Bertha: No plan yet
The state and Seattle Tunnel Partners stopped just short of saying construction crews will have to dig 60 feet down to repair the tunnel boring machine that remains stuck on, er, under the waterfront. In an update Friday, the state said STP expects to have a final plan and schedule for repairs to the machine's main bearing. Even without a final decision, however, STP will begin designing how exactly the shaft will connect to Bertha. — J.C.
Pot rules clarified
Under new federal guidance, some big banks won't be comfortable accepting deposits from legal marijuana businesses. Small- and medium-sized banks can probably fly under the radar since Attorney General Eric Holder is making prosecutions a low priority. According to The Seattle Times, the industry's main lobbying group wants Congress to rewrite the laws in a way that protects big banks from pot-related prosecution. But an unidentified Treasury official tells The Times that banks have room to make individual decisions about how they handle pot industry deposits. — J.C.
Ridesharing rules of the road
A Seattle City Council committee backburnered some of the big decisions on new ridesharing rules, including whether to limit the number of vehicles operated by app-based services like Lyft and Uber. The services hate the idea, and threaten to leave town if limits are imposed. City Council, however, can't even get data from the ridesharing services that would let the Council evaluate whether and what sort of limit might make sense. Crosscut's Bill Lucia will report on the developments. — J.C.
Conversion on gay conversion
The state House passed a bill Thursday to outlaw the so-called gay conversion therapy, sending it to the Senate for consideration. One encouraging sign for supporters was the bill's whopping 94-to-4 approval by the House. And, as Publicola points out, Republican Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis gave a powerful speech about how listening to people share their experiences with the practice brought him to support the outlaw measure. "As a Christian person, I can't stand by and idly watch somebody be put through ... a torturous practice," he said. (Publicola has embedded the speech.) — J.C.
Coal port debate
Whatcom County officials Friday afternoon posted the draft contract for environmental review of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, language that the developer, SSA Marine, has had under review since Dec. 12. The contract reflects an earlier announcement that its scope would include rail traffic throughout Washington, and a full health-impact study. It also revealed that state and county officials would not consider job or tax benefits from the project; both have been major talking points for terminal supporters.
The contract also referenced a permit issued to SSA in 1997 for a much-smaller terminal to export grain, potash and other products, but not coal; this was listed as the developer’s fallback plan if the large project is scrapped. — F.M.
Today in Olympia: Education bill approved
- A bipartisan measure on the implementation of the McCleary education ruling passed the Washington Senate 45-4 Thursday. In 2012, the Washington Supreme Court ordered that teacher-student ratios in grades K-3 be improved, the number of credits to graduate high school be increased to 24, and the number of annual instructional hours in grades 9-12 be increased to 1,080. Republicans and Democrats are feuding over the teacher-student ratio issue. However, a bill by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, and Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, easily sailed through the Senate to implement the 1,080-hour requirement starting in the 2015-2016 school year, and to put the 24-credit requirement in place by 2019. Currently, those requirements vary by school district. The bill now goes to the House. — J.S.
- Janéa Holmquist Newbry, a conservative member of the Washington Senate, will form an exploratory committee to see she wants to try to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Doc hastings in east-central Washington's 4th Congressional District .The conservative Hastings has announced his impending retirement after 20 years in Congress. Last year, Crosscut profiled Holmquist Newbry, a 39-year-old Republican from Moses Lake who easily wins elections in her district. She has served 12 years in the state House and Senate. She has recently criticized the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus for not holding public hearings prior to its quick, surprise passage of the state DREAM Acot to help high school graduates whose parents are undocumented immigrants. She has pushed bills to lower the minimum wage for workers during their first 680 hours of employment. — J.S.
First black teacher
Funeral services will be held Saturday for Shirley Walthall, a remarkable leader in education and community affairs for decades. An obituary in The Herald recounts her dynamism and the positive effects she had on those around her (clear on any first meeting) but also powerfully shares something that many of her admirers might have forgotten or never known. Walthall, who was just 72 when she died last week, was the school district's first black teacher. Her positions in the school district included serving as principal at the school where she first taught. — J.C.
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