Building a stronger, more just & transparent democracy

  • Hunt reflects on 24 years as a legislator

    Mary Murphy | Apr 24, 2024

    He is 81 years old, a long-time Democrat and a 24-year veteran of the state Legislature. But this year is the last one in which Sen. Sam Hunt will wield a gavel. “It's time to step aside and, and let some younger folks come in,” Hunt said. “I would like to have a January morning where I could sleep in.” Hunt, who lives in Olympia, started in politics when he was just 12 years old, sticking campaign signs in yards around Yakima for former Gov. Albert Rosellini....

  • New ferries to bolster fleet still years away

    Aspen Anderson | Mar 11, 2024

    Washington's ferry system is in jeopardy. It is struggling to meet the demands of its routes, and officials say it may be three to four years before any new ferry can go into service. Currently, 19 ferries serve the island communities of Washington, but the state needs 26 boats to fully fill the sailing schedule. While some are blaming a switch to electric boats for the delay in getting new vessels built, the problems go back nearly 25 years. In 1999, voters approved...

  • Legislature approves ban on state income tax

    Aspen Anderson | Mar 6, 2024

    An initiative prohibiting imposition of a state income tax was approved March 5 by the state Legislature. "This is a great day for everyone in Washington," said Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, Walsh. "Codifying Washington's long-standing tradition of opposing any state tax on personal income will help working families and local economies...When common-sense conservative policies lead the way, things get better for everyone." At the hearing on the initiative, every chair in the...

  • Effort to improve ballot rejection rates passes unanimously

    Aspen Anderson | Mar 6, 2024

    Washington State is recognized for its effective voting processes, but officials say too many ballots are rejected because signatures don't match. "I think we can do a lot better in Washington State," Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall said. "Updating how our offices reach out to voters is a simple step to ensuring both integrity and voter access." Signature verification is done to prove the mailed ballot was filled out by the person it was sent to, but too often, people...

  • Inslee reflects in his final year as governor

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 12, 2024

    On the second level of the white and gray marbled Capitol building stands the Governor's office, guarded by a State Patrol trooper stationed outside. On the interior walls are portraits and paintings showcasing past Washington Governors. In the heart of the conference room stands a grand dark wood table surrounded by twelve bulky wood and brown leather chairs, and the one at the head of the table, where Jay Inslee sits, has leather detailing of Washington's State seal at the...

  • Three of the six citizen initiatives will be granted hearings

    Aspen Anderson-Mary Murphy | Feb 21, 2024

    Three citizen-led initiatives will receive hearings in this session of the Legislature, said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, and Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. The Legislature will debate I-2113 on reasonable police pursuit, I-2081 on restoring parent’s “right to know,” and I-2111, on prohibiting a state income tax. “Washington voters will hear a lot between now and November on any initiatives that end up on the ballot,” Billig and Jinkins said in a press release. “It will be up to...

  • Crowd demands hearing on citizen initiatives

    Aspen Anderson-Mary Murphy | Feb 28, 2024

    A sea of red, white and blue covered the Capitol steps as hundreds of Washingtonians proudly waved American flags and demanded hearings on six initiatives that would roll back taxes, give parents more rights and police more authority. The initiatives funded by the political action group Let's Go Washington all received the requisite number of signatures to be approved for consideration but have yet to receive a hearing from the Legislature. In all, 2.6 million citizens signed...

  • Cancer diagnosis redirects Sen. Rebecca Saldaña's energy this legislative session

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 28, 2024

    In the mainly white, buttoned down, business suit environment that is the Washington State Legislature, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña stands out. The Seattle Democrat swapped heels for cowboy boots, has Chicana roots, wears brightly colored traditional rebozos and recently lost her hair to chemotherapy. "It's about making sure that whatever makes you feel powerful that you want to wear without feeling that you are putting yourself in an unsafe situation," she said. Saldaña has held...

  • Budget questions swirl around possible repeal of climate act

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 24, 2024

    Money to expand and upgrade the state’s ferry fleet will be included in this year’s supplemental budget, but lawmakers warn funding could go away if voters choose to repeal the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). “If the CCA is repealed, it will have a devastating impact on transportation funding. About one third of our Move Ahead package was funded by CCA,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D- Everett. Move Ahead Washington is a transportation plan adopted in 2022 that invests $17 billion over 16 years in projects statewide. “If...

