September 9, 2013 at 4:34 PM
Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked a U.S. Senate committee for a key bit of help in creating a tightly regulated legal pot market.
In written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a Tuesday hearing, Inslee and Ferguson stressed that without changes at the federal level, Washington state’s legal pot merchants will operate on a cash-only basis.
That will make it more difficult for the state to audit their books and track their income, the duo said, and make legal businesses a target for theft and burglary, “thereby creating additional public safety challenges.”
As it now stands, federally regulated banks are wary of providing financial services to legal pot merchants, Inslee and Ferguson said, because federal law can impose penalties on banks that accept money they know to come from drug sales – even if those sales are legal under state law.
Inslee and Ferguson suggested two fixes: the federal Department of Justice could advise banking regulators that it isn’t going to prosecute banks for handling legal pot money; or, Congress could also pass a law allowing banks to accepts deposits from a legal pot business.
The rest of their four-page testimony details the many ways in which Washington state’s legal pot rules are consistent with the DOJ’s eight priorities for legal pot in Washington and Colorado — from preventing youth access to legal pot, to preventing Washington pot from leaking into other states.
Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. The committee chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT., will begin by questioning U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole. It would be no surprise for the banking issue to come up in that portion of the hearing. Then, the hearing on “Conflicts in State and Federal Marijuana Laws” will address a panel of three: King County Sheriff John Urquhart; Jack Finlaw, the top lawyer for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; and Kevin Sabet, the director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization that’s opposed to legalization.
January 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Jay Inslee officially became Washington state’s 23rd governor at a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday morning inside the state Capitol building.
Breaking with tradition, the new governor took the oath of office in the rotunda of the Capitol, addressing supporters and onlookers in a brief speech afterwards.
“Let’s go build a working Washington,” Inslee said to loud applause, before hugging his wife, Trudi.
The oath was administered by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.
Beforehand, well-known environmental leader Denis Hayes offered a few remarks.
“Jay didn’t run for office because he really, really, really wanted to be governor,” said Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. “He ran for office ,because he really, really, really wanted to get some important stuff done.”
Hayes, who is credited with founding Earth Day, said that “more than any other president or governor” in history, Inslee has a mandate to address climate change.
About 250 people watched the proceedings, sitting on the steps to the legislative chambers or jostling for prime viewpoints along the rails of the surrounding balconies. A Bainbridge Island High School music band blared ceremonial music as Inslee exited.
Inslee was scheduled address a joint session of the Legislature at 11:30 a.m.
The Democrat enters office two days into a 105-day legislative session in which lawmakers will have to close a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall and respond to a state Supreme Court order to increase education funding. Inslee has pledged to do all of that without raising taxes, although fellow Democrats are skeptical that it can be done.
Inslee, a 61-year-old longtime congressman born in Seattle, defeated Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in the November election. He succeeds Chris Gregoire, a Democrat who gave her final State of the State address Tuesday.
The new governor will celebrate his inauguration with a basketball game Wednesday afternoon and a formal inaugural ball Wednesday evening. Some 5,000 people are expected to attend the ball.
January 15, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Note: This post has been updated with a response from Dan Sytman, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
Outgoing Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, who joined a lawsuit against President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, appeared to show support for the law during Gov. Chris Gregoire’s farewell speech Tuesday.
McKenna’s gesture was small — he stood up, along with a group of mostly Democrats, to applaud a reference to the law, while most GOP members stayed seated.
Dan Sytman, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said later that McKenna’s applause “was not a statement of one kind or another.”
But the move did not go unnoticed by reporters and others eager for intrigue in a mostly uneventful State of the State address.
The gesture came after Gregoire noted that Washington was “among the first in the nation to implement the Affordable Care Act” and then asked lawmakers to “embrace this historic opportunity to give every Washingtonian the health-care coverage they deserve” — a reference to the optional Medicaid expansion included in Obamacare — because “every Washingtonian deserves an open door to the doctor when they need one.”
The Legislature is currently deciding whether to accept the Medicaid expansion, which the federal government has promised to pay for in its first years but may cost the state in the future. Democrats generally support the idea while many Republicans say it may be too costly.
During an unsuccessful run for governor last year, McKenna did not say whether or not he supports the expansion.
He framed his decision to join the lawsuit brought by other attorneys general as related to a provision of the law that requires all citizens to buy health insurance. But the suit would have overturned the entire law.
