kingenergytracking
 

King County Executive Dow Constantine (foreground, left) tours a new energy use tracking system being installed by the county. (See the local government section.) (image/King County)

 
After the gubernatorial excitement of the last few weeks, things seemed to settle down a bit in Oregon last week. Just as the legislative activity started to pick up.

So it seemed in the other two states as well.

Idaho officials managed a short-term stopgap last week in the public school broadband collapse; money was appropriated, and for the most part at least the system will not go dark – for now. How long the stopgap may sufficie, though, remains unclear.

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crapotftn
 

Senator Mike Crapo (left) talking with two editors of the Twin Falls Times News, Matt Christensen (center) and Jon Alexander. (photo/Senator Crapo)

 
The Idaho legislature continues on, moving ahead on normal schedule – so far. Two bumps in the road loomed a little larger last week, one being the problem of the school broadband funding (which some legislators were hoping to resolve by end of the week) and the other road funding, for which a variety of options have surfaced. Battle lines appeared not to have hardened, at least not yet. This week may tell whether the back end of those stories plays easily or hard.

The arrival and swearing in of new Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and some of her initial steps as governor, dominated discussion around the state last week. This week, it may return to the legislature overall.

To the north, will this be an unusual thing – Governor Jay Inslee complimenting the legislature for sending him its budget ahead of expected schedule – or was it a one-shot? The ability of legislators to wrap up in a single session may hang in the balance.

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Schweitzer
 
On Schweitzer Mountain, near Sandpoint, on January 1. It is one of the ski areas open around Idaho. (photo/Schweitzer Mountain Resort)

 

You may notice a few changes, mostly small but some larger, in this edition of the Briefing, the first of 2015. Some of the type fonts have changed (to a new one called “Droid,” which was specially designed to be easily read on electronic documents), and we are developing a few new small features. More will emerge in the next few weeks. The old familiars from last year will, of course, be back.

For Washington and Idaho, next week’s editions will likely be legislature-heavy, as those states’ lawmakers come into session. (Oregon is next month.)

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Middleton signage
 

A cluster of political signs (and one commercial sign as well) posted on November 1, on a farm just outside of Middleton in Canyon County. (photo/Randy Stapilus)

 
As last week ended, political campaigns began to fold their tents – along with some strong final-weekend activity – and everyone prepared for absorbing the results on the evening of November 4. A large chunk of the news revolved in one way or another around those elections.

Watch here for election analysis on Tuesday night.

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Hammer Flats
 
Spraying and other action for control of noxious weeds is underway in many places around Idaho; here, an Ada County weed control truck is spraying. (photo/Ada County)
 

As the primary elections in Oregon and Idaho near, political campaign activity hits a peak, with advertising starting to run heavily and campaigns hitting hard with their closing cases.

Meanwhile, some indicators of economic slowdown, in cases of revenue falling a bit short of expectations in Washington and Idaho.

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red algae
 
ALGAE BLOOM: This is a red-orange algae bloom spotted at Edmonds on May 16. (Photo/submitted to the Department of Ecology by Jeri Cusimano)
 

In Washington and Oregon both (most notably in Oregon), state tax revenue reported as rising, and unemployment dropping – one of the best weeks of economic news in more than half a decade. Not bad in Idaho, either.

If the mood in Olympia seems still a bit sour, that has more to do with political battling than anything else: The core news is not so bad, though legislators are likely to keep up their conflicts for some weeks to come. How about special session?

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cormorants
 
Cormorants perched above the water, on an estuary along the Oregon coast. (Image/Oregon Fish & Wildlife)

 

An image from the Oregon Weekly Briefing, a year ago. Good odds that the cormorants are back again.

Worth a note on a fine spring day in most of the Northwest.

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osprey
OSPREY HATCH: Transportation Department crews placed an osprey nest atop a high platform; soon an osprey flew by to inspect their work. ITD environmental planners were concerned that relocating the nest from the Del Rio Bridge on the U.S. 20 business loop east of St. Anthony would drive the birds away. Twenty minutes after ITD workers left the site, however, an osprey landed, apparently ready to homestead.. (image/Idaho Department of Transportation)

 

This week’s Briefings were heavy on legislative and post-legislative activity, but there was plenty of resource news too … such as the posting of a nest of Osprey in Idaho.

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A rendering of the planned patas monkey exhibit at the Boise Zoo. (image/Boise Zoo)

 

An advance look at the new exhibition buiilding for Boise Zoo’s patas monkeys, expected to be unveiled this summer. Efforts toward the new building were launched last year after one of the monkeys was killed by a human intruder.

Economic and legislative stories dominated the news in the Briefings across the three Northwest states, as legislators prepare to do their thing for 2013.

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dock
The Albany-Eugene 115-kilovolt No. 1 transmission line, which the Bonneville Power Administration plans to rebuild. (Image/BPA)

Last week, Washington’s two main candidates for governor met in their first debate, at Spokane. The University of Oregon got a new president. A referendum on Washington state’s new same-sex marriage law won ballot status. Idaho Republicans prepared for their convention at Twin Falls.

