Flanked by doctors, lawmakers and education professionals, Gov. Jay Inslee made a brief argument Thursday for regulating electronic cigarettes, also known as vaping devices, before taking his weekly questions from media. Highlights:
1. The Senate will issue a statewide transportation proposal Thursday afternoon — funded by a gas tax (not Inslee’s carbon-polluter proposal). But the governor wasn’t saying much, other than that his proposal, the only one officially announced, recently passed out of committee in the House. Otherwise, “I’m advised there are serious discussions going on in the Senate,” said Inslee, before senators announced they would issue the transportation package in the afternoon. “I think that’s great.”
2. Inslee says he is monitoring the situation in Pasco, where people protested after police Tuesday fatally shot a homeless man who had reportedly been throwing rocks downtown. “We are going to need to get to the bottom of understanding the circumstances of this,” said Inslee. Staff in the governor’s office have been in touch with local officials about the need for a full assessment of the shooting, he added.
3. The governor said he spoke Wednesday with his besieged counterpart to the south, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, currently under scrutiny for his fiancée’s land dealings and who was rumored Wednesday to be resigning. “He said that he is going to continue in his duties as governor of Oregon … and I’ll continue to work with him,” Inslee said.
4. The governor and others made a presentation on data that show an increase in children’s use of electronic cigarettes. The Washington Poison Center reported 182 calls last year related to e-cigarette vaping fluid, with 133 of them pediatric patients. That’s up from just two calls in 2010. Other numbers show an increase in high school sophomores using e-cigarettes, according to data provided at the media availability. “One cannot say that these products are reducing the usage of tobacco,” Inslee said. In his budget, the governor proposes taxing e-cigarettes.
5. Inslee said there isn’t much he can do regarding the West Coast ports shutdown. But, “We obviously want to urge both sides to be diligent in finding a solution to this problemn … and I’ve made that clear to both sides of the table in this regard on multiple occasions,” he said.
6. And finally, the governor remained mum on whether he’d sign a bill working its way through the Legislature to create a new medical school through Washington State University. “As you know, I’m being assiduous in not issuing threats or promises,” said the governor, “if you will.”