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Archives: March 2010

March
17th

Refinery workers in coveralls ‘lobby’ lawmakers

The “oil lobby” brought about 30 men in bright blue coveralls to the Capitol Wednesday, warning lawmakers who would listen that refinery jobs are in the balance this legislative session. Some were on their own time, others on the pay of the Tesoro refinery firm.

The “oil lobby” brought about 30 men in bright blue coveralls to the Capitol today, warning lawmakers who would listen that refinery jobs are in the balance this legislative session. Some were on their own time, others on the pay of the Tesoro refinery firm.

Their target: bills that could more than double the tax

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March
17th

Transportation Commission: No toll increases this year

UPDATE:

Good news for Tacoma Narrows Bridge commuters: The state Transportation Commission has decided not to raise tolls – both Good to Go and cash – for the coming year.

Earlier this year, an increase in the cash tolls seemed definite. But the transportation budget approved by the Legislature last week will allow the bridge to postpone its repayment of a $5.3 million start-up loan from the state’s gas-tax funds.

By avoiding paying that debt now, the bridge doesn’t need to raise tolls, transportation commissioner Carol Moser said after the board’s decision today.

The commission had been considering increasing electronic tolls by 50 cents to $3.25 and cash tolls by a dollar to $5.

The prospect of frequent users with electronic transponders paying more to cross the bridge brought a crowd of 200 to a meeting of the citizen advisory board on tolls.

The advisory panel recommended freezing the electronic tolls, but the Transportation Commission went even farther by holding both cash and electronic rates steady. Infrequent users already pay more than their fair share, board members said.

But Moser warned that commissioners will revisit the issue and tolls will have to go up eventually, as the bridge faces repaying bonds. She said:

We’re just deferring it, hoping that the economy is better, that people are better positioned to be able to afford an increase in the toll rate. This being a really difficult economic time frame, it just made it really hard to absorb for a lot of the people, especially on fixed incomes.

Here’s Sen. Derek Kilmer’s press release praising the decision:

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March
17th

Census 2010: Tacoma vs. Spokane

I’ve been waiting for a chance to beef with someone on this blog, and it might as well be the bloggers at Spin Control, who are crowing about Spokane’s longstanding dominance of the coveted position of No. 2 city in Washington.

They taunt Tacoma, perpetually a step behind in population, with a bar graph.

And they quote an expert about what might come of the official census projections:

Yi Zhao, Washington’s chief demographer, said that because Spokane has about 8,000 more residential units than Tacoma, it appears unlikely that Tacoma will pass Spokane in the near future. But, she

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March
17th

Secretary of State Sam Reed will start treatment for kidney cancer

I’ll just let his press officer Dave Ammons give the details…

Secretary Reed will undergo kidney cancer surgery

OLYMPIA – Secretary of State Sam Reed has been diagnosed with kidney cancer and will undergo surgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle on Monday. He is expected to make a full recovery and will return to work after a brief recuperation.

Reed, 69, is in his third term as Washington’s 14th secretary of state and is the senior Republican statewide elected official. He is second in line of succession to the governor.

“Thanks to early detection and diagnosis, my doctors say my prognosis for successful surgery and recovery is excellent,” Reed said. “I’ve always been extremely active and placed a high priority on physical fitness, so that will pay dividends now. I am surrounded by loving family and friends, caring colleagues throughout the Office of Secretary of State, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Read more »

March
17th

Senate GOP scatters for special session

Several lawmakers are missing the special session.

OK, they may not be “missing” it. But they’re not here, for various family- and business-related reasons.

A third of Senate Republicans were gone Tuesday, some potentially for the whole session. Of course, given that Democrats have a 31-18 edge anyway, and have overturned requirements for a supermajority to pass taxes, their absences may not be worrisome for the minority party.

A couple of the most vocal members, Sens. Pam Roach and Don Benton, are away, but GOP Caucus Chairwoman Linda Evans Parlette told me the caucus will still get

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March
17th

Fort Lewis big beneficiary of Dicks’ earmarks

If you don’t read the print edition, you may have missed Les Blumenthal’s Sunday piece on Congressman Norm Dicks and earmarks, the mechanism by which members of Congress can direct spending outside the normal budget process.

The 6th District Democrat came out largely unscathed from a congressional ethics inquiry into the relationship between campaign contributions from a defense lobbyist and earmarks. As he assumes the gavel for the powerful defense budget subcommittee, Dicks is now supporting a ban on earmarks for private companies.

Dicks and Sen. Patty Murray are the undisputed earmark king and queen of the

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