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OLYMPIA – In an effort to keep Washington’s liquor drinkers from heading to Idaho or Oregon for cheaper booze, some legislators are looking at cutting alcohol sales taxes. That could cost the state as much as $68 million over the next five years, according to one estimate, but a sponsor of the proposal said she believes increased sales and jobs would offset that.
OLYMPIA – For all the attention being paid to legal marijuana this session, it’s the more traditional legal intoxicant – alcohol – providing Washington legislators with a greater array of possible changes to state law. More than a dozen bills working their way through the legislative process would increase a person’s ability to consume some form of alcohol at some new setting.
OLYMPIA – Requiring a supermajority for the Legislature to approve tax increases, as Washington voters have required several times over the past two decades, is unconstitutional, a King County Superior Court judge said Wednesday. The state constitution says legislation is to be passed by a simple majority and voters can’t change that standard with an initiative, Judge Bruce Heller ruled in a case brought by a dozen state representatives, the state teachers union and education advocates.
OLYMPIA – Beavers making a nuisance of themselves in Western Washington could be relocated to areas in Eastern Washington that need their help in damming streams, but the furry critters from Eastern Washington couldn’t be shipped west under a bill approved Wednesday by the Washington Senate. Seems there are already too many of the tree-chomping rodents west of the Cascades.
OLYMPIA – Some $35 million to finish the Riverpoint medical school building may flow into Spokane as the local business community’s top priority finds itself on a list of projects to address one of the Legislature’s own top priorities: jobs. Or, the project may find itself in the middle of a debate over the role of government in creating jobs.
OLYMPIA – Changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system that will stop tax increases for businesses and temporarily increase benefits for jobless workers were signed Friday as the first completed legislation of this session. With all sides applauding each other for bipartisan and bicameral cooperation, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed one bill that will stop a scheduled tax rate increase that would have cost businesses an estimated $300 million this year. That bill got its final approval in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, in time to notify businesses of the lower rates that affect payments they will make in April.
OLYMPIA -- Changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system that will stop tax increases for businesses and temporarily increase benefits for jobless workers were signed Friday as the first completed legislation of this session.