At another notable moment Tuesday, McKenna sat silently with other Republicans as Democrats stood to cheer a reference from Gregoire about the state’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage.
Before Gregoire spoke, McKenna was one of three departing state officials to give farewell talks of their own.
“It has been an extraordinary journey,” McKenna said in the short speech. “Thank you all very much.”
December 4, 2012 at 1:57 PM
Thirteen candidates have applied to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Metropolitan King County Council, the county announced Tuesday.
The applicants, all North King County residents, are hoping to succeed District 1′s Bob Ferguson, who will be sworn in as the state’s attorney general Jan. 16. An advisory committee appointed by Executive Dow Constantine will narrow the candidate pool, and the council ultimately will fill the spot from a group of three finalists he recommends.
The deadline for applicants was 5 p.m. Monday.
In alphabetical order, they are: David Baker, mayor of Kenmore; Dennis Behrend, Kenmore bond agent and teacher; Tiffany Bond, former Woodinville parks and recreation commissioner; Rod Dembowski, Seattle attorney; Chris Eggen, Shoreline City Councilman, Ken Goodwin, Woodinville Water District Commissioner; Will Hall, Shoreline City Councilman; Bob Ransom, former Shoreline City Councilman, Cindy Ryu, Shoreline state representative; Keith Scully, Shoreline planning commissioner; Sarajane Siegfriedt, Seattle party activist; Chuck Sloane, chairman of board of Municipal League of King County; and Naomi Wilson, grants specialist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Most of the candidates are Democrats, as District 1 is traditionally Democratic.
The King County Democrats’ executive board chose Dembowski as its top choice at a meeting last week. The group identified Hall and Ryu and its second and third choices, respectively.
Whoever is ultimately appointed by the council will serve until a general election next November.
Ferguson beat fellow councilman Reagan Dunn for state attorney general last month.
November 8, 2012 at 11:24 AM
With Bob Ferguson’s victory in the attorney general’s race, county officials now turn to the process of appointing his successor on the Metropolitan King County Council.
That successor would serve next year, and the November 2013 election would determine the winner of a full four-year term for Ferguson’s District 1 seat.
District 1 includes northeast Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell and parts of Woodinville and Kirkland. Its population is 214,883, according to the King County Districting Committee.
Once election results are certified, County Executive Dow Constantine will convene a committee representing the district. That group will interview candidates. “The committee’s job will be to vet the candidates who apply for the vacancy, and pass along all qualified candidates to me. I will transmit three names to the County Council for confirmation,” Constantine said in a statement.
Then things could get interesting. With Ferguson gone from the nine-member council, the remaining members on the officially non-partisan council will be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
Candidates already are jostling for position, which now pays $135,525. They include, in alphabetical order:
Dave Baker, Kenmore mayor and owner of a video inspection system company.
Rod Dembowski, Seattle lawyer and member of the King County Districting Committee.
Will Hall, Shoreline City Council member and Snohomish County Council legislative analyst.
Cindy Ryu, District 32 state Representative and former Shoreline mayor.
Keith Scully, a lawyer and Shoreline Planning Commission member.
All the candidates say they’re now Democrats, like Ferguson, except Baker. Baker ran for state senate in 2010 as a Republican. But he said he now considers himself an independent and would become a Democrat because the district has been traditionally Democratic.
November 8, 2012 at 10:20 AM
Reagan Dunn conceded this morning in the state attorney general’s race.
Dunn said he had a “great conversation” with winner Bob Ferguson in which congratulated his fellow Metropolitan King County Council member. Ferguson leads with 53 percent of the vote counted through Wednesday.
Here’s his statement:
“This morning I congratulated Washington’s next attorney general, Bob Ferguson, on his victory in Tuesday’s election. It was a hard-fought campaign, and I am proud of the work we did. It was a true honor to have had the opportunity to meet so many Washingtonians and visit so many communities across our state.
“I believe firmly that there is a time for campaigning and a time for governing. Our nation and our country have many pressing problems that demand we all reach for solutions, and I intend to lead in that effort here in King County. I believe Washington will be well-served by its next attorney general. I will miss Bob’s service on the King County Council and look forward to working with him as he heads to Olympia.
“More importantly, Paige and I are so excited to be only a few short days away from welcoming the newest addition to the Dunn family. I want to thank all my friends, supporters, family and colleagues for their well wishes.”
The Dunns are expecting a baby girl on Tuesday.
November 7, 2012 at 7:31 PM
The Associated Press has called Washington state’s closely-watched attorney general race for Bob Ferguson, the Democrat.
