In brief: Groups file lawsuit over feds’ wolf kill plan
Wed., March 4, 2015
Five environmental groups, including The Lands Council based in Spokane, have filed a lawsuit against the federal government challenging its authority to kill endangered wolves in Washington.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program.
The lawsuit contends federal law requires the USDA to prepare a full environmental impact statement before it can hunt and kill wolves in Washington.
The agency recently completed a less-detailed environmental assessment. The environmental groups say that document fails to provide data to support several of its core assertions.
Wolves were hunted to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s.
The species began to return to the state from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and the wolf population has grown to 13 confirmed packs. There have been conflicts between wolves and livestock.
Senate OKs earlier presidential primary
OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate has approved a bill to move up and strengthen the state’s 2016 presidential primary.
In a 36-12 vote Tuesday night, a bipartisan majority supported a bill from Secretary of State Kim Wyman to revamp how the state conducts its presidential primary. Under the bill, Washington’s primary date would move from late May to one week after the early March Super Tuesday primaries. In 2016, that would be March 8.
If both major parties agree to allocate at least part of their Washington delegates according to the primary results instead of party caucuses, each primary would only be open to people who publicly declare a party. If either Republicans or Democrats decline, all presidential candidates from both parties would go onto a single ballot, and anyone could cast a vote.
The bill goes next to the House.
Use drone in crime, get extra year of time
OLYMPIA – The Senate has passed a bill that would allow prosecutors to seek an extra year in prison for offenders who use a drone aircraft while committing a crime.
Senate Bill 5499 passed on a 34-15 vote Tuesday and now heads to the House for consideration. It adds the allegation of a “nefarious drone enterprise” to Washington criminal law.
The state currently has no restrictions on the use of drones, although 20 other states have enacted laws on drone-related issues.
The bill adds a year to the sentencing range that dictates how judges can punish an offense.
The measure was one of a handful of other bills concerning drones that were filed in the Legislature this session in the wake of Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of a bill last year that would have restricted how state and local government agencies use the unmanned aircraft.
ACLU seeks $2.8 million in legal costs
YAKIMA – The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking more than $2.8 million in legal costs from the city of Yakima in the organization’s successful voting rights lawsuit.
The Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper reported the numbers surfaced in court filings late Tuesday.
Several Yakima City Council members said they had just heard about the request and hadn’t yet had a chance to look at the documents.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice ruled last summer that Yakima’s system for City Council elections “suffocates” the will of Latino voters. He asked the city and the ACLU chapter to come up with proposals for new systems. On Feb. 17, he adopted the ACLU’s proposed redistricting plan.
The city has already spent more than $900,000 defending the case. City lawyers have until March 19 to file an appeal.
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