News

US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The federal government plans to release a major document early next week that could guide a couple of decades worth of cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. This is important because it maps out decisions like where to bury the radioactive waste, and how much to leave in place.

The new document is huge -- 6,000 pages huge. And it’s taken about 10 years to draft.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

LONG BEACH, Wash. – It’s been more than four months since the last confirmed piece of Japanese tsunami debris washed ashore on the Pacific Northwest coast. Even sightings of suspected disaster debris have tapered way off in recent months. Does that mean we’re just in a lull or past the worst of it?

Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, Wash. – On the eve of same-sex marriage taking effect in Washington, Governor Chris Gregoire hosted an emotional ceremony in her office. Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the results of the vote to uphold Washington’s new marriage equality law.

Voters in Washington, Maryland and Maine all said yes last month to allowing same-sex marriage. But Washington’s law goes into effect first. Governor Gregoire noted the historic significance of gaining voter approval as she prepared to sign a formal proclamation.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Northwest agriculture advocates are more optimistic Congress will take up the issue of immigration after a forum this week in Washington, D.C. The effort is getting support from a surprising mix of organizations.

Many same-sex couples in Washington were planning to get married whether or not the state sanctioned their union. That includes Spike Huntington and Nick Chandler-Klein of Seattle, who are planning a wedding next summer. Spike’s mother, Susan Huntington, is planning to make the trip to Seattle from Newport, Oregon for the ceremony.

"I was just thinking about what this passage of the same-sex marriage law in Washington is going to mean to our family event," Susan says. "Do you think it's going to make any difference?"

Drug Enforcement Agency

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Pot becomes legal in Washington on Thursday. But state officials have not even begun to write the complicated rules for who can grow it, process it and sell. That year-long process begins Wednesday.

By the end of this week, adult possession of up to one ounce of usable marijuana will no longer be a crime in Washington. But Initiative 502 -- approved by voters in November -- does much more than decriminalize possession. It requires the state to license and regulate marijuana producers, processors and retailers.

Photo courtesy of Sonja Yearsley

RICHLAND, Wash. – This week, many same-sex couples in Washington will line up to get marriage licenses beginning Thursday at 12:01 a.m. In southeast Washington, two brides were planning their wedding ceremony for the weekend after Election Day, just as Washington voters were deciding whether legally sanction their union. Anna King spoke to Sara Belchik-Moser about her wife Annie.

“Six years ago, we actually met in a bar for the first time. And I didn’t like her. She’s a blue-eyed blonde and I never thought I’d be attracted to the ideal woman of the blue-eyed blonde.

Liquor Sales Up Over Last Year In Washington

Dec 4, 2012
Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

There’s new data on the affect on liquor privatization in Washington. According to new numbers released Tuesday that capture the first four months of private liquor sales, sales by volume were up between June and September nearly 3 percent over the same period last year.

Mike Gowrylow is a spokesman for the Washington Department of Revenue. He notes there was a slight dip in sales in September but says it’s not clear whether that trend will continue.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Reverend Todd Eklof made a vow in 2004 -- the year 11 states, including Oregon and Kentucky -- passed constitutional amendments against gay marriage. He stopped performing any marriages. But starting Dec. 9 same-sex couples can get married legally in Washington. And that day will also marks a turning point for the Spokane minister. Eklof discussed his vow with Northwest News Network's Jessica Robinson.

Yuen Lui

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The competition among counties to issue the first same-sex marriage license in Washington is heating up. Monday, one county auditor held a lottery to select the first ten couples who will receive their license just after midnight on Thursday.

Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman -- who is also Secretary of State-elect -- heard Seattle’s King County intended to issue the first license.

“Not that I am competitive, nor my staff is competitive and we thought ‘well wait a second, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be first, we could maybe issue the first license.’”

Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

PORTLAND – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is stepping up the pressure on state lawmakers to make funding a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River a top priority. The Democrat made his case for a new span between Portland and Vancouver at a gathering of business leaders Monday.

Nate Silver Meets Recess: Crunching Data In Schools

Dec 3, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

SPOKANE, Wash. - The kind of finely tuned data crunching that fueled the 2012 election is spreading to another venue: the classroom. You might have heard that campaign analysts can predict who you're likely vote for based on the magazines you read and the car you drive. Now, researchers are finding ways to predict who's likely to drop out of high school based on, say, a third grade attendance record. Schools are hoping a computer program will help them reach kids before it's too late.

Valero Alamo Bowl

‘Tis the season for college football fanatics to consult their travel agents. That’s because four Northwest teams received bowl game invites Sunday night.

The Oregon Ducks (11-1) are headed to the Fiesta Bowl outside Phoenix. They’ll play the Kansas State Wildcats (11-1) on January 3rd in a showdown of football teams that were until recently both in contention for the national championship.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The privatization of liquor sales in Washington this year is having an unintended side effect: increasing theft of booze. In Olympia Friday, lawmakers quizzed top managers of the state Liquor Control Board. The agency's deputy director, Rick Garza, says there are now five times as many liquor outlets in the state than before privatization.

