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Eye On Olympia

Archive for February 2004

Know your neighbors…

A new statewide sex offender database was launched Thursday. By typing in your address, the database will create a map with dots showing the nearest registered Level II and Level III sex offenders. Clicking on the dots reveals a photo and information on the offender.

The website is: here.

About that elephant in your back yard…

If you’re thinking of getting a pet rhino, do it soon. A bill to ban private ownership of a long list of wild animals is stampeding through the Legislature.

Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1151 would ban possession of “potentially dangerous wild animals,” including:

-lions, tigers and bears,
-wolves, hyenas and rhinoceroses,
-lemurs, monkeys, chimps and gorillas,
-jaguars, leopards, cheetahs and captive-bred cougars,
-crocodiles, alligators or elephants,
-or any venomous snake, including rattlesnakes, cobras, mambas, African twig snakes, coral snakes and something called a boomslang.

Zoos, wildlife refuges, research facilities and the like are exempt.

But what to do if you already have a gator, rattler, boomslang or chimp? Well, the good news is that the law — which still must pass the Senate — would grandfather in any animals currently owned, allowing them to be kept until 2009. After that, local animal control officials decide whether to allow continued possession of the beast.

Violators would be subject to fines of up to $2,000 per animal per day.

Losing the environmental vote…

“It like we have a choice of draining the swamp and killing the crocodiles, or adding water and feeding the crocodiles. And unfortunately, I think we did the latter.”

Rep. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, apparently referring to a House proposal to use state money to help insure against medical malpractice lawsuits.

And McCaslin was there…

A hundred and fifty years ago Friday, about two dozen members of the territorial legislature convened for their first session. They met on the second floor of a general store near Olympia’s waterfront, and lawmakers arrived on foot, by horseback, and in canoes. Their average age was 29, and the big issues of the day were roads and mail service.

“Their total budget was a couple of thousand dollars, just like today,” joked Sen. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley. (The state’s two-year general fund budget is more than $23 billion.)

Good news for WSU…

“We’re really just paralyzed in Spokane until we move ahead with that. The classrooms are full.”

WSU’s Larry Ganders, on why the state should pony up $31 million for a new Riverpoint Academic Center at WSU’s Riverpoint campus in downtown Spokane. House and Senate budget writers have said they’ll provide the cash.

Dueling for dollars…

Monday will be money day in Olympia, as the House and Senate both unveil their budget proposals within an hour of each other. Stay tuned…

The Fourth Estate tax…

“If there was ever a case of us shooting ourselves in the foot — giving the newspapers a tax break — this is it.”

Rep. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, on a bill to grant a sales-tax break for computers used in printing and publishing.

Got a lockout?

The annual Dairy Day in Olympia, coming on the heels of the always-popular Potato Day, rarely causes much of a stir. After all, what’s objectionable about touting your industry by handing out free ice cream bars?

Some lawmakers were annoyed this year, however, when the annual dairy giveaway included free coupons for Darigold sour cream, cottage cheese, and butter. Darigold is the same company that last year locked out 200 Seattle-area workers in a contract dispute — something that hardly endears the company and its products to labor-friendly Democrats in the Legislature. Several took up a collection for the coupons — which they donated to the locked-out workers’ families.

Letting fly…

Patriotism trumps homeowners’ association rules, under a bill passed unanimously this week by the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 2934 says that homeowners’ associations may not ban a resident from flying the U.S. flag. It allows for “reasonable rules” for the placement of the flag and size of the flagpole.

“Everyone should be free to fly the flag every day,” said bill sponsor Deb. Wallace, D-Vancouver.

When will that be?

“When I am an old lady, I will still wear purple.”

-Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, wearing one of the trademark purple raincoats of the Service Employees’ International Union, during a soggy rally Monday in Olympia. Kline was referring to the title of a popular women’s book about growing old with exuberance.

Giving it the old college try…

When a Vancouver senator pushed through a bill to study adding a new state college in the area, a couple of Spokane lawmakers saw their chance.

Brand-new Sen. Brian Murray and Senate Minority Leader Lisa Brown teamed up Friday to try to amend the bill, by simply adding the words “…and Spokane.”

That would have required the study to consider education needs in the Lilac City — potentially valuable information when lobbying for expanding the fledgling University District in downtown Spokane.

