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Spin Control

State voter roll hits new high

OLYMPIA — Washington has a record number of voters on its rolls as the Aug. 5 primary approaches.

The Secretary of State's office says it has 3,922,537 active registrations, which is more than previous highs before the 2012 and 2013 elections.

The number of voters ebbs and flows a bit over the election cycles, increasing in a presidential year then dropping back as the rolls are updated and people who have died are removed and those who haven't voted for years are placed on inactive status.

Ballots for the primary go out next week.

Inslee offers up clean water plan

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee proposed new standards for cleaning up Washington’s lakes, rivers and the Puget Sound, immediately drawing criticism from some business and labor groups that they will be too expensive and from some environmentalists that they are too lax.

The plan announced Wednesday, which is still in an early draft stage, would require stricter standards for 70 percent of the chemicals regulated by law and “no backsliding” on the others, Inslee said: “If we do this, we will make our waters cleaner and safer and we will in fact reduce Washingtonians’ risk of having cancer.”

The new standards will be packaged with legislation Inslee will seek next year give more authority to the Department of Ecology and exceptions known as variances for some businesses that try to meet the new standards but can’t until technology improves or they find new materials that won’t bring toxic chemicals into their manufacturing processes.

Under orders from the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington has been trying for several years to upgrade its water quality standards that date to the 1970s.

The stricter limits proposed for toxic chemicals are set by a formula that includes a controversial “fish consumption standard” . . . 

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

New proposal on water standards coming today

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is set to release a proposal to change the state's water quality standards at noon today, and already both sides of the debate are warning that it could be bad, if not downright terrible.

The environmental group Earthjustice is saying the devil may be in the detail, with confusing numbers that make things look stricter but really aren't.

Mark Schoesler, the Senate Republican leader, is saying the new standards must balance cleaner water with family budgets and jobs.

At the heart of the new rules will be the “fish consumption standards”, which estimate how much fish, shellfish and other river-lake-seafood people eat. The current rules are set with a daily consumption rate of 6.5 grams, a little less than a quarter ounce or about what you'd find on one fancy canape if the chef isn't skimping too much on the good stuff. Put another way, that's about 7 ounces a month, or about the size of that pricey Copper River salmon fillet that cost you an arm and a leg at the restaurant last month.

Obviously, some people eat way more fish than that. But it also matters what kind of fish, and where it comes from. . . 

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

First legal pot buyer in WA was from…Kansas

The first legal pot store in Washington opened not in Seattle or Tacoma or Spokan, but in Bellingham this morning at 8 a.m.

First in line to buy some legal weed was Cale Holdsworth of Abilene, Kansas, Slog reports. Holdsworth was almost immediately mobbed by a gaggle of reporters there to record the moment for history. 

Spokane's first pot store, Spokane Green Leaf, is scheduled to open at 2 p.m. First customers began lining up last night.

Supply problems limit pot store openings

Three stores in north Spokane are among the 25 applicants who will get the state’s first licenses to sell recreational marijuana, but only one will open Tuesday, the first day such sales will be legal.

The state Liquor Control Board this morning released its first list of store licenses it is issuing for communities around Washington. Three are in the Spokane area.

But only Spokane Green Leaf, 9107 N. Country Homes Blvd., expects to open, and one of the owners said they have not yet settled on a time. Because of supply problems that include a processor in the Seattle area cancelling over the weekend, it may be a “soft opening” on Tuesday, followed by a grand opening this weekend. . . 

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

Sunday Spin: Checking out claims on a dog day afternoon

OLYMPIA – In these dog days of summer, things that would not get a second-look the rest of the year are tested for news viability under much lower July vacation standards in an effort to fill the paper.

Any other time, a press release from one candidate complaining that his opponent was lying about his stance on an issue would likely go straight to the delete file. Lying in campaigns is, after all, a time-honored political tradition constitutionally protected by the state Supreme Court.

But Democrat Rich Cowan’s complaint that Republican state Sen. Mike Baumgartner was lying about Cowan’s stance on a state income tax came with an interesting wager: If Baumgartner could prove Cowan supported a state income tax, he could plant one of his campaign signs in Cowan’s yard. . .

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

Go forth this Fourth and take the trivia quiz

So, you think you’re a good patriot. The flag pin on your lapel says “Made in the USA”. You sing “The Star Spangled Banner” before baseball games without looking at the words on the Jumbotron. You chanted USA during the World Cup even though you don’t understand soccer.

On July 4th, we all bleed red, white and blue. But before heading off for hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks, try your hand at our annual Independence Day Trivia quiz. It has 13 questions, one for each rebel colony. They start easy, and get a little tougher:

1. We celebrate July 4th as Independence Day because that’s the day
A. The first shots in the American Revolution were fired
B. The Declaration of Independence was approved
C. The British surrendered at Yorktown
D. King George signed a treaty granting the colonies independence.

