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KNKX Photo / Kari Plog

Calling it a "moral mandate,” Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed into law a dozen bills that backers hope will improve policing in Washington, reduce the use of deadly force and ensure that when deadly encounters do occur the investigations are thorough and independent.

"These bills are all going to work in coordination with one another to create a system of accountability and integrity stronger than anywhere else in the nation," Inslee said in remarks before he signed the bills.

Bonneville Power Administration

A wide-ranging proposal to save wild salmon by removing the four Lower Snake River dams may be dead in the water. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray say any proposal for the controversial dams needs a “science-based,” “community-driven” approach.

Courtesy of Gameloft

Jazz Halfmoon remembers playing the educational video game Oregon Trail as a reward for doing well in her Oregon grade school class.

“It was on a super old computer,” she says. “The green screen was like the only color.”

She says it was really exciting, and the kids would often clamor and fight over who could play the game on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in northeastern Oregon. 

Washington State Department of Corrections

The state of Washington will soon offer an alternative to prison for people with a serious mental illness who commit a crime. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law Monday.

Under the new Mental Health Sentencing Alternative, judges will have the option to sentence a person to community supervision and treatment in lieu of prison.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr - tinyurl.com/ha5h3wp

For the second time in less than a year, Washington’s Corrections Ombuds (OCO) is warning that the state’s prison system needs to do more to prevent inmate suicides.

In a 15-page investigation released Monday, the OCO found that two inmates died by suicide in 2020 after prison staff failed to recognize signs of mental distress and didn’t follow suicide prevention policies.

“Suicides are preventable. There should be zero, that should be the goal” said Assistant Ombuds Dr. Patricia David, the investigation’s author and the OCO’s Director of Patient Safety and Performance Review.

Robert Ward

Stargazers across the Pacific Northwest were treated to quite a light show in late March when the errant reentry of a spent rocket sent fireballs streaking high overhead. The uncontrolled disintegration of the rocket rained debris onto eastern Washington state, where fortunately no one was hurt. While the search for mangled rocket parts goes on, the event also provided a great learning opportunity for researchers that could foreshadow a space junk warning system.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The first time salmon were released above Chief Joseph and, later, Grand Coulee dams, Hemene James watched elders from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Many weren’t even old enough to remember when salmon last swam in those waters.

In their faces he saw pure emotion, as salmon slipped into the waters where they hadn’t been since Grand Coulee Dam blocked their path in 1942.

Then, he looked at the children. Their excitement was infectious. They jumped and ran into the water, trying to catch the fish swimming upstream.

Anna King/NW News Network

Redtail hawks glide off telephone poles sailing above verdant fields that scoop downward along a basalt slope to the bending Columbia River. 

This unique swath of ground is about to get a new owner; the roughly 12,000 Easterday family acres in Benton County are to be auctioned off starting in mid-June. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed into law a new tax on capital gains aimed at the state’s wealthiest residents.

But the future of the tax is uncertain.

Courtney Flatt/NWPB

You can see Mount Adams rising from the horizon on a grassy hilltop on Amy Hanson’s land. Farms reach out in most directions. Homes dot the landscape.

Hanson and her husband invested more than a decade and thousands of dollars into this property, driving nearly 200 miles from Chehalis on weekends to build fences and whatever else they could afford as the years went on.

She might not be walking distance from everyone, but recently Hanson and her neighbors in rural Klickitat County have become closer than ever. They’re banded together to fight a new giant knocking at their doors: big solar.

Courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Management

This spring, biologists discovered something they weren’t expecting to see. Male sage grouse proudly strutting during their quirky mating dances. The strange thing was, these birds were puffing up the bulbous air sacs on their chests, their songs calling out to nearby hens, right in the middle of a giant burn scar. 

Washington DSHS

For the first time in its 40-year history, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) will be led by a woman.

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee named Cheryl Strange as the agency’s next secretary.

WSDOT - tinyurl.com/yddspl8b

Just days after the Washington Legislature gave final approval to a new capital gains tax aimed at the state's wealthiest residents, the conservative Freedom Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of five individuals and one couple to overturn the tax. 

In the complaint filed Wednesday in Douglas County, Washington, lawyers for the plaintiffs said the 7 percent tax on gains above $250,000 from the sale of such things as stocks and bonds is an unconstitutional income tax. They also said it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

CREDIT: Ruben de Rijcke CC BY-SA 3.0 bit.ly/3d2mZY6 via Wikimedia Commons

Changes may soon arrive at a gas pump near you thanks to new fuel standards that just landed on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.