The amendment was shouted down.

“I had no idea I was creating such a tempest in a teapot,” said Sen. Don Carlson, R-Vancouver.

McCaslin II:

“Deccio, you still awake?”

Sen. Bob McCaslin, to fellow Sen. Alex Deccio, R-Yakima, during a lengthy McCaslin speech.

The `People’s House’ is starting to look like The Big House….

Two years after the House of Representatives moved into a temporary building, security has reached such a pitch that on Tuesday, there were no less than five plainclothes sergeants-at-arms standing on the floor of the House, scanning the room and whispering into their radio earpieces, as lawmakers debated bills on the house floor.

Forgotten but not gone…

Every four years or so, the state Department of Revenue auctions off the contents of safe-deposit boxes abandoned at banks. (Under state law, the contents of the boxes are turned over to the state after five years of unpaid rent.)

The next such auction will be Feb. 25 and 26 in Kenmore, WA. Among the abandoned items:

-a cribbage board made of narwhal tusk,
-a photographic negative of Mt. St. Helens erupting,
-a wooden gunpowder container,
-Nazi daggers,
-a Richard Petty autograph,
-gold nuggets, ingots and dust,
-dozens of pocketwatches,
-an Edgar Martinez rookie card,
-Revolutionary War military orders,
-and a 1916 Norwegian passport.

Proceeds of the sales are held in an account for the rightful owner.

Echoes of a lost homeland…

A cramped Senate hearing room was witness to an odd scene Wednesday: old men in makeshift military uniforms, representing a nation that ceased to exist nearly 30 years ago.

Girls in flowing Vietnamese ao dai dresses handed lawmakers yellow flags with three red stripes — the flag of South Vietnam, which fell to North Vietnamese troops in 1975.

State lawmakers are considering a joint memorial — a largely symbolic letter to Congress — asking that the old flag be considered the official flag of the Vietnamese-American community in Washington state. Seven cities in Washington have passed similar measures.

And don’t touch that muffler, kid…

Prompted by a man whose ex-wife was schlepping their five-year-old son around on her motorcycle, Sen. Debbie Regala wants the state to require that kids be six years old — or able to rest their feet on a bike’s passenger foot pegs — before riding on the back of a motorcycle.

The state already has similar laws for kids riding in cars. If they’re younger than 6 — or less than 60 pounds — the child must be strapped into a car seat or booster seat.

“I shudder to think of a child who can’t even reach the foot pegs riding on the back of a motorcycle,” said Regala, D-Tacoma, “yet this is currently legal in Washington.”

A hearing’s slated for 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Olympia.

When everything’s a rice cake…

If you ever want to know where to eat in south Puget Sound, state Rep. Dennis Flannigan is your guy.
Craving Norwegian crepes, slathered in butter? Try the Sons of Norway lodge in Tacoma. Great burgers? A hamburger stand in remote Elbe. Be it German desserts, malts, or corn cakes, collards and catfish, Flannigan’s got a place.
“I see every meal as an adventure opportunity,’’ the Tacoma Democrat said Monday.
Those opportunities are about to dry up. If all goes as planned, Flannigan will go to the doctor Feb. 9 for the first of five weeks of radiation to treat a cancerous lump in his cheek.
The radiation is expected to kill the lymphoma and his salivary glands. It’s also quite likely, other patients have told Flannigan, that he’ll lose his ability to taste.
“In a short period of time, things will taste like cardboard,’’ he said.
So he’s giving his sense of taste a workout in what could be its final week: a comfort-food pot roast, Thai food in Federal Way, Italian food in Tacoma, and two-buck-a-slice pizza at Olympia’s Old School Pizzeria.
His final great meal, he said, will probably be a variation on Thanksgiving: turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, and roasted corn on the cob.
“That’ll probably be the one I go out on,’’ he said.
Flannigan, who beat an initial round of the same cancer 15 years ago, isn’t the sort to waste time brooding over the loss of his sense of taste, if in fact he does lose it. He said he’s hoping to lose 30 pounds from lack of interest in eating, which would put him at 170 pounds.
“I like the adventure of it, too,’’ he said. “What do I do when food’s just a meal, just fuel? What do I savor?’’
He jokes that he’ll have to come up with something else to talk about at parties.
“I may have to have substance to talk about,’’ he chuckled.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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