  • Mandatory voting proposed by Democrats

    Mary Murphy | Jan 26, 2024

    A proposal to make voting mandatory drew criticisms from two thousand people in a Legislative hearing Jan. 25. "We are already in a moment of extreme distrust in elections, so you should not be doing anything to further that perception," said Sharon Damoff. Lawmakers mainly dismissed the large number of people signing on to testify, as they believe one organization was responsible. "The election deniers have ramped up this year," Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, said. "Conservative...

  • End to daylight saving time in the sights of "Ditch the Switch" advocates

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 30, 2024

    Washingtonians may lose their cherished ultra-late-night sunsets in the summer if Washington state opts for permanent Pacific Standard Time (PST). "If Congress had acted, we would not be here with this bill," remarked Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley. The U.S. Senate, in March 2022, passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 that would have made daylight saving permanent, but it has not been approved by the House. The measure now under consideration in the Legislation would...

  • Shift to even-year local elections proposed to boost voter turnout

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 17, 2024

    Low turnouts for local elections are leading some to advocate for moving those contests to even numbered years alongside national races. "Young people are part of the communities that are being left behind," said Rep. Darya Farivar, D-Seattle. She is a co-sponsor of a bill in this year's legislative session to move elections to even-numbered years. She is also the youngest legislator in Washington and said this issue is very personal to her. "This issue is about making sure...

  • Governor calls for action on homelessness, climate and abortion rights

    Mary Murphy | Jan 11, 2024

    Defending his record and pressing for more action, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee urged a joint session of the Legislature to stay on a path that protects a woman's right to choose, improves public safety, reduces pollution, and curbs homelessness. Referencing his father's days of coaching track, Inslee declared to his audience that in this last term he has no plans to let up by "running through the tape." Inslee made his remarks in his annual State of the State address at the...

  • Building trust in law enforcement a key goal, Lovick says

    Aspen Anderson | Apr 9, 2024

    Sen. John Lovick describes himself as a Black man with brown skin who wore a blue uniform for a combined 37 years as a former state trooper and Snohomish County Sheriff. "Not everybody understands that I've been on both sides of the badge. And I've been at both ends of the barrel," Lovick, a Democrat from Mill Creek, said. "And I let people know that I'm Black, I'm brown, and I'm blue." Lovick spent 31 years as a Washington State Trooper, served nine years in the House of...

  • Property crimes can now be hate crimes

    Mary Murphy | Mar 18, 2024

    Some property crimes now can be classed as hate crimes if they are racially motivated or if they target other marginalized communities. Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said he was motivated to press for changes in what can be classed as a hate crime when vandals attacked a gay pride display in Spokane that shocked the community. “The pride sidewalks in Spokane were defaced in a coordinated attack last October with paint poured on them,” Billig recalled. He said police began pursuing the incident as a hate crime but were...

  • Officers soon will be allowed to work part time

    Aspen Anderson | Apr 9, 2024

    Washington remains 51st in the nation for police officers per capita, and one answer to that problem might be allowing officers to work part-time. SB 5424, sponsored by Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, awaits the governor's signature. "The idea behind these flexible work schedules is...intended to increase the diversity in Washington law enforcement," Lovick said. "To increase the presence of female officers and to retain senior officers who have a lot of value to provide but...

  • Same-day report required for stolen guns

    Mary Murphy | Mar 6, 2024

    When a student at Seattle's Ingraham High School was shot and killed two years ago, an investigation revealed the gun used in the crime was stolen. Now, advocates from that community are speaking out and asking that more be done to curb the use of stolen firearms. "It was not safely stored, and its theft was reported three weeks late by the owner," said Carol Butterfield, former Parent Teacher Association President for Ingraham High School." Butterfield said authorities...

  • New bill advances equal professional opportunities for immigrants

    Mary Murphy | Mar 4, 2024

    Undocumented individuals are now a small step away from pursuing careers in nursing, dentistry, architecture, psychology, and much more under a bill now waiting for the governor's signature. Careers like these monitored by the Department of Licensing were previously denied on the basis of citizenship status. HB1889 allows undocumented individuals to apply for these licenses using their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, in place of a Social Security Number. The bill...

