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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.

"Rules could curb some tribal casinos"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The National Indian Gaming Commission has proposed new rules that would more closely regulate Class II gaming machines in tribal casinos. The rules would slow down the playing process of electronic games such as bingo, and would require players to push a button at least twice in order to get a result. According to the NIGC, the rules distinguishing Class II machines and Class III machines, which are essentially slot machines, are fuzzy. Tribal casinos are only allowed to have a limited number of Class III machines, but Class II machines are currently unregulated. Washington Indian Gaming Association officials say the more stringent rules for Class II machines would negatively impact tribal casinos. - 11/01/2007

"Parents more involved in kids' lives, study says--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
According to the Census Bureau, parents are setting more rules and limits on their children's television habits. This data is part of "A Child's Day: 2004". The Census Bureau has released the data tables for the report even if it hasn't released the report itself. After looking at the data tables it's hard to tell if the time not spent watching tv is now spent text messaging and studying for tests like the WASL. You can compare the 2004 data with A Child's Day: 1994", or if you're interested in less dramatic changes, "A Child's Day: 2003". - 11/01/2007

"Naturopaths options expanded"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Starting today, a new state law allows naturopathic practitioners to prescribe more medications, including most common drugs. However, they will still be limited in prescribing controlled medications. The changes will make it easier for patients with chronic health problems, such as hypertension or diabetes, to use a naturopath as their primary care physician, instead of shuttling between two doctors. According to state laws, naturopaths must graduate from one of four approved programs before they can be licensed in Washington; only 14 states currently license naturopathic physicians. - 11/02/2007

"House approves rewrite of 135-year-old mining law"--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.) The 1872 Mining Law (see a Congressional Research Service summary of it here) was Congress' gift to the mining industry. The law was passed to encourage development of the West. It allowed hard rock miners to stake claims on federal lands without having to pay royalties on the ores the mines produced. This law has long been a subject of controversy (see GAO reports from 1974 and 1989). The House of Representatives just passed HR 2262 that would impose royalties and put some federal lands out of bounds to mining. A hearing on the bill had representatives from mining interests, environmental groups, state government, and the Colville tribe. A companion article, "Mine royalties approved: Bill passes House; Senate outlook tougher", discusses mining companies' opposition to the royalties proposed in the bill. - 11/02/2007

"ConocoPhillips oil spill case will make the state's waters safer"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
After getting caught trying to cover up its culpability in a 2004 mid-Pacific Ocean oil spill, ConocoPhillips will be subject to tough restrictions on five of its oil tankers. According to their plea agreement, the company’s tankers will be closely monitored by various federal government agencies and an independent auditor. The company will also be required to install safety devices on the tankers, and the oil company will be responsible for paying all the costs associated with the agreement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Oesterle says that he is sure ConocoPhillips was also responsible for the oil spill in Dalco Passage in 2004, but because a whistleblower had evidence of the cover-up in a different spill, it was decided to prosecute on that spill instead. Nevertheless, the new sanctions will likely help protect the Puget Sound. The company will also pay a $500,000 fine. - 11/05/2007

"Bayer Stops Sales of Trasylol Globally"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The story of Trasylol, a drug to limit bleeding during open heart surgery, is a good example of how the Food and Drug Administration responds to reports of a drug's harmful side effects. Trasylol's harmful side effect was that more patients than usual died after being given it. On September 21, 2006, the FDA held a meeting that reviewed reports of Trasylol's side effects and decided to allow its continued use. By the end of that month the FDA was taking a more cautious stance as it received more data. In December 2006 the FDA had Bayer put a stronger "black box" warning on Trasylol's label about the increased risk of kidney damage, heart failure, strokes, and death. By late October 2007, the FDA said it was reviewing Trasylol more closely after a Canadian Data Safety Monitoring Board stopped a study of Trasylol because of clear evidence of higher death rates. Finally in early November, the FDA requested that marketing of Trasylol cease until it can review the data frm the Canadian study. Sales of Trasylol earned $91 million in the U.S. so far in 2007. - 11/05/2007

"New county website shows if you're wanted"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Snohomish County has recently unveiled a new website listing people wanted for outstanding warrants in the county. 4,000 people have visited the site since it opened last month, and so far at least 150 cases have been resolved. Officials say many cases are dismissed because the accused were already convicted of another crime, the cases were too old and witnesses had moved, or the offenses were so minor they didn’t justify spending time and resources on them. The new website is intended to rectify a backlog of about 10,000 outstanding warrants. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has also received several anonymous tips as a result of the site. - 11/06/2007

