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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.
OLYMPIA -- Spokane legislators introduce bills in House and Senate that would allow WSU to start its own medical school.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants to raise the state's legal age for cigarettes to 21.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OLYMPIA -- The March for Life, an annual anti-abortion rally often among the biggest of any legislative session, brought about 3,000 people to the Capitol Tuesday.
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.
OLYMPIA -- An 'ag-gag' bill similar to one passed last year in Idaho would hurt whistleblowers and interfere with free speech rights, legislators were told.
OLYMPIA -- Busy day expected at the Capitol with hearings on bills that would prohibit the sales of ivory and rhinoceros horns, require better disclosure of "dark money" in political campaigns and establish an "ag gag".
OLYMPIA -- The House and Senate banned firearms and blades in the visitors galleries and committee rooms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OLYMPIA -- A coalition of gun-control groups plans to grade legislators on their efforts to adopt new laws and oppose changes to the background-check law approved last November by voters.
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.
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.
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.