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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: attorney general

Attorney General’s office challenges settlement that allowed Jan. 1 Avista rate hike…

The state attorney general’s office says that a Dec. 29 legal settlement between the power utility Avista, state regulators and others contains critical flaws that cost ratepayers millions of dollars more than should be allowed.

The AG’s Public Counsel Section is appealing the deal, today filing a petition for review in superior court in Olympia. If the appeal is successful, a judge could order refunds or order the case back to state regulators for changes.

The deal allowed a 9.1 percent hike in the company’s revenues from electrical rates and 2.4 more from natural gas, according to the Attorney General’s office. Tat’s an additional $37.3 million for electricity and $4.8 million more for gas.

The Public Counsel section had recommended that rates be allowed to increase no more than $24.8 million for electricity and $3.4 million for gas.

The state’s argument:

-that regulators failed to subtract the cost of advertising, charitable donations and some other company expenses from the rate hike,
-that current ratepayers are wrongly being asked to pay $39 million that Avista paid to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe as compensation for the utility’s longtime use of the lake water for power.
-that Avista was allowed to bypass a normal 10-month review process for new rates.

From the notebook…

“At this very moment, we’re not losing anybody, because where would you go?”
          -Attorney General Rob McKenna, telling a state salary commission that he’d like to pay his lawyers more, but that the recession has curtailed turnover for now.

“I’ve never been flipped off more times in my life.”
          -new state Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, recalling what it was like to stand at an intersection waving signs during the campaign.

Attorney General: “Airborne” tablets don’t prevent colds…

Washington and Idaho are part of a $7 million, 32-state settlement with the makers of Airborne, a popular effervescent tablet invented by a California second-grade teacher tired of picking up colds in the classroom. The lawsuit said that the tablet’s touted cold-fighting properties “weren’t substantiated by reliable and competent scientific evidence.” The company has settled two other lawsuits totalling $30 million over similar claims. “Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold,” assistant attorney general Bob Lipson said in a statement announcing the settlement this week. “Not chicken soup. Not orange juice. Not fizzy tablets.” The ingredient list posted on Airborne’s website suggests that the pills are essentially a multivitamin combined with a proprietary herbal blend invented by that former teacher, Victoria Knight McDowell. The pills contain vitamins A, C and E, along with zinc, selenium, manganese, magnesium and amino acids. The herbal blend includes things like ginger, echinacea and forsythia. The lawsuit also alleged that the company failed to warn consumers about potential health risks to pregnant women and some other users from an earlier form of the pills, which contained 5,000 units of vitamin A. That’s been reduced to 2,000 units. Airborne Health Inc. says that the settlement will have no effect on the product, since the cold-remedy labeling had already been changed. The company says the key ingredients in Airborne “have been shown to help support the immune system.” “Airborne continues to be the number-one-selling product of its kind in America,” the company said, “and we appreciate the loyalty of our customers.”

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

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