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AP: Ferguson suing anti GMO labeling donor

Attorney General Bob Ferguson held a press conference this morning to announce a lawsuit against a group that has given some $7 million to the campaign against Initiative 522. Here's an updated report from Mike Baker of the Associated Press:

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington’s attorney general accused a food industry group Wednesday of violating state campaign finance laws for how it collected and spent more than $7 million to oppose a food labeling initiative…

 

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Holder asked to explain pot policy to Senate

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is being asked to explain to a Senate committee his department's policy toward Washington and other states that have legalized some form of marijuana consumption.  

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wants Holder to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 10 to clarify the federal response for Washington and Colorado, which have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and for the 20 states and the District of Columbia which have legalized medical marijuana.

Afther Washington and Colorado voters passed state laws legalizing recreational marijuana use last November, Leahy asked the Obama administration what it planned to do about enforcement policies and “what assurances the administration can give to state officials responsible for the licensing of marijuana retailers to ensure they will not face criminal penalties for carrying out their duties under those state laws,” he said Monday in a prepared statement.

State laws should be respected, Leahy said. “At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government.”

Gov. Jay Inslee and State Attorney General Rob Ferguson met with Holder in January, asking what the federal government's response would be to Washington's legalization of marijuana. They have yet to get an answer, and Ferguson said last week he had “no additional knowledge” of what the federal response would be. The state is preparing rules for people who want to obtain licenses to grow, process and sell marijuana legally.

The attorney general's office “continues to prepare for the worst case scenario, which would be litigation” if the federal government tries to stop that, Ferguson said.

AG: Public hospitals have to follow abortion law

OLYMPIA – Public hospitals that provide maternity services must also provide access to contraception and abortion, even if they contract with a private company that bars such services, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday.

In a formal attorney general’s opinion, Ferguson said state law, approved by voters in 1991, requires a public hospital offer “substantially equivalent” abortion and contraceptive services if they provide maternity care.

Private hospitals, including those run by the Catholic Church which has religious objections to contraception and abortion, have no such obligation, he said. . .

Court to Obama: Follow the law on waste repository

The federal government must resume work on the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada that would store the high-level nuclear waste from Hanford and other sites around the country, a federal appeals court said today.
In what amounts to a judicial smackdown of the Obama administration, the court said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Obama administration can't override Congress, which ordered the repository built in 2002.
Washington state, which is the home to an estimated 56 million gallons of highly toxic nuclear waste from the production of nuclear warheads at Hanford, had joined the lawsuit against the commission. Along with South Carolina and some residents of the Tri-Cities, Washington sought a writ of mandamus, or order from the court for the federal government to follow the law.  Today they got what they wanted …
  

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State to feds: We’ll be ready if you sue over legalized pot

OLYMPIA — State officials appear to be hoping for the best while preparing for the worst as Washington and the federal government try to determine how the state will license and regulate marijuana.

After a meeting in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said the nation's chief legal officer was open to learning more about the law voters passed and the state's plans to make it work. There were no firm conclusions from their first meeting, Inslee said.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said they also made it clear to Holder the state has a team of lawyers preparing for any federal lawsuit, should one come.
 
“We want to avoid a legal fight,” Ferguson said. “If it comes to it, we will be prepared.”
 
Inslee characterized their first meeting over the state's voter-approved marijuana law as cordial, with Holder asking questions about some aspects of the law and state officials providing him with a three-page memo on the duties state employees would  have to license and regulate the growth, processing, distribution and sale of marijuana. They will provide more information on how the state plans to contain the sale of legal marijuana within its borders.
 
“It was a good meeting,” Inslee said. “I do feel good that the attorney general will look at this in great detail.”
 
The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which under Initiative 502 is in charge of coming up with regulations for licensing producers and sellers, can continue with that process, he said. Under the law, that process must be up and running by Dec. 1, and some of the licenses would be available by August.
 
“We're moving forward,” Ferguson said. “There are some deadlines coming up soon.”
 
There was no indication from Holder whether the federal government will take legal action against the state to prevent the regulation and sale of marijuana, which currently is illegal for all uses under federal law.
 
Ferguson said his office has already assigned a team that is “mapping out a legal strategy” to pursue if the federal government does go to court to try to block the law. “The legal issues are complex,” he added. 

TVW blasts Ferguson ad for AG

OLYMPIA – The Democratic candidate for state attorney general is being accused of violating TVW broadcast rules by using the government cable channel’s footage in his latest commercial.
The commercial for Bob Ferguson, which only appears on the Internet, features a brief video clip of his opponent, Republican Reagan Dunn, challenging a Ferguson allegation about poor attendance at King County Council meetings.
TVW broadcast the June 12 debate live from the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, and the full event remains available on the organization's website. But the network doesn’t  allow edited versions of any of its broadcasts to be used for campaigns, TVW President Greg Lane said…

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Accusations highlighted AG debate between Dunn, Ferguson

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Dunn v. Ferguson debate AG clip: “I was doing doughnuts…”

For all the attention on this week's debate between the two main gubernatorial hopefuls, it was really the showdown between two of the candidates for attorney general that was more exciting.

