Police chief confirmed
Seattle has its new police chief: Kathleen O'Toole. The former Boston police commissioner was sworn in after the City Council confirmed her on an 8-to-1 vote this afternoon. Crosscut's Bill Lucia will have a full report later.
5 area hospitals could face penalties
Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital, Swedish Medical Center hospitals on First Hill and Cherry Hill, and MultiCare Auburn Medical Center are among a quarter of U.S. hospitals whose Medicare payments may be docked for high rates of infection and other patient injuries, according to a Seattle Times report. Starting in October, about 30 percent of Washington hospitals and more than a third of Oregon hospitals — 761 nationwide — may face a 1 percent reduction of every Medicare payment for a year. The sanctions, estimated to total $330 million nationwide, are likely to pack a bigger punch to major teaching hospitals like Harborview, and those that are publicly owned and treat many low-income patients. — E.W.
Oil train worries
Two Washington state senators have asked the feds to go further in expanding public disclosure requirements on oil trains. Last week, the U.S. Deparment of Transportation department said any train carrying more than 1 million gallons of oil must make information on the contents available to emergency services and the public. However, Sens. Christine Rolfes, D- Bainbridge Island, and Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, have sent a letter to the feds, asking for public disclosure on any trains that include oil cars. "An incident involving release and ignition of Bakken crude from even one rail car could potentially cause the loss of life and severe damage in some of our densely populated communities," they wrote.
In the Washington Legislature, Democratic legislators have favored notifications about trains carrying oil, while Republicans have said companies should be able to keep information confidential. Neither side has been able to get its oil train legislation passed. — J.S.
Bank prizes for saving?
Last year, Washington state credit unions began offering savings accounts available to anyone with the chance to win cash prizes, based on a law that was introduced in 2011 by then-state legislator Derek Kilmer. Now, as a U.S. Congress member, Kilmer hopes to allow the same offerings by federally chartered banks.
The state law was designed to encourage more savings by Americans; a quarter of the population has zero savings, and nearly half have less than $1,000 tucked away.
The Seattle Times Washington correspondent Kyung M. Song notes that Kilmer's American Savings Promotions Act has been picked up by 21 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors in the U.S. House and two in the Senate. Kilmer sees the idea of cash prizes as an incentive. “If you make it more fun, they’re more likely to save,” he said. — J.B.
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