"Chronic homelessness dips nearly 12 pct."--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report saying that the number of chronic homeless people in the U.S. dropped from 175,900 in 2005 to 155,600 in 2006. HUD defines chronic homelessness as living continuously on the street for a year or more, in addition to having a disability. HUD has been working to shift housing for the homeless from temporary emergency shelters to permanent affordable housing. The number of beds in permanent housing has increased 83 percent since 1996, while the number of beds in emergency shelters has dropped. HUD has also released data on homelessness by state and county. - 11/07/2007

"Local voting trends -- Just say no to incumbents and taxes"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Yakima Valley lived up to the conventional wisdom that Eastern and Central Washington are more conservative than Western Washington (or more specifically, the Puget Sound region). Yakima County voted against measures that would have made it easier to raises taxes and fees. A measure to create a rainy day fund for state government passed while a measure prohibiting insurance companies from unreasonably denying claims failed. Local incumbents also fared poorly. The difference in voting patterns between the Puget Sound region and the rest of the state is well illustrated by looking at the county by county voting patterns. Even if the rest of the state opposes a measure, the Puget Sound region can win because it has a clear advantage in the number of voters. - 11/07/2007

"AT&T gave feds access to all Web, phone traffic, ex-tech says"--Seattle Times
An AT&T tech says he stumbled upon documents that showed that his employer gave the National Security Agency warrantless access to email and other Internet records for dozens of telecom companies. He said that the NSA built a special room inside at least one of AT&T’s buildings in order to connect to their network and receive data. As a witness in a lawsuit against the company, Hepting v. AT&T, the whistleblower contends that the NSA was “vacuuming” up data on all Internet traffic, which included not only AT&T customers, but anyone who used the Internet. The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a recommendation by the White House to grant immunity to the companies who worked with the NSA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed the lawsuit claiming that the NSA activity is illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is hoping that won’t be approved. - 11/08/2007

"Split court strikes tax-limiting I-747"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The state Supreme Court has ruled that Initiative-747 is unconstitutional, since it seeks to amend a rule that is no longer on the books. The voter-approved Eyman initiative called for a 1 percent cap per year on property-tax increases across the state. The court struck down the initiative in a 5-4 decision, which theoretically means local governments can now raise property taxes higher than 1 percent without voter approval. However, the deadline for local governments to tell county taxing agencies their taxing needs comes on November 30, and a spokesperson for the Association of Washington Cities did not think it was likely that many cities would raise taxes beyond the inflation rate of 2.1 percent for 2008. The state law will now revert to that of Referendum 47, passed in 1997. - 11/09/2007

"Radioactive waste treatment plan goes back to drawing board"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Someday the Department of Energy (DOE) will probably figure out a way to clean up the radioactive sludge stored in "temporary" basins, but for the meanwhile it's "Well, back to the old drawing board". This means that DOE has no chance of meeting the March 31, 2009 deadline of cleaning up the waste. The deadline was set in the Tri-Party Agreement signed by DOE, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Washington State Department of Ecology in 1989. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board made this point clear in a report sent to Congress. As the report says, "Reestablishing the project at the conceptual design stage will likely result in several more years of delay." - 11/09/2007

"Lobbying stalls generic drug legislation"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America has spent $19.5 million on lobbying expenses in the past year, much of which probably went towards stalling a bill in the Senate that would limit so-called reverse payments to generic drug companies. These payments are made by brand-name drug companies to companies that sell generic drugs, in exchange for the generic manufacturers keeping their pharmaceuticals off the market for a period of time. Two federal courts have upheld the legality of reverse payments. The current law, called the Hatch-Waxman Act, allows the payments as settlements in patent-challenge lawsuits between generic and brand-name companies. - 11/13/2007

"Don’t let Canadian cows back in, foes tell USDA"--Seattle Times
Against the protests of consumer advocates and Washington beef ranchers, the Department of Agriculture has announced that it will once again allow cattle from Canada into the U.S. Canadian cows have been banned from the U.S. since 2003, when an imported cow in Yakima County was found to be infected with mad cow disease. Although no other cows or humans were known to be infected, the incident caused other countries to stop buying U.S. beef. Meanwhile, consumer groups claim that the USDA promised tighter controls and a tracking system that would trace tainted meat, none of which have been put into place. A USDA study counters that the risk of importing an infected cow, and that cow then infecting humans, is negligible. - 11/14/2007

