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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.

"State unveils new wolf plan"--Wenatchee World
The state has released a revised version of its draft plan to recover gray wolves in Washington. The plan aims to eventually remove protections required under the federal Endangered Species Act and seeks higher penalties for poaching wolves. In order to de-list the wolves, six breeding pairs are required in the Eastern Washington region, two are required in the North Cascades, five are required in the Southern Cascades and Northwest Coast, and six additional pairs are required anywhere in the state. Under the plan, landowners and state Wildlife officials are given permission to kill wolves caught in the act of attacking livestock, guard animals, or domestic animals, and Wildlife managers are given new options to kill or move wolves that threaten at-risk populations of deer, elk, and caribou. Public comments will be heard by the Washington Wildlife Commission in August before the plan is considered for adoption in December. - 06/01/2011

"Feds: WA has highest rate of vaccine exemptions"--Seattle Times
According to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more parents in Washington are opting not to vaccinate their kindergarteners than anywhere else in the country. Washington’s opt-out rate for one or more vaccination is 6.2%, compared with the national average of less than 2%. Only 3 other states – Vermont, Alaska, and Oregon – have rates higher than 5%. State health officials say that the high exemption rate endangers residents, especially children who are not fully immunized, and the problem has been the topic of both a new state law and a soon-to-be-announced three-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The new law, which goes into effect July 22, requires a signed note from a doctor to enroll a child in kindergarten who has not been fully immunized, while the three- year Vaccination Northwest program will focus on educating doctors so that they can answer parents’ questions and concerns about vaccinations. - 06/02/2011

"40 years after leak, the Pentagon Papers are out"--Seattle Times
The complete version of a top-secret report that was at the heart of one of the most dramatic examples of whistleblowing in U.S. history was released online today by the National Archives. The Pentagon Papers, a study of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from World War II to 1967, was requested by Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara and was leaked by one of the defense analysts involved in its creation. Attempts by President Nixon to quash the leak and punish those involved were thwarted by a ruling allowing the publication of stories about the study and the declaration of a mistrial in the prosecution of the analysts who leaked the study. It is thought that there is not much new information to be learned from the complete report thanks to a combination of the leak and other information that has come to light through congressional forums and by other means. - 06/13/2011

"Defense safety board blasts DOE, Bechtel"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri-City Herald
A report released by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board contends that the success of Hanford’s vitrification plant project is in danger due to failures in the safety culture at the facility. The report found that “a chilled atmosphere exits on safety issues” and “DOE [Department of Energy] and contractor management have suppressed technical dissent.” It is recommending that Energy Secretary Steven Chu step in and champion the major improvements that are needed so that they have a better chance of succeeding. - 06/14/2011

"Number of adult smokers in state creeps upward"--Seattle Times
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington is in a tie with Maryland for the 11th lowest smoking rate in the nation, falling from its previous 3rd place position. Washington’s adult smoking rate rose from 14.9% to 15.2%, but state officials contribute the drop to many other factors, including the passage of smoke-free laws in a number of states that had not had any previously and the fact that the state has seen a 60% cut in funding for its Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, which is aimed at reducing tobacco-related illnesses and deaths. - 06/15/2011

"State’s budget reserves in peril"--Vancouver Columbian
The $738 million in budgeted reserves that legislators were counting on when they created the state budget for the next biennium may actually turn out to be $163 million, according to the revenue forecast released one day after Gov. Gregoire signed the budget into law. Arun Raha, the state’s chief economist, provided the following reasons for the possible downturn – “federal debate over the debt limit that could cause continued economic uncertainty, volatile energy prices, troubled financial markets internationally and questions about economic growth in Asia.” All eyes will now be on the next revenue forecast, which is due to be released in September, to see what news it brings. - 06/16/2011

"Getting There: Accident reports available by email"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
Drivers now have access to accident reports online through the Washington Requests for Electronic Collision Reports system offered by the State Patrol. Reports are filed by individuals or law enforcement officers for any accident involving injury or property damage of $700 or more, although it may take two to four weeks after an accident for the report to show up in the online system. Complete reports are available for the drivers involved, while others can get copies with certain details removed. The cost of a report is $9.50, payable by credit card or electronic check. The reports are delivered via email. - 06/20/2011

