Eye On Olympia archive for Feb. 2006

TUESDAY, FEB. 28, 2006


Deal on drunk-driving...

After years of considering a two-strikes, three-strikes and four-strikes law that would allow a felony charge for chronic drunk- or drugged drivers, lawmakers have settled on five strikes. It was a balance, proponents of the compromise bill say, between public safety and the reality that...

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FRIDAY, FEB. 24, 2006

Breakthrough on WSU building...

Breaking a legislative impasse, lawmakers have agreed to authorize $10 million toward Washington State University's top priority this session: a $63 million life sciences lab in Pullman.Until today, it looked like the university might get nothing this year -- and not even be allowed to...

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Is it censorship or is it just civility?

House Republicans are steamed that Democrats, citing House civility rules, have ordered them not to use certain phrases in press releases about the Democrat-written budget.Among the banned phrases, according to Rep. John Serben: "shell game", "lack of honesty with taxpayers" and "disingenuous.""This is crap," said...

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THURSDAY, FEB. 23, 2006

Raining on the Emerald City's parade...

NBA commissioner David Stern, other basketball big names and a long procession of arts advocates urged state lawmakers to approve a sales-tax package to pay for a new or renovated Key Arena. But not everyone was a fan Senate Bill 6849:"Members of the committee, my...

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Patient gouging...

Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, wants to force hospitals to give discounts to low- and middle-income people who have no health insurance."Most people aren't even aware that hospitals typically charge uninsured patients two to three times the actual cost of delivering services, then turn around and...

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WEDNESDAY, FEB. 22, 2006

Giving it the old college try...

Rep. Don Cox tried Wednesday morning to add an amendment to the House construction budget that would allow Washington State University to use interest off its land income (like timber sales) to pay for a new $63 million life sciences lab in Pullman.Without that key...

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TUESDAY, FEB. 21, 2006

MONDAY, FEB. 20, 2006

Unemployment insurance...

Two years after passing a business-backed tightening of the unemployment system at 4 in the morning, labor groups are pushing lawmakers to undo some of those changes. Their main focus: permanently increasing benefits for seasonal workers, who rely on unemployment to survive."In 2003, we made...

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FRIDAY, FEB. 17, 2006

An amendment re: gender amendments...

Shortly before the budget bill passed, Republicans tacked on Amendment 152, which bans the state from paying for sex change operations."I think we certainly have better uses of our DSHS medical dollars than performing sex changes," said Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, who sponsored the amendment...

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More troopers on the roads...

“Your chances of being killed by a drunk driver are far higher than your chances of being killed by a terrorist on a boat.”-- Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, complaining about a federal mandate that forced the state to take 18 state troopers off the roads...

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THURSDAY, FEB. 16, 2006

Columbia River bill signed into law...

Flanked by lawmakers from Eastern and Central Washington, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday signed into law a bill that promises to do what people east of the Cascades have been trying to do for decades: find more water."Never did I dream that we would be...

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WEDNESDAY, FEB. 15, 2006

Strangest budget item of them all...

Anyone who's watched the House of Representatives voting on a bill has heard the off-to-the-horse-races clamor of the automated bell that sounds whenever House lawmakers vote. Perhaps intended to wake the sleeping, the bill prods lawmakers to press the green or red buttons with which...

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Extra cash -- and a warning...

Washington's top economic weather forecaster, Chang Mook Sohn, slightly upped the size of the state's unexpected tax windfall. By the end of the fiscal year, he said, Washington will have $107 million more than it expected. That's good news for the budget writers. The Senate...

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TUESDAY, FEB. 14, 2006

Columbia River bill headed to governor's desk...

House Bill 2860 (see below) was rushed through the state Senate Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the House overwhelmingly approved it. The Senate followed suit, with a unanimous "yes" vote -- and then a rare round of applause for the bill's sponsors.Some environmentalists, however,...

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MONDAY, FEB. 13, 2006

House approves Columbia River Initiative bill...

The House of Representatives late Monday night approved House Bill 2860, which sets the stage for a $200 million program to conserve and store massive amounts of Columbia and Snake river basin water. (Above, prime sponsor Rep. Bill Grant, D-Walla Walla, and other lawmakers watch...

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FRIDAY, FEB. 10, 2006

Be careful what you wish for, kid...

Last year, a Seattle little boy named Alex Jonlin, wanting to give his peers a voice in state government, gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition to create a youth board to advise state lawmakers. He lobbied for his bill, which local Sen. Ken Jacobsen,...

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THURSDAY, FEB. 9, 2006

Waiting for the Supremes...

For weeks, reporters, lawyers, gay and lesbian people, church groups and state lawmakers have made a Wednesday-evening ritual of checking the state Supreme Court's website. That's the time when the court posts the names of the cases that it rules on each Thursday morning.The cases...

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No comment...

Spokesman-Review humor columnist Doug Clark -- who has long played in a local rock band -- composed a song about Washington legislators' efforts to pass a law banning, yes, bestiality.It's posted here.That's all we'll say.

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WEDNESDAY, FEB. 8, 2006

Ideas to save your money...

Each year, Secretary of State Sam Reed hands out awards to state workers who come up with ways to make government more efficient or cheaper.Among this year's crop:-Kennewick State trooper David Wilbur: change the oil in pursuit vehicles every 5,000 miles instead of every 3,000....

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TUESDAY, FEB. 7, 2006

Assisted-death initiative...

Gov. Chris Gregoire was asked Tuesday whether she'd support former Gov. Booth Gardner's push for a citizen's initiative to allow doctors to help terminally-ill patients end their lives."I'm not prepared to answer that question today, but I do believe that it's a question that should...

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A McCaslin moment...

"Senator Weinstein, I know you're a freshman, but please try to pay attention when there's a senior citizen making a speech on the floor. It could be my last. (Looks around Senate.) I know you're all hoping it is." --Sen. Bob McCaslin, 79.

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Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.



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