  • Police given more leeway to pursue suspects

    Mary Murphy | Mar 6, 2024

    New rules that give police more leeway to engage in high-speed pursuits were approved by the Legislature and will become law June 5, 2024. “As you know, the people of the state are suffering, increasing rates of crime, property, crime, violent crime,” said Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen. “When I talked to cops and sheriff's deputies, they told me the one thing more than anything else that we need is the ability to chase bad people.” In 2021, the Legislature approved a measure that restricted police. Under that standard,...

  • Clergy members could become mandatory reporters of child abuse

    Mary Murphy | Feb 21, 2024

    When Sen. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, learned how Jehovah’s Witness elders in Spokane had covered up child sexual abuse for years, she looked to the law for answers. Frame found that, under Washington State law, clergy members have no responsibility to report what they suspect to be child abuse. Washington is one of five states that has yet to change this rule. Frame says she experienced abuse as a child, and it was only once after her teacher, a “mandatory reporter,” said...

  • Condom use requires partner consent, proposal says

    Mary Murphy | Feb 12, 2024

    Testifying before lawmakers, Mina Hashemi recounted how three years ago she was shocked to see that the condom she had explicitly asked for during sex had been removed. "I felt deeply violated," Hashemi said. "While I was lucky not to get an STI or pregnant, there are many stories of women who did. Stealthing is a very specific type of sexual violence that does not neatly fit within existing definitions of sexual assault in Washington. We must close the loophole on assault." "Stealthing" refers to tampering with or removing...

  • Jaywalking laws too severe, critics say

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 30, 2024

    Taking cues from California, there's a push to lighten up on jaywalking fines-a move that hits the headlines for its impact on both the homeless community and Black pedestrians. In Washington state, Black pedestrians are stopped by police at a rate four times higher than the general population. Forty-One percent of those ticketed for jaywalking in the state are homeless. Jaywalking is considered a non-criminal traffic violation, carrying an average fee of around $70. In 2023...

  • Proposal allows deadly force cases to be handled by Attorney General's office

    Mary Murphy | Jan 24, 2024

    Following the concerns over police brutality in 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee directed the Attorney General’s office to form an Office of Independent Investigations to take on cases of death by law enforcement officers. Now Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, is building on that effort with HB 1579, which gives the Attorney General’s Office authority to handle the prosecution of police officers in addition to ordering investigations. The primary goal is to avoid conflicts of interest at the county prosecutor level. Local...

  • Survivors speak out against child marriage

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 22, 2024

    Twenty women sporting wedding gowns and lustrous veils, with chains around their wrists and tape over their mouths, gathered in protest of Washington State law that allows children to be married if they have permission from their parents. A bill now being debated in the state Legislature, HB 1455, would end child marriage in Washington State. Between 2000 and 2021, 5,048 children were married in Washington, 83% of these involving girls wed to adult men, according to a study...

  • Trump to stay on primary ballot

    Mary Murphy-Aspen Anderson | Jan 22, 2024

    By Mary Murphy and Aspen Anderson Washington State Journal It was still dark outside when people with MAGA hats and anti-Trump signs gathered outside the entrance of the Thurston County Courthouse Jan. 18. A court filing that would push former President Donald Trump off the primary ballot in Washington State was the issue that drew them. Alexis Wallace showed up early displaying a cardboard sign that read, "What happened to: "Our democracy?" Ha Ha Ha." Wallace is a precinct...

  • Legislature to decide on high-speed pursuits

    Mary Murphy | Feb 12, 2024

    A citizen initiative aimed at giving police wider discretion on when they engage in high-speed pursuits was forwarded to the Legislature on Jan. 11. Secretary of State Steve Hobbs notified the Legislature petitions for Initiative 2113 meet all legal requirements. Initiative 2113 backers want to amend a law on police pursuit that passed in 2021, which requires officers to have "probable cause" instead of "reasonable suspicion" to engage in pursuits. Critics say that measure...

