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Archives: Jan. 2011

Jan.
31st

Pierce County deputies get raises of 2.5 percent for 2010 and 2011

Pierce County’s sheriff’s deputies are getting raises of 2.5 percent for 2010 and 2.5 percent for 2011 under a contract set to be ratified by the County Council next week.

The council’s vote, however, is symbolic.

It’s been agreed to by the county’s negotiators. And the Pierce County Deputy Sheriff’s Independent Guild Local No. 1889 ratified the two-year pact at the end of last month, president Cynthia Fajardo said Monday.

The union represents 294 members of the Sheriff’s Department.

The contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, and running through Dec. 31 of this year, specifies a 2.5 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2010. The 2011 raise is based on a cost-of-living formula that guarantees raises of “not less than 2.5 percent nor greater than 5.5 percent.”

The area Consumer Price Index dropped by half a percent between June 2009 and July 2010.

Though the main contract is settled, the deputies’ contribution to their health insurance premiums is not,  and the two parties are in a binding arbitration proceeding over the matter, Deputy County Executive Kevin Phelps said this afternoon.

The county wants the union’s members to pay about $67 a month for medical, dental and vision coverage, Phelps said. The union disagrees.

“We’re disappointed” by that, he added, noting the deputies’ union is asking that its members pay much less.

County workers began paying a part of their individual health-care premiums for the first time in 2010. Prior to that, they paid a portion of the cost only for family members on their plans.

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Jan.
31st

‘Discover Pass’ to access parks would cost $30

It would cost $30 a year to visit state parks and forests under a proposal made public today.

For those who don’t buy the $30 annual “Discover Pass,” a single day’s visit would cost $10.

Those are the much-awaited details of Senate Bill 5622, introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, at the request of the agencies that manage the state parks system and other public lands.

The price tag has grown since the state parks commission first put pencil to paper at the request of Gov. Chris Gregoire, who wants to move the parks system off the

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Jan.
31st

Governor, A.G. comment on health-care ruling

State leaders react to today’s court ruling, in which a Florida judge struck down President Obama’s health care overhaul.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who was among the Republican state a.g.s to file the lawsuit, applauded the decision in a statement:

“While we all recognize the vital need to access health care services in our country, forcing all U.S. citizens to buy a commercial product in the private market with their own money is an unprecedented and unconstitutional move by the federal government. Americans value their constitutional rights. They want a health care law that respects those rights and actually reduces the financial burdens on their families. That is why more than half of the states in America are challenging this new law.”

Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire had this to say:

“There’s no question I’m disappointed in today’s ruling. Not only did Judge Vinson rule against the individual mandate, he declared the entire law unconstitutional. This ruling, as I have stated all along, is not good for Washingtonians.
 
“This means that nearly 900,000 seniors in Washington who have Medicare coverage will be forced to pay more for regular check-ups and important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies. It means the more than 45,000 Washington Medicare beneficiaries who received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs may be forced to give that benefit back. In addition, they’d lose out on the 50 percent discounts on certain prescription drugs. 

Read on for the full press releases.

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Jan.
31st

Pierce County Councilmembers aren’t giving up on poll voting

Not so fast, Washington Legislature, the Pierce County Council is expected to say on Tuesday.

A majority of the seven council members have signed on to a resolution urging the lawmakers in Olympia to “preserve the time-honored polling place” in Pierce County.

The Legislature is considering bills on the issue of elections by mail. One of them, Senate Bill 5124, moved forward today.

It would mandate all-mail voting statewide.

Pierce County is the only one of the state’s 39 counties to retain polling places.

The Senate Government and Operations Committee approved SB 5124 and sent it to the Rules

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Jan.
31st

Beware any Tacoma school board member who votes to close Foss High. Bill would let 14-year-old students vote

Jason Mercier over at Washington Policy Center found this one before I did…a bill to let students 14 and older vote in school board elections.

The prime (and only) sponsor is new Sen. Scott White, D-Seattle.

Here is the bill in its entirety…

AN ACT Relating to the voting age for school board elections; and
2 amending RCW 28A.320.400.
3 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
4 Sec. 1. RCW 28A.320.400 and 1969 ex.s. c 223 s 28A.58.520 are each
5 amended to read as follows:
6 Qualifications of electors

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Jan.
31st

State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz says he’ll likely be looking for a new gubernatorial nominee in 2012; thinks Chris Gregoire won’t run

It is certainly the most-common speculation. But Chris Gregoire hasn’t said one way or another whether she will seek a third term in 2012.

But shortly after winning a third, two-year term as chairman of the Washington State Democratic Central Committee on Saturday, Dwight Pelz told News Tribune reporter Debbie Cafazzo he doesn’t think Gregoire will be his candidate in two years.

Asked about what’s ahead for him and the party, Pelz looked forward to 2012, when he and other party members will be campaigning for candidates for president, governor and the U.S. Senate.

“We will probably be electing a

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Jan.
31st

Pierce County all-mail voting bill clears committee

A bill that would require Pierce County to close its last polling places moved forward this morning.

The Senate Government Operations Committee approved Senate Bill 5124, sending it to the Rules Committee. Gov Ops Chairman Craig Pridemore said he supported moving it along because of a separate provision unrelated to the poll voting controversy, but said the all-mail-voting proposal needs more work.

Pridemore, D-Vancouver, said he’s not persuaded by those who say the whole state needs to have a uniform way of voting. “I have always believed we should defer to local control,” he said.

But so far, Pridemore

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Jan.
31st

Morning update: Day 22

Welcome to the fourth week of session. This week the pace of legislative action will speed up as lawmakers try to beat deadlines to move a series of spending cuts and a unemployment-insurance tax cut to Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s desk.

First, the weekend: State Democrats re-elected their chairman, Dwight Pelz, to a third full two-year term. Pelz and new GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur will lead their parties going into a 2012 campaign for governor, U.S. Senate and Washington’s new 10th Congressional District seat.

Also from the weekend papers: we wrote about potential cuts to child care subsidies, the

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