News

Keith LaFaille / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon lawmaker wants to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines in the wake of Tuesday's shooting at the Clackamas Town Center.

Police say Jacob Tyler Roberts opened fire at the crowded shopping mall, killing two people and seriously wounding another. Then he turned the gun on himself. Investigators say he was using a stolen AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

Democratic Senator Ginny Burdick says she's circulating a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would ban the sale of magazines with more than 10 rounds in Oregon.

Mall Shooting Victim Expected To Survive

Dec 11, 2012

PORTLAND – Two people, plus the suspected shooter, are dead after police say a gunman opened fire at a crowded shopping mall in suburban Portland Tuesday.

David VanHoose / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon man injured by an explosive rodent killing device is pushing lawmakers to regulate the machines. The issue was the subject of a hearing at the state capitol Tuesday.

Propane-powered pest killers like “The Rodenator” are popular for exterminating gophers and groundhogs.

But Mike Lester, who lives in the rural Cottage Grove area, sustained some internal ear damage and hearing loss when the loud device went off near him. He wants lawmakers to consider several new regulations on these contraptions including a registration system.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington environmental regulators say a new 6,000 page plan for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is very useful. But it lacks a definitive path forward for treating a large part of the radioactive sludge there.

The most radioactively contaminated waste at Hanford is set to be bound up into more stable glass logs in a huge factory being built here. But the government hasn’t decided exactly what to do with everything else -- the Low Activity Waste -- in this new massive cleanup roadmap.

Tom Banse. File photo of a Mazama pocket gopher

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Northwest may have another species listed as endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday proposed listing the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened in the South Puget Sound region of western Washington. This is the third time this fall the government has moved to protect a critter that depends on dwindling Northwest prairies or coastal grasslands.

Washington Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Some Washington Democrats are reacting angrily to a power grab in the state senate. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday they will seize the majority, but share power.

The chair of the Washington State Democratic Party says Senators Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon are turning their backs on their own party. The two Democrats say they will join forces with Republicans to govern the chamber from the middle.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A big shake-up in the control of the Washington state senate could have major implications for how lawmakers address funding for schools next year. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday it has just enough votes to depose the current Democratic majority.

The chair of the Washington Democratic party calls it a “coup” and a “prescription for instability and division.” But former Republican turned Democrat Rodney Tom -- who will lead the new majority coalition -- says voters want governing from the middle.

Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A coalition of Republicans and two renegade Democrats have announced a plan to seize control of the Washington state senate. 

Kitzhaber Calls Special Session, Eyes Nike Expansion

Dec 10, 2012
Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers will convene in Special Session this Friday. Governor John Kitzhaber announced Monday that the session is urgently needed to facilitate a major expansion of Oregon-based Nike.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington is currently a Democratic one party rule state. But that could change this week. A possible challenge to the Democrats' tenuous control of the Washington state senate could emerge. Senate Republicans have called a news conference Monday morning at the Capitol. A bipartisan group of senators is expected make an announcement regarding the leadership of the state’s upper chamber. All it would take is two Democratic senators to join with Republicans to create a philosophical majority.

Washington Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Washington’s newly elected governor, attorney general and secretary of state are busy hiring staff, announcing transition teams and setting up shop in the Capitol. But newly elected Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley hasn’t been seen much.

Kelley is a Democratic State Representative who was elected to replace outgoing auditor Brian Sonntag who’s held the office for 20 years. Sonntag says he met Kelley for coffee after the election.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Supporters of same-sex marriage in the Northwest are at once celebrating and downplaying the latest news from the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court announced Friday that it would review a ban on same-sex marriage in California, as well as a federal law that prohibits gays and lesbians from receiving federal spousal benefits.

Sasha Buchert with Basic Rights Oregon says it's not clear what a Supreme Court ruling would mean for the ban on same-sex marriage approved by Oregon voters in 2004.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. –The Oregon Lottery spends millions of dollars a year to prevent gambling addiction. But some Oregon lawmakers say that effort has been ineffective. Now, a legislative committee may force the Lottery to hire someone to coordinate its anti-addiction efforts.

Jeff Marotta runs a Portland-based consulting firm that helps lottery agencies nationwide develop anti-addiction programs. He chaired a work group convened by the Lottery that found its anti-addiction efforts lacked focus.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. -- President Barack Obama has been publicly warning Syria’s leaders not to use chemical weapons against their own people. The news is unexpectedly relevant in southeast Washington. Researchers at at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing new scientific techniques to trace chemical agents back to their sources.

Carlos Fraga is a dapperly dressed Ph.D. chemist, doing research for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His lab looks normal enough -- that is until he points out a certain cabinet.

Oregon Governor Pushes Corrections Cost-Cutting

Dec 6, 2012
OPB News

SALEM, Ore. – Governor John Kitzhaber says Oregon can save millions of dollars a year by changing the way the state punishes non-violent criminals. The Democrat has included those savings in his next spending plan. But just how the state would save that much money is not yet clear.

When Kitzhaber rolled out his budget proposal at the capitol, he took certain options off the table when it comes to cutting prison costs.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. and KENNEWICK, Wash. – In Washington’s capital city, the county auditor was also prepared for a rush of marriage-license applicants. Instead, it felt like business as usual. Just one couple got showed up.

Deborah Dulaney and Diane McGee dressed warmly and brought an umbrella. They figured they’d be waiting out in the rain to get a wedding license on day one.

“Then we just walk right in," Diane says. "It was nice, but I’m kind of disappointed. I wanted to party.”

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.

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