  • Victims push for legislation against police deception in interrogations

    Mary Murphy - Aspen Anderson | Jan 11, 2024

    Amanda Knox, the Seattle resident who spent nearly four years in an Italian prison for a murder she did not commit, offered heartfelt testimony Jan. 8 in favor of a bill that would prevent law enforcement officers from using deception during interrogations. "I was interrogated overnight by police officers who claimed to have evidence against me, who claimed that there were witnesses who could place me at the crime scene," Knox said. "They lied to me. I did not know they...

  • Legislature debates reducing legal limit for blood alcohol level

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 7, 2024

    To curb traffic fatalities, lawmakers are proposing reducing the legal limit for driving while intoxicated. SB 5002 amends the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving a motor vehicle from .08% to .05%. Typically, consuming less than one standard drink per hour maintains most individuals' BAC below .05%. Former state trooper and primary sponsor Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, who previously served as a sergeant with a DUI emphasis patrol, called on the Legislature...

  • Hogtying ban unanimously passes Senate

    Mary Murphy | Feb 7, 2024

    Nearly four years after Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man from Tacoma, died during arrest while being hogtied, the practice that killed him is one step closer to being illegal in Washington. Hogtying refers to the tactic where handcuffed wrists are tied to a suspect's ankles. This practice can contort bodies into a position where they are at risk for suffocation. A medical examiner on Ellis' case ruled his cause of death as lack of oxygen. In 2021, defense attorneys...

  • Public safety must be a priority, legislators say

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 12, 2024

    Public safety should be a top priority for this year's legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee and bipartisan state legislators said on the eve of the 2024 legislative session. "We need additional officers on the street," Inslee told reporters. "And to help local police forces find their additional officers, I'm proposing a $10 million grant program." Washington State ranks 50th in the nation for the number of law enforcement officers per capita, Inslee and legislators...

  • Voters to decide fate of state's climate act

    Aspen Anderson | Mar 18, 2024

    The debate over how Washington reduces greenhouse gasses is headed for a showdown in November. To supporters, The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) is a "gold standard" environmental policy, because it sets carbon limits on polluters who must pay if they don't meet emission goals. To critics, the program is failing because it isn't really reducing emissions, is pushing up the cost of gasoline and much of the $1.8 billion it has generated isn't going to projects that reduce...

  • State proposes pesticide ban despite current research

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 24, 2024

    Neonicotinoid pesticides are known for their harmful effects on the nervous systems of insects and a proposal in the state Legislature calls for banning them for household use. “About ⅓ of our agricultural sector needs pollination to thrive, and our pollinators, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds in this state are under more and more threat,” said prime sponsor Sen. Marko Liias, D–Edmonds. Others, however, say blaming household use of pesticides on a decline in bee populations mischaracterizes the current research....

  • Demand for affordable homes near transit hubs faces hurdles, critics say

    Mary Murphy | Jan 22, 2024

    Washington cities could soon be required to block off zones near public transit for multifamily housing, if new regulations are approved by the state Legislature. Some regulation is necessary, backers say, if cities want to provide affordable housing and make it easy for people to get to work. "I ran for office because of the enormous challenges that people of my generation, people in their 30s and 40s, face in finding a home in this state," Rep. Julia Reed, D-Seattle, said....

  • Legislation would impose fines for untreated sewage discharge

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 7, 2024

    A proposal to fine counties and cities when untreated sewage is released into Puget Sound is part of an effort to save dwindling salmon runs. The bill, proposed by Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, imposes a 1-cent-per-gallon fee on municipal discharges of untreated sewage into Puget Sound. The bill, HB 2290, is part of a comprehensive five-bill bipartisan initiative to preserve salmon populations and support the fishing community. The Department of Ecology did not oppose the bill...

  • WSDA seeks assistance in halting Japanese Beetle spread

    Kennia Perez, Sunnyside Sun | Dec 28, 2023

    The Washington States Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is asking for help from Yakima County residents in stopping the spread of Japanese Beetles. Residents that live in Grandview, Sunnyside, Outlook, Mabton and Prosser can receive free treatment that will help stop the spread of the beetles. In 2023, more than 19,000 beetles were caught within the Yakima, Benton and Franklin County with an increasing number of beetles being caught in Sunnyside and Mabton. To read more from...

