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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WSU medical school in Spokane gets legislative support

OLYMPIA – Identical bills that could pave the way for Washington State University to start its own medical school in Spokane were filed Wednesday in the Senate and House. Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Democrat, and Sen. Mike Baumgartner, a Republican, introduced matching legislation to remove the provision in state law that gives medical school education exclusively to the University of Washington.

WSU med school bills introduced

OLYMPIA -- Spokane legislators introduce bills in House and Senate that would allow WSU to start its own medical school.

Washington House panel considers ‘ag-gag’ bill

OLYMPIA – An “ag-gag” bill, similar to one passed last year in Idaho to protect farm operations from unapproved video and audio recordings, would hurt whistleblowers and interfere with free speech rights, legislators were told on Tuesday. Critics including the Humane Society of the United States and the American Civil Liberties Union said language in the bill is so broad that it could become a crime to cause economic harm or hardship to any business. That would include a strike, work stoppage or boycott.

Ban on ivory sales gets Washington House hearing

OLYMPIA – Washington stores couldn’t sell or buy items made of ivory or rhinoceros horn under a bill that aims to curb poaching in Africa and Asia. The bill, which got a hearing Tuesday in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, is part of a worldwide effort to save elephants, which are killed at an estimated rate of 35,000 a year, or an average of 96 per day.

Washington Senate bill would license medical pot sales

OLYMPIA – Medical marijuana would come under some of the same licensing requirements as the recreational form of the drug but its buyers would pay fewer taxes under a plan to harmonize the state’s two pot systems. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle, announced Tuesday the Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act, one of several medical marijuana bills expected in this session, saying patients need certainty in the quality of the drug they are getting.

Age bill takes aim at hunting safety

OLYMPIA – Thirteen-year-olds would be too young to hunt alone on public lands under a bill aimed at improving hunter safety. The proposal would require hunters to be at least 14 to hunt on public land without adult supervision and set 8 as the minimum age to buy a hunting license and enroll in a hunting-safety course.

WALeg Day 9: Bill would blend state’s 2 pot systems

OLYMPIA – Medical marijuana would come under some of the same licensing requirements as the recreational form of the drug but its buyers would pay fewer taxes under a plan to harmonize the state’s two pot systems. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle, announced Tuesday the Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act.

House bill would expunge many pot convictions

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers on Friday considered whether adults will be able to have misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession thrown out if they were over 21 at the time of the offense. The House’s Public Safety Committee began weighing a bill by Democratic legislators that would allow misdemeanor convictions for possessing 40 grams or less of marijuana to be set aside and dismissed. If it passes, the process to clear records would be different from the way other misdemeanors are expunged. Unlike those cases, a marijuana offender wouldn’t have to wait three years after completing the sentence to get the conviction wiped off the record.

Mount Spokane seeks to add attractions

Gov. Jay Inslee wants to spend nearly $3 million to improve facilities on Mount Spokane; the organization managing the park is asking for more. Inslee’s 2015 capital budget includes a request from Washington State Parks to expand the Selkirk Lodge, remove culverts that block migrating fish, and reconstruct a stretch of badly worn road.

Gun activists gather, as control activists plan to grade legislators on which way they vote

OLYMPIA – Voter-approved background checks on private gun purchases are unconstitutional and therefore not law, Rep. Matt Shea told gun-rights activists Thursday on the steps of the Capitol. “An unconstitutional law is no law at all,” said the Spokane Valley Republican, who is also a private attorney. He told activists the measure that passed in November violates state and federal constitutions. But the right to bear arms is inalienable and can’t be taken away by voters or the courts.

Shea tells gun rights activists I-594 not law

OLYMPIA -- Rep. Matt Shea told gun-rights activists today voter-approved background checks on private sales violate state and federal constitutions and aren't law. "An unconstitutional law is no law at all," said Shea told about 300 protesters on the Capitol Building steps.

WALeg Day 3: Shippers duck hearing on port problems

OLYMPIA – Shipping delays at West Coast ports are hurting a wide range of Washington businesses, a pair of Senate committees was told Wednesday. What the Legislature can do about those problems in the short term, however, appears limited.

Inslee urges new taxes in state of the state address

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday repeated calls for some new taxes, including one on carbon pollution to secure “a birthright to a healthy Washington.” Republican leaders countered that such a tax would be bad for business.

GOP rule makes passage of new taxes tougher

OLYMPIA – Any new tax in Washington will require support from at least two-thirds of the Senate under a rule change Republicans pushed through the chamber in the early hours of the 2015 session. The change was part of partisan dueling on the opening day of the session. Republicans lost a vote on the position of Senate president pro tem when two members defected to the Democrats, but held together and passed a potentially more consequential rule change.