In brief: Inslee prepares for worst scenario
OLYMPIA – As the Legislature entered its second special session Wednesday with no word of agreement on the state’s two-year operating budget, Gov. Jay Inslee’s staff began studying what programs and services would have to shut down if a deal isn’t reached before July 1.
That’s the start of the new fiscal year, and without a new budget there’s no authority to spend money on many state programs and services. But there could be cases where constitutional mandates or federal requirements override the state requirement for a specific appropriation. Which cases? No one’s sure because there’s no precedent for starting a fiscal year without a budget.
“We can’t tell you what’s going to be open and what’s going to be closed on July 1,” Mary Alice Heuschel, Inslee’s chief of staff said after a one-hour cabinet meeting. Agency directors are consulting staff lawyers and studying programs; they’ll report back by Monday. “We remain hopeful this will not be necessary.”
Some things are sure: Prisons and state hospitals won’t shut down. Transportation projects will continue because they come out of a separate budget that already passed.
Spoko reopens after diesel mix-up
Spoko Fuel Gas Station was open for business Wednesday after a mix-up caused problems for drivers who filled gasoline-powered cars with diesel.
Spoko, which is owned by the Spokane Tribe, closed Tuesday morning after several drivers called complaining they were having car trouble, said Carol Evans, president of the Spokane Tribal Enterprises Board of Directors.
Diesel had been added to the underground gasoline tanks late Monday night. The tanks were cleaned and the fuel was replaced by Tuesday evening.
“We don’t know exactly what or why it happened,” Evans said. “It’s never happened for us. It’s real unfortunate.”
R.E. Powell Distributing Co., the Grandview, Wash.-based fuel supplier, assumed responsibility for the mistake and will reimburse customers for damage done to their cars, Evans said.
That type of error is uncommon but occasionally happens, said Mike Louisell, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Agriculture. He added that R.E. Powell has not had any recent problems with switching fuels.
“It’s human error,” he said. Customers who had car troubles after putting diesel in gas-fueled cars can call R.E. Powell’s insurance agent, Jill Peruca, at (800) 488-2869, ext. 445.
Flood-damaged cars showing up
OLYMPIA – Washington state’s attorney general and the Better Business Bureau are warning that cars damaged in last fall’s Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast are showing up for sale here.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson cautioned consumers in a statement issued Wednesday to do their research to make sure the vehicle they buy doesn’t have flood damage.
While such cars may look normal, Ferguson says they almost always have serious problems including chronic mildew and corroded wires that can lead to electrical failure.
The attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau say buyers should research the title and vehicle identification number and carefully inspect any vehicle.
Portland hopes for tree hug record
PORTLAND – It sounds like a scene from “Portlandia.” A Portland arboretum is calling all tree huggers for an organized attempt to set a world record for simultaneous tree hugging in one place at one time.
The Guinness World Records website shows the record as 702 huggers, set in September 2011 in England. A Minnesota group claims to have gathered more than 900 people in May 2013. Hoyt Arboretum spokesman Martin Nicholson said organizers of the July 20 event in Portland are shooting for about 1,200.