it gets. This organization provides avalanche threat assessments and mountai nweather forecasts. - 01/14/2008

"Snow, slide control wreaking havoc with state cleanup funds"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Avalanche control is taking a big chunk out of the budget for the Washington State Department of Transportion's South Central Region. This region is responsible for keeping I-90 open over Snoqualmie Pass. The goal is to keep the highway conditions no worse than "bare and wet". This translates into lots of overtime for the work crews as well as wear and tear on the equipment. - 01/14/2008

"Canadian Indian wondering why U.S. yanking back welcome mat"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A 1794 treaty between the United States and Canadian First Nations bands has until now allowed Canadian Indians with at least 50 percent First Nations heritage the right to travel freely between the U.S. and Canada. A new case shows that U.S. Customs and Immigration officials are challenging that right for at least one Canadian man. First Nations individuals generally present the ID card and “blood quantum” letter issued to them by their band at the border. However, Peter Roberts says he has been hassled at the border and told he must show up in court to prove his heritage, despite his official paperwork. Canadian bands have asked to be exempted from new U.S. Customs rules requiring passports at border crossings, citing their treaty rights. - 01/15/2008

"Complaints delay new river pollution permits"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delayed the issuing pollution discharge permits by the Washington State Department of Ecology for the Spokane River. (The article includes a link to the letter from the EPA.) The permits are tied to the Department's water quality plan for the river. The EPA's concerns and public comments to the plan focus on how phosphorus levels can be reduced by 95% and the fact that the plan doesn't set levels for other pollutants. It doesn't help that phosphorus is discharged into the river by sewage plants in Idaho. - 01/15/2008

"FDA rules cloned meat safe to sell"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Food and Drug Administration announced that meat and milk that comes from cloned animals or the descendants of clones is no different nutritionally than any other meat or milk, and is safe for humans to eat. However, food from cloned animals will remain off the market for a few years so that people can get used to the idea of buying products made from clones. The FDA will not require special labeling of food from clones, although it is encouraging sellers to do so if they know where the food came from. Cloned animals are expensive, so much of the meat sold in the future will probably come from their offspring, not the clones themselves. - 01/16/2008

"County jobless rate hits 6.9 percent; likely to rise"--Longview Daily News - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
According to the December 2007 Employment Situation Report issued by the Employment Security Department, the unemployment rate in Cowlitz County reached 6.9%. It will probably increase this year because of planned layoffs by local businesses. While not at Michigan levels yet, this trend is ominous because recessions in Washington state often start in its southwest corner. The Employment Security Department has released the "2007 Washington State Labor Market and Economic Report" that gives a statewide perspective on recent business and hiring trends. - 01/16/2008

"Milk, eggs, whatever: It’s costing you more"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
If you’ve been thinking that life seems more expensive these days, you’re right. Consumer prices, or what most think of as the cost of living, have risen 4.1 percent nationally since last year. The news is even worse for Washington – consumer prices are up 4.6 percent in the Puget Sound region. Weekly earnings have not risen as quickly as prices, meaning that most people are feeling the pinch. The consumer price index measures the costs of common goods and services; milk, eggs, bread, health insurance, and gas prices have all increased significantly in the past year, with percentage increases above that of the consumer-price index as a whole. The only good news is that the prices of imports from China have decreased. - 01/17/2008

"Stevens County fears wolf cost: Panel suggests $2 million; cattle ranchers sponsor forum"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Gray wolves are starting to reappear in northeast Washington. A wolf probably killed a calf in Stevens County last year. The county commissioners and local ranchers fear wolves will kill more livestock and game animals so some of them think the state should give the county $2 million just in case. Since gray wolves are protected by state and federal law as an endangered species, Washington state has created a < ahref="">working group to develop a state wolf plan. The plan will try to balance and deal with the needs of wolves and humans. - 01/17/2008

"AT&T charged too much for prison calls: Settlement calls for refunds, fine"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
One of the duties of the Department of Corrections (DOC) is manage contact between inmates and people on the outside. The only way inmates in Washington's prisons can make phone calls to people outside the walls is to make prepaid or collect calls. One of the duties of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) is to set utility rates--and it can penalize utilities that violate those rates. The UTC has fined AT&T over $300,000 for overcharging families and friends of inmates at the Airway Heights Correctional Center. AT&T also has to refund over $67,000 to people who received the calls. Links to documents supporting UTC's decision can be found here. Both the UTC and DOC have issued press releases about the settlement. AT&T no longer has the contact to provide phone services to inmates. - 01/18/2008

