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Category: Federal Government


Sen. Cantwell: ‘fiscal cliff’ deal includes sales-tax break for Washington taxpayers

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell says the “fiscal-cliff” tax bill that passed by a vote of 89-8 early this morning includes the sales-tax deduction for taxpayers in Washington and a half-dozen other states. Cantwell had said the deduction, which covers 2012 and 2013 returns, would be a top priority for her after the November election.

The tax break has previously been estimated to have a value of up to $500 million yearly to state taxpayers, who are unable to deduct state income taxes because Washington does not tax income. Cantwell said the deal should save 850,000 taxpayers who itemize their income

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Washington’s congressional districts don’t produce many compromisers with few swing districts, many safe districts

Nate Silver of the New York Times’ fivethirtyfive.com writes this week about the decline in truly contested Congressional districts and wonders if that has contributed to the polarization in Congress.

Silver shows how the number of swing districts has fallen in just 20 years from 103 to 35 (out of 435). Toss in districts considered lean Democrat and lean Republican – those that might elect members with a motivation to act bipartisan – and the number falls from 188 to 88 since 1992. The rest, he theorizes, are likely to appeal to the political extremes because the threat to

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Rep. Adam Smith moves farther from JBLM but keeps his post as ranking Democrat on House Armed Services

Rep. Adam Smith moved a little farther from Joint Base Lewis-McChord when he followed the center of the 9th Congressional District into King County, but he kept his position as the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Smith in the coming year likely will face more tough decisions on where to cut spending in the Defense Department. Over the past year, he has said he supported some reductions in defense spending as the wars ended and the country turned its focus to improving its economy.

That position is a contrast to the Armed Services Committee’s Republican chairman,

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State chooses local bridges to be replaced and repaired

The state Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it’s chosen 70 bridges to be replaced or repaired with $130 million from the Federal Highway Fund.

Local selections include $10 million to replace the Puyallup River Bridge, about $2.4 million for a new North Fork Muck Creek Bridge on 8th Avenue East southwest of Graham, and $ 9.6 million to redo Sumner’s White River-Truss Bridge.

The deck rehabilitation of the Union Avenue Viaduct will get $3 million of the funds, and the Schuster Parkway-Ruston Way Bridge will get about $1.9 million for the same project.


Study of wilderness plan for Olympic Peninsula sees no effect on logging; Driscoll responds

Advocates of the Wild Olympics proposal to add wilderness protections for 126,000 acres of Olympic National Forest land are highlighting a new study arguing the plan won’t reduce the supply of timber or affect logging jobs.

Here’s the study by consultant Stewardship Forestry, which was commissioned by the Wild Olympics Campaign as an update to an analysis of an earlier, more ambitious version of the plan. In a fact-check of an ad by Congressional candidate Bill Driscoll critical of Wild Olympics and opponent Derek Kilmer, I noted the earlier study found it would remove between 2.2 percent and 3.7

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Michael Baumgartner ad criticizes Maria Cantwell for supporting Afghan War. Also blames “cowardice from both parties in D.C.”

It remains a low-budget campaign, especially compared to his opponent, but Michael Baumgartner’s U.S. Senate campaign has produced an add called “Afghanistan” that lays out his opposition to the war and his criticism for those in government who haven’t ended it.

The ad targets U.S Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Democratic incumbent, for voting in favor of the war and for subsequent funding resolutions. But it also takes on “cowardice from both parties in D.C.”

“Cantwell Can’t Do It,” the ad claims. “Michael Baumgartner Will.”

Campaign spokeswoman Jami Herring said the ad will run on cable in “targeted markets throughout the

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Nation’s top housing official praises advocates at Tacoma conference

The nation’s top housing official praised Washington state Wednesday as a model for the nation, in a keynote address that was both a pep rally for affordable housing advocates and a reflection of the national presidential campaign.

Federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan spent most of his speech listing the accomplishments of housing advocates during the recession, including help for renters affected by foreclosure and homeless veterans. He said 3,600 families in Washington state have benefited so far from the state’s portion of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. And he reminded the audience there are many reasons

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Cabinet secretary Donovan coming to Tacoma

The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development will be in downtown Tacoma tomorrow.

Shaun Donovan will deliver the keynote address on the last day of the Housing Washington conference, an annual event about affordable housing. It started Monday at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center.

Donovan will be introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, according to a news release. Remarks are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.