Michael Pereckas / Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Stricter recordkeeping requirements for scrap metal dealers and sellers have not stopped trafficking in stolen copper wire and metal parts. That's according to Northwest police agencies and crime victims. So in Olympia Friday, Washington state lawmakers promised to look at further steps including a possible blacklist of suspicious sellers.

Kitzhaber's Budget Puts Pressure On Lawmakers

Nov 30, 2012
OPB News

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber firmly put the ball in the court of Oregon lawmakers when he released his two-year budget proposal Friday. The spending plan relies on savings gained from potentially controversial changes to the state's pension and public safety systems.

File Photo / Legislative Media

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is asking state lawmakers to cap cost of living pay increases for public sector retirees. 

Link Transit

In the last couple years, you've seen mass-produced, 100 percent electric cars take to the streets in the Northwest. In the same vein, now come the first battery powered buses. And we're not talking about trolley buses that get juice from overhead wires.

Copyright 2012 Matt McKnight

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - There’s a new effort to build a white supremacist compound in the Northwest.

Kitzhaber's Budget Relies On Cost-Cutting Measures

Nov 29, 2012
Oregon Department of Transportation

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber's proposed budget relies on cost-cutting measures to public pensions, health care and prisons. The Democrat will unveil his two-year spending plan at the state capitol Friday.

Kitzhaber's plan will divide up about $16 billion in expected state revenue. About half of that would go to education, from pre-school through college.

To help pay for the plan, the governor is proposing changes to the state's pension system for public employees. The most significant change would be a cap on cost-of-living increases for retirees.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy still has work to do to improve its own safety culture. That’s the upshot of a recent study on the federal agency that heads environmental cleanup of nuclear waste across the country, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A rash of accidental shootings involving kids and unsecured guns has some Washington lawmakers considering a change in the law. A legislative panel will meet Friday to discuss ways to prevent children from getting their hands on firearms.

FBI

A decade on the lam has ended for a suspect in a string of eco-sabotage attacks across the American West.  Alleged Earth Liberation Front fugitive Rebecca J. Rubin turned herself in at the Canadian border Thursday morning. 

Later in the day, she showed little emotion during a brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Outside the federal courthouse, defense attorney Richard Troberman explained why Rubin surrendered.  "She really wants to move her life forward without these impediments. It was just time," said Troberman.

Washington House of Representatives

Governor-elect Jay Inslee and Washington lawmakers face a nearly $3B conundrum in the next two-year budget. That's the stark assessment of House Budget Chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Hunter outlined the bigger-than-previously-reported budget gap in a PowerPoint slide presentation to fellow House Democrats at the start of two days of pre-session meetings at the Capitol.

Courtesy Columbia Grain

 

A possible strike or lock out at Northwest grain terminals would have a profound effect on U.S. wheat exports. 

US Marshals Service

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend 2009. Maurice Clemmons, an Arkansas felon living in Washington, walks into a coffee shop and guns down four Lakewood police officers. Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer described the scene as "more of an execution.”

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Imagine, for a moment, that you're a stately Noble fir, ensconced among your peers amidst a lovely forest on the Oregon coast. Summers are mild, winters are rainy; pretty much everything you could ever want as a tree. You start to think that this might be a nice place to retire.

Murray Urges More Republicans To Break Anti-Tax Pledge

Nov 28, 2012
CSPAN

U.S. Senator Patty Murray is encouraging Republican members of Congress to break campaign pledges to vote against any tax increases. The Washington Democrat made the comments on the floor of the U.S Senate Wednesday.

Murray plays a significant roll in negotiations to over how to avert budget cuts and tax hikes scheduled take effect in January. In recent days, several GOP lawmakers have softened their “No New Taxes” pledge made to conservative activist Grover Norquist.

Dog Fur Knitting: New Craft, Old Northwest Tradition

Nov 27, 2012
David Offf (L) and EnragedLioness (R) / Flickr

PORTLAND - As the cold winter weather rolls around, you may pull your warm wool sweater from the back of the closet. But these days, some people are knitting sweaters out of a different animal: dogs. It's a new craft movement that is actually part of a very old Northwest tradition.

At the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, you can find all sorts of yarn, from mohair to angora. And even some of the sheep and rabbits and goats that grew them. But here in the artists’ gallery, weaver Jerie Lucas displays sweaters and scarves knitted from another species.

Rahul Nair / Flickr

Sawmills in the Northwest have significantly ramped up production in response to the rebound in construction nationally. That's according to a market survey by an industry consultant based near Seattle.

Wood Resources International president Hakan Ekstrom says the region's sawmills are returning to profitability thanks to a happy coincidence of rising domestic and foreign demand.

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