"Natural Resources to maintain increased timber harvest levels, foresters told"--Peninsula Daily News
The Department of Natural Resources announced that timber sales on the Olympic Peninsula will reach 104 million board feet this year, which will result in about $20 million in sales. This marks the first time in over 15 years that sales have reached the 100 million board feet mark. DNR estimates that the 110 million board feet sales goal for 2009 will result in almost 900 jobs for the timber industry on the Peninsula. DNR manages more than 2 million acres of timberland throughout the state through the mandate of the Forest Practices Act. - 01/18/2008

"Finally, a safe, environmental way to get rid of old medicine"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
You don't need to flush old over-the-counter drugs and nonnarcotic prescription drugs down the toilet any more. Group Health pharmacies will accept them for safe disposal. The Bartell Drugs chain will start offering this service later this year. Sometimes called pharmaceutical waste or Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants (PPCPs), old medications run the risk of being misused if they stay in the medicine cabinet or end up in local waters if they're flushed down the toilet. A Department of Ecology study done in Sequim during 2004 showed trace amounts of drugs in highly treated waste water. Other studies have shown that higher levels of PPCPs can disrupt the endocrine systems of fish. - 01/22/2008

"Divorce rights sought in new partner bills"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Hot on the heels of last year’s domestic partnership legislation, some state lawmakers are now calling for divorce rights for members of same-sex unions. Senate Bill 6716 and House Bill 3104 would extend to people in domestic partnerships the same rights married couples have in the areas of community property, end-of-life rights, veteran’s benefits, and joint responsibility for debts. Currently the domestic-partnership law allows the Secretary of State to dissolve partnerships but does not deal with the separation of property or children. Under the proposed law, the partnerships could be dissolved within five years of formation, but partnerships older than five years would need to be dissolved by a superior court. - 01/22/2008

"Stimulus gains steam: Bipartisan support grows for quick action"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The threat of a looming recession in an election year is spurring Congress, the White House, and the Federal Reserve to act quickly. The Federal Reserve Board lowered the interest rate it charges banks down to 4% (this is discussed in a related story in the same issue, "Rate cut helps reverse early free-fall"). It's hoped this will make it easier for businesses to borrow money and relieve pressure on poeple dealing with high interest rates. Congress and and the White House agree on the need to pass a stimulus package in the next few weeks. Now the tricky part is to get everybody to agree on the details of the package. - 01/23/2008

"Gas tax won’t be enough to keep promises"--Everett Herald
Gas tax increases in 2003 and 2005 were meant to fund $11 billion in road projects throughout the state over a 16-year time span. However, a shortfall is predicted for many projects for a number of reasons, most importantly an increase in the cost of construction, and an increase in the price of gas, which has people buying less gas overall. The state Department of Transportation maintains that it has been finishing projects on time and on budget, but some projects may have to be pushed aside. The nickel tax increase that was meant to end in 2038 will now end in 2042; the 9.5-cent tax increase has no set end-date. Legislators are unsure how the shortfall will be remedied. - 01/24/2008

"DOE cancels bidding for PNNL contract; Battelle to continue operations"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Battelle is happy, the Tri-Cities Development Council is happy, and Representative Doc Hastings and Senator Patty Murray are happy. Why? The Department of Energy (DOE) backed off from a previous decision and decided to extend Battelle's contract to manage DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). DOE wanted to put the contract to manage PNNL out to open bid and remove the "use permit" from the contract. The use permit allowed Battelle to do research at PNNL facilities for other Battelle customers. Local business groups and Washington's congressional delegation support the use permit because it encourages local high tech research. DOE got the message after the congressional delegation started doing something about it by drafting legislation aimed at DOE. - 01/24/2008

"FBI arrests two in license scam"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested Suad Grebic in Spokane for running a business that specialized in helping people get commercial drivers licenses (CDL) through fraudulent means. The men used loopholes in Washington state's CDL licensing program and a little bribery to scam the system. The Department of Licensing is expected to tighten up the requirements for CDL testing. The FBI became involved because the company is accused of mail fraud. Another thing that makes this a federal issue is that a CDL issued by one state can be recognized by other states through reciprocal agreements under the U.S. Department of Transportation's Commercial Drivers License Program. - 01/25/2008

