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ridenbaugh Northwest
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From an April 20 release by Washington Senator Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

State Sen Michael Baumgartner is taking aim at the roadhogs who get into the fast lane – and just poke along.

In a bill introduced late last week in Olympia, the Spokane Republican proposes that left-lane drivers who drive slower than the speed limit be slapped with special penalties, when they drive continuously in the left lane and impede traffic. The slower they drive, the higher the fine. It’s the same way speeding tickets work, but in reverse.

“How often have you found yourself stuck in slow-moving freeway traffic because someone is hogging the fast lane?” Baumgartner asks. “If you drive back and forth on the freeways from Spokane to Olympia the way I do, you can’t help thinking there ought to be a law.”

Already the state of Washington makes it a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multi-lane highway, when it impedes the flow of traffic. The left lane is supposed to be used only for passing, moving aside for merging traffic, or preparing for a left turn.

Baumgartner says too many motorists haven’t gotten the message. So his bill, SB 6105, creates a new traffic offense of aggravated left-lane driving. In addition to the $124 fine for continuous left lane driving, a slowpoke could be slapped with additional penalties. They would start at $27 for one-to-five miles under the speed limit, and rise to $67 for 16-to-20 miles an hour under the limit.

“Poky left-lane drivers aren’t just a nuisance,” Baumgartner said. “They’re a safety hazard, forcing other drivers to slam on their brakes, tailgate or weave around them to the right. You can recognize them by the long line of frustrated drivers you’ll find right behind them. There ought to be a penalty for that sort of obliviousness.”

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Tony Doerr wins Pullitzer for novel (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Downtown site okayed for IF fire station (IF Post Register)
Major renovations planned at Lewiston high school (Lewiston Tribune)
Latah commissioners ask special session on child support (Moscow News)
Pocatello-Chubbuck fire move ahead on merger (Pocatello Journal)
Jerome okays new rendering plant (TF Times News)

Unease in Springfield on home for mentally ill (Eugene Register Guard)
Smoke from Siberia fires drift to northwest (Medford Tribune)
Umatilla sheriff contracts help county budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Last court challenge to Oregon gay marriage fails (Portland Oregonian)

Mt Baker ski area ends poor season (Bellinghan Herald)
School districts protesting budget (Everett Herald)
Highway 522 work hits fish habitat (Everett Herald)
Looking further into Auditor Kelley background (Kennewick Herald, Olympian)
Report says Richland needs more day care (Kennewick Herald)
Wildfire smoke fom Siberia spreads to Northwest (Longview News)
Inslee signs teen cardiac arrest bill (Longview News)
State treasurer urges income tax passage (Longview News)
Homeless count finds decrease in numbers (Olympian)
Seattle Times gets Pulitzer for Oso reportage (Seattle Times)
Bill goes after left-lane slow drivers (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma Amtrak station gets approval (Tacoma News Tribune)
Possible overtime session in the works (Vancouver Columbian)
Judge blasts conduct of county clerk (Yakima Herald Republic)

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