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Spin Control

Archive for June 2014

Hobby Lobby to fuel RPA debate next year?

OLYMPIA – Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows some companies to refuse birth control coverage for employees is likely to add fuel to both sides of the Washington legislative controversies over the Reproductive Parity Act.

It probably won’t affect two other controversial cases that involve businesses and claims of religious freedom.

A priority for Gov. Jay Inslee and most legislative Democrats for the last two years, the Reproductive Parity Act would require any insurance plan that offers maternity care to also cover abortions. It easily passed the state House of Representatives this year and last, but died in the Senate where the ruling coalition is predominantly Republicans.

“I’m hoping that what this will do is urge the Legislature to pick (the legislation) up and pass it next year,” Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, prime sponsor of the Reproductive Parity Act, said of the court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said he doubted that the court’s decision will change any minds on either side of the issue, but it could cause both sides to step up efforts for or against the proposal: “Both sides have their share of passionate people.”

The Hobby Lobby involves forms of contraception that some people consider a form of abortion. The Reproductive Parity Act covers actual abortions, Padden said. “The position against the RPA is even stronger than the argument against abortion in the Hobby Lobby case,” he said.

Opponents of abortion will definitely use Monday’s decision to fight the proposal, Hobbs predicted, and supporters should take it as a sign that a woman’s right to decide to have an abortion is not “all worked out” even though that Supreme Court case is 40 years old. “I think this is a fight that will continue on a state-by-state basis.”

Hobbs said he will likely sponsor  a new version of the Reproductive Parity Act in the next session. Padden, who would lead a committee with jurisdiction over the proposal unless Democrats regain the majority, said he can’t decide at this point whether he’d schedule a hearing. “But I’m not a big fan of mandates,” he added.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the Hobby Lobby decision should have no impact on a court case in which some pharmacists don’t want to stock the morning-after birth control pill or a separate case in which a florist refused to serve a same-sex couple’s wedding. Religious freedom is cited in both cases, but they involve state laws, not the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act involved in Monday’s ruling, he said.

The court also said the Hobby Lobby decision doesn’t create a religious exception to anti-discrimination laws, Ferguson said. The state argues the florist case involves discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is illegal under Washington law. 

For comments about the Hobby Lobby decision from Northwest politicians, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

WA population up 1.25 percent

OLYMPIA — Washington population grew faster than any time since 2008, reaching an estimated 6,968,200, the state's numbers crunchers reported today.

The Office of Financial Management said the state gained 85,800 new residents between 2013 and 2014, with the majority of the increase coming from people moving into the state, not from Washington residents have little Washington residents.

Spokane County was the fifth fastest-growing county, behind Clark, King, Pierce and Snohomish, and has one of the fastest-growing unincorporated areas. But the city of Spokane was not among the 10 fastest-growing cities, which were Seattle, Bothell, Vancouver, Bellevue, Pasco, Redmond, Renton, Auburn, Kennewick and Sammamish. 

Spokane remains the state's second largest city, with about 11,400 people more than Tacoma.

To slice and dice the numbers, click on the document below.


Documents:

Today’s link: WWI started 100 years ago this weekend

A century ago today, a Serbvian national shot Austria-Hungary's Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, and the first domino fell in what would eventually become World War I. Although this being the first such conflict, they didn't know to call it that. They generally called it the Great War.

When the United States entered in 1917, some called it the War To End All Wars. Not too much foresight in that, either. The assassination was the banner headline the next morning in The Spokesman-Review (click here to see that day's paper).

Reading that day's account, you might notice several things. First, the wire accounts Anglicized the Arch Duke's name to Francis Ferdinand. Second, the opening sentence refers to Sophie as “his morganatic wife” and later in the story she's sometimes called “the princess.” But her actual name never shows up, even though a portion of the story is devoted to a series of tragedies that befell various members of the royal family and ends with an explanation of how the Arch Duke told his dad the Emperor they were getting married.

