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October 18, 2013 at 8:14 AM
Washington state’s attorney general says a food industry group has agreed to disclose who contributed to an effort to oppose a food labeling initiative.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Friday the agreement avoids the need to seek court intervention. Earlier this week, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, saying the group violated state campaign finance laws for how it collected and spent more than $7 million.
The association and other parts of the food industry have been working to defeat Initiative 522, which would require labeling on genetically modified foods.
Ferguson said the association improperly established a special account that was used to collect money from the industry while shielding contributors from scrutiny.
He says the group has now agreed to file donor reports with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission by the close of business Friday, and will register as a political committee.
October 9, 2013 at 9:58 AM
The idea of a $15 minimum wage continues to build momentum in the Seattle area, with Mayor Mike McGinn saying he would support an effort to set the standard even higher.
In an interview with The Associated Press, McGinn said he thought $15 was a “fair starting point” for the minimum wage discussion. He cautioned that the issue was best handled legislatively and that the actual number would be determined by city council members.
“If the council proposed a higher number, I’d support that,” said McGinn, who is seeking re-election next month.
He added later: “I would expect that, if re-elected, we would put together a coalition to figure out how far we could go on the minimum wage.”
McGinn challenger Ed Murray recently announced that he would push for a $15 minimum wage but planned to proceed with a phased-in approach. Washington already has the nation’s highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour, while San Francisco is the local jurisdiction with the highest hourly standard at $10.55.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and advocates have been pressing nationwide to push the number higher. In a small effort in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac, union-backed advocates were successful in getting a ballot measure that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
September 16, 2013 at 11:04 AM
The first television ads have aired in the battle over a statewide initiative that would mandate the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Opponents and supporters of Initiative 522 rolled out TV spots Monday morning in campaigns that are expected to cost millions of dollars.
The Yes on 522 campaign has raised $3.4 million with the largest donation from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Opponents have raised $12.1 million with large checks from Monsanto and DuPoint Pioneer.
The initiative before voters November would require food and seeds produced entirely or partly through genetic engineering and sold in Washington state to be labeled as such.
Supporters say consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they are buying. Opponents say the measure provides misinformation and is going to increase grocery costs.
August 27, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Former Washington state Sen. Jean Berkey has died at the age of 74.
Donald Berkey said Tuesday that his wife passed away on Aug. 21 at their home near Deception Pass following a brief illness. Jean Berkey served a decade in the Legislature before losing in a 2010 primary election.
Berkey was born Aug. 22, 1938 in Loma Linda, Calif. She moved to the Everett area as a young girl and eventually received a business degree from the University of Washington.
Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens said in a statement that Berkey was an advocate for seniors, open government, affordable health care and education. He said she was a moderate who helped provide an effective voice of reason in what can be an overly partisan environment.
A public memorial service will be held for Berkey on Sept. 14 at Everett Station.
June 28, 2013 at 11:14 PM
The chief proponent of a major Washington state transportation package said Friday night the bill was on life support and that it was extremely unlikely to pass this year.
Democratic Rep. Judy Clibborn said Friday night that she was sorry and disappointed the $10 billion package did not have the support needed to get through the Legislature. Clibborn had been working on the issue for some two years but said it became clear over the past week that the Senate was not willing to work with her plan, which would have included a 10 1/2-cent increase in the gas tax.
“It’s time to let go,” said Clibborn, D-Mercer Island. “I think I did everything I could.”
After the governor’s office told her they were still working on the package, Clibborn later backed off that comment, saying she considered the measure on life support but would continue working on it.
Business leaders had supported the package, saying it was necessary because the state’s highways and bridges can’t wait any longer for improvements. Jocelyn McCabe, a spokeswoman for the Association of Washington Business, said the group wasn’t ready to close the door on the bill and was continuing to work with lawmakers in both chambers.
Gov. Jay Inslee had hoped the package would pass through the Senate by Sunday night.
Senate Transportation Committee co-Chair Curtis King, R-Yakima, said his caucus has no appetite for the transportation package and he didn’t anticipate a vote this weekend, regardless of the governor’s statement.
“He can hope all he wants,” King said. “There’s lots of reasons why we shouldn’t go this way.”
Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said the House and Senate were just too far apart on what a package should look like. Everyone wants to make improvements in that the transportation system, but lawmakers couldn’t find a joint way forward, he said.
A version of the proposal approved by the state House included $3.2 billion for several state road projects, including State Route 167, Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass and a replacement bridge over the Columbia River into Oregon.
That Columbia River bridge was widely opposed by Republicans in the state Senate, who said the current proposal for the bridge was too low and should not include light rail transit. They also expressed concern about the costs.
Supporters, meanwhile, said now was the time to approve that bridge. Oregon and Washington are each responsible for $450 million of the replacement span, with the federal government and toll revenue paying the rest. Oregon has already approved its portion, and officials have expressed concern that federal money provided for the project will fall through if Washington state fails to act.
Clibborn said lawmakers could try and return to the issue next year, but she suspect it may have to wait until 2015. In the meantime, she said motorists concerned about traffic and road conditions may want to put pressure on lawmakers and ask for change.
June 28, 2013 at 10:57 PM
The Washington state Legislature has passed a measure suspending cost-of-living raises for teachers over the next two years.
The Senate passed the measure on a 25-23 vote Friday night, a day after the House passed it. The measure now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
The cost-of-living adjustments were spelled out in Initiative 732, which has been suspended several times. But they would be suspended through mid-2015 for school district employees, community and technical college academic employees and classified employees at technical colleges, saving the state nearly $330 million. The measure also suspends inflation adjustments to bonuses issued to board-certified teachers during that same timeframe.
The measure is needed to implement a newly agreed-upon budget deal between the House and Senate.
November 1, 2012 at 11:19 AM
The Associated Press
Former Republican Gov. Dan Evans says he supports gay marriage in Washington state.
In a statement provided Thursday by Washington United for Marriage, Evans said that approving Referendum 74 “just seems right and reflects the fundamental value of fairness that we treasure here in Washington.”
Evans was governor of Washington for three terms, serving from 1965 until 1977. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1983 until 1989.
R-74 asks voters to either approve or reject the law allowing gay marriage that was passed earlier this year by the Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire. The law has not yet taken effect, and remains on hold pending Tuesday’s election.
Evans is a highly regarded statesman of the state GOP and beloved figure in Washington politics.
October 23, 2012 at 9:48 AM
About 1,400 voters in Tacoma, Parkland and Spanaway received misprinted ballots.
They’re in the new 10th Congressional District but the misprinted ballots had candidates from another district.
Pierce County says it’s mailing those voters corrected ballots with a letter explain the problem and new voting instructions.
The county says it will take steps to make sure only the corrected ballots are tabulated.
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