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Inslee signing boatload of bills

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is scheduled to sign more than four dozens of bills this morning, including:

— a bill to raise fees on vehicle tab replacements and transfers for people who do that online or at county auditors' offices to help pay for the state's next 144-ca.

— a bill to outlaw tanning for minors without a doctor's prescription 

— a bill to require suicide prevention training

— a bill to establish a license plate for breast cancer awareness

— a bill requiring training in the open meetings and records act for public officials.

In signing that last one, he took a swipe at legislators, whom he said were “disingenuous” by exempting themselves from that training while requiring it for other elected officials. The original bill, requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, included legislators and Inslee said the amendment that took them out was a “serious error.”

Immigrant protections added to labor law

OLYMPIA – Washington employers who threaten their immigrant employees with deportation or the destruction of their documents while forcing them to work can be charged with a felony.

A new law signed Wednesday stiffens the penalties for coercing workers into forced labor, adding to existing law that makes it illegal to threaten a person with physical harm to make them work. The law now allows employers to be charged with a felony if they threaten to withhold or destroy documents connected to a worker’s immigration status, or threaten to report them to immigration officials to force them to work.

Reporting someone to federal officials for being in the country illegally is not against the law; using it as a threat against workers as a form of “involuntary servitude” is.

Another term for that practice, Gov. Jay Inslee said when signing the bill, is slavery. 

Inslee offers E. Washington asides at bill signings

Gov. Inslee pets service dogs Huckleberry and Huey who attended a bill signing with Darly Abbot of Olympia.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee might want to think about making more trips across the mountains to Eastern Washington.

Back from Tuesday's sojourn to Dayton, Starbuck and Palouse Falls State Park, the governor was in an especially chipper and talkative mood at his daily bill signing ceremony with plenty of East Side anecdotes.

Signing a bill for better management of the Milwaukee Road rail corridor, Inslee asked Rep. Matt Manweller,R-Ellensburg, the sponsor, if that wasn't also the John Wayne Trail. Yes, said Manweller, at which point the governor launched into an explanation of how Wayne learned lots about acting from Yakima Canutt, a fact he learned on a poster during the trip. Canutt, who did teach Wayne that rolling walk and was his stunt double in several films, was born in Colfax.

A bill to expand the authority of Fish and Wildlife officers to order people to produce identification and have fishing or hunting gear inspected would be welcome news to the mayor of Starbuck, who owns a tackle shop, he said. And he had the best burger of his governorship at the Rawhide Bar and Grill in that town.

One of the highlights of the trip, he said,  was signing the bill to make the falls the official state waterfall surrounded by students from Washtucna Elementary School, who came up with the idea and with good teachers turned it into a successful multi-grade project.

Inslee also signed bills outlawing involuntary servitude by coercion, and  legalizing growlers — the large bottles that can now be used to take cider home from bars and breweries, not the four-legged kind he's petting in the photo. 

As Palouse Falls. . .

OLYMPIA – Palouse Falls is officially the state water fall.

In a ceremony this afternoon with the Eastern Washington falls as a backdrop and dozens of Washtucna Elementary students around the table, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill that bestows the title on the geologic feature. The students came up with the idea as a way to draw attention to the falls and a handful of them traveled to Olympia to testify on behalf of the bill.

It was one of two successful efforts to name an official state something in the last session. The Legislature also named the Olympia oyster the official state oyster. 

WA Lege 2014: The done and the undone

OLYMPIA – The Legislature closed up shop with seven minutes before its constitutionally mandated midnight stopping time Thursday, ending a short session that was short on expectations, and many would argue, short on accomplishments.

After passing an updated operating budget that even supporters said contained plenty of things to dislike, a couple of bills on many legislators’ priority lists were saved from oblivion and moved back and forth between chambers with admirable speed.

Military veterans were granted in-state tuition at Washington’s public colleges and universities, regardless of how long they’ve been in the state. A $40 fee home buyers pay to file their documents, which pays for programs to fight homelessness but due to expire this year, was extended until 2019.

Meanwhile, the subject getting the most attention seemed to be deciding what medical procedures can be performed by plebotomists, medical assistants who draw blood. A phlebotomist bill ping-ponged back and forth across the Rotunda and showed up on one floor or the other eight times in the last eight days as the chambers tweaked the bill with amendments. It eventually had to be untweaked because the wrong amendment was added – and approved – before people noticed, so that amendment had to be subtracted and replaced, prompting three roll-call votes on the last day.

