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In brief: Furniture store fire in Colville forces closure of Highway 395

A fire at a furniture store in downtown Colville led to the closure of U.S. Highway 395 Saturday night.

The fire at Saundra’s Furniture, 279 S. Main St., necessitated the highway closure between First Avenue and Birch Avenue just after 8 p.m., a news release from the Washington State Patrol said. Traffic on the highway was being detoured.

Multiple photos posted to social media sites Saturday night showed the building engulfed in flames. It was unclear Saturday night when the blaze would be contained or how long the highway would be closed.

Bill would lower school age to 6

OLYMPIA – A measure gaining traction in the Washington state Legislature would require that children’s formal educations begin by age 6. A loophole would exempt children whose parents say they are home-schooled.

Rep. Marcie Maxwell, D-Renton, House Bill 1283’s sponsor, said her reason for introducing it is simple. “We know today how important early education is,” she said. “Kindergarten, first grade, second grade and beyond are a vital part of all students’ preparation.”

While 33 states require children to start their education no later than age 6 and 15 states make it mandatory by age 7, only Washington and Pennsylvania don’t require children in the classroom until they turn 8.

The measure was unanimously voted out of the House Education Committee on Thursday. The measure has broad support, including from the state’s Board of Education, the Association of Washington School Principals and the Washington Education Association – the state’s largest teachers union.

The measure now goes to the House Rules Committee.

Wait for divorce may lengthen

OLYMPIA – People filing for divorce in Washington must wait 90 days before it can become final.

But under a bill heard Friday in the state Senate Law and Justice Committee, that waiting period would be extended to one year.

Bill supporters say it would give couples more time to reconcile and could result in fewer divorces. In addition, they assert, because divorce is correlated with higher rates of poverty and juvenile delinquency, the measure would save the state money in social services.

Opponents say the measure, Senate Bill 5614, is unduly paternalistic.

“We’re talking about adults here,” said Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle. “They have the opportunity for counseling without us having to force it on them.”

Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said he wasn’t sure whether the measure had the votes to make it out of committee. Policy-related bills face a Feb. 22 deadline to be passed out of their committees.

House targets different tuitions

SEATTLE – The Washington House on Friday passed a bill to prevent the state’s four-year colleges and universities from setting different tuition rates for different majors.

Before approving House Bill 1043 by a vote of 95-1, Republicans and Democrats said they worried about differential tuition threatening the solvency of Washington’s prepaid tuition program. They said they also don’t want to discourage students from pursuing degrees like computer science and engineering because the tuition is more expensive.

The Legislature had granted the authority to set differential tuition in 2011, but no one has put the idea into practice.


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