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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.

"Grounds for removal -- cleanup of polluted soil by rail line"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Yakima is losing a hazardous waste site while gaining ground for development. The Washington State Department of Ecology and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad reached an agreement on a cleanup that involves 48,000 tons of contaminated soil. The pollution was caused by businesses operating on railroad property. The Department of Ecology has a press release describing the cleanup. The site is part of the Yakima Railroad Area that Ecology has been working on since 1991. - 04/01/2007

"Average Seattle worker can't afford to live here" -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Last year, the typical single person in Seattle earned enough to buy a home for just under $200,000 while the typical family of four had enough to pay just over $280,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The median prices were about $450,000 for a house and $290,000 for a condo. You can read HUD's summary of U.S. Housing and Market Conditions report from the last quarter of 2006 and access the Seattle Planning Commission report on Incentive Zoning in Seattle in an effort to increase affordability. - 04/02/2007

"Legislature waters down dangerous-driving measure"--Longview Daily News - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Representative Dean Takko thinks House Bill 1030 is skidding off the road. Rep. Takko is prime sponsor of the bill that would give prison time to someone convicted of reckless driving while escaping from police. At least that was the intent of the original version of the bill when it passed the House unanimously. After the bill reached the Senate it was replaced with Substitute House Bill 1030 that lightened the penalty. Many bills become substitute bills when a committee reviewing the bill amends it. - 04/03/2007

"DOE agrees to assess plant, animal damage"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
In a major policy reversal, the U.S. Department of Energy agreed to begin assessing damage to natural resources caused by radioactive materials on the Hanford site. The Department of Energy previously said it was too soon to do such an assessment. The Department changed its position, possibly because of threat of a lawsuit from non-Federal members of the Hanford Natural Resource Trustee Council which is made of the Department of Energy, three Indian tribes, Oregon, Washington, NOAA, and the Department of the Interior. The result of the assessment could be claims against the Department of Energy under the Superfund Act. The complexity of the cleanup at Hanford is highlighted in another article in this issue, "Dangerous waste tank emptied". - 04/04/2007

"County, builders in limbo after ruling" -- Daily Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Zoning rules designed to limit sprawl in rural Thurston County are in limbo after both sides claimed victory in the county’s appeal in an important growth-management case. You can view the Court of Appeals Opinion on the case and find information on the Growth Management Act. - 04/04/2007

"‘Free’ trip on bridge could cost $49 fine" -- Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The House on Wednesday passed a bill that sets a $40 fine for crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge without paying the $3 toll and levies an additional $9 penalty – three times the toll – to help pay off the bridge. Since the Senate already approved Senate Bill 5391, the measure now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law within a week. - 04/05/2007

"Immigration vital to big metro areas"--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.) Millions of people in the West and South can sing along to "I'm not from here/I just live here". The Census Bureau has released tables on growth of metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2006. A press release summarizes the data. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area ranked 19th in numeric gain. It takes a population over one million to be among the 50 most populous metropolitan areas. The Tri-Cities area ranked 29th among metopolitan areas with the largest percentages of growth. "They say I should have been here/...Before it got ruined by folks like me" (with apologies to James McMurtry). - 04/05/2007

"Watered-down climate report still paints grim picture" -- Seattle Times
The world faces increased hunger and water shortages in the poorest countries, massive floods and avalanches in Asia, and species extinction unless nations adapt to climate change and halt its progress, according to a report approved today by an international conference on global warming. You can find a summary of the report for policy makers or compare the report to their 2001 Assessment. - 04/06/2007

"Tieton River Canyon project is finally finished"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Cooperation among local, state, federal government agencies and the nonprofit Nature Conservancy have saved the Tieton River Canyon in Central Washington from development. The Conservancy bought private lands and turned them over to the Washington Biodiversity Project that is comprised of the Washington State Departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service. The Tieton River Canyon project was also backed by the Yakima County Board of Commissioners. - 04/06/2007

"Proposal would ease tuition costs for orphans of fallen soldiers" -- Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The bill by Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, would require state colleges and universities to waive costs for spouses and children of active-duty and National Guard members killed, disabled, captured or missing in action. The only concern, said House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, could be the financial impact when it's not clear how many people would benefit from the bill. "There's a lot of unknowns there." The U.S. Department of Defense provides access to a downloadable spreadsheet of Operation Iraqi Freedom - Military Deaths by Name from March 19, 2003. - 04/09/2007

"Auditors worry about bill on voter registration: The bill would allow citizens to register to vote at the same time as they cast a ballot in any election."--Walla Walla Union Bulletin - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
County Auditors don't mind if people vote early by mail in an election--they just don't want people to vote often in the same election. That's why the Washington Association of County Auditors is urging legislators to vote against Senate Bill 5561. This bill would allow people to register to vote on election day. Currently people have to register to vote at least 30 days before an election. This allows Auditors to check for duplicate voter registrations. The Auditors say they would have to purchase additional equipment as well as hire and train additional staff to weed out any duplicate votes in the 20 days they have to certify results after an election. - 04/08/2007

