Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.
Topic: Washington Legislature
You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.
February 19, 2014 at 6:30 AM
The state House of Representatives took a big step early Tuesday morning with approval of an amended version of House Bill 2347, which seeks to reduce the risk of catastrophic oil spills from ships and trains. Now it falls to the state Senate, and its Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, to keep this important legislation moving.
Tracking the growing volumes of oil shipped through the state is necessary for local first-responders to be ready in the case of spills and resulting emergencies. Recent tragedies in North Dakota, Alabama, Alberta and Quebec reinforce the importance of being prepared for the worst.
State Rep. Jessyn Farrell’s legislation directs the state to gather and refineries to provide information about volumes of oil, types of oil, and the routes of vessels and trains. As the Democrat from Lake Forest Park notes, this will fill in gaps of knowledge about current routes and traffic on the Columbia River, around Grays Harbor and in Puget Sound.
The legislation empowers the state Department of Ecology to begin a study in 2014. A last-minute amendment would postpone any rule making inquiries until there is a permitted facility.
Communities need to be fully informed of the risks that go with the transport of vast quantities of oil. Local public-safety agencies need to know the nature of the hazards they might face. The legislation would gather basic information in response to the known risks that have claimed lives and destroyed property.
November 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Many in philanthropy and social services were caught off guard by federal Medicaid officials recent decision to cut off funding to Childhaven, which provides child care and therapy for abused and neglected children. Childhaven would lose $4 million a year, the combined total of the 50-50 match between state and federal Medicaid dollars — nearly half its revenue. Federal officials should reconsider. (more…)
November 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM
The Republican-dominated state Senate Majority Coalition, which balked at passing a huge transportation funding package earlier this year, is now floating a $12.3 billion transportation package, with an expectation that Gov. Jay Inslee may call another special Legislative session next week.
That alone is big news, because the deal includes a 11.5 cent gas tax increase theoretically endorsed by a fiscally conservative caucus. The package is heavy on maintenance, but would also pay for 51 projects, with billion-dollar chunks going to completion of the State Route 520 floating bridge ($1.3 billion), widening of Interstate 405 from Lynnwood to Renton ($1.25 billion) and the so-called Puget Sound Gateway expansion of State Route 509-167 ($1.69 billion). Here’s the draft project list and balance sheet. It also gives King and Snohomish counties authority to fund transit services by putting local-option taxes on the ballot.
Senate and House leaders are negotiating, but Senate Transportation Committee Co-chairman Curtis King, R-Yakima, and House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said they agree on a broad outline, and on many of the projects. Clibborn’s version, passed by the House in June, is here.
Inslee spokesman David Postman said the governor could call a special session Nov. 21 and 22, when lawmakers are in Olympia to pick committee chairs for the 2014 session, but would only do so if there’s enough votes to pass the package. A clearer path toward a special session may emerge Friday, when caucuses meet in Olympia.
What’s odd about the MCC proposal is the muted response by King County Democrats. They hammered the coalition for failing to act last June, largely because the package would have given King County “local option” taxes to stave off devastating cuts (including cancelling 74 routes). (more…)
February 26, 2013 at 6:55 AM
The price of healthy children is eternal vigilance, to paraphrase a quote of disputed origin. Protecting kids from harmful chemicals is a seemingly endless task for lawmakers.
The Washington Legislature is considering Substitute House Bill 1294, which prohibits the sale, manufacture or distribution of children’s products or residential furniture containing the chemical flame-retardant Tris in amounts greater than 50 parts per million in any component.
Support for passage of the bill was outlined Monday in a Times editorial. As the editorial noted, state lawmakers have a solid history of working to phase out, remove and ban a variety of toxic chemicals in children’s products. The challenge is mutant versions of the chemicals keep turning up.
The issue can be complicated when the chemical is touted as have a benign or even desirable effect, such as flame retardants. A series of reports by the Chicago Tribune generated their own heat about flame retardants.
Safer alternatives exist. As Washington and other states make their concerns known, the message will get out to use them.