"Federal orca recovery plan short on specific proposals"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The National Marine Fisheries Service released a report enunciating the dangers that Puget Sound’s endangered orcas face, but stopped short of recommending a specific plan of action. The reports says that area whales are under threat from lack of food, pollution, vessel traffic, and underwater noise. The report also details what has been done so far to alleviate these threats, but doesn’t prioritize solutions or rank problems. Nevertheless, state and federal laws are in the works to regulate boat traffic around whale pods, while a San Juan County law is already in place. Activists are hopeful that Gov. Gregoire’s plans for Puget Sound will help maintain focus on the plight of the orcas. - 01/25/2008

"Northwest may harness volcanoes' energy"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Washington's volcanoes can offer more than scenic mountains and the potential for disasters--maybe they could provide electricity for your home. Scientists are starting to consider how geothermal energy can be tapped from these volcanoes and related hotspots. Department of Energy statistics show that geothermal sources currently provides only a very small amount of the total energy used in the United States. This is especially true for Washington state. Despite several potential sources for geothermal power, it gets virtually all its electricity from conventional power sources. - 01/28/2008

"Governor seeks insight into flooding"--Seattle Times
Gov. Gregoire said that in light of recent flooding, the state may need to rethink forestry practices and land zoning issues to prevent a repeat of this year’s disaster. A new recovery task force, in conjunction with the Forest Practices Board, will take a look at these issues in order to find long-term solutions to flooding problems. Gregoire said the legislature will most likely pass a storm recovery package this session which will include a $10 million housing program and $15 million to help local governments match federal aid. - 01/29/2008

"Black Rock report is bad news"--Yakima Herald Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Bureau of Reclamation support for the proposed Black Rock water storage project appears to be running dry. The Bureau just issued a draft environmental impact statement that estimates a $1 billion return on $6 billion in construction and operation costs over a 100 year period. The report was issued as part of the joint Bureau of Reclamation and Washington State Department of Ecology study of Yakima Basin water storage. The Yakima Basin Storage Alliance, a group supporting the project, argues that the report doesn't take into account the benefits that could come recreational development and providing water reserves for irrigation and fish runs. Opponents point out that underground seepage from the reservoir could raise the water table under the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and carry radioactivity to the Columbia River. Supporters and opponents can make their cases at public hearings later this year or submit responses before Mar. 31. - 01/30/2008

"Grant awarded to group to house ex-convicts troubles Tacoma council"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Tacoma City Council is asking the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to take back a $1.1 million grant awarded to a group called Citizens for Responsible Justice. The council found discrepancies in the group’s grant application, which included the names of supporters who had not agreed to support the group and inaccuracies as to which rental units the group would use to house former inmates. The city council wants the state to award the grant to a group located outside of Pierce County, because of concerns that the county has become a “dumping ground” for the state’s ex-convicts. - 01/30/2008

"Lawmakers agree on bill for transparency, but not timing"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Democratic Rep. Mark Miloscia sponsored House Bill 2342, which aims to put into place a statewide budget database. However, other lawmakers are wary of the costs involved, citing a $1.4 million price tag in a strained budget year. The database would allow citizens to search on areas of the budget of interest to them, in order to see where their tax dollars go. Many legislators from both parties agree the database is a good idea and will lend greater transparency to state governance, but fears about a looming recession may mean it will have to wait for another session. - 01/31/2008

"Foe turns friend on gang bill"--Yakima Herald Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The progress of an anti-gang bill shows how the legislative process sometimes works. Last year Senator Kline, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blocked the original version of Senate Bill 5987 that defined gang behavior and laid out a series of penalties for gang-related crimes. He felt it dealt more with gang graffiti than on gang violence. Instead he backed a substitute bill that called for a study of the gang problem by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. This made people wonder how Senator Kline would treat new gang legislation. This year he has given his blessing to a House Bill 2712. This bill has sponsors from both parties and, like the original SB 5987, lays out definitons of gang behavior and criminal penalties. It differs from that bill in that it lays out a broader based approach to dealing with gangs. This year Senator Kline is sponsoring Senate Bill 6608 that covers the same ground as HB2712. However, Senator Kline is urging the legislature to pass HB 2712 because of the amount of work its sponsors put into it. - 01/31/2008

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