“I didn’t know what a phlebotomist was until today,” Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, deadpanned. . . 

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Inslee raps Legislature for no transportation package

Gov. Jay Inslee says Republicans in the Senate kept changing demands on the amount of sales tax they wanted redirected for transportation projects.

OLYMPIA — Washington faces reduced maintenance on roads and bridges as well as cuts in mass transit because the Legislature did  not pass a major package this year of transportation projects funded by higher gasoline taxes, Gov. Jay Inslee said early Friday morning.
 
The Legislature finished its 60-day session at 11:53 p.m. after a flurry of final day bills that included some modest changes to its operating budget, a bill to allow all veterans to receive instate tuition at state universities and colleges and an extension of a fee that helps pay for programs that fight homelessness.
 
There were big wins in the constitutionally short session, particularly a law earlier in the year that allows the Washington high school students who aren't legal residents but grew up in Washington to be eligible for some college aid, Inslee said shortly after midnight. But, he added, “there's a lot left undone”…
 
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Inslee pushing for testing to keep federal money

Inslee urges Legislature to approve student testing bill.

OLYMPIA — The Legislature should approve a bill requiring statewide testing in an effort to keep $40 million in federal funding for local schools, Gov. Jay Inslee said today.

Speaking at a press conference while teachers opposed to testing requirements were filling the halls outside the legislative chambers, Inslee said he does not “have the luxury” of getting into a philosophical discussion about the value of standardized testing. To have any chance to keep federal money from the No Child Left Behind program, the state should pass a law that requires that by the 2017-18 school year, students' scores on statewide tests are used as at least part the way teachers are evaluated. 

Collective bargaining agreements and local school boards would be able to determine how the tests are used, Inslee said.

Federal education rules require standardized statewide tests to receive the money; state law currently says those tests can be used, but doesn't say the must be used, causing the U.S. Department of Education to say it will cancel the money. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has not given “an absolute guarantee” the state will get a waiver and continue to receive the money before 2017-18, Inslee said, but added: “I'm highly confident we will.”

A bill to require testing died recently in the Senate when most Democrats joined with the chamber's more conservative Republicans to kill it. Opponents said they had heard from teachers, administrators and school boards in their districts concerned about the time and expense of additional testing on top of new evaluation procedures.

Sunday Spin: Death penalty bill dies, but not quietly

OLYMPIA – Whether Washington state should execute some people for crimes like aggravated first-degree murder is a good debate to have.

Whether the governor or the Legislature has the constitutional authority to do certain things is a good debate to have.

Mix capital punishment with separation of powers and you get a not so-good-debate, but an excellent vehicle for diatribes. . .

 

Inslee: Minimum wage prospects not good in Lege

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee said he wants a public conversation about raising the state's minimum wage but acknowledged today the chance an increase will pass the 2014 Legislature are not good.

“I can't be optimistic it's going to pass the state Senate this year,” he said during a telephone press conference from Washington, D.C., where he's attending the National Governors Conference. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

 

Spokane woman appointed to state Salmon Board

FISHERIES — Samantha Mace of Spokane has been appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the state Recreation and Conservation Office has announced.

The board  administers grants for projects that help return salmon from the brink of extinction.

Mace has extensive professional and volunteer experience in conservation policy and natural resource issues. She is the Inland Northwest director for the Save our Wild Salmon Coalition, where she is responsible for policy, media and outreach for Inland Northwest salmon issues for a coalition of sport fishing groups and businesses, commercial fishing associations, conservation groups and other organizations working to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Before joining the coalition, Mace held a long list of other jobs in the conservation world, including working for Trout Unlimited, the Washington Wildlife Federation, the Idaho Wildlife Federation and the ForestWater Alliance in Washington, D.C. She also has been a volunteer on many conservation efforts.

“We are excited to welcome Samantha to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the funding board’s grants. “Her understanding of the issues surrounding the plight of salmon and the many businesses and families that rely on healthy salmon populations will be a great asset to the board. Her knowledge of eastern Washington also will bring a valuable perspective to our work.”