Morganatic, by the way, means she couldn't ever be called empress, and their kids could never take the throne, because she didn't come from as high of nobility as Franz Ferdinand. As it turned out, royalty in most of Europe was on the way out starting on June 28, 1914, but nobody knew it yet.

The story of the assassination shares the front page with the latest account of the miners' riots in Butte and a large picture of former President Theodore Roosevelt's son's wedding. The Spokesman-Review of that era was always a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt.

Add 2 to Nov. ballot

OLYMPIA — Washington residents will have two advisory votes on taxes to cast in the November election. One on a change to agricultural tax preferences affecting marijuana growers, the other involving excise tax on leasehold property on tribal land.

You say that sounds like something we pay the Legislature to take care of?

It is. This year the Legislature said the tax preferences that farmers get for other crops shouldn't apply to pot. With SB 6505 it exempted marijuana producers even if they are licensed by the state for the legal recreational market. It also decided with HB 1287 that while a private leasehold interest in tax-exempt property owned by a tribe is exempt from property tax it is subject to an excise tax, and some tax-exempt property tribes own can be subject to payment in lieu of taxes to the county it's in. 

But Initiative 960, which passed in 2007, requires any increase in taxes be submitted to voters as an advisory measure. These will be the eighth and ninth such measures placed on the ballot since 960 passed. Some got voter approval, others didn't.

None of those rejections caused the Legislature — where some members regularly wax eloquent about the “will of the voters” — to come back the next year and change the law.

 

Today’s fun video: Congressional photobomb on FOX

Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, can't stay out of someone else's interview on FOX news, and FOX can't resist multiple replays.

Marijuana food truck detouring to Black Diamond

A “food truck” that plans to offer marijuana laced offerings as part of a plan to sell a “foodie” kitchen gadget has rerouted.

Instead of attending a public market just outside of Everett this weekend, it will make a stop at a marijuana farmer's market in Black Diamond, the Everett Herald reports.

As Spin Control previously noted, state officials had raised questions this week about the legality of the truck, which is outside the state's recreational marijuana statutes but plans to sell pot-infused sandwich offerings under the medical marijuana provisions to customers who have a valid doctor's recommendation..

 

McMorris Rodgers won’t debate before primary

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said she wants to debate her opponent in this year's election — but only after the primary.

The five-term incumbent Republican responded to a challenge from independent Dave Wilson, who wanted to debate five times before the primary and five times after it. She has a less ambitious counter.

“I was planning on writing to discuss debates as soon as we are certain who the candidates will be in November,” she said in a letter to Wilson that welcomed him to the campaign. “I am committed to doing all I can for Eastern Washington during July's busy congressional schedule but am eager for debates in the fall.”

Wilson said he was disappointed at her refusal to debate before the primary, and found her response “a little trite.” But he added: “I was surprised I heard anything at all from her.”

McMorris Rodgers has never failed to debate an opponent in a congressional campaign, although she has had a few dust-ups over scheduling in recent elections . . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Supreme Court hears $15 minimum wage case

OLYMPIA — The state's first $15 minimum wage should extend to SeaTac Airport because the higher wages don't  interfere with airport operations, attorneys for the City of Seatac told the state Supreme Court today. 

But an attorney for the airport argued the city has no authority to enforce the law approved at the ballot box by Seatac residents because the airport is governed by a separate entity, the Port of Seattle. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Today’s fun video2: Congressional leaders sing ‘We Shall Overcome’

 

If there is video of Congressional leaders looking more uncomfortable than this, we'd be shocked.

Whether it's because they don't want to be  holding hands or they don't know the words to 'We Shall Overcome or they can't carry a tune in a bucket, it's hard to say. But we're guessing whatever staff member set this thing up yesterday is looking for a new job today. 

Marijuana food truck testing the waters in Everett

A food truck with marijuana-infused offerings plans to be open this weekend at an Everett public market, although state officials say it would be operating in a “gray area” of Washington law. (Update: The truck cancelled plans Thursday for Everett and is instead planning to stop at a marijuana market in Black Diamond.) 