  • Valley snow levels are low for this time of year

    Marcy Stamper, Methow Valley News | Jan 14, 2024

    When it comes to our sense of the weather, a lot of it may actually be linked to perception. "It's funny how your memory is different from the data," Methow Trails Executive Director James DeSalvo said. In his 14 years with Methow Trails, while every year has been different, last year was exceptional - and that probably colors people's sense of the "typical" Methow winter, DeSalvo said. Last winter, with copious dumps of early-season snow, Methow Trails opened its Nordic...

  • Mt. Baker Ski Area looks to more sustainable future

    Hailey Hoffman, Cascadia Daily News | Feb 12, 2024

    Skiers and snowboarders return to a more sustainable Mt. Baker Ski Area, with millions spent to upgrade power sources to reach a future goal of using renewables. More than a foot of snow fell over the weekend, providing enough on top of the base to finally open the mountain to pass holders Wednesday, Dec. 13, and to the general public on Thursday. This week's opening is about a month later than last year due to warm and rainy weather, but skiers and snowboarders said opening...

  • Wolverines designated a threatened species by Fish and Wildlife Service

    Ann McCreary, Methow Valley News | Jan 14, 2024

    High in the mountains above the Methow Valley lives a small population of rare wolverines, one of the most elusive mammals in North America. The North Cascades are one of the few areas in the United States where wolverines are still found. But their snowy alpine habitat in the North Cascades and elsewhere in the West is becoming increasingly fragmented and degraded due to human activity and climate change. The imperiled species will gain new protections with a recent decision...

  • Whatcom industrial site owners fined nearly $1M for dangerous waste violations

    Isaac Stone Simonelli, Cascadia Daily News | Dec 7, 2023

    The Washington Department of Ecology issued a $900,000 fine to Treoil Industrial site's owners in Whatcom County on Tuesday, Dec. 5, for non-compliance with the state's dangerous waste laws. The action comes after years of environmental negligence at the 34-acre site, historically used for refining biodiesel and processing tall oil - liquid rosin from pine trees. The site, owned by Jagroop Gill and Campbell Land Corporation, has been a matter of environmental concern for...

  • Blending education and technology a goal for Wellman

    Aspen Anderson | Mar 22, 2024

    On the last Monday morning of the 2024 legislative session, Washington State Sen. Lisa Wellman's office brimmed with sunlight, an early peek at spring, as she sipped tea from a white mug. Her office is full of her macro photography. As a creative outlet, Wellman likes to go to junkyards and photograph bolts and screws that have rusted. On her website she calls this: nature's revenge of rust. It is a hobby inspired by her career in technology and an embrace of creativity. "I...

  • Parental authority initiative approved, but concerns linger

    Mary Murphy - Aspen Anderson | Mar 18, 2024

    The "Parent's right to know," a citizen-led initiative regarding parental authority over kids in public schools, will become law in June. While the measure won wide bipartisan support, some legislators say they are keeping a close eye on the way it is implemented. Sen. Jamie Pederson, D-Seattle, who ended up voting in favor for the initiative, said he has some concerns its passage will have on student access to things like birth control or mental health services. He said he...

  • Zero-emission school bus plan moves ahead

    Mary Murphy | Mar 27, 2024

    School districts are required to transition to zero emission school buses under a law recently approved by the state House and Senate. The bill received numerous amendments after districts voiced concerns over reliability, range and the time allowed to make the switch. Introduced by Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, HB 1368 is an effort to not only reduce emissions, but to prioritize the health of children. Six other states have zero-emission school bus transitions already written into law. “We as a student body are...

  • Holocaust education bill dies

    Mary Murphy | Feb 21, 2024

    An effort to make Holocaust and genocide education mandatory in Washington public schools has failed to win enough support to pass in this year's Legislature. "We've been trying diligently to reach out to stakeholders to get agreed upon wording that would make this workable and fundable," said Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, Chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. "This bill just needs more time to be worked through." Sponsored by Rep. Travis Couture,...

  • Lawmakers push for phone restrictions in schools

    Mary Murphy | Feb 16, 2024

    Schools across Washington state are developing new cellphone policies to stop under-the-desk texting for teens and game playing while at school. Some of these policies are already in use at Eastern Washington's Reardan-Edwall School District. Superintendent Eric Sobotta gave the screen time change rave reviews. "Middle school students actually have to talk to each other at lunch rather than be on their phones playing games," Sobotta said. Despite individual schools taking the initiative on these efforts, lawmakers want to...