The Washington State Legislature created the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in 1999. Composed of five citizens appointed by the Governor, and five state agency directors, the board brings together the experiences and viewpoints of citizens and the major state natural resource agencies. The board provides grants to protect or restore salmon habitat and assist related activities. Since its start, the board has awarded $564 million for more than 2,280 projects statewide.

Execution moratorium misuse of power, Republicans say

OLYMPIA — Legislative Republicans accused Gov. Jay Inslee of misusing his power by announcing a blanket moratorium on all executions during his term.  

“It's the Legislature that decides whether (capital punishment) is an appropriate policy,” Sen. Steve O'Ban, R-University Place, said, while a governor has the authority to stay the execution of a particular inmate on an individual basis. “He has usurped his role.”

Inslee announced Tuesday he would not allow anyone who has been sentenced to death by the courts and exhausted all appeals to be executed while he is in office, hoping that would spark a discussion on whether equal justice is being served by capital punishment in Washington. A successor could allow the executions to go forward if he or she chooses, Inslee said.

Criticism from O'Ban and other Republicans was varied, and at times seemed contradictory. At one point, O'Ban said it could take a valuable tool out of the hands of prosecutors, who have used the possibility of not seeking the death penalty as a way to force serial killers to reveal information about victims; later he said it won't save the state any money because prosecutors will still be seeking the death penalty for cases that qualify for them.

O'Ban later said that defense attorneys will bring up the moratorium in discussions and “undercut” a prosecutor. It would also lead to “open season” on prison guards for inmates serving life without parole, because they'd have nothing to lose by killing a guard.

The threat of the death penalty didn't keep Monroe inmate Byron Scherf from strangling prison guard Jayme Biendl in 2012. But Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, said he is hearing from prison staff who want to know the Legislature is doing the best they can “to make them safe.” 

The Legislature could address problems with the cost of capital punishment and the long delays from appeals without a complete suspension, O'Ban said.

A spokesman for Inslee said the governor acknowledged Tuesday that people will disagree with his decision. As to the suggestion that Inslee was usurping his power, Attorney General Rob Ferguson said Tuesday the decision was within Inslee's authority as governor, and spokesman David Postman said the public can judge who was right on that point.

To read Ferguson's press release on the legality of the moratorium, click here to go inside the blog.

GOP raps Inslee in advance of their transportation package

OLYMPIA — A transportation package from the predominantly Republican Senate majority may be announced Thursday, although coalition leaders couldn't say Wednesday how much support it has in their caucus.

Instead, they took aim at Gov. Jay Inslee, accusing the governor of a lack of leadership in negotiating something that he and legislators have said the state needs for more than a year — a plan to build new highway projects, fix roads and bridges, reform transportation practices and generate support for the taxes needed to accomplish that. They haven't had a meeting with Inslee since the first day of the legislative session, Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, of Ritzville, said.

“We need to get back in that room,” Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said. “The governor's going to have to show a lot of leadership.”

A spokesman for Inslee called the criticism “utter nonsense” and a sign that those leaders are feeling the heat from constituents and business groups for their own inaction.

David Postman said staff from the governor's office has been in contact with the Curtis King, the Senate Republican working on the package, on a daily basis. The governor convened a dozen meetings on transportation with legislative leaders last year. They broke up in December with King saying it would be up to the Senate to come up with a package as a counter to the proposal House Democrats passed in that chamber, Postman said. According to some recent reports, that package might not be ready until a “lame duck” session after the November elections.

Tom and Schoesler parried questions about whether they had the votes to pass a transportation package by questioning whether House Democrats have the votes to approve the bonds needed for their proposal. Although a list of projects and taxes can pass with a simple majority, the bonds needed to build some of those projects by using the tax money require a three-fifths majority, 60 votes in the House and 30 in the Senate.

“To get to 30, the governor needs to get us in the room. Maybe then you can start meeting everybody's needs,” Tom said.

Inslee and House Democrats can't negotiate with Senate Republicans unless they have the votes to pass their package and get their members to agree to changes they sign off on. “The people who need to be locked in a room is the coalition,” Postman said.