The SAMICH truck, a reconfigured school bus decked out with kitchen equipment and operated by the Magical Butter company, will be selling food items that contain as much as 100 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The food is a way of demonstrating a machine that helps infuse marijuana into various food products.

But there's a catch. Not everyone can place an order for their sandwiches that offer nut butter and jelly, Vietnamese pork or turkey and stuffing. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

First pot stores: Spokane 3, Seattle 1?

OLYMPIA — Spokane will likely have three legal pot stores up and running in early July when Washington's first retail marijuana outlets open, which will be three times as many as Seattle.

Potential licensees who won a lottery for the chance to open a store in the state's largest city are lagging behind other locales in completing the steps required to open, and only one is ready for a final inspection, the Liquor Control Board was told today.  Three licensees in Spokane are ready for their final inspections, four in Tacoma, three in Vancouver and three in Bellingham, according to information provided the board. Two other stores in King County — one store in Bellevue and another in Des Moines — are also on the list of 20 stores expected to be among the first licenses issued on July 7, as are applicants in smaller towns like Union Gap and Benge.

Those stores would be able to open as early as 8 a.m. the next day.  More stores will get final inspections, be issued licenses and be allowed to open later in July.

Washington will almost certainly have stores spread around more of the state than Colorado did when its first stores opened at the beginning of the year and the stores were concentrated in Denver, Chris Marr, a board commissioner, said. 

The higher costs of opening a store in Seattle may be making it harder for potential store owners to find a location and financing to get the required equipment needed to pass inspection, Marr said. The liquor board received 198 applications for the 21 licenses set aside for Seattle, and it's possible some applicants weren't prepared when they were drawn.

For more pot news from the Liquor Control Board meeting, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Today’s fun video: Hillary, Biden on how poor they are

 

Jon Stewart on The Daily Show makes fun of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden talking about how poor they are as they appeal to blue collar voters.

No ‘edibles’ when first pot stores open

OLYMPIA — Washington's first recreational marijuana stores are expected to open on July 8, a day after the first licenses will be announced, state officials said today. But those stores will not be carrying “edible” marijuana products because new rules are coming on labeling to discourage marketing to children. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.
  

First primary ballots mailed out

Washington's primary election began for real this weekend as all counties met Saturday's deadline to send ballots to military voters and overseas residents.

Under the state's all-mail voting system and federal voter laws, ballots that go the farthest — to troops in the field and others overseas — have to go out first so they have plenty of time to get there and get back. They get mailed out 45 days before an election, and must be back by 13 days after the primary. 

Lori Augino, state director of elections, said 64,621 ballots were mailed out.

Today’s fun video: Oliver on Dr. Oz

 

After Congress smacked around Dr. Oz, John Oliver offers some thoughts on the need to better police dietary supplements.

Sunday Spin2: Courting contempt

OLYMPIA — The state Supreme Court’s order for the Legislature to show up at the Temple of Justice on the first week of September and explain why it shouldn’t be held in contempt is prompting some interesting speculation around the Capitol Campus.

For example, the court’s order actually is for “the state” to show up, but it would be difficult to fit the 6 million-plus residents into the smallish courtroom, and it’s clear from the rest of the order that the court is really just peeved at the Legislature. All 147 legislators wouldn’t fit in the courtroom, and even if they could, there’s no way the court would want to hear from each one. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

State Dems, in Spokane, call for rise in minimum wage

The Washington State Democratic Party on Saturday approved an 18-point party platform that will help guide the party for the next two years.

The party met for its biennial convention at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in downtown Spokane.

Jaxon Ravens, the state party chairman, said delegates approved all 18 planks proposed by the party’s platform committee “with minor amendments.”

Among items in the platform is a call to raise the minimum wage. But it isn’t as specific as what was adopted by the Seattle City Council earlier this month: a phased-in rise of the minimum wage to $15.