2. The American flag you put out this morning has
A. More red stripes than white stripes
B. More white stripes than red stripes
C. An equal number of red and white stripes

3. Where was the Continental Congress meeting when it adopted the Declaration of Independence?
A. Boston
B. New York
C. Philadelphia
D. Richmond

4. Who reportedly said “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”?
A. Thomas Paine
B. Patrick Henry
C. Nathan Hale
D. John Paul Jones

5. Which of the following signed the Declaration of Independence and became president?
A. George Washington
B. John Adams
C. James Madison
D. James Monroe|
E. All of the above

6. True or False: George Washington once served in the British army.

7. True or False: The American army invaded Canada during the Revolutionary War.

8. True or False: The vast majority of colonists supported independence from Great Britain in 1776.

9. True or False: Paul Revere warned residents from Lexington to Concord “the British are coming.”

10. After the Revolution, the United States was governed by the Articles of Confederation and a Congress consisting of a single chamber. That Congress didn’t have the power to do what?
A. Levy taxes
B. Declare war
C. Set up a postal service
D. Coin money

11. In the U.S. Constitution, how were slaves counted for determining the number of representatives each state sent to Congress?
A. The same as other people in the state, they just didn’t get to vote.
B. They were counted like Indians rather than “free men”.
C. Each slave was counted as three-fifths of a person.
D. They weren’t counted at all.

12. When the Constitution set up the House of Representatives to have members based on each state’s population, it gave each state the number of representatives it would have until a census could be taken. Which state got the most representatives?
A. Massachusetts
B. New York
C. Pennsylvania
D. Virginia

13. The design of the first American flag is the stuff of legends – much of them in dispute – but the arrangement of the stars in the current 50-star flag was designed by
A. Norman Rockwell
B. The winner of an American Legion contest
C. A New York advertising firm hired by the White House
D. A high school student for a class assignment

For the answers, click here to go inside the blog.

No Eyman initiative this year

OLYMPIA — Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman will not have a measure on this fall's ballot.

Eyman informed supporters today that he and his associates, Spokanites Mike and Jack Fagan, will not be turning in signatures for Initiative 1325, an effort to force the Legislature into sending voters a constitutional amendment for a super-majority to raise taxes. Today is the deadline for signatures to go to the Secretary of State's office.

In an e-mail, Eyman said the campaign worked really hard, but fell short because qualifying for the ballot is “brutally difficult”. It also promises to work harder next time. It also contends that just the threat of I-1325 “was incredibly effective in deterring the Legislature from raising taxes this year.”

Well, that and the fact the Legislature's two chambers were controlled by different parties that agreed on almost nothing when it comes to taxes.

 The e-mail, like most Eyman missives to supporters, doubles as an appeal for money. The post script that says “Please don't forget about us. Jack, Mike and I only earn what our supporters decide to give” and offers a link to the website where contributions can by made by PayPal or credit card.

I-1325 was one of six versions of the the supermajority proposal that Eyman and company filed this year. Longtime Eyman critic Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute predicted they wouldn't make the ballot about a week ago, noting the signature effort for I-1325 seemed non-existent and the campaign was not spending money for paid signature-gatherers. 

Have you seen a UFO?

If you live in Washington, odds are greater that you have seen a UFO than if you lived in, say, South Dakota. Or even Idaho.

That's according to data compiled by the National UFO Reporting Center, which has tracked sitings of unidentified flying objects for about 50 years, and looked at records going back even farther.

The website Vox.com took the data from NUFORC and cross-referenced it with the Centers for Disease Control data on heavy drinking, as a way to allow for the fact that some people who've had too much to drink might not be the most reliable sources of what they think they see.

Either way, Washington state has the most UFO sitings per capita. Idaho has fewer, which either says something about the residents of the Gem State, or the occupants of UFOs.

Or maybe Washington's tourism agency has a better intergalactic ad campaign than Idaho. 

Class-size initiative supporters say they have enough signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure that would reduce class sizes in public schools say they're confident the proposal will be on the November ballot after turning in more than 325,000 signatures this morning.

The Secretary of State's office will still have to check petitions before certifying Initiative 1351 for the ballot, but the cushion of signatures supporters collected means they will go through an expedited process unless major problems turn up.

I-1351 would require the Legislature to reduce class sizes across the state in Kindergarten through Grade 3, and other grades in “defined  high-poverty schools.”  It tells the Legislature to pay for the reductions, phased in over the next four years, but does not specify if that would be by raising taxes or cutting other programs or both.

UN offers map on marijuana use

The United Nations estimated marijuana use around the world, and the United States ranks pretty high.

Not as high per capita as Iceland, where about a fourth of the population regularly uses the drug. But Iceland's a small country, so that's only about 55,000 people, which is less than the number of people smoking pot in the Gorge during a summer of concerts.

The map is based on data from 2012, so it predates legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado. One other note: there's no data from big chunks of the world.

Today’s fun video: John Oliver on Hobby Lobby case

 

This actually aired the night before Monday's Supreme Court decision came down, but Oliver's rift on what corporations should have to do if they really want to be considered people may be even more on point now.

He'd probably get high fives from the minority and those in their corner, but not from the five who ruled for Hobby Lobby and those who think they're right on the mark. 

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.

 

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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.

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