Washington

Skipping school is not a crime in Washington state, but it can still land a student behind bars.

The (Not So) Secret World Of Northwest Curling

Mar 3, 2015
Peter Miller / Flickr

Curling: it's that sport with the stones and the brooms. You might have seen it played at the Olympics. Canadians play it. For many Americans, that's the extent of our curling knowledge. So this video might help bring everyone up to speed:

So that's curling. It's a little bit hockey, a little bit bowling, a little bit shuffleboard.

Washington, Oregon and Idaho are trying to figure out how to keep their state driver’s licenses from becoming obsolete in the eyes of the federal government.

Paul Eggert / Wikimedia Commons

It's about time... daylight saving time, to be precise. Some Oregon and Washington legislators want to end the yearly practice of springing forward and falling back.

Kevin Wolf / Associated Press

Washington state will receive more than $21 million from a settlement with financial services company Standard & Poor's.

The company was accused of inflating credit ratings and misleading investors in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

The deal was part of a $1.4 billion agreement with the federal government and 18 other states.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said it was among the state's biggest won consumer payouts.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Why is there a Des Moines in Washington as well as Iowa? What does the word "Kennewick" really mean? What on Earth is a "Twisp," and why did it stop being Gloversville? We asked our Facebook fans to tell us the names of some Washington towns they wanted to know more about.

America's Two Des Moines

www.kevindemon.com

A while back, we asked our Twitter followers how they pronounce Boise, the capital of Idaho. Turns out Idahoans say Boise different than most people. 

The Washington and Oregon employment departments have closed the book on 2014 with the release of their December jobs numbers.

At a Tuesday news conference, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg said Washington’s unregulated medical marijuana industry is “unworkable” and “needs to be fixed.

Backlog Of Rape Kits Prompts Bill In Washington State

Jan 14, 2015
Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Law enforcement agencies in Washington State estimate more than 5,ooo kits containing DNA taken from rape victims are sitting on the shelf. A bill in Olympia would try to get these kits to the state’s crime lab to see what the evidence reveals.

At a hearing Wednesday Rick Bell, a prosecutor from Ohio, spoke in support of the measure. He says when his state started testing all of the rape kits sitting on its shelves distinct patterns of violent crime were revealed.

Washington Department of Labor and Industries

The new year will mean higher pay for low-wage workers in Oregon and Washington. The minimum wage in both states is set for an increase.

The minimum wage in both Washington and Oregon is tied to inflation. It's going up by 15 cents an hour in both states: to $9.47 in Washington and $9.25 in Oregon.

Washington Consolidated Technology Services

 

     

A foil-wrapped secret room is a plausible use for unused portions of Washington’s new data center. That’s according to a national expert on what Time Magazine has dubbed “spy-proof rooms.”

You’ve likely never heard of a SCIF. Unless you’re a fan of the TV show Drop Dead Diva.

“Excuse me, what’s a SCIF? It is a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility,” the show says.

Katheirne Hitt Flickr

The city of Seattle is developing new rules to license medical marijuana dispensaries and stem their growth.

The city also wants to crack down on illegal marijuana-delivery businesses.

David Mendoza is a policy advisor for Seattle. He’s developing the city’s new medical marijuana rules.
He told the city council today that the Seattle Police Department is looking at seizing marijuana from these businesses, without filing criminal charges.

Washington Consolidated Technology Services

Efforts to lease Washington’s overbuilt data center have so far been unsuccessful.

Picture an unfinished space about the size of an indoor soccer arena with 20 foot ceilings and a concrete floor. The state built four of these data center halls but now it only needs two of them. Servers are getting smaller and attempts to lease this surplus space to the private sector for data center use have been ineffective. Now the state is casting a wider net.

Rob St. John oversees the state data center.

“We’re open to almost any sort of alternate use,” St. John said. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The agency that oversees child welfare in Washington wants to hire nearly 100 more child protection workers.

But the budget request comes after years of lawsuits that cost the state more than $150 million. Now the question is whether Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has taken adequate steps to learn from child welfare cases that went awry.

Part of the problem is fresh reports of child abuse and neglect keep pouring in – up 10,000 over the last two years.

'It truly is a crisis'

Overdose Deaths in Wash. Drop Slightly

Nov 18, 2014
AP Images

The number of people dying from opiate overdoses in Washington state stayed relatively the same from 2012 to last year. The Washington State Department of Health released overdose data this week. And the figures show 227 people in the state overdosed and died from heroin last year -- 381 people overdosed and died from opiate-based prescription pain medications. In both cases that’s a slight decrease from the year before.