"New ferry option on fast track"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Washington State Ferries officials, shipbuilders, and the U.S. Coast Guard are convening to explore the “transplant option” for the Steel Electric ferries in the state’s fleet. Rather than replacing the old vessels with completely new ferries, this option would call for just a hull replacement, meanwhile leaving the top decks in place. The hulls of the Steel Electric vessels are in violation of federal regulations that say passenger ferries must be able to withstand flooding in more than one compartment, which the ferries cannot do. Legislators approved funding for new ferries in 2001, but state transportation officials are still exploring all the options. The Washington State Ferries division is currently developing a long-range strategic plan for the ferry system. - 11/15/2007

"With 270 possible amendments, farm bill might be difficult to pass"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Senate Bill 2302, the Food & Energy Security Act of 2007 otherwise known as the Farm Bill will be coming to a vote soon. This massive bill, all 1362 pages of it, will set agricultural spending for the years 2008-2012. The bill has already passed in the House of Representatives, but the White House has threatened to veto it if Congress passes it. This opposition is based on the bill's cost. The bill is good to Washington state. - 11/15/2007

"Economic forecast takes a hit"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released a statement that foresees a possible downturn in the growth of Washington’s economy for the next two years. The housing-market slump in the rest of the country will probably have an effect on the state’s budget surplus, but there will still be plenty of money left over, according to state officials. The report also shows that jobs will continued to be added to the Washington economy, although it predicts downturns in aerospace and construction projects. Despite the less-optimistic update to September’s report, the state should still be able to keep $430 million in a reserve fund for emergencies. - 11/16/2007

"Report tags Detroit most dangerous city "--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The CQ Press has released a report on America's safest/most dangerous cities. The report, based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual crime statistics for 2006, rates Detroit as America's most dangerous city. The response by Detroit officials can be summed as "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics". The FBI is equally wary of using the statistics for ranking purposes. - 11/19/2007

"Gun owners mark National Ammo Day"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Have you bought your 100 rounds? That’s what gun owners and supporters of the second amendment are encouraging people to do to support gun manufacturers, gun retailers, and ranges today. Spokesmen for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had no comment regarding the day, but various groups around Washington, including the Citizens Committee to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation, are celebrating the day as a way to advocate for the second amendment of the Bill of Rights. A Washington CeaseFire spokeswoman said that people should use the day to focus on gun safety. - 11/19/2007

"Grass roots effort begins to save school libraries"--Seattle Times
As the Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance discusses recommendations on funding for basic education in the state, concerned parents from Spokane County are hoping that legislators will take notice of their petition to keep school libraries and school librarians. Budget cuts in districts throughout the state have cut several librarian positions or made them part-time or aide positions, despite studies that link academic achievement to strong library programs. An American Library Association task force found that school librarians are “highly endangered” throughout the country. - 11/20/2007

"Child care nightmare: Reform depends on overcoming economics of child care"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Department of Early Learning (DEL) has selected the Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium (SWCCC) to help develop a voluntary set of quality rating standards for early child care. The SWCCC will interview parents to find out what areas of care they think are important. The DEL realizes that parents can only spend so much on child care. This means child care centers can only pay child care workers so much--in Washington this averages out to around $18,350 per year. Low wages for child care workers is a nationwide problem. Child care workers in Washington don't need a high schoold diploma, but they are required to take 20 hours of training. The DEL has a Licensed Child Care Information System to help people locate child care providers in their communities. - 11/20/2007

"Spread of illegal devices causes alarm"--Seattle Times
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) has called for an investigation into the so-called “miracle machines” that some claim can heal disease through “energy medicine.” A Seattle Times series examined how practitioners take advantage of a lack of FDA oversight to peddle their wares to the seriously ill. The FDA announced that it will begin its own investigation of two of the machines in use—PAP-IMI and EPFX. Although the FDA has already banned the PAP-IMI, it was found in use in at least five states. Department of Health officials said that complaints against illegal medical practitioners have doubled since 2005, and many of those complaints were generated against practitioners using the illegal machines. Those with complaints should contact the state’s Health Professions Quality Assurance division. - 11/21/2007