The state’s new fuel standards will slowly lower the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses coming out of vehicle tailpipes through 2035. That means cleaner technologies biodiesel or renewable natural gas will get a boost over gasoline and diesel.

Rebecca White / Spokane Public Radio

Washington public schools with Native American-themed team names or mascots have a decision to make now that Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a ban on such symbols. The schools have until year's end to find a new mascot or try to win the blessing of a nearby tribe for continued use under an exception.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

Fifteen weeks ago, majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature convened a 105-day session vowing to address the fallout from COVID-19, police accountability, greenhouse gas emissions and issues of racial justice.

On Sunday, Democrats adjourned the session having accomplished much of what they set out to do, including passage of a number of sweeping bills that Gov. Jay Inslee, in a statement, called “historic” in nature.

"This session's accomplishments are as important to the long-term well-being of our state as any session I've seen," Inslee said. 

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

The state of Washington will beef up security around the governor’s executive residence following a major breach of security on January 6, the same day a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Money for the upgrades is included in the state’s next two-year capital construction budget which the state Senate approved Friday.

Courtesy of Vanessa Delgado

Vanessa Delgado’s dad didn’t want to take a whole unpaid day off of work to get a vaccine appointment.

She’s working on her doctorate in Irvine, Calif., but helped her father, Victor Delgado, get a vaccine close to his home in Benton County, Wash.

WDFW

The number of wolves in Washington state rose strongly last year, according to an annual report from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife released Friday. The rate of increase was more than double what Oregon reported earlier in the week for its wolf population in 2020.

Courtesy of National Nordic Museum

Few among us have tried our luck at competitive ski jumping, and there is no shame in that considering these skiers can reach speeds around 60 mph before they take flight. But there's something riveting about the daring sport even for casual onlookers. The Pacific Northwest was once a "hotbed" for Nordic jumping as detailed in a new book and a parallel museum exhibit.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The Washington House has approved a bill to institute a seven percent tax on capital gains over $250,000 from the sale of such things as stocks and bonds. 

The 52 to 46 vote followed an hours-long debate that spanned two days. 

Anna King / NW News Network

You can drive an hour on the highway and still be in central Oregon’s Crook County. 

Perhaps, then, it’s easier to understand why patrolling the vast remote region is difficult.

PxHere.com

In another sign of the rebound in travel, Amtrak and the state transportation departments of Oregon and Washington announced plans to restore a good chunk of the passenger train service that was curtailed due to low ridership in the pandemic.

Derek Wang / NW News Network

Nearly a year after the Washington Legislature voted to legalize sports betting, terms have been agreed for the first sportsbook to open. It will be inside one of the two Tulalip tribal casinos alongside Interstate 5 north of Everett.

Courtesy of Schreiber and Sons Farms

Much of the Northwest’s high country is still deep in good snowpack but short on rain this spring. That has dryland wheat farmers and cattle ranchers fretting. Cold, wind and dust are even wreaking havoc with produce farmers in the region.

NWIFC, 2007/Glenn Drosendahl

In a time of reckoning about historical monuments, Washington state lawmakers found a bipartisan path to change out a prominent statue. A bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday begins the process of putting a statue of the late tribal treaty rights activist Billy Frank Jr. in the U.S. Capitol.

Joel Solomon / Flickr, 2012 - tinyurl.com/jd3lo5u

The 100 day countdown to the opening ceremony of the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics begins Wednesday. Yes, the summer games are proceeding amid an ongoing global pandemic. Olympic hopefuls and Pacific Northwest athletes already picked for Team USA invariably said they are eager to go.

Citizens for Greater Idaho

Idaho legislators gave a sympathetic ear Monday to an Oregon group that wants to redraw state lines so that conservative eastern and southern Oregon would become part of the expanded state of "Greater Idaho." A separate group formed by Washington state farmers is pursuing the same idea for eastern Washington.

Courtesy of Jane Hill/Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are opening a two-day mass vaccination event to any resident age 16 and above who resides in the 11 counties that span the tribes’ ceded territory. The offer is open to anyone, not just tribal members. 

The 11 counties include: Benton, Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties in Washington and Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Grant, Baker and Malheur counties in Oregon. 

Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Peter Lancaster has always had a love for rabbits. But when he first saw a pygmy rabbit – perhaps what would become the most influential animal throughout his life – he didn’t know what it was.

One spring break as a kid, Lancaster went camping with a few friends a little ways from his home in East Wenatchee. 

Out in the sage, they saw this little creature.

“We looked at it, and we all said … Pika?” Lancaster recalls.

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