The state party’s minimum wage position is: “We support an incremental increase in the state and federal minimum wage, with a living wage as the goal.”

Sunday Spin: What’s the infrequency, Kenneth?

OLYMPIA – The biggest challenge for this period between sessions – or at least the biggest one after convincing the state Supreme Court not to witch slap the Legislature for ignoring a fairly plain order on school funding – may be to define the word “infrequent.”

As in “legislators may accept complimentary legislative business meals on infrequent occasions”, which is what their Ethics Code says.

The problem is somewhat akin to the medieval debate of how many angels can fit on the point of a needle. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Seattle Times takes a stand… on Redskins

The Seattle Times will no longer use the name Redskins in referring to the NFL team in that other Washington.

Well, except for the headline on the column by Don Shelton, which says “Why we're banning Redskins at the Seattle Times.”

Shelton gives an extensive — some might say exhaustive — line of reasoning, quoting some Native American sources on how the turn is as offensive as “the N word” and explaining that the ban doesn't extend to all teams named Tribe or Braves or for Native American tribes or artifacts (like Totems or Tomahawks, which are used by Sammamish and Marysville-Pilchuck, respectively.)

So the ban will apply to the pro team in the nation's capital. And then Wellpinit High School team, which is, interestingly enough, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Wellpinit has looked at changing the name from time to time, but the community is split and so far they haven't reached a consensus to make the change. 

But according to the Times, they're in the wrong, so don't look for the team name in their prep coverage. 

Not that the Times does a lot of prep coverage in Eastern Washington. But if they do, no Redskins usage.

GOP group backs four in Central WA race

The group whose goal it is to elect Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives has weighed in on Central Washington's 4th Congressional District race.

But Republicans looking for some help in narrowing the field of eight GOP candidates down to one might not find it too helpful. The National Republican Congressional Committee has put four of those candidates “on the radar.”

That term apparently is the first step to getting the coveted title of “Young Gun”, which means some moneyed members of the caucus like a candidate's prospects enough to start big money flowing. Young Gun was a term coined by a group that included soon-to-be-ex Rep. Eric Cantor, so it may have lost a bit of luster. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Economic forecast: An extra $395 million coming in?

OLYMPIA – Washington's projected tax revenues look slightly better than they did four months ago, but aren't expected to add enough money to cover all of the state's expected expenses next year.

State Economist Steve Lerch delivered a forecast with both good and bad news:

— More people have jobs, nationally and statewide, but full-time jobs are decreasing while part-time jobs are increasing.
— Consumer confidence is up, but not back to pre-recession levels.
— Manufacturing levels are expanding in Washington faster than the rest of the country but oil prices are up a bit and could go much higher with increased turmoil in the Middle East.

In terms of dollars, “the good news is pretty small,” Lerch said.

When the pluses and minuses were plugged into economic models, he said the state's general fund – the pot of money that covers the most programs and salaries not connected with transportation or construction – should be about $157 million higher than previously forecast by the end of next June. It could be about $238 million higher the 2015-17 budget cycle that Lerch and his office forecast in February.

Considering the state's projected budget is about $16.5 billion for the next 12 months and about $36 billion for the two-years after that, those are relatively small bumps.

Meanwhile, the state could be looking at more students in public schools, a court order to spend an extra $4.5 billion over the next five years on education, more inmates in prisons, higher pension costs and the possibility of the first cost-of-living adjustment for state employees in years.

David Schumacher, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered state agencies to submit plans for budget reductions of up to 15 percent. Inslee isn’t expecting to cut 15 percent across the board, but looking at options as a way to determine “where the pain will be the least,” Schumacher said.

Today’s fun video: Maddow on Idaho GOP convention

 

Normally, one wouldn't expect for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to mention the Idaho Republican convention, let alone do a whole segment on it. It would be sort of like expecting Fox's Sean Hannity to do a segment on Seattle's $15 minimum wage.

