Region | page 58


Efforts address backlog of rape kits 70 

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers are considering ways to clear a statewide backlog of nearly 6,000 untested rape kits containing DNA evidence that could put repeat sexual offenders behind bars or exonerate people who were wrongly convicted. Local law enforcement agencies typically send those kits to one of several crime labs run by the Washington State Patrol, where scientists can extract DNA from skin, hair and bodily fluids found on a victim’s body. But those labs are overwhelmed, so local agencies must prioritize the evidence they send in for testing.

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Senate OKs budget plan calling for another class-size vote 

OLYMPIA – Washington voters could be asked this fall whether they really want smaller class sizes in all public schools like they approved in November, or if they’d settle for just dropping numbers in kindergarten and the primary grades. In an effort to construct a budget that doesn’t require a tax increase, majority Republicans in the Senate proposed shrinking the number of students in kindergarten through third grade to 17, as an initiative approved last year requires, but leaving larger numbers in fourth grade and up. It would require fewer teachers, principals and support staff than would be needed to comply with I-1351 – and save the state billions of dollars, supporters said.

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“I just love these crazy things,” Ruthie Taylor said about her animal hat as she walked through the snow Monday in Post Falls. (Kathy Plonka)

Surprising showers set daily snow record 

Those hoping for a balmy spring break in Spokane awoke to an icy surprise Monday – a layer of wet snow covering lawns, trees, shrubs and April’s earliest flowers. Falling temperatures caused a rain-snow mix to turn to all snow in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene around 7 a.m.

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Water supply forecast gloomier

The water supply forecast for the Yakima River basin got worse in March. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Monday that holders of junior water rights will likely get just 60 percent of their normal water.

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$85,000 raised for Washington florist who refused gay couple 132 

RICHLAND – A florist in Washington fined $1,000 for refusing to sell a same-sex couple wedding flowers and also facing a consumer-protection lawsuit filed by the state has netted more than $85,000 in a crowdfunding campaign. The Seattle Times reported that nearly half of the money on the page set up in late February for Barronelle Stutzman, 70, came in the past several days.

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Hikers flock to snowless Washington trails

TACOMA – Federal land managers have been caught unprepared for the rush of visitors after a low winter snowpack cleared Washington’s mountain roads and trails weeks earlier than usual. The News Tribune reported that national parks and forests in Western Washington typically bring on hundreds of seasonal employees – many of them college students – to handle summer crowds. But this year the seasonal crews are already needed, and many are still in school.

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A Washington state ferry passes through a channel in the San Juan Islands and in view of Mount Baker on March 26 near Friday Harbor, Wash. Washington State Ferries now uses a reservation system to manage congestion on vessels between Anacortes and the San Juans. (Associated Press)

Largely smooth sailing for San Juan ferry reservations

ANACORTES, Wash. – Washington State Ferries recently began a reservation system to manage congestion on vessels between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands – a popular tourist destination. While there have been some complaints, the Skagit Valley Herald reported local residents say the three-tier reservation system that was implemented Dec. 2 is better than waiting for hours to get on a boat.

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Colfax woman killed in wreck near Pullman 

A Colfax woman died Saturday night in a three-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 195 north of Pullman, the Washington State Patrol said.Dina Williamson, 28, died when her 2003 Ford Focus, which was northbound, crossed the centerline about 8:45 p.m. and ...

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Canadian telecom companies set example for a la carte TV fees 

Here in the Land of the Free, the telecom industry has fought aggressively for years to make sure people keep getting hundreds of pay-TV channels they don’t want, rather than just the ones they watch. Up in Canada, telecom companies were told by government regulators the other day that they’ll have to unbundle pay-TV packages by next year and switch to a la carte channels.

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Early apple bloom could beat 1934 record 

WENATCHEE – Warm winter and spring temperatures are causing local fruit trees to bloom earlier than they have in years. Apple trees in Wenatchee are on schedule to possibly break the record set for early bloom in 1934. An unusually early bloom period may make it difficult to find a tree with blossoms on it during the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival. The festival runs April 23 through May 3.

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Mother who killed sons in custody 13 

A woman on lifetime probation for throwing her two young sons off the Pasco side of the cable bridge in 1979 is back in custody for refusing to take her mental health medication. Tanya Adams, 61, was found in February living in squalid conditions. Clothes and trash were strewn around her Westport, Washington, home and all over the yard. She had neglected her personal hygiene, according to a state Department of Corrections report.

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Hump Day Wild Card — 2.10.16

I'm finally starting to tune in to the carnage, er, campaigns of presidential candidates on both sides of the political divide. I knew it would happen sooner or later. I ...

Transgender bathroom bill fails in Senate

OLYMPIA – Transgender people can continue to use restrooms and other public facilities based on the gender with which they identify. The Senate narrowly rejected an effort to repeal a ...



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