The highest rate of total opiate related deaths was in Southwest Washington’s Cowlitz County.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Astroturfing is when interest groups run a campaign that’s designed to look like it’s grassroots in nature. A document obtained by public radio shows the oil industry is at the center of more than a dozen Astroturf groups in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington state is 125 years old. There was a celebration Tuesday at the state capitol. It featured a historic reenactment, a time capsule ceremony and, of course, cake.

In the Capitol Rotunda, a member of the Squaxin Indian tribe sang a blessing song.

That was followed by “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Then a speech by the governor before the action moved to Washington’s time capsule. The locked vault was opened and a new generation of time capsule-keepers sworn in.

When It Comes To The Apple Club, Washington's A VIP

Nov 10, 2014
Dan Charles / NPR

Monday morning, NPR ran a story about the changing apple market - specifically, about "club" apples, exclusively-branded apples that only some groups are allowed to grow. You probably know a few of these club apples already. The Honeycrisp is the best-known. And more and more club apples are showing up in stores across the country: the Jazz, the Envy, the Ambrosia. These new apples could even some day push out traditional varieties like the Red Delicious.

Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

It’s election week. Here in the Northwest, Washington and Oregon voters will cast their ballots by mail – or drop box. In Idaho, most voters still go to the polls.

Washington Apple Commission / Northwest News Network

    

Washington apples will soon be packed aboard boats to China. That’s because the Chinese government approved market access to Northwest fruit today after a two-year market closure. 

Getting access to China is essentially a $50 million dollar deal per year for Washington apples farmers.

The Chinese government closed off markets in August of 2012. China said it was concerned about a recently discovered fungus.

Faith Community Weighs In On Gun Initiatives

Oct 22, 2014
M Glasgow / Flickr

This November, Washingtonians will vote on two opposing initiatives on background checks for firearms: 591 and 594. Some of the leading voices on the gun rights debate have come from religious organizations. Reporter Ryan Katz tells us how communities of faith have been viewing this issue.

On a Friday evening in late September, a couple hundred people arrive at the United Methodist Church in Queen Anne to listen to some classical music. But this particular event was not supposed to happen here, and not now. It was meant to happen at Seattle Pacific University, in June.

Washington Insurer Settles Suit Over Autism Treatment

Oct 17, 2014
bloomsberries / Flickr

The biggest health insurance company in Washington, Regence BlueShield, has settled a pair of class action lawsuits for $6 million.

Families with autistic children took the company to court over its failure to cover a treatment known as 'Applied Behavioral Therapy.' It involves extensive one-on-one work between a child and a therapist, and can cost $50,000 a year or more.

Credit Washington Employment Security Department / Northwest News Network

Job growth stalled during September in Oregon and Washington according to new numbers from the respective state employment departments. In Washington's case, state labor economist Paul Turek is not too concerned though by one month of flat hiring.

"Put it in context of what has been happening in the labor market. We seem to be sustaining momentum. Every now and then we have a little blip," Turek said.

Turek announced Washington's unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point to 5.7 percent in September.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Law enforcement groups in Washington state are pushing back against possible limits on police use of drones. That happened as a task force convened by the governor wrestled some more Monday about how to regulate small unmanned aircraft.

In April, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee vetoed the Washington Legislature's first attempt to regulate government use of drones. Now police groups are worried the planned second try will handcuff their ability to take advantage of the new technology. Mitch Barker directs the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Netwrk

A ballot measure to expand background checks for gun sales in Washington has lost some support, but still enjoys a healthy lead. That’s according to the latest Elway Poll released Monday. Meanwhile, a competing gun rights measure appears to be in trouble.

The state of Washington has agreed to pay a record amount to settle a case of child abuse and neglect.

The nearly $10 million settlement announced Friday involves five Clark County, Washington, siblings who were starved and beaten by their parents over several years.

The lawyer for the children described the case as a “living nightmare.” The four brothers and one sister were imprisoned, starved, and beaten bloody with a piece of lumber, according to the claim filed by the lawyer on behalf of the children.

Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia

If you occasionally check your email or send instant messages on your smartphone while driving, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission wants to put you on notice.

They're seeking support from state lawmakers to propose a stiffer no-smartphone-while-driving law in the next legislative session.

The commission reports distracted driving is a factor in 30 percent of the state's traffic fatalities.

Cynthia Goldsmith / Centers for Disease Control

Washington state health officials are echoing statements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and say the risk of Ebola spreading in the U.S. and in Washington state is very low.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This November, Washington voters will decide whether to require background checks for person-to-person gun sales.

Initiative 594 would close what gun control advocates used to call the “gun show loophole.” But these days, much of the unregulated gun trade is happening online.

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