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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.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – The huge Christmas tree in the rotunda of the Oregon capitol building is back up again. Crews had to un-decorate and lower the 30-foot Noble Fir Tuesday morning to correct a fairly basic error made when the tree was raised the day before.

You know how when you buy a Christmas tree you're always warned to slice off a piece of the trunk so the tree can more effectively take in water? Well, someone overlooked that detail for the huge tree that graces the rotunda of the Oregon capitol.

Friends of Washoe

The director of a chimpanzee institute at Central Washington University says she feels urgency to bring in new animals. The education and research program in Ellensburg is now down to two aging chimps after the weekend death of another ape known for his sign language abilities.

The chimpanzee named "Dar" was 36 years old when he died unexpectedly on Saturday of unknown causes. Autopsy results are expected later this week.

In recognition of their tenuous majority, Senate Democrats have proposed to give minority Republicans an additional seat on each policy committee, including the budget-writing Ways and Means committee. That would mean Democrats would have just a one vote advantage over Republicans. "No majority, Republican or Democratic, has allowed for such a narrow split in at least a decade," says a Democratic Caucus press release. 

Northwest's Rural Gay Community Coming Out Of The Shadows

Nov 23, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Washington legalizes same-sex marriage next month at a time when the geography of the Northwest’s gay and lesbian population is changing. Their numbers are still largest in metropolitan areas. But if you look for the biggest increases – that trend is happening in small towns and rural areas. In Idaho more gay and lesbian couples are making a choice that was once unthinkable in rural areas — they’re living openly.

Joe Palisano is used to a certain kind of reaction when he tells people where he lives.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – When Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber unveils his budget proposal November 30, it will include something of a gamble. Advisors say the Democrat's spending plan will include cost-cutting to the state's public pension system. Getting those changes through the legislature — and the courts — will be no easy task. But the cost of the pension system has gone up substantially.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - The last herds of reindeer in the continental United States are found in the Northwest. But even here, there aren't very many left. 

Randy Hoodenpyl

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Heavy rains and high winds are making it hard to get around parts of western Washington and northwest Oregon this afternoon. Flood watches and warnings are in effect across a wide area of the Northwest. At least half a dozen mudslides have blocked highways and rail lines since this morning .

The freight train of storms pummeling the Northwest has saturated soils. Some places are not getting enough time between downpours for the water to drain off. Oregon's Department of Geology put all of western Oregon on notice for increased potential of landslides.

Oregon Dept. of Corrections

SALEM, Ore. – One year ago this week, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stunned the state and made international headlines when he issued a moratorium on the death penalty. He said he hoped his action would spur state lawmakers to a conversation about the death penalty. But so far, there's little momentum for the legislature to act on the issue.

Kitzhaber called Oregon's capital punishment system "compromised and inequitable." He said the ban on executions would last through the end of his time in office.

How To Pass A Ballot Measure

Nov 15, 2012

The folks over at CFM Strategic Communications, a prominent Oregon lobbying/public relations firm, have written up an interesting post-election analysis of the campaign to pass Ballot Measure 79. 

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