 

Washington Executions Put On Hold

Washington will not execute anyone on death row while Jay Inslee is governor. Inslee, pictured, announced a moratorium today on capital punishment, saying he will issue a reprieve if any execution warrant comes to his desk. He’s not issuing a blanket commutation of sentences, and anyone who gets a reprieve from him could still be executed by a successor. He expects the moratorium to spark a conversation about the death penalty in Washington. “I am not convinced equal justice is being served,” Inslee said at a press conference to announce that he has changed his mind on capital punishment, a penalty he previously supported for some cases. “During my term, we will not be executing people”/Jim Camden, SR. More here. (AP photo)

Question: Should Idaho Gov. Butch Otter call for a moratorium on death penalty, too?

Gov proclaims ‘moment of noise’ for ‘Hawks

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is calling for a “moment of noise” at 12:12 p.m. today to celebrate the Seahawks' Super Bowl victory.

Actually, 30 seconds worth of noise. Feel free to make as much noise as you want, unless you're in some place inappropriate like a library, a church or a  hospital.

Inslee has pretty much been in full-fan mode since the weekend. He attended the game in New Jersey, and will attend the victory parade in Seattle at 11 a.m. plus the 1 p.m. celebration at CenturyLink field. 

 

Sunday Spin: Spokane delegation makes its annual trek west

OLYMPIA – A delegation of more than 80 Spokane-area folks arrived here last week with their annual “agenda” – some might call it a wish list – of things the Legislature could do to make life better for the state in general and the center of the Inland Empire in particular.

This annual trek to the capital sponsored by Greater Spokane, Inc., herds well-briefed leaders of business, political, education and civic groups through the marbled rooms and committee rooms and is the envy of many other cities and counties around Washington. It has prompted the sincerest form of flattery, imitation, from other communities but many legislators still say Spokane’s full-court press lobbying remains the best.

At least that’s what some tell members of the Spokane throng. Others offer recollections of their last visit to the city or Spokane Valley, or some other anecdote to show they are all paisans. . . 

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Inslee: Do more hard things. GOP: Be more specific.

OLYMPIAWashington should raise its minimum wage, spend more on schools and highways, raise teacher salaries and do something about climate change, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.

“We have done hard things. And we can do more,” the Democratic governor told a joint legislative session in his annual state of the state address.

Legislative Republicans and a Democrat who joined them to form the Senates ruling coalition were quick to criticize the speech as long on ideas but short on specifics. . . 

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Govs bet on Seahawks-Saints

OLYMPIA — Add one more politicians' bet to the list of wagers over today's Seahawks-Saints game.

Gov. Jay Inslee's office said today he has bet Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that if the 'Hawks win, Jindal will donate 100 pounds of Louisiana seafood to a food bank of his choice. If the Saints win, Inslee, via Ivar's, will donate 500 cups of chowder to a Louisiana food bank.

Ivars freezes chowder and ships it around the country, in case you were wondering what shape it would be so many miles away from “Acres of Clams.”

No crying in baseball, Bloomer Girl tells Inslee

OLYMPIA — There is, in fact, no crying in baseball.

Or so Dorothy Roth, a real-life version of the women baseball players portrayed in the movie “A League of Their Own”, confirmed to Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday as he issued a proclamation honoring her.

Back in 1945, however, there was a bit of stigma attached to baseball for women, said Roth, 86, now  a resident of an assisted living center in Marysville .She was recruited out of high school, and was usually the youngest player on the field that summer. She doesn't save any of her old uniforms because at the time she was embarrassed to be known as a baseball player.

“Nice girls played tennis,” she said. Roth tried to hide her bat and glove as she walked past the courts. Baseball was for boys, but most of the boys had been drafted into military service for World War II and women were being recruited to play baseball to fill the void for baseball fans.

“I bet you never thought they'd make a movie about it,” Inslee said.

“No, and I never thought I'd meet a governor,” she replied.

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Inslee staying in China extra day

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee will return from his belated trade trip China on Tuesday, rather than today.

Inslee's office said this morning the governor was extending his stay in China an extra day to make a trip to Beijing for meetings that were postponed last week because of the special session. He'll meet with Gary Locke, his gubernatorial predecessor who is now U.S. ambassador to China, and receive a briefing on China's clean energy efforts.

Sunday Spin: Right-to-work in the soviet of WA?

Somewhere in the great beyond, James “Big Jim” Farley is having a good day.

The former Tammany Hall boss and political strategist for Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have been pulled out of celestial poker game late last week when word drifted heavenward about a press release from state Sen. Mike Baumgartner. The Spokane Republican came up with a solution to the fix Washington could find itself in after Boeing’s union machinists voted down a contract extension that would have guaranteed the 777X be built in the state.