But Maddow seemed to delight in the Idaho GOP's meltdown in Moscow, possibly in part because it gave her a chance to play snippets from the Idaho gubernatorial debate which remains a favorite on the Internet.

It's probably not because she enjoys showing off The Spokesman-Review logo and headlines. But hey, it's a free plug and we'll take it.

U.S. Senate confirms Mendoza as federal judge

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Salvador Mendoza Jr. for the federal district court in Eastern Washington.

Mendoza is currently a Benton and Franklin County Superior Court judge. The son of migrant farm workers, he will be the first Latino federal judge for the Washington's Eastern District. 

The  nomination first survived a filibuster attempt when the Senate voted 55-37 to cut off debate through a cloture vote. He was then approved on a 92-4 vote, with Washington Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voting yes after both spoke strongly in favor of his appointment. Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch provided half of the no votes against the appointment.

Union leaders worry about new fish consumption standards

OLYMPIA – Washington state is rushing toward water quality standards that will be too strict and cost jobs without being backed up by good science, leaders of unions with workers in aerospace, timber and paper industries claimed Monday.

But a spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee said the union leaders are jumping the gun because no decision has been made. What many call the fish consumption standards are still under review, he said. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Coaches top state salary list

OLYMPIA – The official report of state employee salaries for 2013 is out and as usual the highest paid people on the list are athletic coaches at the major universities.

Former University of Washington football head coach Steve Sarkisian topped the list for the fourth straight year, pulling down 2.6 million in 2013 before leaving in December to return to the University of Southern California.

Second on the list is Washington State University football head coach Mike Leach at $2.3 million, followed by UW head basketball coach Lorenzo Romar at $1.9 million, WSU head basket coach Ken Bone at $870,143 and UW assistant football coach Justin Wilcox at $799,259.

Athletic salaries are paid from ticket sales and other income, not from the state's general fund.  But the state reports salaries for all state employees, regardless of the source of money.

David Woodward, UW associate vice president, is at $692,323 and WSU Elson Floyd is at $662,560.

The two universities dominate the first 100 or so names with other administrators and professors who do research and get much of their total pay through grants and other stipends. The only non-university employee in the first 50 names is Gary Bruebaker, the chief investment officer for the State Investment Board, at $452,085.

To check out a searchable database of employee salaries and agency payrolls designed by The Spokesman-Review, click here. 

According to the salary data released Monday, the state had about 6,750 employees last year who earn $100,000 or more. The highest-paid elected officials are the nine members of the state Supreme Court, who each receive $165,316 and are tied for 1,280th on the list. As for the state's chief executive officer, Jay Inslee, he has 2,370 names ahead of him and his salary of $157,646. 

The salary data includes annual pay to more than 329,500 people who have worked full- or part-time for some state agency or public college or university since 2010. A searchable database on The Spokesman-Review’s website lists the salary totals for agencies or colleges and allows readers to search for salaries for individual employees by name.

 

Sunday Spin2: Tread lightly on tragedy during campaigns

Washington residents can expect the volume to go way up on the gun control issue with dueling initiatives on the November ballot. I-591 wouldn’t allow any changes in background checks unless they are national; I-594 would extend background checks in Washington to private sales.

The recent shooting at Seattle Pacific University predictably generated discussion on the issue. But it also raised an interesting political question: Is it OK for a campaign to piggy-back on a tragic event? And if so, how far can you go?

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: WA No. 1 for ‘making a living’

OLYMPIA – Workers of Washington rejoice. You’re in the best state in which to make a living.

At least that’s the view of MoneyRates.com, an online business magazine that put the Evergreen State at the top of its annual rankings for the second year in a row. We finished second the two years before that, so all you workers feeling ill-used can either start looking for a better job or rejoice that you aren’t worse off in some second-rate state.