"South Sound beaches pass first check"--Olympia Olympian
Beachgoers can check on water quality at area beaches through the WA Dept. of Ecology’s Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication & Health (BEACH) program. Local health departments, tribes, and volunteers all work with the Dept. of Ecology to keep track of bacterial contamination at popular high-risk beaches, with the goal of notifying users when bacteria results are high. The program also hopes to educate people about the health risks associated with polluted water. - 06/18/2011

"WTA receives 14th consecutive audit 'without findings'"--Bellingham Herald
A state audit of the Whatcom Transportation Authority’s (WTA) warehouse, procurement, and purchasing cards that covers 2010 found no “findings,” or problems worthy of noting in an audit report. One minor problem was noted, though. The WTA does not have written policies and procedures in place for monitoring third-party administrators of its self-insured medical plan. According to the WTA, procedures are in place, but they are not written down. They promise that written documentation will be available by the end of the month. The audit also found that minor problems in purchasing and the warehouse that were uncovered in a 2009 audit have been fixed. - 06/22/2011

"New Discover Pass needed to get to state parks, DNR lands starting July 1"--Bellingham Herald
Starting July 1, a new parking permit will be required for vehicle access to state recreation lands and water recreation sites managed by Washington State Parks, the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, and the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR). The annual Discover Pass costs $30, while a day pass costs $10, plus dealer and transaction fees. The passes cannot be transferred from vehicle to vehicle because the license plate number is noted on the pass. Passes are on sale now and can be purchased online, where fishing and hunting licenses are sold, and at many state parks and recreation areas. 84% of revenue from the passes will go to State Parks, 8% will go to Fish & Wildlife, and 8% will go to DNR. - 06/20/2011

"Pollution in county lake led state to ban asphalt sealant"--Everett Herald
With the passage of a new law this year, Washington became the first state in the nation to ban coal-based pavement sealants. The sealants are primarily used on private driveways and parking lots and are known for their resistance to oil and gas intrusion. High concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the sealants have been linked to tumors, deformities and other problems in fish and aquatic organisms and are believed to be carcinogenic to humans. A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study of PAH levels in 40 lakes across the U.S., including Lake Ballinger on the border between Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds, drew attention to the impact of the sealants in our state. According to local contractors, use of the sealants in WA has been minimal, if not nonexistent, in recent years. - 06/23/2011

"Consumer spending flat last month; incomes remain flat"--Vancouver Columbian
According to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department, consumer spending was unchanged in May and incomes have remained essentially flat since the beginning of the year. The economy also created the lowest number of jobs in eight months and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent last month. The employment situation has led to slow wage growth, which in turn means that consumers don’t have as much money to spend. There are expectations that two of the biggest factors slowing the economy, gas prices and the manufacturing slowdown in Japan, will ease off in the coming months, though, and economic growth is anticipated in the latter part of the year. - 06/27/2011

"Extensive Silver Lake water quality study in the works"--Longview Daily News
On Thursday, the Silver Lake Watershed Advisory Council will hold a public meeting to unveil its plan for studying the water quality in Silver Lake. Sampling will take place over the next two years as researchers try to determine the cause of algae blooms in the lake during recent summers. Possible causes include speed boats stirring up sediment and pollution from septic tanks and a Weyerhaeuser Company landfill. The WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and several other agencies are acting as technical advisors to the council. - 06/27/2011

"Redistricting shuffles Pierce County Council seats, ruffles feathers"--Tacoma News Tribune
Pierce County has released the proposed final redistricting map showing political boundaries in the county for the next decade. Unless four of the five districting committee members agree to revise the map at their next meeting, the map will be the version that is in place during the 2012 election. District boundaries were redrawn based on results of the 2010 U.S. Census with the goal of creating 7 council districts containing 113, 600 residents each. The county charter mandates that the districts should be “approximately equal” in population, follow “as nearly as practicable” current voting precincts and consist of “compact and contiguous” districts that respect “geographic units and natural communities.” The largest changes impact Districts 4 and 7, where University Place and Fircrest move from District 7 to District 4 and Tacoma’s West End and most of the North End move to District 7. - 06/29/2011

"Cheapest and priciest colleges? Feds compare costs"--Seattle Times
The U.S. Dept. of Education has released its College Affordability and Transparency lists for 2011. The lists track tuition costs among the top and bottom 5 percent of four-year and two-year schools, including public, private, and for-profit colleges and universities. Lists show the most and least affordable schools when scholarships and other financial factors are taken into consideration, and separate lists track the rate of tuition increase and the increase in net price. - 06/30/2011

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