McMorris Rodgers picked to respond to Obama
Spokane Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers will give the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech next week. A report in the Spokesman Review says the opposition party usually awards the nationally televised speaking assignment to a rising star, noting that Paul Ryan delivered the speech in 2011. He went on to be the party's vice presidential candidate the following year. — J.C.
Public records, at kids' expense
A tooth-and-nail fight is brewing across the two legislative houses over juvenile arrest and conviction records. Next Wednesday Rep. Ruth Kagi, a Seattle Democrat and longtime youth advocate, will get a hearing on a revised version of her long-fought bill to seal those records. The bill passed the House unanimously last session but died in the Republican-dominated Senate. In an apparent bid to head it off, Sens. Tim Sheldon and Pam Roach today introduced SB 6403, which would ramp up the dissemination of juvenile court files by declaring that they “must be available for bulk distribution” — so data brokers and credit companies can package them for landlords, employers, etc. — and available "on any public website that is a statewide index of court cases." This "makes them more accessible,” says Roach, who insists “they shouldn’t be sealed.” Roach cites a past political candidate who “at 16 raped his two cousins repeatedly." With unsealed juvenile records, "we had the ability to find that out.” Kagi's bill would keep juvenile homicide and sex crime records public, but she wants to keep kids involved in more minor offenses from having an early mistake dog them for the rest of their lives. — E.S.
Gun votes: It's on
Secretary of State Kim Wyman certified a gun control initiative for the November ballot. The measure, Initiative 594, would require background checks on all gun purchases, including those at gun shows or between private parties. (Under current state law, you can make a sale on the street -- no background check required). Wyman's office will now begin verifying that a competing gun-rights measure, Initiative 591, also has enough signatures to go to the ballot. Technically, the Legislature could enact one or the other measure, avoiding a vote in the election. But that'd require agreement among legislators on a divisive issue and uncommon courage. — J.C.
More from Olympia
- Is a state legislator worth the same as an elementary school science teacher? Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, thinks so — or that even the poorest paid teacher is worth as much a legislator. Seaquist introduced a bill Thursday to have the Washington Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials set the annual salary of a state legislator at the same level as the average starting salary for an elementary school science teacher. Right now, a legislator makes $42,106. The state allocates $34,048 a year for a rookie teacher with a bachelor's degree, with individual school districts able to pay more. Another bill introduced earlier this week would raise that state allocation for a beginning teacher to $52,074. — J.S.
State's schools would give the governor and Legislature a rundown of Washington's homeless students every two years under a bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. That rundown would include homeless enrollment numbers, enrollment in certain special programs, academic performance, scores on standard tests, proficiency in English and dropout, truancy and absentee rates. — J.S.
Get a buzz to help your local fuzz? Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, introduced a bill Thursday to take $25 million of the tax money the state will collect from marijuana growers, processors and retailers and distribute that cash among police and sheriff's departments so they can hire extra officers. Twenty million dollars would go to cities, $5 million to counties. Population determines the size of each share. — J.S.
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