No doubt that when Al Gore invented the Internet, it was with the goal of giving everyone the ability to find a list of the best, worst, smartest, stupidest or weirdest things on almost any topic. But such rankings are of limited news value. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Today’s fun audio: Clinton dodges Terry Gross on gay marriage

 

NPR's Terry Gross asks Hillary Clinton several times about any political calculus on her change on same-sex marriage and Clinton dodges it, several times.

Court to Legislature: Sanctions possible for lousy school plan

OLYMPIA – A recent report on how the state will spend more money on education is so inadequate the state Supreme Court threatened Thursday to hold the Legislature in contempt.

The state’s highest court said the Legislature’s latest update on how the state can meet its constitutional duty of properly paying for public schools does not follow the instructions the justices issued in January. It ordered a hearing in September and told the Legislature to send someone ready to explain why the court shouldn’t levy a fine or take over the budget process until education is properly funded.

The order, technically known as a Show Cause Order, could ignite the simmering constitutional dispute between the Legislature and the court. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Inslee pushes for speedier report on oil transport

Citing new safety and environmental risks as more crude oil moves by train through Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday directed state agencies to evaluate the safety of oil transport in the state.

The governor’s directive comes as Senate panel is preparing for a hearing in Spokane on oil transportation safety and railroad companies are filing information with the state on the amount of oil being shipped through Washington.

The directive would effectively speed up the timeline for a study already being conducted by state agencies, Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said. The Department of Ecology is leading a study to analyze safety and environmental impacts of oil transport, after receiving $300,000 from the Legislature earlier this year.

The directive asks Ecology and other agencies to look at the risk of accidents along rail lines, assess the relative risk of Bakken crude oil compared to other forms of crude oil, and begin developing oil-spill response plans for affected counties. Ecology will submit budget recommendations and initial findings by Oct. 1.

The governor’s order re-emphasizes the issue, Ecology spokeswoman Lisa Copeland said. “Nothing in the directive is new for us,” she said.

The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee will discuss possible legislation on oil transportation safety Monday morning at a hearing in the Spokane City Council Chambers. Democrats and Republicans introduced different plans for monitoring oil shipments and protecting communities in the last session but couldn’t reconcile them.

Monday’s hearing involves a Senate Republican proposal complete studies and develop emergency response plans but Democrats say it doesn’t give cities and towns enough information about the amount of shipments coming through their community.  

Last week the federal government ordered railroad companies to provide states with information about their crude oil shipments. BNSF Railway, Tacoma Rail and the Portland and Western submitted their information; Union Pacific said it’s shipments don’t meet the reporting threshold.

Information in those reports is not immediately available to the public. The railroads can go to court in an effort to block its release under the state’s Public Records Act.

PCB-conscious Spokane ends use of yellow agenda paper

Changes already are being made under Spokane City Hall's new focus on going PCB free.

Copies of the weekly advance City Council agenda, which traditionally have been printed on yellow sheets of paper to differentiate them from the current week's agenda, now are being printed on basic white paper. Council agendas for the current week are still being printed on blue sheets of paper.

The switch came after June 2 testimony about studies showing that yellow paints and dyes still contain trace PCBs, a cancer-causing compound that was banned by the United States in 1979. It still is found as a manufacturing byproduct, however, particularly in certain types of products and at higher allowable levels than what environmental regulators are mandating be cleaned out of the Spokane River.

Industrial and municipal waste accounts for only about 43 percent of the PCBs in the river. One of the potential sources of the other 57 percent of the toxic compound is from residual PCBs in everyday products that can get washed into river during rain storms and with melting snow.

Today’s fun video: Stewart on the Cantor loss

 

Lots of people had fun with the surprise result in the Virginia primary election. The Daily Show, however, had the best graphic.

McMorris Rodgers challengers find hope in Cantor loss

The day after the House’s No. 2 Republican fell to a primary challenger, Eastern Washington congressional candidates were hoping Wednesday for a boost to knock off the No. 4 Republican.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces three challengers in the August primary – one Republican, one Democrat and one independent. Each thought the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor validated some aspects of their races, which appear to be long-shot bids against the five-term incumbent.

