What’s news in the Northwest today:
OLYMPIA — Under current state law, Washington couples wishing to have children via surrogacy are often forced to pay a woman under the table or go out of state to find one willing to carry their child. But a measure by Democrat Rep. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle would make compensated surrogacy legal. The bill establishes a host of protections to ensure contracts would be made with informed consent and safeguards for both the birthmother and intended parents. After contentious debate, the bill was approved in the House earlier this month. A committee hearing in the Senate is scheduled for today. Supporters say the bill would make starting a family legally easier for same-sex and heterosexual couples. But conservative faith-based groups say the measure would encourage the “sale of babies.” They also oppose adoption of children by gay couples.
Death penalty sought in Monroe prison guard death
EVERETT, Wash. — Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe says he’ll seek the death penalty if Byron Scherf is convicted of aggravated murder in the death of Monroe prison Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl. KOMO Radio reports Roe announced his decision this morning in Everett. Biendl was strangled Jan. 29 in the prison chapel. The 52-year-old Scherf is already serving a life sentence as a three-strikes convicted rapist.
Plan to allow school bus ads hits roadblock
BOISE — Legislation to allow school buses to sport corporate logos and other advertisements has hit a roadblock in the Idaho House. Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder’s proposal was pulled from the House floor Monday after several lawmakers debated against the measure, which aims to help Idaho’s cash-strapped school districts cover funding losses. Rep. Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise, argued that the purpose of school buses was to safely transport children, not provide a moving billboard in already congested traffic areas. Ellsworth said the move would be “akin to slapping bumper stickers on safety barrels on the freeway.” About half a dozen states already allow bus advertising. While supporters of the idea say it’s practically free money, opponents argue the tactic isn’t much different than dressing teachers in sponsor-emblazoned uniforms.
Lawmakers move to delay Idaho grocery tax expansion
BOISE — State lawmakers are taking up a measure to delay expansion of Idaho’s grocery tax credit for one year to help balance the state budget in 2012. The legislation was introduced today in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, where lawmakers voted to send the measure to the full House for debate. After a legislative compromise in 2008, the grocery tax credit is due to rise annually in $10 increments. The break for the lowest-income residents is now $70, for most others its $50. The legislation headed to the House would freeze expansion of the tax credit for one year to save about $15 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
Man sentenced for poaching two elk
BOISE — A former Meridian man has been fined more than $5,200 and had his hunting privileges suspended for 10 years for poaching two six-point elk near Idaho City in 2009. Gary Parrott, 37, was sentenced earlier this month on a felony for illegally killing the animals during a hunting trip in October with his seven-year-old son before the start of the elk hunting season. Idaho game wardens were tipped off by witnesses. During a subsequent search of his home, officials seized photos of the elk, antlers and meat matching the DNA from the carcasses. In a deal with prosecutors, Parrott pleaded guilty to a felony for illegally killing a trophy elk and had other lesser charges dismissed. Fourth District Judge Patrick Owens also ordered Parrott to serve five years on probation.
Complaint alleges sex abuse by Lacey priest
LACEY, Wash. – A Benedictine priest serving as a member of the monastic community at Saint Martin’s Abbey is under investigation for alleged sexual abuse of a minor while he served at Sacred Heart Parish in Lacey during the 1980s. The Rev. Edward Receconi, who served at Sacred Heart between 1984 and 1986, has been put on administrative leave by his superior at the abbey and can’t perform public ministry in the Archdiocese of Seattle while the allegation is under investigation, said Greg Magnoni, spokesman for the archdiocese. The archdiocese received word of the alleged sexual abuse late last week from an Olympia-area attorney and forwarded the complaint to the Lacey Police Department, Magnoni said. “When we get more information, we will begin our own investigation on the allegations of Father Edward,” he said, adding that the archdiocese has no details about the alleged abuse.
E. Idaho man arrested for firing at police sniper
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — An Idaho Falls man accused of shooting at a police sniper is being held in the county jail and facing multiple counts of aggravated assault. Bonneville County Sheriff officials say they arrested 48-year-old Brian Woloshyn Sunday after a standoff at his home in the foothills east of Idaho Falls. Police were initially called to the scene after reports from neighbors of gunshots being fired from Woloshyn’s house. After getting no response, the SWAT team and 20 other officers were deployed around the home and cleared the neighborhood. Sgt. Jeff Edwards says Woloshyn at one point fired shots at a sniper from a window of the home. Minutes later he began negotiating with police before agreeing to be taken into custody. Detectives say they found numerous shell casings inside the home.
Cleanup continues in wake of storm
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Mop-up moved into high gear in the East Old Evergreen Highway neighborhood Monday after a windstorm downed a number of trees Sunday. The quick windstorm brought gusts recorded at 55 mph across the Columbia River at Portland International Airport. Vancouver weather observer and Columbian weather blogger Steve Pierce said it was the highest wind recorded at PDX in more than 11 years. Although many trees were downed by the storm, other damage was limited.
Felida-area mudslides halt passenger trains
VANCOUVER, Wash. – More than 30 mudslides disrupted rail service and halted passenger trains between Vancouver and Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday and Monday. Repeated slides near Felida blocked one of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s two lines operating between Vancouver and Seattle, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said. The first slide occurred just south of Felida at 1 p.m. Sunday. A second slide occurred in the same area at 3 p.m. Monday. Crews cleared debris from the latest slide, which was 3 feet deep and covered 20 feet of track, within a couple hours, Melonas said. Freight traffic was moving, but BNSF placed a 48-hour moratorium on passenger operations through 6:58 p.m. Wednesday due to safety concerns. Amtrak is using alternative modes of transportation to move passengers along the Vancouver to Vancouver, B.C., corridor.
Gresham woman gets 20 years for child abuse death
PORTLAND, Ore. — A 24-year-old Gresham woman was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for her role in the death of her boyfriend’s 5-year-old daughter. Guadalupe Quintero pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to manslaughter and criminal mistreatment in the child abuse death last April. The girl had broken bones from head to toe and had been starved to 28 pounds. The Oregonian reports the boyfriend, 24-year-old Christopher Andrew Rosillo, is due in court this week on a murder by abuse charge. He and Quintero have two children together who did not appear to be abused. In 2006 Quintero was Miss Clackamas County.
Idaho man convicted for role in fatal crash
JEROME, Idaho — A 21-year-old Jerome man has been convicted of vehicular manslaughter for his role in a fatal crash in the fall of 2009. A Jerome County jury deliberated for nearly eight hours Friday before finding Irwin Adams guilty of the crime. Adams was charged with causing a one-vehicle crash that led to the death of his friend, 19-year-old Allen Larson, in October 2009. Adams was charged with the felony last May. The Times-News, citing police records, reports Adams was traveling twice the speed in a 50 mph zone on a road west of Jerome when the crash occurred. He is scheduled for sentencing May 2 in 5th District Court.