Writings and observations

outside waiting

 
People who use e-cigarettes, own and work at vape shops, gather outside the Multnomah Building before the March 5 board meeting, at which new county rules on vaping were adopted.

 
The Oregon Legislature has begun to kick out a number of pieces of legislation, including some major measures on subjects ranging from motor-voter to clean fuels. It’s beginning now to look as if a busy session lies ahead.

More ‘shot heard ‘round the world’ quotes emerged last week from Idaho legislators, which may give leadership all the more incentive to try to shut down before the end of March (as is the current plan).

In Washington, the legislature is hitting its relative frenzied peak, with lots of legislation scrambling for position before the series of cutoffs hits and wipes out most of the prospects.

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Kitzhaber

 
Governor John Kitzhaber on January 12, about a month before he would announce his resignation. (photo/Office of the Governor)

 
The resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber completely preoccupied Salem and much of the rest of Oregon last week. (It became a national and international news story.) Next: What happens as new Governor Kate Brown takes office and develops a new administration?

In Washington, the legislature has gotten down to business – which is to say, questions of money. Transportation and education budgets were the subject of negotiations last week, and more will emerge this week. By the end of this week, it may be clear whether one legislative session will suffice, or more will be needed.

The most long-range significant event of last week in Idaho may have been the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the St. Lukes and Saltzer merger, which may set major guidelines for health care administration in the state – or, guidelines that might be addressed by law. The implications are far reaching; news coverage of the case was much less so.

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animal

 
Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on February 4 introduced The AWARE Act to ensure that farm animals used in agricultural research at federal research facilities be included in the definition of “animal” under the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act ensures that certain minimum standards of humane care are adhered to in federal and private research facilities. However, the Act defines “animal” in a way that egregiously excludes farm animals used in agricultural research. Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick spoke with leaders from the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) at a press conference. (photo/Representative Blumenauer)

The Seahawks’ Super Bowl loss was duly reported around the state Sunday evening and Monday morning, and then quickly dropped. (What Seahawks?) Some advocates, however, pointed put that overall the team had played two spectacularly sucessful seasons in a row, and a Super Bowl return in 2016 does not seem an unreasonable prospect.

Oregon’s political picture was upended last week with the continuing difficulties of Governor John Kitzhaber – a press conference that went awry, a subsequent call for his resignation from the Portland Oregonian and later a couple of recall proposals. The pressure is not likely to let up in the week ahead.

In Idaho, school broadband concerns – and the growing probability of a shutdown of school broadband in the state – took front stage last week. Elsewhere, the legislature began moving toward budget-setting, which may be a closely related topic.

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barney football

 
Barney, male harbor seal at the Seattle Aquarium with a Seahawks football. The aquarium said, “Our harbor seals (Barney, Q and Siku) got another fumble return and touchdown pass practice in today before the big game this weekend.” (Photo/Seattle Aquarium)

 

We’ll have a little more about the Super Bowl in next week’s Washington Briefing, but the basics are well enough known already: The Seahawks lost a competitive game after what was called the “worst play ever” called by their coach, resulting in the New England Patriots taking control of the ball at a critical moment.

Elsewhere around the three states, legislatures get into full swing – now in Oregon as well as in Washington and Idaho – with financial and other decisions in play.

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gun

 
Tactical Export Strategies has organized 13 Idaho recreation-technology (rec-tech) companies to create a complete and functioning firearm from Idaho-made products. This firearm will be on display at the 2015 Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (S.H.O.T) Show in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo Center January 20-23, 2015, in the Idaho Commerce booth (booth 2943).  (Image/Idaho Department of Commerce)

 
The Oregon Ducks’ loss at the national championship level stung, and it may not have been exactly the right note on which to launch the Oregon Legislature and re-swear in (for the fourth time) Governor John Kitzhaber. But the timing was fixed. A large portion of the governor’s combination inaugural and state of the state speech is in this edition along with a commentary on its unusual content.

The Washington Legislature launched last week, with much of the attention going to the governor’s state of the state address; much of it is reprinted in this edition. A pile of legislation was introduced as well, and some samples are referenced in the state section.

As per usual, the Idaho Legislature hasn’t immediately roared into action – things move a little slower in the first couple of weeks – but a lot of attention went to the governor’s state of the state address. A large chunk of it is reprinted in this issue, along with part of the Democratic response.

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Newhouse
 
The Northwest’s newest member of Congress, Dan Newhouse (third from left) of Washington’s 4th district, is sworn into office by House Speaker John Boehner. (photo/Office of Representative Newhouse)

 
Here comes the legislature – over the next week.

That means different things in the three states. In Washington and Idaho, the legislatures kick off into full regular sessions starting today, with governor’s state of the states among the leading early activities (today in Idaho, tomorrow in Washington. In Oregon, a pro forma organizational session will be held today and tomorrow, with a speech from the governor (combining inaugural and state and the state), but the full legislative session won’t begin until February 2.

In the next Briefings you’ll find full reports on the governor’s address, the early legislation filed and early statements and policy moves.

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bighorns

 
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife captured and relocated California bighorn sheep at several locations this week to improve genetic diversity among herds and continue efforts to restore this native species in Oregon. Bighorns were captured in the Deschutes and John Day River canyons and in the Branson Creek area of Grant County. Fifteen sheep captured in the Deschutes River Canyon were released at Alvord Peaks (Harney County) and 20 sheep captured in the John Day River Canyon went to McClellan (Grant County). (photo/ODFW)

 

As new officeholders prepare for transitions and the governor begins dropping proposals for the new legislature, things generally are cooling down in advance of the Christmas-New Years holidays.

One more Briefing in 2014 – next week – and then we’ll pause for a week during the Christmas-New Year’s interregnum.

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Tillicum

 
Starting December 4 a second test of the aesthetic lighting on the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People will take place. It will test the full spectrum of colors and the subtle motion that will change with the seasons and the activity of the Willamette River. The aesthetic lighting was created by artists Douglas Hollis and the late Anna Valentina Murch for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project’s Public Art Program. The public can view the lights from both sides of the Willamette River near the bridge. (photo/Tri-Met)

 
No lack of protests in the Seattle-Portland areas last week, not just up north in Seattle but plenty in Portland too. They may, in the Portland fashion, continue for a while.

With the Idaho legislature organized, lawmakers return home for a month of preparation for the three months or so of session. So too will the lobbyists, several times in number compared to the legislators. Bills are being readied for introduction. We’ll keep a look out.

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Christmas tree

 
Straight from the Tillamook State Forest, this Noble Fir went up in the Capitol Rotunda. (photo/Department of Forestry)

 
Entering the holiday limbo between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a good deal of legislative preparation work (which long since has begun) will kick into high gear. Expect to see more of that next week.

The next term of the Idaho Legislature opens next week with its two-day (or so) organizational session, when leadership positions and committee assignments are filled. We’ll have a report on that next week.

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Spalding bridge

 
Repair work was recently completed on the Spalding Bridge, taking state Highway 8 over the Clearwater River. See the story in the transportation section. (photo/Idaho Transportation Department)

 
This week will be a quiet stretch in official action in the Northwest states (as elsewhere), with the Thanksgiving holiday dominating the latter part of the week. There’ll be plenty of news stories, of course, about Black Friday (and Black Thursday).

Whatever your plans: happy Thanksgiving!

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