Bertha and the Viaduct: Closer than ever?
The Washington State Department of Transportation advises citizens to chill about reports that the Alaskan Way Viaduct is settling farther into the ground. The sinking was anticipated in the planning process for boring the tunnel that will replace the nearby viaduct, WSDOT said in a statement Tuesday. Monitors detected ground settlement of as much as .4 inches, which is "well within" the limits set by engineers. And the department said it can do more to shore up the viaduct if need be. We hope. — J.C.
Dems seek more ed dollars
Senate Democrats unveiled a plan to put an extra $101 million into educational improvements as a way to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling and revive cost-of-living raises for teachers. Crosscut's John Stang reports that Dems would raise the millions by ending five tax breaks for businesses; we'll post a full story shortly. The Republican-dominated Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has a budget proposal with considerably less for education and no provision for teacher raises. Budget impasse, anyone? — J.C.
Today in Olympia: Republican vs. Republicans
Washington Senate Deputy Majority Leader Don Benton, R-Vancouver, scolded 14 House Republicans, including their leader Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish, for voting yes on a bill to tighten regulations on signature-gathering for initiatives. The bill is opposed by Mukilteo initiative promoter Tim Eyman. The House passed that bill 71-26 on Feb.17. It would require signature gatherers to register with the Washington Secretary of State. "I am deeply disturbed by your 'yes' vote on the Democrats' House Bill 2552 ...," Benton wrote to his fellow Republicans on Tuesday. "HB 2552 is one of the most oppressive Big Government anti-initiative bills they've ever tried. And you voted for it!" The bill is now in the Senate Government Operations Committee, where Benton is vice chair. — J.S.
More liquor sticker shock
The problem with rising liquor prices is back. According to the Department of Revenue, two years after the 2011 Initiative 1183 vote, we saw an 11 percent hike in the cost of booze. And we could see another spike at bars and restaurants, according to Associated Press. Why? Because I-1183 didn't allow for distributors to offer volume-based discounts to bar and restaurant owners. The Puget Sound Business Journal says prices could climb as much as 15 percent if the Legislature doesn't make changes in the law. The question hanging over our heads: How much are we willing to pay for that martini? — H.W.
Cleaning up at La Conner
The Department of Ecology finished raising all six sunken boats from a La Conner marina fire Tuesday afternoon, according to spokesperson Lisa Copeland. Those boats, plus another destroyed one, will be barged away and examined by investigators looking into the Friday afternoon fire that caused an estimated $1 million worth of damage. So far, Ecology officials say the fire caused no harm to wildlife. — C.H.
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