Washington Democrats Propose $3B Tax Package, GOP Predicts Special Session

Democrats in the Washington state House have proposed a $3 billion tax package to help fund schools and social services over the next two years. The budget and tax plan unveiled Monday includes a new tax on capital gains.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – If you buy soda pop in Washington, soon you'll be making a contribution to help rebalance the state budget. In the final hours of the legislature's special session, majority Democrats imposed a two-cents-per-can excise tax on soda. But now the carbonated beverage industry is considering an effort to repeal the pop tax this November. One of its arguments: the tax law contains a technical goof.

At Harbor Pacific Bottling in Elma, Washington, a forklift loads Pepsi products onto a truck.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It will be lights out at the Washington governor's office, drivers' license offices and other state agencies on Monday, July 12th. That's because of legislation signed [today] Tuesday by Governor Chris Gregoire. But under the new furlough law, many other Washington state services will remain open that day. The legislation requires a series of furloughs, but also includes many exceptions. At the least, Gregoire hopes state employees and their unions agree to take the same day off each month.

KELSO, Wash. – During timber's heyday, it was common to see tugboats pulling huge rafts of logs to area mills. In the process, many valuable old-growth trees sank to the bottom of Northwest rivers and lakes. That's given rise to different breed of logger. A few enterprising souls have sought to take advantage of the underwater hidden forest. But Washington State has moved decisively to shut down underwater timber salvage operations. That's effectively sunk the business in Oregon too.

RICHLAND, Wash. - The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is famously home to 53 million gallons of radioactive sludge. But over it's long history, the site has also collected scads of work materials, lab supplies and clothing that are also contaminated. Now, federal and state officials have agreed on a new set of deadlines for cleaning up that tricky waste.

Courtesy of USGS

PORTLAND – There's a sleeping giant in the Pacific Northwest that could wake very soon and shake us all up. That giant is a major quake on par with the one that rattled Chile earlier this year. Some seismologists say it's overdue. More than 500 of the world's leading earthquake experts are in Portland this week for their annual conference. Correspondent Tom Banse dropped by to find out when the next “Big One” might shake the region.

SALEM, Ore. – In February, Oregon lawmakers voted to reign in a renewable energy tax credit program. The incentives had turned out to be far more generous than anyone intended. One of the new rules in place curbs the ability of companies to receive multiple tax credits by simply breaking up a larger project into several smaller ones. But that hasn't stopped at least one major player in the renewable energy industry from making the case for multiple versions of Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation recently accepted another spent nuclear reactor from the U.S. Navy. The reactors travel by barge from the naval shipyard in Bremerton, along the Washington Coast and up the Columbia River to Richland.

Tom Banse

A new nuclear power plant proposed near the Idaho-Oregon border cleared its first hurdle Monday. But, groundbreaking is still years away because many more local and federal approvals are needed.

LA GRANDE, Ore. – In an age of hyper-partisan politics, alienating the party base can be political suicide for a lawmaker. Oregon Republicans predicted a voter backlash from a pair of budget-balancing tax hikes last year. But the first to feel the heat aren't Democratic state lawmakers. Instead, two eastern Oregon Republicans face challengers from within their own party after voting in favor of raising taxes. 

Oregon Republican Party Chair Bob Tiernan isn't known for mincing words.

Oil refiner Tesoro is investigating the deadly Friday morning explosion in Anacortes. But the company does not yet have an explanation for the incident. The blast at the oil refinery killed four Tesoro workers and gravely injured three others. Senior Vice President Lynn Westfall said in a press conference Friday that the explosion occurred near a heating and cooling area. 

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