  • Paraeducators rally for fair wages

    Mary Murphy | Feb 24, 2024

    Bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers stood outside of the capitol with signs that read: “Living wages for ESP’S!” and “I’m a paraprofessional, my heart is full, but my wallet is empty.” Education Support Professionals (ESPs) mainly in the classroom with kids, supporting teachers. Two bills that would have increased wages and distributed paraeducators throughout school districts have already died in this year’s legislative session. Now, paraeducators...

  • Genocide education bill sparks high emotions in hearing

    Mary Murphy | Feb 16, 2024

    People held hands between armrests as they waited to tell the stories of loved ones lost to genocide. Almost every seat in the hearing room was filled, and 67 people were scheduled to speak. Prime sponsor Sen. John Braun R-Centralia, and co-sponsor Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, approached the podium to introduce the bill. “For me and many in the Jewish community this is not just an academic matter. This is an intimate and deeply personal matter that has affected our families,” Salomon said, pausing to gather his...

  • Students push bill to bring overdose-reversal drug to all schools

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 22, 2024

    Concerned about drug overdoses among teenagers, Lake Washington High School seniors Theodore Meek, Joanna Lymberis, Olivia Milstein, Sophia Lymberis and Reilly Jones transformed a school assignment into a bill aimed at making opioid-reversal medication available in high schools. "The first conversation we had was, we're gonna get this passed," Sofia Lymberis said. Narcan, the commercial name for naloxone, is already available in Washington schools with student populations of...

  • Mandatory process proposed to review complaints about school library books

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 2, 2024

    A mandatory process to guide school districts should be required when protests erupt over books that deal candidly with sexual preferences and gender identity. While proponents of that position argue a policy is crucial to protect LGBTQ+ authors, critics call the idea government overreach and argue "kids'' are the only class that needs protecting. HB 2331, now being debated in the state Legislature, prevents school districts from rejecting or censoring educational materials...

  • Proposal gives Attorney General authority to oversee hospital consolidations

    Mary Murphy | Mar 4, 2024

    Healthcare workers say the state should have the power to review hospital consolidations to make sure levels of care are not reduced when a hospital is purchased. Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, said she saw her own community hospital suffer after being acquired by a larger company. That’s why she introduced The Keep Our Care Act. “In my own community, Harrison Hospital was acquired by CHI,” Randall said. “And I first started learning about it not from the lens of reproductive healthcare, but from nurses and...

  • A bill seeks reduction of lead in cookware

    Aspen Anderson | Mar 4, 2024

    Parents shouldn’t have to worry that the pots and pans they cook in could be poisoning their kids, say scientists and legislators, and a bill proposed in the state Legislature would make sure that is true. HB 1551 limits the production, circulation, and sale of pots and pans with more than five parts per million (ppm) of lead in any of its parts. “The family meal should be a place to gather and spend time together. It shouldn’t be the source of cognitive and physical harm,” said Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle. “I...

  • Minimum age of 25 proposed for high-THC cannabis

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 12, 2024

    To protect young people from the dangers of high-strength cannabis, two bills have been proposed in this year’s Washington State Legislature. SB 6220, recently passed in the Senate, establishes the minimum purchase age for high-THC cannabis at 25 and older. The bill defines high THC as greater than 35% THC and mandates the Liquor and Cannabis Board to define concentration levels following extensive market research. THC is the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana. “When we legalized marijuana, we thought we were...

  • Foster moms protest the increase in child fatalities

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 21, 2024

    By Aspen Anderson Washington State Journal As the prevalence of fentanyl rises, so too does the frequency of critical incidents related to parental substance abuse among foster children, often resulting in fatalities or near-fatalities. This alarming trend spurred foster mothers from across the state to gather and protest on the steps of the capitol. They say a recently adopted state law makes it harder to remove children from homes for the evidence of substance abuse alone,...