All three will run low-budget, populist races against the House Republican Conference chairwoman, hoping to finish at least second in the primary and then defeat her in a head-to-head contest in November. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Today’s video: Native American ad against Redskins name

 

 

This commercial, which is pretty powerful, is running in some of the nation's biggest cities during the NBA Finals.

One wonders what the reaction would be if it ran nationwide during NFL preseason games…

Nethercutt: Cantor loss is warning to GOP leaders

Former Rep. George Nethercutt, who pulled off his own dramatic unlikely Congressional victory 20 years ago unseating Speaker of the House Tom Foley, of Spokane, said Tuesday he could see parallels between his experience and that of David Brat.

“It’s a message, as I look at it, to all members of the House: You’ve got to pay attention to what people at home are saying,” Nethercutt said.

Calling Majority Leader Eric Cantor a “rising young star” and “a bright young guy,” Nethercutt said it’s possible the Virginia Republican got too wrapped up in his leadership role and lost sight of his constituents’ wishes. He said he doesn’t want to see the same happen to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who currently heads the House Republican Caucus and is a fixture at press events with Cantor and other GOP leaders. Her office did not respond to a request for comment on Cantor’s loss late Tuesday.

McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, is the fourth-highest ranking member of Congress, behind the Speaker of the House, Majority Leader and Majority Whip.

“Anybody from Eastern Washington needs to pay attention to the voters at home,” Nethercutt said.

Inslee heading to UK, Finland

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee and folks from the state Department of Commerce are heading to jolly old England next month where Washington has a booth at the Farnborough Air Show.

The United Kingdom and France sort of alternate the big European air shows, holding it in Farnborough one year and Paris the next. State officials like to put in an appearance to support Washington's big aerospace industry, in hopes of making it even bigger. Inslee will be there for opening day, July 14, to throw out the first pitch, cut the ribbon or what ever one does to open an air show exhibit.

Not to waste a trip “across the pond” on a single stop, Inslee will make a stop in Helsinki, Finland to meet with the Nordic Council of Ministers and visit Nokia, which had its mobile devices and services businesses bought up by Microsoft this spring. He'll also tour a renewable diesel refinery and meet with companies that might be interested in investing in Washington.

Full details of the trip, contained in the press release from Inslee's office, can be found inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: Inslee to pass on Hoopfest ‘14

OLYMPIA – For the second year in a row, Gov. Jay Inslee won’t be able to make good on a post-election promise to come to Spokane to play in Hoopfest.

Inslee, an admitted hoop-aholic, played in the 2012 tournament during the gubernatorial campaign, and made what seemed like an easy-to-keep promise on Inauguration Day to return with a team as governor. He repeated the promise a few weeks later to the Greater Spokane Inc. lobbying contingent, saying he planned to double the number of victories from the previous year. (Not a high goal, considering they won one.)

But the Legislature went into double overtime in 2013, and didn’t have a budget by the last weekend of June, which meant state government faced a partial shutdown on July 1. So Inslee had to stick close to the Capitol for budget talks rather than hitting the half-court.

This year the Legislature finished on time and the living is easy in Olympia. During the mile walk for his annual pre-fire season test, he talked of plans to participate in the 100-mile Wenatchee Apple Century Bike Ride.

Got a team ready for Hoopfest this year, he was asked.

“I have to work that weekend,” he said, shaking his head. He’s out of state at a Democratic Governors Association meeting that weekend, his staff said. 

Lege committees hit Spokane June 17

The Senate Energy and Environment Committee comes east for a June 17 hearing on possible legislation to control oil trains. Leaders of the House and Senate Joint Transportation Committees will talk about freight and regional transportation priorities the same day, then do two-day bus tour through Eastern Washington to talk about rail projects.

The oil train hearing starts at 10:30 a.m. at Spokane City Hall and the transportation hearing at 1 p.m. at the Convention Center. The bus tour’s tentative schedule starts bright and early June 18, and includes Spokane and Spokane Valley, the international airport, Airway Heights, Rosalia, Pullman, Colfax and Ritzville.