The Oregon Supreme Court ordered released a mass of files held by the Boy Scouts of America on sex abuse allegations. PILT funds were released by the Department of Interior. The job picture improved slightly in Washington but worsened a bit in Idaho.

Federal officials started a launch toward creating a new national history park, commemorating the Manhattan Project. A system was set up for calculating property taxes online.

All this and a lot more in this week’s Briefings. For more, write us at [email protected]

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dock
Oregon Fish & Wildlife employees scrub a dock of creatures clinging to it on a long trip from Japan. (Photo/Department of Fish & Wildlife)

Last week, a dock from Japan, unmoored when that nation suffered a tsunami earlier this year, washed up on a beach new Newport. Signatures were turned in at the Washington Secretary of State’s office for a referendum to overturn the state’s new same-sex marriage laws.

Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo announced her resignation, turning over that job to Governor John Kitzhaber. Long-time public Idahoans Perry Swisher died at Boise.

A grazing act proposed by Representative Raul Labrador clears a key committee. The number of adults in Washington getting pertussis vaccination is on a sharp rise. Oregon state officials have block a plan to allow liquor licenses at some Portland food carts.

All this and a lot more in this week’s Briefings. For more, write us at [email protected]

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tobacco
Tobacco seized from prison inmates in Idaho. (Photo/Idaho Department of Corrections)

Last week, Washington state’s initiative requiring a legislative supermajority to pass tax and fee increases was struck down by a court. Former New York and Miami school chief Rudy Crew was named to head Oregon’s education reorganization efforts. Ada County has denied a major property tax exemption for the Idaho Youth Ranch.

An Oregon state audit looked into the overally financial condition of the state’s 36 counties, finding most of them in acceptable shape but several (mainly in the southwest) serious troubled. Idaho’s first wildfires of the season have cropped up. King County is taking a closer look at the sports arena plan proposed by the county executive and Seattle’s mayor. Washington has set up I-5 from Canada to Vancouver for electric car recharges. Multnomah County has set its new annual budget.

A Boise State University study said that global warming could impair the region’s aquifers. Representative Peter DeFazio is asking White House help to look into gas prices on the West Coast. A federal sea lion policy allowing for killing of sea lions is allowed to stand.

All this and a lot more in this week’s Briefings. For more, write us at [email protected]

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rail build
A time-lapse image capture of construction of a new rail bridge across the Willamette. (Photo/capture from Tri-Met)

Last week, economic forecasts around the region showed a slight improvement – but just slight. In Idaho, some county jobless rates fall, but others rose.

Oregon state auditors say that school districts in the state have missed $40 million in energy cost savings. Washington State University researchers say they have come up with a new super battery. RealNetworks settled on a series of customer complaints with the state of Washington. Idaho legislators pushed for more potato sales access in Mexico.

The first fires of the season in Washington were reported. In Idaho, discussion flared about whether Idaho might be at risk of having to take more nuclear waste (the governor says not). Representative Doc Hastings had his say on a federal stormwater-logging rule. The Portland-Milwaukie light rail picked up some major federal financial support, while Metro worked on a new process on public engagement. A new transit center moved toward reality at Moscow.

All this and a lot more in this week’s Briefings. For more, write us at [email protected]

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Geithner
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner visits Portland. (Photo/Office of Mayor Sam Adams)

Last week, the economic news was a mixed bag (not unusual in the Northwest) – Washington’s taxable sales were up, Oregon’s economic indicators remained mixed in the monthly University of Oregon indicators report. Boise State University released a book showing economic trends and conditions on the micro level in Ada County. Boise city looked at revising its taxi ordinance.

Oregon got a big boost when the feds okayed a state plan on revising Medicaid. Washington State University jumped its tuition levels. A Washington entrepreneurial idea: New uses for old government data.

The Department of Ecology issued a draft Hanford report, signalling basic approvals. An abandoned barge on the Columbia could be costly for the Portland metro area, while several area Republican U.S. representatives said they were concerned about the trend lines at Columbia Crossing.

All this and a lot more in this week’s Briefings. For more, write us at [email protected]

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Oxbow
The Broadway Bridge in Boise under the microscope. (Photo/Idaho Transportation Department)

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger said he will resign this summer to take over as president of Reed College. Governor Gregoire signed off on the state’s supplemental budget, ending the last substantial legislative activity for the year. Oregon’s secretary of state imposed a stiff fine on an initiative organizer. In Idaho, capitol mall demonstration rules were released by the state Department of Administration.

Personal income has taken a jump in Idaho. Hanford site operators are planning a major contract extension. Portland released an analysis of its economic development by detailed regions. Whooping cought cases in Washington are running well past 1,000. About 144 state liquor stores were sold, apart from the many more that were auctioned off, netting the state around $30 million.

Washington is bearing down on worker compensation fraud, and in Idaho the EPA is going after a dairy in Jerome. A major water diversion effort, backed by Representative Mike Simpson, is making its way through Congress. Oregon is looking for comments on management of parts of its state forest system.

Much more in the Briefings. Contact us for more.

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