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In brief: House moves to tax self-rolled cigarettes

OLYMPIA – The Washington state House has passed a bill to make roll-your-own cigarette stores collect cigarette taxes.

The measure passed Tuesday by a 67-30 vote and goes to the Senate.

Dozens of roll-your-own cigarette stores have appeared recently in Washington, selling cigarettes at less than half the price offered by most retailers. The stores allow customers to use machines that roll loose tobacco into cigarettes that are then sold by the carton.

The state tax per cigarette stands at 15 cents.

Bill proponents said the measure would help small businesses hurt by competitors who avoid collecting taxes.

Opponents said it would undermine 65 stores employing 250 people across the state. Because the bill enforces an existing tax instead of creating a new one, it does not require a two-thirds majority to pass each chamber.

Caucus staffer says firing discriminatory

SEATTLE – A former staffer with the House Republican caucus in Olympia has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was fired for refusing to campaign or raise money for GOP candidates.

John S. Archer was let go last June along with three other staff members. Archer had worked for the GOP caucus for 17 sessions and says he was frequently asked by numerous Republican representatives to participate in campaign activity or fundraising, but he refused because it’s barred by state law.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday, the 61-year-old made claims of wrongful termination, age discrimination and defamation against the House of Representatives, House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt and Republican caucus chief of staff John Rothlin. Archer said he was never given notice that his performance was subpar.

Rothlin told the Associated Press that caucus staffers are public servants held to high standards of ethics, and the complaint is without merit.

Mayoral candidate, activist arrested

PORTLAND – Portland police have arrested environmental activist Tre Arrow for investigation of domestic violence-related assault.

The Oregonian reports he was booked into jail Tuesday on $5,000 bail.

Arrow is on the ballot as a candidate for Portland mayor. He joins nearly two dozen other mayoral candidates in the May primary.

Arrow, who changed his name from Michael Scarpitti, served prison time for setting fire to cement and logging trucks in 2001 in the Portland area and was released in 2009. The newspaper says city code allows residents with criminal records to run for office.

He’s also known for sitting on a 9-inch window ledge for 11 days at the Forest Service’s Portland headquarters in 2000.