Call a special session to turn Washington into a “right-to-work” state, Baumgartner said.

Such a suggestion must’ve made Farley spit out his cigar, if smoking is allowed in whatever suburb of the afterlife old pols inhabit. . .

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Right-to-work special session ‘not going to happen’

In the wake of the Boeing machinists’ rejection of a contract extension the company said would assure the 777X would be built in Washington, a Spokane legislator said the state needs to take a bold step to become more attractive to manufacturing.

Make Washington a “right-to-work” state, which would make union membership and its dues optional.

That would be part of making the state “a welcoming overall environment” with a lower possibility of strikes, Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner said. He wants Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session to consider and pass such legislation.

“That’s not going to happen,” a spokesman for Inslee said. Boeing never mentioned right-to-work legislation as something it was seeking to guarantee the plane would be built in Washington, David Postman said. . .

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Inslee signing Boeing legislation today

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee travels to the Museum of Flight this morning to sign legislation passed over the weekend in the hurry-up special session.

Probably an appropriate backdrop, considering the session was all about luring a new Boeing assembly line and wing manufacturing plant for the 777X, and the Museum of Flight is at Boeing Field, just down from Boeing facilities, and there are lots and lots of Boeing planes inside and out.

On Saturday, after the Legislature wrapped and the many fathers of the legislative victory assembled with Inslee for a victory press conference, the governor was asked when the “dog and pony show” of bill signing would take place. Normally these occur in the governor's conference room.

Time and date to be determined, Inslee said, but added: “Just dogs. It's a Lean Management things. We don't use ponies.”

Apparently Lean Management does, however, allow the use of planes.

 

Inslee delays China trip

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is postponing his trade mission to China.

Inslee was scheduled to leave Saturday on a previously arranged trade mission. But with the Legislature in a special session he called earlier this week to pass proposals aimed at convincing the Boeing Co. to build the 777X in Washington, it was expected he'd need to stay in the state.

Inslee's office announced the trip will be rescheduled but “at this point we do  not have a new departure date planned.”

Inslee: Boeing contract is ‘jobs for decades’

Gov. Jay Inslee says union members should consider contract in 'cool light of day.”

OLYMPIA — With Boeing machinists reportedly unhappy with a proposed union contract, Gov. Jay Inslee tried today to keep the momentum going for a legislative package tied to securing a new jetliner.

Inslee wouldn't go as far as asking union members to ratify the contract. But at a press conference in the halls of the Capitol building, he urged them to “look at it in the cool light of day” and consider that it represented “assurance of jobs for you, and your family and your community for decades.”

The Seattle Times reported this morning that rank-and-file union machinists at a meeting Thursday night were vocally unhappy with the contract, which freezes pensions at their current level and replaces a defined benefit plan with contributions to worker's retirement savings accounts. One of their leaders, Tom Wroblewski, who earlier this week stood with Inslee when the governor called for a special session, tore it up in front of his members and called it “a piece of crap”, the Times reported.

Inslee called legislators back to Olympia to pass legislation that would accompany the contract and ensure that the 777X would be built in Washington state. Union members aren't scheduled to vote on the contract until Wednesday; the Legislature could vote on a package of tax breaks worth some $8.9 billion through 2040, as well as expanded training programs for aerospace workers, as early as tomorrow.

If the machinists don't ratify a contract and the Legislature does not approve the tax breaks and training programs, Boeing will have offers to build the 777X elsewhere.

“People want to poach these  jobs…if in fact the deal doesn't go through this week,” Inslee said.

Some question if state getting enough for Boeing tax breaks

OLYMPIA – The Legislature opened its third special session, which some have dubbed the Boeing session, with a look back 10 years, trying to make sure the aerospace giant keeps jobs in Washington in return for some $8.4 billion in proposed tax breaks.

Gov. Jay Inslee and most other witnesses at a House Finance Committee hearing on the tax break package extolled the economic and civic virtues of the state's largest manufacturer. It employs tens of thousands in its factories, has hundreds of suppliers around the state, keeps ports busy, stimulates the Puget Sound economy and even provides work for more than 100 visually impaired machinists through Lighthouses for the Blind in Seattle and Spokane.

