Washington

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.

Brett Levin / Flickr

People are lining up to buy legal marijuana in Washington. Now the question is how to convince kids not to touch the stuff. A panel of experts briefed Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday on the topic of youth marijuana use.

Scare tactics like “Reefer Madness” are out. Peer-to-peer messaging is in.

John Wiesman is Washington’s Secretary of Health. He told Governor Inslee he wants young people to help develop Washington’s marijuana prevention campaign.

MathTeacherGuy / flickr

The state of Washington paid out nearly $50 million last fiscal year to people who were somehow harmed by the state. The numbers were released Tuesday in an annual report on “tort claim payouts.”

Army Medicine / flickr

Public health authorities in Washington and Idaho are now investigating at least 79 cases of a serious respiratory illness that affects children. The widening disease outbreak is suspected - but not confirmed - to be a rare strain of enterovirus. 


Photo credit: Wikimedia user Jay8g / Wikimedia Commons

California billionaire Tom Steyer is poised to help Democrats try to win back control of the Washington Senate. But first, his NextGen political action committee had to satisfy a quirk in the law. Call it the ten-ten rule. In Washington, political committees have to jump a small hurdle before they can play in Washington’s political sandbox.

Northern Lights Might Be Visible In the Northwest

Sep 12, 2014
NASA / http://www.nasa.gov/

The Northwest could get a a rare look at the northern lights tonight and tomorrow.

The Aurora Borealis is expected to expand further south than usual, thanks to two solar flares affecting the magnetic poles. They'll help make the greenish lights visible.

Washington State Legislature / http://www.ltgov.wa.gov/

Washington Lt. Gov. Brad Owen has agreed to a $15,000 ethics fine. The settlement announced Friday stems from the five-term Democrat’s use of state resources to operate a non-profit with his wife.

National Interagency Fire Center

Fire season in the Northwest is winding down for this year.

But scientific models suggest that with climate change, the region can expect more large wildfires in the future.

Austin Jenkins/Northwest News Network

The Washington Supreme Court has found the state legislature in contempt. That order issued Thursday is just the latest twist in the ongoing McCleary school funding lawsuit. But the Court did not issue sanctions.

Marijuana Scarce in Wash. Pot Industry

Sep 9, 2014
Brett Levin / flickr

Washington’s burgeoning retail marijuana industry is getting off to a slow start. 


PEOSoldier / Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/peosoldier/)

In the past two years, four law enforcement departments in Washington state have been suspended from the military surplus program known as 1033.That’s the government program that issues surplus military gear to state and local municipalities who show a need, but some of those weapons have gone missing.

Under the program law enforcement agencies can apply to receive everything from shop Vac’s to Mine Resistant Vehicles. They only need to pay for the cost of shipping.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the legislature has not “acted appropriately” in the face of the McCleary decision on school funding. But he cautioned the state Supreme Court Thursday not to impose sanctions that would penalize other areas of state government. The governor’s comments came one day after the high court held a hearing to consider whether to hold the state in contempt. 


Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Washington welfare cards were used twice in July to withdraw cash at newly opened recreational marijuana stores. That’s according to the Department of Social and Health Services. The agency says it has warned the card-holders and the stores and will continue to monitor for misuse.

Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

A report out this week shows mixed results for Northwest states when it comes to how well they're prepared to protect children at school or day care from disasters. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Conrad Wilson reports.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Wednesday in a historic hearing that could result in sanctions against the state legislature.


Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This November’s election will decide who controls the Washington state Senate. Democrats are desperate to win back the majority while a mostly-Republican coalition, that took power last year, is determined to hold on.

In the meantime, big money interests on both sides are trying to influence the outcome. They’re pouring unlimited contributions into political action committees controlled by the legislative caucuses.

Targeting a 'maverick' senator

Joe Barrentine / The News Tribune

Washington state’s new pot grow operations have state-required alarm systems, dozens of cameras and tall fences. But some growers said they aren’t worried about theft and violence.

Should they be?

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Firefighters are battling a lightning-strike wildfire that’s grown quite large just north of Ellensburg. It’s called the Snag Canyon Fire. It’s burned about 3,600 acres and is challenging firefighters who are trying to secure lines closest to town.

Oregon Military Department

Wildfires in the West are getting bigger, hotter – and more costly. A new report from a national science advocacy group says climate change is one major reason wildfires are getting worse.

And short-sighted development policies are a big reason they’re costing more. Jefferson Public Radio’s Liam Moriarty explains.

Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

Washington voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to turn in their primary ballots. Secretary of State Kim Wyman projects turnout of about 40 percent. Among others, the primary will winnow the crowded fields for an open central Washington Congressional seat and a Seattle-area state Senate position. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has details.

Joanna Lanning / Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary

Walla Walla’s Pioneer Park is known not for its trees or pond, but for its birds - dozens of them in cages or in large pond enclosures. For more than 30 years, it’s held a collection of peacocks, ducks, pheasants, and more. Now there’s a chance it could close at the end of August.

Mickey Richards / https://www.facebook.com/pages/Izzy-The-Camel/175301045832391?ref=ts&fref=ts

When you think of camels, pictures of hot, sandy deserts come to mind. What doesn’t come to mind is the lush farmland of inland Washington. But that’s precisely where you will find one.

Izzy is the resident camel of Waitsburg, a town roughly thirty minutes outside of Walla Walla. For owner Mickey Richards, Izzy is a blessing. “He just makes people smile. It’s kind of an honor to be a part of that,” Richards says.

National Interagency Fire Center

Fires continue to rage through tinder-dry wildlands in Oregon, Washington and California. Nearly a million acres have burned so far, destroying more than 200 homes.

With the nation’s eyes turned toward the Northwest, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and the Obama Administration have taken the opportunity to renew their efforts to change how the federal government pays to fight -- and prevent – wildfires. From Jefferson Public Radio, Liam Moriarty explains.

Daniel Piraino / Flickr

For the first time, we are learning that Washington competed to become the location for a massive battery factory for Tesla electric cars. State officials confirmed that Thursday even as reports are surfacing that Tesla has broken ground near Reno, Nevada. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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