Legislators are fond of saying they like to get out, meet with the people and hear what they have to say. It’s possible that after the bus tour, members of the Transpo Committee will be looking more kindly on proposals to allow remote testimony for hearings via teleconferencing, videoconferencing or the Internet.

Not only would it save Eastern Washington constituents from having to make that long trip through a mountain pass during the winter to give them a piece of their minds during the session, it could cut down on some odysseys between sessions.

Of course they’d miss some of the perks of being out and about in person, like the tours of grain elevators planned for the Transpo bus tours.

Fund-raiser out of bounds, or just out of boundaries?

Central Washington's 4th Congressional District race may be so crowded that it can't quite hold all the candidate events for the campaign.

Republican Janea Holmquist has a fund-raiser in Ellensburg this weekend, which is in Kittitas County. The flyer for the event says she's “worked hard for Kittitas County and it won't stop when she is in Congress.”

Seems strange, one critic e-mailed, considering that Kittitas County isn't in the 4th District. Used to be, but that changed in 2012 when the redistricting commission redrew the lines. But the county is in Holmquist's legislative district. 

Campaign manager Joyce Mathews said some longtime constituents from her time in the Legislature wanted to throw a fund-raiser to show their support. As for the suggestion that she'd be a “strong voice for Kittitas County”, as the flyer also promises, Mathews said Holmquist is familiar with Central Washington issues, which are the same in Kittitas as in neighboring counties in the 4th District. 

“She knows the votes aren't coming out if Kittitas,” Mathews said. “We clearly know where the boundaries are.” 

Holmquist is one of 12 candidates vying for Rep. Doc Hastings' old seat — eight Republicans, two Democrats and two independents.

AG: Same-sex spouses to be covered in business health plans

OLYMPIA — Businesses that offer health coverage to opposite-sex spouses must also offer it to same-sex spouses, state officials said today. Insurance plans must offer equal coverage to all spouses.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sharon Ortiz issued an open letter today to the state's employers, insurance companies and benefit plan administrators that state law requires same-sex and opposite-sex spouses to be offered equal health coverage. Otherwise they run afoul of the state laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The letter follows on the heels of an agreement the attorney general's office reached with O'Reilly Automotive Inc. this spring to extent health benefits to same-sex couples after the state received a consumer protection complaint. It's not possible to send the letter to every employer in the state, Ferguson said, so the three held a joint press conference and sent the information to various e-mail lists.

The state banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2006, and voters approved a law legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012.

Ferguson said his office had only one other complaint of a company not providing health care benefits to same-sex partners and “can't take a guess” on how many others might be violating the law. But if O'Reilly, a large national company with what he termed sophisticated legal advice could be out of compliance, others could, too. He urged anyone facing discrimination on benefits for spouses to contact his office. 

Kreidler said letters were going out to the 48 insurance companies operating in the state, although his office has not received any complaints about carriers failing to offer benefits to same-sex couples. While it's possible an employer could drop benefits for opposite-sex spouses to comply with the law, the financial impact of covering the additional spouses is relatively minor, he added.

Practicing for fire season

Inslee deploys a fire shelter during a practice session near the Capitol.

OLYMPIA — With wildfire season approaching, Gov. Jay Inslee used an annual exercise to push for more controls on carbon emissions, saying forest fires will get worse in Washington if the nation doesn't cut greenhouse gases.

The state is facing what Inslee called “the three horses of the fire Apocalypse” – drought, heat and beetle infestation killing trees – and doubled its wildfire fighting budget this year. The number of wildfires in Washington could quadruple by 2030 if steps aren’t taken to reduce carbon pollution and slow climate change, he said. . . 

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Today’s fun video: Slamming liberals for fighting science

 

The Daily Show points out that it's not just conservatives who fight science. Liberals can be virulently anti-science, too, just not on the same topics.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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