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Archives: March 2011

March
30th

Tacoma: Mello officially announces council bid

First-term Tacoma City Councilman Ryan Mello, appointed last year to serve the final two years of a vacant at-large seat, officially announced today he’s running for the seat’s next four-year term later this election year.

Mello (who already filed his state candidacy paperwork in January and has begun raising campaign funds) noted in this press release today that he’s garnered some key support in his election bid:

In building his support for the campaign, Mello has already secured endorsements from key local organizations such as the Tacoma-Pierce County Association of Realtors, Tacoma Firefighters, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as well as several elected officials including Mayor Marilyn Strickland. Mello also has strong support from neighborhood and community leaders, environmental leaders, minority leaders, and the faith community.

In little more than a year on council, Mello, 32, is among a small faction of current members who consistently and publicly question (and occasionally disagree with) City Manager Eric Anderson about some of his budget actions and policy recommendations.
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March
30th

Senate approves proposal for acknowledging same-sex marriages from other states

After making it out of both houses of the Legislature Wednesday, a bill to a give same-sex couples from other states more legal recognition in Washington has cleared most of the hurdles it needs to get through to become state law.

In a 28-19 vote, the Washington Senate sent House Bill 1649, which would recognize same-sex marriages from other states as domestic partnerships in Washington, on to the governor for approval, and if she signs it, gay rights advocates said would remove a dangerous loophole in legal protections for same-sex couples.

“What this bill did was really address a grave injustice,” said Joshua Friedes, executive director of the gay-rights group Equal Rights Washington. “This is just a wonderful development for Washington.”

He said the reason his group had been supporting this bill was that, although gay and lesbian couples are allowed to register for a domestic partnership in Washington and Washington recognizes domestic partnerships from other states, it does not recognize same-sex marriages.

That can become a problem, said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Laurie Jinkins, because people married in another state who travel to Washington could be prevented from seeing their spouses in the hospital, for instance, if they had a medical emergency.

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March
30th

Report: Washington bridges more structurally sound than other states

A report out today shows the safety of Washington’s bridges continues to look pretty good compared to national conditions, at least by one measure.

A little more than one in 20 bridges in the state – 5.1 percent – are considered “structurally deficient” by federal engineers. That ranks the state better than all but five other states, and far better than the 11.5 percent national average.

Structurally deficient bridges need significant maintenance or replacement.

Pierce County is just a bit over the state average at 5.5 percent.

Transportation For America, a coalition advocating for more funding for transportation in all its modes, put out national and state reports examining the federal data and said the average daily traffic count on structurally deficient bridges in Washington is 2.9 million.

The group said Washington has done more to protect maintenance funding than other states.

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March
30th

Morning update: Day 80



There’s still no action on the budget, but plenty of bills related to spending decisions are moving through the committee process. Today:

  • Senate Ways and Means hears SB 5639, a bill requested by the governor that would set up a state Education Department; SB 5622, which would add an access fee for state parks; and SB 5908, which would create a new pension plan for public employees.
  • House Ways and Means hears SB 5073, which would license medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington. Read more »

March
29th

Senate approves foreclosure mediation bill

A bill to set up a foreclosure mediation process for troubled Washington homeowners cleared another hurdle in the state Legislature today.

The proposal, House Bill 1362 passed the Senate in a 36-11 vote, and, if it becomes law, supporters said it would go a long way toward keeping state residents from losing their homes.

“All in all, it should keep in their homes many of the anticipated 70,000—let me repeat that number, 70,000—Washington homeowners who are expected to receive notices of foreclosure this year,” said Sen. Adam Kline, a Seattle Democrat, during floor debate on the bill.

The bill still

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March
29th

Morning update: Day 79

The budget process is stalling as House Democrats struggle to come up with a plan that can garner 50 votes of support.

In the meantime, the Senate is going to the floor this morning to vote on an as-yet-unscheduled set of bills.

There’s a little action in committees as they approach a deadline for wrapping up work on everything but budget-related matters.

  • The Senate Transportation Committee has a hearing scheduled on HB 1789, a measure that would increase penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Washington by expanding the number of cases where

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