  • Protection for abortion doctors proposed

    Mary Murphy | Jan 30, 2024

    When she treated an out-of-state patient from Idaho with pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Jennifer Chin of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) knew her pregnant patient was at risk if she carried the pregnancy to term. She believes her patient could have died without the care she received in Washington. But increasingly, Chin said, she sees doctors becoming hesitant to give abortion care because of the threat it poses to their safety. To protect doctors,...

  • Diaper changing stations for dads proposed

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 26, 2024

    Diaper changing stations traditionally were placed only in women's bathrooms, and Alexandra Johnson, a mother of two from Snoqualmie, thinks that should change. “What are the implications for our children when they see that mom is the only one providing care?” Johnson asked. Johnson made her comments in testimony as the state Legislature considers HB 2052, which would require changing stations in all new or renovated public bathrooms, regardless of gender. “This legislation does two things: It creates more access to...

  • Tribal members confront fentanyl crisis

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 24, 2024

    Tribal members in Washington State are four times more likely to overdose and die on opioids than the state average, and advocates are pushing for state programs to address the crisis. "A dark undercurrent, threatening the fabric of society, requires us to stand united and say, you're not alone." said Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-40th District. "Tribal wellness centers are at the forefront of Washington healing for over a decade, offering a beacon of hope." Lekanoff, the sole...

  • Bill would allow alcohol in adult establishments

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 28, 2024

    Washington currently has the fewest adult entertainment establishments per capita in the country. The reason? They are not allowed to serve alcohol. But if a bill in the state Legislature wins approval, Washington could soon join the rest of the country in allowing alcohol sales in strip clubs. Adult dancers say if this change is approved, workplace security should be required. "Washington State has had a war on strip clubs for a long time, and that is the reason why we have...

  • AG Ferguson files lawsuit to stop Kroger-Albertson merger worth $24.6 billion

    Mary Murphy-Aspen Anderson | Jan 17, 2024

    Kroger and Albertsons claim a proposed merger worth 24.6 billion will result in better prices for grocery shoppers, but many fear food prices will go up and jobs could be lost as the stores eliminate competition. Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit to stop the merger, which was announced in a Seattle press conference Jan. 15. "Our job is to make sure there is a level playing field for Washington consumers and that means pushing back against the consolidation of...

  • Task force proposed to study impacts of artificial intelligence

    Aspen Anderson | Feb 12, 2024

    Some fear Artificial Intelligence (AI) might open a dark chapter to a dystopian future. Others say the progress it promises is virtually unlimited. To find a balance among those concerns, Washington state is considering launching a task force to determine how it can best promote the most beneficial uses while mitigating potential challenges. Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, has introduced a bill, SB 5838, that would establish the task force. The bill has 17 Democratic and 2...

  • Washington reaches 8 million-resident milestone

    Brandon Hansen, The Reflector | Dec 28, 2023

    Washington state is experiencing unprecedented population growth, with the current estimate reaching 8 million residents, according to state officials. This surge is not only historic but also presents substantial challenges for the Evergreen State. State officials emphasized the significance of planning for the future, as an additional 1.8 million people are projected to move to Washington by 2050. To read more from this article, visit: https://thereflector.com/stories/washington-reaches-8-million-resid...

  • What's for dinner takes on new meaning for roadkill harvesters

    Elliott Almond, Cascadia Daily News | Feb 12, 2024

    Most of us have seen poor little critters on the road smashed, bashed or otherwise mutilated. Roadkill, it seems, is a gruesome byproduct of the automobile age. So, it was heartening to meet Bellingham newbie Kai Wians, aka "Kai.ote Jack." We recently spent a morning at Lettered Streets Coffeehouse talking about roadkill harvesting and honoring animals who have perished on the highways through no fault of their own. Wians, 26, is mastering the art of roadkill harvesting for food and providing community service. Wians is one...

  • Washington State Ferries gets $4.8M for six aging vessels

    Beacon Staff, Mukilteo Beacon | Dec 7, 2023

    The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded $4.8 million to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to refurbish aging passenger spaces on six Issaquah-class ferries. The grant will pay for upgrades on all six of WSF’s Issaquah Class Vessels, originally constructed between 1979 and 1982 and currently serving travelers in Mukilteo, Fauntleroy, Vashon, Southworth, Clinton, Anacortes, and the San Juan Islands. Funds came from the FTA’s 2023 Ferry Programs Grants, which was reauthorized in the...