And above is the link that highlighted it all, an exchange that started with a question about the death penalty. Democrat Bob Ferguson opposes the death penalty, but pledged to uphold the law. Republican Reagan Dunn supports it. But that really wasn't what made the interaction interesting. What makes it a fun listen is the accusations thrown first from Dunn at Ferguson, then Ferguson at Dunn, and then Dunn's rather successful attempt to diffuse Ferguson's accusation with the line: “That was 25 years ago. I was 17, and I was doing doughnuts in a parking with snow. I'm sorry.”

Post debate: AWB endorses McKenna, Dunn

In a move that may shock no one, the Association of Washington Business endorsed Republicans Rob McKenna for governor and Reagan Dunn for state attorney general.

The business group, which functions as the state's Chamber of Commerce, co-hosted debates in Spokane Wednesday for both offices with McKenna facing off against Democrat Jay Inslee for the first time and Dunn against Democrat Bob Ferguson.

The AWB board determined that “McKenna is the best candidate to lead our state to better times” and Dunn is “the best candidate to represent business interests” in the AG's office.

It probably didn't hurt that McKenna discussed his support for charter schools, which Inslee opposes, and the AWB came out in favor of an initiative that is gathering signatures to put a charter school proposal on the November ballot.

The AWB generally endorses Republicans for the state's chief executive. But it didn't just endorse GOP candidates today. It endorsed Democrat Jim McIntire for state treasurer.

McIntire, it should be noted, is running unopposed.

Gov, AG debates today in Spokane

Just a reminder that the two likely finalists for governor and state attorney general will be debating this afternoon in Spokane at the Bing Crosby Theater.

Democrat Bob Ferguson and Republican Reagan Dunn are up first in the debates sponsored by the Association of Washington Business and Greater Spokane Inc. The attorney general candidates debate at 2 p.m.

Democrat Jay Inslee, the former congressman, and Republican Rob McKenna, the current attorney general, are on at 3:30 p.m.

Moderator for both debates is Austin Jenkins of Northwest Public Radio. If you don't have a ticket, both debates will be carried live on TVW, and on NPR stations around Washington. And Spin Control will be live-blogging the governor's race.

The AG's race probably has the less familiar candidates, especially in Eastern Washington…

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Gov debate set for Spokane?

What may well be the first gubernatorial debate of the Washington election season could happen June 12 in Spokane.

Or not.

The Association of Washington Business, which has a long  history of gubernatorial matchups in front of its membership, wants to have Attorney General Rob McKenna and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee face off the Bing Crosby Theater during the group's annual spring meeting.

But after it announced the debate this week,  the Inslee campaign said it was still working on the schedule and  hadn't yet committed to that event or any other debate, forum or joint appearance.  (Editor's note: an earlier version of this post said the debate was set.)

“It's on our list of things we wanted to schedule,” Jaime Smith, campaign spokeswoman said, adding she was aware the group has a long tradition of holding a gubernatorial debate but was baffled that AWB's announcement came before a formal commitment. “We've got lots of invitations.”

Jocelyn McCabe, a spokeswoman for AWB, said scheduling a debate is a bit like planning a wedding. You get the place, the date, the time first, then handle some of the other details like format and lining up media partners a bit closer to the event. It has Greater Spokane Inc., as a co-sponsor of the debate. The group needed to schedule its spring meeeting in Spokane and book the hall for the debate now. It told the Inslee campaign it would announce the matchup in early January. And did.

“We're having the debate,” McCabe said.

And if Inslee can't make it? They may be having a conversation with McKenna, because it requires at least two people to debate.

Also on the AWB's planned fight card — oops, debate schedule — will be state attorney general candidates Reagan Dunn and Bob Ferguson.

The debates will take place before either race is officially set, because the state primary isn't until early August. But that isn't a concern for the Inslee campaign. In fact, he's called for six debates across the state, divided geographically, and with some focusing on set issues, so to wait until after the primary for a half dozen debates would require cramming the debates pretty closely together.

McCabe, spokeswoman for AWB, said both campaigns would be given a set number of tickets to watch the debate along with the group's members.

Moderating both debates would be Austin Jenkins of Northwest News Network. The Bing has been the site of several memorable political debates for local offices.

Now it might  be the back drop for what is a regular feature of most hotly contested races: a debate over debates.