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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

Topic: Congress

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April 3, 2014 at 9:14 AM

4 members of delegation ask for tax extension for victims of mudslide

Four members of Washington’s congressional delegation representing Snohomish County on Thursday asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to extend the tax-filing deadline for victims of the mudslide in Oso. The IRS in the past has granted such reprieve for victims of natural disasters. Most recently, it gave a six-month extension for people affected by September 2013…

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Comments | More in General news, Government | Topics: Congress, delegation, extension

December 12, 2013 at 4:04 PM

No quick fix for pot-banking problem

A solution to the pot industry’s lack of banking services apparently wasn’t found at a closed-door meeting today of high-level regulators, law enforcement and industry representatives in Washington, D.C.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said he understood the urgency of the problem and the “serious challenges” facing an all-cash, legal pot industry that would exist in Colorado and Washington states without banking services.

But, responding to questions from U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, Lew wouldn’t commit to a timeline to fix the dilemma.

Banks now refuse to provide services to legal marijuana businesses because of the federal prohibition of all marijuana. Some in the pot industry hope regulators and law enforcement can come up with a solution short of a congressional change to drug laws, which is not expected any time soon.

Treasury spokesman Stephen Hudak confirmed a lengthy conversation took place today among members of the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group (BSAAG), a group of regulators, law officers and bankers that convenes at least twice a year to evaluate financial laws and rules.

But Hudak said he couldn’t comment on details of the meeting. Under federal law,  the meetings are closed to the media to assist the frank exchange of ideas, he said, between financial industries, law enforcement and regulators. The BSAAG routinely deals with issues such as the federal money-laundering law.

“These are complex issues that will require a lot of time and talent to work through,” Hudak said.

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Comments | More in Government, Politics | Topics: Congress, I-502, marijuana

December 11, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Pot business loan issue is on agenda as banking group meets

For the nascent marijuana industry in Colorado and Washington there is a lot riding on a meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C., of an obscure financial-watchdog group.

It’s been three months since the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would let voter-approved legal pot laws in those two pioneering states proceed. And once that signal was given, all key parties acknowledged the next big challenge: getting banking services to pot merchants so they won’t have to conduct all their business in cash.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, implored the Treasury and Justice departments to work together to solve the problem. Now, because pot remains federally illegal, banks are loathe to provide checking accounts and loans to pot merchants for fear of being prosecuted for money laundering.

On Thursday, the federal Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group (BSAAG) will hold its first meeting since the DOJ’s watershed announcement in late August. The meeting is a chance for industry, regulators and law enforcement to have a “frank discussion,” according to a Treasury Department spokesman.

The meeting itself will be closed to the press and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, said the spokesman.

But marijuana will be on the agenda, said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network,  in a speech last month to the American Bankers Association. Calvery said her regulators already had started conversations with the DOJ.

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Comments | More in Government, Politics | Topics: Congress, marijuana

April 6, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Election to replace Inslee may cost $1 million

By MIKE BAKER Associated Press OLYMPIA – The special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee may end up costing Washington state $1 million as state officials factor in the spending needed to educate voters about the confusing ballot situation, officials said Friday. Washington secretary of state spokesman Dave Ammons said the agency is asking lawmakers for…

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Comments | More in Government | Topics: Congress, cost, election