"United Way donations break records" -- Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
United Way of Whatcom County raised more than $2 million for the first time during its annual fund drive this year, bringing in 18 percent more than the previous year’s contributions. You can find financial information about the organization through the Charities Profile Report offered through the Secretary of State's Division of Charities. You can also access detailed financial information about United Way of Whatcom county or any other nonprofit through - 04/10/2007

"Appeals court rejects Bush salmon plan for Columbia dams"--Longview Daily News - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Bush administration's 2004 plan for protecting salmon runs on the Columbia and Snake Rivers lost its second court battle. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision in National Wildlife Federation v. State of Idaho that ordered the Corps of Engineers to dump more water over dams to protect salmon even if it means less hydroelectric power generation. The salmon runs are protected under the Endangered Species Act.The ruling called the administration's salmon protection plan an "analytical sleight of hand" that would put the salmon on a "slow slide into oblivion". This ruling also leaves open the possibility of the breaching the dams on the Snake River. The National Marine Fisheries Services proposed dam breaching in 2000; the Bonneville Power Administration opposes dam breaching. - 04/10/2007

"Wheat, barley groups form grain alliance"--Moses Lake Columbia Basin Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Washington Barley Commission, the Washington Wheat Commission, and the Washington Association of Wheat Growers have decided that the time is ripe to merge their organizations into one organization, the Washington Grain Alliance. The merger will take place on July 1. The Barley Commission and the Wheat Commission are state agencies that funded by a small fee on each bushel of grain sold. Along with the Association of Grain Growers, they share a mission of promoting grain sales, supporting research, and educating the public. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington's 2006 wheat and barley harvests covered 2,415,000 acres and were worth $650,306,000. - 04/11/2007

"Landmark same-sex bill passes" -- Daily Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The state House of Representatives voted to create a domestic partnership registry for same-sex couples Tuesday, sending Gov. Chris Gregoire the historic measure on a mostly party line vote. Substitute Senate Bill 5336 creates a registry in the Office of the Secretary of State, letting same-sex couples who share a residence share in some medical and end-of-life rights enjoyed by married heterosexuals — including visitation rights in health-care facilities, rights to get health-care information and to obtain rights to cemetery plots and interment. You can view the Final Bill Report, a House Bill Anaylis, and the bill's Fiscal Notes - 04/11/2007

"Spreading the word on wine"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Members of Washington's wine industry are willing to pay more to encourage people to buy more. The Washington Wine Commission will nearly double the fees it charges on wine and wine grapes. The funds will go towrd research and marketing. Wine grape production in Washington has been steadily growing over the last 30 years. It is a young, brash industry, rooted in rich soil, nutured by a benevolent climate, with sophisticated ambitions and a lucrative afterglow. - 04/12/2007

"Suddenly, Seattle schools chief choice became easier" -- Seattle Times
Maria Goodloe-Johnson, current leader of the Charleston County School District in South Carolina, was named on Thursday as Seattle's next schools chief. You can find the Seattle School Board's press release, history of the search with meeting minutes, and information on the Board of Directors. - 04/13/2007

"Feast could end with a bullet" -- Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
In the battle between 400-pound bull sea lions and the thousands of salmon heading upstream to spawn, both sides have picked up important allies. Backers of the salmon include the three Northwest states, American Indian tribes and four of the region’s members of Congress. Backing the sea lions is the 10 million-member Humane Society of the United States. The confrontation involves two of the nation’s pre-eminent environmental laws: the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. You can access the proposed bill back for four Pacific Northwest lawmakers. - 04/16/2007

"Mercury spill concerns health officials" -- Yakima Herald Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Health and emergency service workers scrambled Monday to contain a rare mercury poisoning incident that led last week to a Yakima teenager being hospitalized. What they decided on was a two-pronged approach. Yakima Health District officials will canvass the neighborhood where the boy lived, at 1013 S. Sixth St., to find out if anyone else came in contact with the mercury and where it might have come from. In the meantime, federal Environmental Protection Agency officials said they will work on obtaining permission from the owner of the home to enter the house to see if there's more mercury inside. The EPA has helpful information on mercury poisoning, including procedures for Mercury Spills. - 04/17/2007

"Report: Weyerhaeuser won’t hurt Olympia" -- Daily Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A planned Weyerhaeuser log export facility would have no significant environmental effect at the Port of Olympia, studies by the port, consultants and the Federal Way timber company concluded on Monday. You can access all the environmental assessment documents attached to the Combined Port Infrastructure and Weyerhaeuser Log Handling Project and find the Citizen's Guidebook for Comments and Appeals. - 04/17/2007