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Special session starts Thursday

OLYMPIA – The Washington Legislature will meet in a special session starting Thursday to consider a $10 billion transportation package and other legislation Gov. Jay Inslee said is key to landing the manufacturing plant for a new Boeing jetliner.

Standing with legislative leaders, Boeing executives and union officials, Inslee said a combination of transportation improvements, extended tax breaks, faster permits for building and aerospace education programs would guarantee the company will build the new jetliner and a new carbon fiber wing in Washington state.

The current 777 facility supports 56,000 jobs, and the new plane will create thousands more, Inslee  said: “These jobs are ours if we act now.”. .

 

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Yo ho Halloween at governor’s mansion

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee and wife Trudi will be hitting the pirate theme tonight for trick or treaters at the Governor's Mansion.

Technically, there are only treaters. The security system at the governor's mansion discourages tricksters. But the mansion is a stop on may Olympia kid's route. It's off by itself and out of the way, and there's often a wait because the line is long. But the candy is usually far better than the standard fare at most houses.

In the Capitol Building during the day, staff at the Secretary of State's office is donning costumes as well. Secretary of State Kim Wyman is dressed as an '80s rocker.

Majority of Washington lawmakers back Columbia River bridge

While touring Spokane on Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said his withdrawal of plans to seek $450 million in state money for a controversial span over the Columbia River should eliminate the last roadblock to passing a comprehensive transportation package for the state before year's end.

A majority of Washington lawmakers want Oregon to know that doesn't mean they've turned their backs on the project.

A letter to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber sent Wednesday was signed by 75 Washington legislators, including many members of the Senate Democratic caucus that were denied a vote on the bridge project during the Legislature's regular and two special 2013 sessions.

“I’m disappointed our two states aren’t sharing leadership of this project, as we once were,” said Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver. The project would replace existing spans over the Columbia River that have been in operation for more than half a century and are badly in need of repair to alleviate congestion, according to engineers.

Inslee said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday that Kitzhaber is pondering calling a special session of his own to attain authorization for his state to move forward on the project without Washington's assistance. Inslee said the state attorney general has reviewed that option and there is no legal barrier to Oregon connecting its bridge to Washington roads.

The project recently received the go-ahead from the U.S. Coast Guard. The leader of the Oregon Senate indicated Wednesday plans to push a vote on the project to February, according to the Oregonian.

Click here to read the entire letter sent by Washington lawmakers to Kitzhaber.

Inslee in Spokane Wednesday

Gov. Jay Inslee comes east for a full day today:

  * Press conference at 9:30 a.m

  * Roundtable discussion on transportation at 10:30 a.m. at the downtown library.

  * Shows off the Washington Healthplanfinder’s Mobile Enrollment Tour at 2:45 p.m

  * Speech at the Greater Spokane Inc.’s 5th Annual State of the Green Economy conference at 3:15 p.m.

  * Holds a public hearing for a climate workgroup at 5 p.m. at the Spokane Falls Community College auditorium.

 

He may be trying to make up for the fact that he didn't make it to Hoopfest, as he promised on his inauguration day, because the Legislature was still in session.

Inslee asks feds to let banks serve pot businesses

OLYMPIA — Governors of the two states that legalized marijuana last year are asking federal regulators to find a way that businesses licensed to raise and sell the drug can use banks.

Govs. Jay Inslee of Washington and John Hickenlooper of Colorado sent a letter to the heads of the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, the Comptroller of the Currency and other key banking regulators, asking them to come up with guidance to allow the fledgling businesses to establish accounts.

Federal banking regulations currently forbid banks from accepting money from illegal drug transactions, and the federal law classifies marijuana as an illegal drug, even though voters in the two states have passed laws making it legal for recreational use by adults.

Without bank accounts, businesses that are licensed by the state to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana will have to deal in cash, which creates “an unnecessary inviting target for criminal activity,” the governors say in their letter. It also makes it more difficult to track the flow of money and prevent diversion of some proceeds into illegal activities, they added.

Washington voters last November approved Initiative 502, which legalizes the recreational use of marijuana by adults in private, but the state Liquor Control Board is still developing rules for the businesses to operate. The board is expected to begin accepting applications for recreational marijuana businesses in November, with licenses awarded early next year and stores open by June.