  • Counties required to adopt security system

    Mary Murphy | Mar 27, 2024

    All counties are required to install "Albert Systems," a technology that notifies counties when there is an attempted cybersecurity attack, under a bill Secretary of State Steve Hobbs endorsed. Even though ballot counting machines are not connected to the internet, election data is oftentimes circulated on internet communication channels. Technology like the Albert System can help protect the security of county records by monitoring any attempt to manipulate, intercept, or...

  • Hundreds rally for rent caps, affordable housing

    Mary Murphy | Feb 5, 2024

    As budget negotiations begin in the state Legislature, calls for action on affordable housing and rent caps from the annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day are expected to ring in the ears of lawmakers. Hundreds of unhoused individuals, members of non-profit organizations and advocacy groups gathered late last month to urge lawmakers to do something about the high cost of housing. Cheyonna Lewis, a single mother of three, sat on the steps of the Capitol with her...

  • Palestinian organizers rally for cease fire

    Mary Murphy | Feb 24, 2024

    Hundreds of organizers sporting green, red, and keffiyeh scarves gathered on the capitol steps to read poetry, sing traditional Palestinian songs and call for a cease fire in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The Washington Coalition for Peace and Justice was the prime organizer of the event, but 37 other organizations showed support. The groups came to ask lawmakers to call for a ceasefire, an effort that has already been pushed across the world, country and state. "We know...

  • Newhouse building rises on Olympia's capitol campus

    Aspen Anderson | Jan 15, 2024

    Facing health and safety hazards and experiencing overcrowding, in May 2023 the original Irving R. Newhouse Building on the capitol campus in Olympia was entirely demolished and construction of a new building began. Amidst rumors of a potential renaming, Rep. Bryan Sandlin, R-Zillah, representing the 15th District just like the building's namesake, introduced HCR 4405 to preserve the original name. "We can take a page out of his career, each and every one of us to be a...

  • Sen. Jeff Wilson proposes bill to amend state 'Sunshine Committee'

    Mitchell Roland, For The Reflector | Feb 12, 2024

    Nineteenth Legislative District state Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, has prefiled legislation he says will help overhaul the state's Sunshine Committee and streamline public disclosure requests. In a news release Friday, Wilson said Senate Bill 5779 would combat the rising number of exemptions to the state's public records law, though the bill does not address longstanding questions around legislative privilege. If passed, the bill would require the Sunshine Committee to...

  • Popular book, movie buzz is a boon for Whatcom rowing club

    Meri-Jo Borzilleri, Cascadia Daily News | Dec 21, 2023

    On a postcard-perfect Saturday morning on Lake Whatcom, program director and coach Courtney Moeller is idling the Whatcom Rowing Association's launch boat as four rowing shells - two four-seats, two eights - await her instruction. The water is flat and winds calm, boats basking in rare mid-November sunshine. Through her old-school megaphone, Moeller calls out the next set, a 60-second effort. Twenty-four rowers, oar blades flat on water to balance the precariously slim...

  • Jingle all the way to Leavenworth: Where reindeer, turkeys, and holiday cheer collide

    Jacob Ford, Wenatchee World | Jan 14, 2024

    LEAVENWORTH - Visitors from around the globe converge upon Leavenworth each year to take the sights, sounds, taste and smells that the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm offers, including the unique experience of being able to get up close and personal with a herd of friendly reindeer. The farm features Belgian draft horses, chickens, turkeys, ponies and pigs as well as a gift shop in a barn built in 1907. The concession stand serves hot cocoa and cider as well as Alaskan reindeer...

  • Battle Ground weaver Connie Ford collaborates with local artists to expand her artistic horizons

    Cheasanee Hetherington, The Reflector | Feb 12, 2024

    Using locally sourced materials, multimedia artist Connie Ford combines traditional and unusual fibers to weave unique artworks in her Battle Ground studio. Ford seeks to stretch the boundaries of fiber weaving by collaborating with other local artists and combining their artistic mediums. Ford was inspired to pursue basket weaving while viewing a Native American art exhibit showcased at Elma Elementary, where she was the principal. The beautiful woven baskets on display...

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