"Supreme Court upholds "partial birth" abortion ban" -- Seattle Times
The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure today, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench. The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. You can also find the initial White House news release of President Bush Signs Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. - 04/18/2007

"Session ends; $33 billion goes into final budget" -- Daily Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Democratic-controlled Legislature adjourned Sunday night after passing a $33.4 billion budget that expands state education and health care programs. You can also find a listing of all the Bills Passed in the Legislature as of yesterday. Governor Gregoire provides additional information on 2007 Bill Action and her comments on this legislative session. - 04/23/2007

"Fireproofing chemical may face backlash after Wash. phase-out"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Washington is the first state to phase out the use of decaBDE. This chemical is a fire retardant, but traces of it have spread through the environment. Substitute House Bill 1024 bans the use of of decaBDE if safer alternatives can be found. Two related chemicals have already been banned. - 04/23/2007

"Gasoline prices focus of major state inquiry" -- Seattle Times
The most comprehensive investigation of the gasoline market in 16 years will delve into the factors that influence prices throughout the state. Three state departments — the Attorney General's Office, the Governor's Office and the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development — are teaming up to head the effort. You can access the last comprehensive study on Washington gas prices published in 1991, summaries of more current Gasoline Reports, and compare gas prices across the state. - 04/24/2007

"Law would exempt ag land from county ordinance"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A complicated set of regulations could become even more complicated. Senate Bill 5248, which was backed by the Farm Bureau and easily passed, protects existing agricultural lands from local land use and critical area restrictions for three years. Among other things, this means that county and local land use planners will have different sets of rules for different kinds of land. The critical areas rule come under the Growth Management Act. - 04/24/2007

"Guard critical of Bush control"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Major General Timothy Lowenberg, Adjutant General of the Washington National Guard, testified against a section of last year's defense spending bill that broadened the President's power under the Insurrection Act. This made it easier for the President to federalize the National Guard without consulting state governors. Major General Lowenberg testimony echoed the opposition of state governors and National Guard commanders. His testimony can be found at the hearing's website. The Washington National Guard is is part of the Washington Military Department - 04/25/2007

"County backs whistle-blower: Planner reported errors by director"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Spokane County Commissioners supported the whistleblower charges made by Bruce Hunt, a county building inspector, against decisions made by the county's Building and Planning Director. The Revised Code of Washington defines a whistleblower as " employee who in good faith reports alleged improper governmental action to the auditor...." Both Washington state employees and local government employees are protected by whistleblower laws. - 04/26/2007

"Light rail deal could get line into county: Snohomish County taxes won't pay for work in King County, saving the money for a Mill Creek stop."--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Sometimes keeping tax revenues locally will open the way to expand services. Snohomish County has negotiated a deal with Sound Transit to keep an estimated $1 billion in transit taxes during a proposed second phase of Sound Transit's expansion plans. Instead of going to projects in north King County, the money will go for extending light rail as far north as Mill Creek. Currently light rail is planned to go as far north King County. - 04/26/2007

"Sex-crime treatment facility proposed: Center would be built at Airway Heights"--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.) Airway Heights Correctional Center may get a 200 bed unit for sex offenders. This new facility is part of the Department of Correction's "Sex Offender Management" request in its 2007-2009 budget package. The Department of Corrections is requesting the unit since it has far more sex offenders than space for them in its current treatment programs. It's estimated that 20 to 23% of the inmates in the state prison system are there for sex crimes. - 04/27/2007

"Spotted owl plan in jeopardy: D.C. bureaucrats pick apart scientists' proposal"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Scientists can write plans, but political appointees can revise them. Northwest forest experts submitted a plan for protecting the spotted owl. After the plan went to Washington, D.C. it was revised by a group of political appointees who weakened protection for spotted owl habitat and downplayed the NOrthwest Forest Plan. The revised plan can be found here. Information about submitting comments and where public meetings will be held (including one at St. Martin's University in Lacey on May 31 from 6:30 to 9:30) can be found here. - 04/27/2007

"Blacks and Hispanics fare worse than whites in traffic stops, study finds" - Seattle Times
The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a report indicating that,while drivers of all races are pulled over by police at similar rates, minorities are much more likely to be searched, arrested, and subjected to force. The Bureau of Justice has issued a press release summarizing the report . - 04/30/2007

"State Survey: Terror attacks up sharply"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Over 14,000 terrorist attacks killed over 20,000 people around the world in 2006. Most of the deaths occurred in the Iraq and Afghanistan. This information is in the State Department's annual "Country Reports on Terrorism 2006" that was released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. - 04/30/2007

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