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WA Cracks Down on Cell Phone Use While Driving

OLYMPIA — The Washington state Senate has taken action against distracted drivers, passing a measure Friday that makes it easier for police to ticket people who are driving while either texting or talking on a cell phone without a headset.

On a 33-15 vote Friday, the Senate passed a bill that makes it a primary offense to be caught holding a cell phone to your ear while driving, or to be reading, writing or sending text messages. That strengthens the state’s current secondary offense law, which only slaps drivers with an extra fine if they are pulled over for another infraction, such as speeding.

“It’s becoming an epidemic, people are not paying attention, and it’s extremely serious,” said Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, and sponsor of the bill. Continue Reading →


Public Meeting on Salmon Forecast

OLYMPIA – Anglers, commercial fishers and others interested in Washington state salmon fisheries can get a preview of this year’s salmon returns and proposed fishing seasons during a public meeting here March 2.

With the first chinook salmon of the year already arriving in the Columbia River, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will present initial forecasts of 2010 salmon returns that will be used to help establish salmon-fishing seasons for dozens of other waters around the state.

The meeting is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the General Administration Building Auditorium at 11th Ave. and Columbia St. on the Capitol Campus.

Those attending the meeting will have an opportunity to talk to fishery managers about the pre-season forecasts and participate in work sessions focusing on key salmon-management issues in the region.

“Public input is an important part of the season-setting process,” said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW. “We encourage anyone who has an interest in recreational and commercial salmon fisheries to get involved in these discussions and take part in the development of upcoming fishing seasons.” Continue Reading →


Assault Weapon Ban in WA Likely to Fail


Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. —
After 2009 ended in a hail of high-profile gun violence, Washington state’s gun-control advocates are frustrated by an apparent lack of political support for an assault weapons ban, warning that the state will likely face more deadly shootings without it.

The bill comes just weeks after a spate of deadly police shootings, and proponents of the ban say those killings should force politicians to confront gun violence.

“There’s more guns, a repressed economy and a lot of angry people,” said Ralph Fascitelli, board chairman for state gun control group Washington Ceasefire. “You can’t sweep this problem under a rug. Apparently the shooting of eight police isn’t enough to confront gun violence in the state.” Continue Reading →


Lawmakers ask Corp for Prompt …

Lawmakers ask Corp for Prompt Green River Dam fix


Environmental Law Clinic keeps Spokane River safe

The Gonzaga University Environmental Law Clinic submitted a 60-day notice letter on Dec. 1 to the City of Spokane concerning the large amount of pollution within the Spokane River.

The notice letter addresses the city’s violations of the Phase II Permit of the Federal Clean Water Act. Studies from 2004 and 2007 show that the pollution level of water in the Spokane River exceeds that of Water Quality Standards.

The Gonzaga University Environmental Law Clinic is representing the Spokane Riverkeeper, Rick Eichstaedt. The Riverkeeper program started in New York with the Hudson River in 1966. Eichstaedt’s role is centered on the surveillance of a major body of water and he is to be the “eyes, ears and voice for the river,” said director of the Gonzaga Environmental Law Clinic, Mike Chappell. This position is distributed through the Center for Justice.

The Environmental Law Clinic is a non-profit law firm that emerged within the Gonzaga Law School this past fall. Chappell described the importance of the notice letter as the first step toward action.

“The effect of filing a complaint is that litigation in federal court begins and the two sides are required to comply with the requirements set forth by the court,” Chappell said. Continue Reading →