"Health, government officials team up to fight superbug"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Staph bacteria are developing immunity to antibiotic drugs, thus creating a dangerous, infectious strain known as "Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)". While this strain is most seen in healthcare settings, it is becoming increasingly common in community settings. How common it is in communities is unknown because it's not on the list of diseases that must be reported to the Department of Health. Governor Greoire wants MRSA on the list. The Department has website on MRSA including information on management and prevention of MRSA. How can you protect yourself from MRSA? You can start by practicing simple personal hygiene. - 11/21/2007

"Labeling proposal could be costly to wineries"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Wineries wineries are nervous about a proposal by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. This proposed regulation would require labels on wine bottles to include nutritional information about the standard serving size of a drink, its alcoholic content, the number of calories per drink, the wine's ingredients, the number of drinks per container, and the definiton of moderate drinking for men and women. Wineries already test for alcoholic content, but the proposal would greatly expand the testing they would need to do. - 11/27/2007

"State, Forest Service battle over logging-road upkeep"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
State lawmakers are concerned about a letter sent to them by Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department undersecretary. The letter refers to an agreement between Washington state and the U.S. Forest Service, in which the Forest Service will help maintain logging roads so that the state can comply with the federal Clean Water Act. Rey estimates that the cost of repairing the roads in the state would be approximately $760 million, and he suggests that some roads might be re-classified in order to avoid maintaining them. However, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state must make repairs in order to protect salmon runs. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell has submitted her own letter to the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies urging them to increase funding for the maintenance of Forest Service roads. - 11/26/2007

"Power-plant plan rejected; fails to meet emissions law"--Seattle Times
The state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council has rejected Energy Northwest’s proposal for a coal-burning power plant at Kalama. According to the council, the power plant designers had no plans on how to store excess carbon emissions in order to meet new state requirements on greenhouse gas reduction. The law requires all new power plants to limit their emissions to those of a high-efficiency natural-gas-burning plant. Coal-burning plants must find a way to permanently store excess emissions, which the council says Energy Northwest failed to do in its plans for the latest power plant. - 11/28/2007

"Sex offender crackdown in Chelan, Douglas counties"--Wenatchee World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Local law officers in North Central Washington are tracking down sex offenders who haven't registered with local officials as required by state law. This is part of a state wide sweep modeled on the Federal Operation Falcon that targets sex offenders who violate registration requirements. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 makes such violations a federal crime and allows federal law enforcement officers to work with state and local law enforcement.The sweeps for registration violators were announced by the Governor. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs maintains a website on higher risk sex offenders. - 11/28/2007

"Intel centers losing anti-terror focus"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A report from the Government Accountability Office says that “fusion centers”—anti-terrorism offices set up throughout the country after September 11—are focusing less on terrorism and more on other crimes and public hazards, such as gang activity and natural disasters. Purportedly, only two offices actually focus exclusively on terrorism. Officials site lack of direction and poor coordination among the nation’s intelligence agencies as reasons for the centers’ diffuse concentrations. The Bush administration defends the fusion centers, however, by claiming that crimes such as drug trafficking are part and parcel of terrorist activity, and as such are appropriate crimes for the centers to investigate. - 11/29/2007

"U.S. obesity rate no longer rising"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Sometimes a lack of growth is a sign of progress, especially you're talking about wasitlines. A new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that obesity rates among American adults have stabilized at 34%. The good news is that the obesity rate isn't growing after more than doubling over the last 25 years. The CDC has a website on obesity. While obesity rates in Washington are lower than the national average, the state Department of Health considers it a major problem. - 11/29/2007

"Hastings, Murray say they'll fight for PNNL"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
There's nothing like a threatened federal program to bring out the bipartisanship in politicians. Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, and Representative Doc Hastings, a Republican, are working together to reverse a Department of Energy (DOE) decision to end the use permit at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). DOE is opening the selection process for a company to manage the PNNL and is eliminating the use permit as part of the management contract. The use permit allows the company managing the PNNL to do its own research using PNNL resources. The use permit is seen as an incentive for that company to create jobs and contributes to the Tri-Cities being a research center, including being named one of Washington state's Innovation Partnership Zones". - 11/30/2007

"Governor signs two property tax relief bills after quick session"--Peninsula Daily News - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
In a special one-day session, Gov. Gregoire approved two bills that would re-enact Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747 that was recently struck down by the state’s Supreme Court. The initiative capped property-tax hikes at one percent per year. The new bills passed by a large margin, with only a handful of Democrats voting against them. Dissenters said that limiting property tax increases to one percent was too restrictive on the budgets of local governments. Some Republicans, however, claimed that the property tax relief did not go far enough. - 11/30/2007

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