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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.

"Man gets out of Gold's Gym contract using state law"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
Thanks to a state law stipulating that memberships longer than one year can be cancelled for any reason with 30 days written notice, a Kennewick man who recently lost his job was able to cancel his contract with Gold’s Gym. Both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Attorney General’s Office had received complaints about the gym in question, prompting the BBB to give it an F rating. The AG’s office can’t promise to solve the complaints it receives, but often a letter from the office notifying a business of a complaint leads to a resolution. - 02/02/2012

"New forest-management plan weakens wildlife protection"--Bellingham Herald
For the first time since the 1980s, the national planning rule that governs individual national forest plans is about to change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the plan last week, and while he could still make changes before it becomes final in early March, it does not appear that he will do so. Scientists and environmentalists say that many of the changes in the updated plan are improvements, but there is much concern over the removal of language that required the Forest Service to “manage fish and wildlife habitat so that healthy populations of animals are ‘well-distributed’ throughout each forest.” The new plan instead requires forest managers to maintain habitats and leaves it up to the official in charge of a region’s forest to decide “whether any individual species needs extra protection to ensure that it will continue to exist over the long term with ‘sufficient distribution.’” The plan is being published in the Federal Register today. - 02/03/2012

"Analysis examines errors in DSHS aid"--Vancouver Columbian
An analysis released by the Dept. of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Office of Financial Recovery reveals about 3,354 cases of overpayments between April and December, worth a total of $4.6 million. Not included in the total are overpayment of food stamps and rental assistance, both of which, under federal law, must be paid back regardless of fault. The analysis was done at the request of Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, to help senators decide how to vote on Senate Bill 6508, which would pardon clients from having to pay the state back for benefits granted due to errors by DSHS staff. The bill is currently awaiting a full Senate vote after passing out of the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee. - 02/07/2012

"New cost for Hanford cleanup projected at $112 billion"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
The latest “Hanford Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost Report” projects that the new price tag for completing the remainder of the Hanford nuclear reservation cleanup, plus 25 years of post-cleanup oversight, at $112 billion. This is $3 billion less than last year’s projection thanks to work accomplished last year using the Dept. of Energy’s annual budget money and the final year’s spending of Hanford’s federal stimulus money. The report is required to be prepared annual to provide estimated costs and schedules for the cleanup project. - 02/09/2012

"Obama might sign Quileute higher-ground bill this week; tribe ready to make moving plans"--Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News
A bill that expands the Quileute Tribe’s boundaries and allows members to move out of the LaPush tsunami zone may be signed by President Obama this week. The bill, which was approved in the House 381-7 on Feb. 6th, was unanimously approved by the Senate on Monday. The Quileute Tribal Council is meeting Friday to discuss which tribal facilities will be moved first. A total of 785 acres from Olympic National Park are being given to the tribe, with 275 acres for the tribal headquarters, school, day care center, and elder care center. The other 510 acres are ceremonial land known as Thunder Field. In return for the land, the tribe will guarantee public access through tribal lands to Rialto, Second, and other coastal beaches. - 02/15/2012

"HANFORD: Watch DOE video explaining tank farms and vit plant"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland
The Dept. of Energy has released the fourth chapter in its video series explaining the story of Hanford, from its inception to the current cleanup efforts. The video, titled “The Hanford Story: Tank Waste Cleanup,” focuses on the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste left behind after the past production of plutonium weapons. The waste must be removed from leak-prone underground tanks to prevent further leaks and the plan is for it to be turned into a stable glass form at the $12.2 billion vitrification plant currently under construction. - 02/16/2012

"Legislature’s budget deficit challenge drops to $1 billion from $1.5 billion"--Everett Daily Herald
The latest revenue forecast shows that tax collections are up $96 million after falling steadily for nearly two years. This upswing, combined with a separate report showing that the number of people demanding state services is dropping, resulting in $340 million in savings, shrinks the size of the budget deficit from $1.5 billion to around $1 billion. Of the $1 billion, half needs to be eliminated and half is to be saved in reserves. It remains to be seen whether or not tax hikes are still on the table to help fill the hole, but both House and Senate Democrats expect to release their budget proposals next week and seem confident that they will finish on or before the end of the regular session on March 8th. - 02/16/2012

"Legislature takes a look at tribal jurisdiction rights"--Wenatchee World
The Legislature is considering a bill that would start to dismantle the state’s civil jurisdiction over American Indians. Congress passed a law delegating jurisdiction over tribes to some states in 1953 and in 1963 Washington assumed state involvement in matters such as juvenile delinquency, truancy, mental illness, and adoption, plus state courts were allowed to start hearing cases involving Indians. The bill under consideration would create a “retrocession” procedure “by which a tribe can ask the state to return its jurisdiction over not just criminal, but also civil matters, to the federal government and the tribes themselves.” The state would still have jurisdiction over sexually violent predators, though. The bill is expected to pass the Legislature and Gov. Gregoire supports giving tribes a process to request retrocession, although her office spokeswoman cautions that adding legislation to provide the process is no guarantee that retrocession will occur and the governor’s approval is required for each request. - 02/21/2012

"Citizen panel reveals proposed Tacoma Narrows bridge toll hikes"--Tacoma News Tribune
Under proposals released by a citizen advisory committee, both cash and Good to Go electronic toll rates for crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge would increase by between $1 and less than $1.50 and pay-by-mail tolls would increase by between $1.50 and $1.75. State transportation officials will run numbers to make sure the proposed tolls generate enough money to pay the bills and build a savings account, while the advisory committee will study the numbers and make a recommendation regarding the toll increases to the WA Transportation Commission on March 8. - 02/23/2012

"Drunken driving takes heavy toll on county"--Everett Daily Herald
A Washington State Traffic Safety Commission analysis of fatal crashes in Snohomish County between 2005 and 2009 has shown that drunken or drugged driving took at least 111 lives, making driving under the influence more deadly than murder during the same time period. According to the data, half of all fatal wrecks in the county involved drugs or alcohol and preliminary statewide data shows that 2010 was the first year with as many fatal wrecks linked to drugs as alcohol, although some involved drivers who had used both. The drugs involved were both legal and illegal, with many drivers impaired by painkillers or other drugs prescribed by a doctor. - 02/26/2012

"Audit confirms improper Port charges"--Seattle Times
According to a performance audit recently released by the State Auditor's Office, Port of Seattle commissioners misused Port credit cards for $2,990 in improper charges. This finding mirrors what a Port investigator found back in October and according to the Port, the charges have been reimbursed and new policies regarding credit card use are being written. State auditors also found that $13.6 million in taxpayer money was spent to help renovate and operate Aviation High School, when most of the money was supposed to be spent on noise mitigation for Highline Schools, and Port employees worked on $4.7 million on public works projects that might have been done more inexpensively by contractors. - 02/27/2012

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