Washington

The Blue Creek Fire burning about 10 miles east of Walla Walla, Washington, has grown to more than 5,500 acres. Evacuations remain in place as about 600 firefighters try to head off the flames burning in grass, bush and timber.

Farms and fish aren’t the only ones suffering from Northwest drought conditions. So are trees and plants on Washington’s 435-acre Capitol campus.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law a four-year suspension of a voter-approved class size measure. He also signed a two-year delay of a biology test graduation requirement on Tuesday. One rural school superintendent says it makes sense to hold off on these two policies.

Washington Pot Law Marks One Year

Jul 8, 2015
Dank Depot/FLIKR

Wednesday marks the first year of recreational marijuana in Washington state. Sales so far have exceeded $250 million.  And the state made more than $65 million in taxes.

Beyond the tax money, Washington state has been able to prevent youth access to marijuana. It's also stopped the product from being diverted to the black market.

That’s according to Brian Smith, with the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

“If you judge Washington by that measure, I would say that we’ve been very successful in creating the rules that govern that system,” says Smith.

Washington Senate Republicans have agreed to suspend a biology exam requirement that’s keeping nearly 2,000 high school students from graduating.

Billionaire Paul Allen wants wildlife traffickers to feel a bit more pain. Professional initiative sponsor Tim Eyman wants state lawmakers to feel a bit of pain too.

By Tom Banse

The first U.S. Open golf championship to be staged in the Northwest hasn’t even teed off. Yet the director of the U.S. Golf Association says it’s already achieved one goal. That is to stir up interest in golf in the Pacific Northwest. 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose says he’s also picked up a “good buzz” from the spectator galleries.

Accused criminals in Washington could be required to pay thousands of dollars for drug and alcohol monitoring while they await trial.

It’s not just Washington state agencies that are preparing for a possible government shutdown on July 1. Washington House and Senate administrators will meet Wednesday to discuss contingency planning.

Budget negotiators continue to meet at the Washington capitol, but there’s still no deal on a spending plan for the next two years.

Ingrid Taylar

A wild collection of sail and paddle-powered boats has assembled in Port Townsend, Washington for the inaugural Race to Alaska. The 750-mile adventure race from Puget Sound to Ketchikan begins at dawn Thursday. Among the 33 teams entered is a 6-person outrigger canoe. Mackenzie Punter is with that Victoria-based crew, named Team Soggy Beavers.

Dan Perry

Earlier this year, Pierce County offered free U.S. Open tickets to some Washington state lawmakers.

The county is hosting the golf championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course later this month.

Many have scoffed at the idea state lawmakers could go to the U.S. Open for free, especially before they reach a budget deal.

Each ticket is worth more than double the amount lawmakers are allowed to accept in gifts.

A former police officer from Pasco, Washington, has been charged with a homicide from nearly three decades ago.

Preparations for a state government shutdown are underway because Washington lawmakers haven’t agreed on a budget for the next two years.

To raise or not to raise taxes? That is the question that’s pushing Washington lawmakers into a second 30-day special session.

The U.S. Department of Justice is having Pasco, Washington, police officers and residents meet for coffee and a conversation Wednesday following the police shooting of a farmworker there earlier in February.

Washington lawmakers will have to return for a second 30-day special session. The first overtime session ends Thursday and the House and Senate still don’t have a budget deal.

Burke Museum

Washington State finally has its first dinosaur fossil. Scientists at the Burke Museum in Seattle say they’ve unearthed an 80-million year old thigh bone from a beach in the San Juan Islands. 

State workers at more than 80 workplaces around Washington walked off the job Wednesday. They want lawmakers to fund pay raises promised in contracts.

Budget negotiations have stalled in Olympia and there’s still no funding to increase pay for state workers.

The nearly five percent raise would be their first in more than seven years.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are poised to get a raise twice that size later this year.

Steve Hoffman, a shop steward at North Seattle Community College, says that’s not fair.

Marijuana sales and a recovering housing market should help boost Washington tax collections by more than $300 million over the next two years.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/22746515@N02/

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

He says snowpack levels are at unprecedented lows, rivers are drying out and irrigation districts are cutting off water to farmers.

Mentally ill inmates continue to languish in Washington jails despite a recent federal judge’s ruling that the practice is unconstitutional.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/greggjerdingen/

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill Thursday to boost oil train safety regulations.

It’s one of the ways the state is bracing to take on a growing number of oil trains.

Inslee requested the bill, but he says it’s not enough.

By 2018, the state of Washington should have a treasure trove of data on the cost and quality of health care.

Washington lawmakers are taking heat for an 11 percent pay raise they didn’t ask for.

There's a process in place now for Indian tribes and the state of Washington to jointly regulate marijuana should any tribes choose to legalize and sell it.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Growing marijuana indoors requires a lot of energy -- lights to speed up plant growth, dehumidifiers, heating and cooling equipment. Could sustainable outdoor farms be a more environmentally responsible alternative? A group of Washington marijuana growers say yes.

Several workers sit around a  white table in a small room on a marijuana farm in Goldendale, Washington. They’ve got scissors in hand, scales set to carefully measure out grams.

“I am weighing out some weed," said one of the workers. "Yesterday was an 18 hour day trying to get an order out.”

Benjamin Chun / Flickr

The top education official in Washington State said teachers could face investigation and schools could lose funding - if the number of students refusing standardized tests keeps rising. 

Washington superintendent Randy Dorn doesn't like the phrase "opt-out."

"It's really a refusal to take an assessment that's required by the federal government," Dorn said.

He said low participation rates could cost schools federal money.

Across the Northwest, farmers are already making tough calls because of this year’s drought. The dismal snowpack is to blame.

'Small' Oil Spills Can Add Up To Big Costs

Mar 19, 2015
Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

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