Ferguson, a Metropolitan King County Council member, was beating fellow Councilmember Reagan Dunn, a Republican, by 114,429 votes in updated vote totals released Wednesday evening.
Ferguson had 52.8 percent to Dunn’s 47.2 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s office. That’s nearly the lead Ferguson held on election night.
The attorney general represents the state in legal matters and provides a platform for policy making, often through lawsuits in conjunction with other states to protect consumers. The job is also considered a stepping stone to higher office.
November 7, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Republican candidate for attorney general Reagan Dunn had quite an election night.
His wife, Paige Green Dunn, due to deliver a baby girl any day now, grabbed him while he was doing a TV interview at the Bellevue Hyatt gathering for Republicans Tuesday night.
“She was having contractions,” Reagan Dunn said. “If she had more, we would’ve gone to the hospital.”
Instead, the contractions subsided. His wife is fine, he said, and resting at home. She is scheduled for a C-section on Nov. 13.
Dave Ammons, the longtime dean of the state capitol press corps and now spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed, said he couldn’t recall a candidate or candidate’s spouse who went into labor on election night.
Reagan Dunn was trailing Bob Ferguson, his opponent in the attorney general’s race, by six percentage points after Tuesday’s incomplete results.
He said victory seems unlikely, but he wants to wait to see what Wednesday afternoon’s vote counts reveal.
“I don’t think it’s likely we’ll be able to pull it out,” he said. “But I owe it to wait for one more batch of returns before I make any kind of phone call” about conceding to Ferguson.
November 6, 2012 at 8:39 PM
In the state’s most expensive and perhaps ugliest attorney general’s race, Democrat Bob Ferguson held a sizeable lead over Republican Reagan Dunn with 1.4 million votes cast.
Ferguson was leading 54 percent to Dunn’s 46 percent in initial returns.
The contest featured two rising political stars and showcased the importance of the open seat they’re seeking; outside partisan groups spent more than Ferguson and Dunn combined trying to influence the election.
Both Ferguson and Dunn are members of the Metropolitan King County Council, where they sit next to each other in chambers.
They even claim to like one another — at least that’s what they said at the start of a campaign later rife with nasty, personal attacks.
The race to succeed Rob McKenna and become the state’s 18th attorney general got off to a pugnacious start with its first televised debate in June. Dunn went on the offensive in his introductory statement, stressing his crime-fighting experience as a federal prosecutor, a credential Ferguson lacks.
Ferguson countered by pointing out the attorney general’s job is focused mostly on civil, not criminal law. He noted he had more experience than Dunn in civil law.
In the August primary, Ferguson won 52 percent of the vote and called the result a “dream start” for his campaign. It soon turned into something else.
November 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Almost show time: Election Day, at long last, is Tuesday. Get ready for a fair amount of grousing about slow ballot counting; ballots late, lost or missing; and everything else you can blame on various elections departments. Here’s a doozy. Seattle Weekly wonders aloud if the state’s all mail ballot system increases domestic violence. The argument seems a little far-fetched, but worth reading.
Heavy-duty voter contact: How many times did your phone ring this past weekend with robo-calls and live person calls about close races in our state? We received four. This seems to be a most scientific election with a heavy get-out-the-vote effort on both sides. I have a voter from my house who has moved to California and established residency there. She votes there. But she probably forgot to tell King County Elections she no longer lives here. The phone not only rang for this college student with an outstanding ballot, there also was a visit from the Approve Referendum 74 same-sex marriage crowd looking for this “missing” voter.
Romney and Sandy: Weekend Politico has a piece about a Republican Plan B. If Republican Mitt Romney loses Tuesday, the GOP plans to blame that blasted hurricane/superstorm.
Secretary of State’s fun facts: The numbers in Tuesday election. Also known as, hope you have the patience to wait until Friday to know who/what won some of the closest contests. A few numbers for your perusal:
There are 3,910,190 active registered voters in Washington.
Over 178,000 registered or reactivated since the August primary.
Approximately 60,000 military and overseas voters.
Ballot return rate about 38 percent as of Thursday, Nov. 1.
May indicate an overall turnout above the 81 percent prediction from the Secretary of State. (He was a little over-optimistic in the primary election.)
Here’s the most/least fun fact of all: Election night returns will reflect about 60 percent of all ballots eventually counted in the election. About 90 percent of ballots will be counted by Friday.
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