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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Oxbow
Candidates Gone Wold. On stage.

Portland held its regular Candidates Gone Wild event – featuring Portland-area candidates – at the Bagdad Theatre.

A travel ruling affecting the Clearwater National Forest was upheld at the regional level; but another ruling, about the Whitman-Wallowa National Forest, was put on hold internally. In Washington, jobs are up but the unemployment rate remains flat. In Idaho, the jobless rate fell below 8%. Mountain Home Air Force Base formally installed a new commander.

Chicken pox cases were found at the Oregon state pen. The Washington state health agency is planning to expand its involvement with Medicaid activities. The last round of legislation from the 2012 Idaho legislative session was signed into law. Washington state government found a string of ways to reduce its ink pen purchases, cut its choices for printing paper building and reduced toner and ink cartridge buys by more than three-fourths.

The congressional delegation from the Spokane area issued a statement in favor of the North Corridor project. The Oregonian endorsed candidates in primary contests in all five Oregon U.S. House districts. Washington released its mid-month regulatory proposals. Idaho was slated to receive more than $20 million from settlements in drug legal cases. Congressional campaign contributions were reported (and results show up in this week’s Briefings).

Much more in the Briefings. Contact us for more.

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Orting
Setting up the new food bank at the former funeral home, in Orting. (Image from Pierce County TV)

In Orting, they’ve turned a funeral home into a food bank, which may be a positive metaphor for something. Elsewhere, the region settles down into a post-policy mode as the last-adjourning of its legislature (Washington’s) hit the sine die mark last week.

There were other governmental marks – the signing of the last legislation passed in the Oregon session (no vetoes this year for the one-time Dr. No) and the opening of a new east side courthouse building in Multnomah County – but more of the activity seemed to be environmental and cultural. A new study showed electric vehicle use in the region seems to be headed upward. A mountain lion was caught near Pocatello, even as reverberations continue over wolf hunting (or tracking, in the case of OR-7 near Oregon).

But in Oregon and Idaho, primary elections are only weeks away. Expect more politics in next week’s editions.

Interested in getting the Briefing in your Monday e-mail? Send a note to [email protected].

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Oxbow
Renovation work end at the Oxbow regional park just east of Troutdale, Oregon.

The economy shows signs of stabilizing into a slow growth, and the Washington legislature shows signs of stabilizing, period. And much of Idaho is riveted by a viral photo of a wolf hunt (even as Oregon’s OR-7 re-crosses into California).

Meantime Oregon, which comes up first in the Northwest with its round of primary elections, begins to get ready. Newspaper endorsements last week (Oregonian, city council, no surprises) were one early sign of that.

And much more in this week’s three editions of the Briefing, for Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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Seattle Police Chief John Diaz talks about the proposed policy changes the department plans in the wake of federal inquiries.

The legislature ended its yearly work in Idaho, but plodded on in special session in Washington. And the region was awash in rain. Some of the mountains were re-packed with snow (the point of the Oregon edition’s cover).

Seattle saw a response from the city to federal concerns about police department policies on use of force and related issues. (That’s the police chief in the Washington briefing cover picture above, explaining those responses.)

If you’d like to see a full copy of the briefing, just drop us a line at [email protected]

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In what might have been a quiet political week, some political uproar, in Washington and Oregon at least. In Washington, Representative Jay Inslee resigned to become (full time) gubernatorial candidate Inslee. The Washington legislature continued with its squabbles over the budget.

But those aroused less emotion than the squabbles in the Idaho Legislature over an abortion ultrasound bill, which the Senate passed and sent to the House, which at first seemed likely to pass it as well. Then a committee hearing on it was abruptly canceled, and the bill looked as if it might be held in committee. Meanwhile, the legislature moved toward adjournment, likely this week.

More in the Washington, Oregon and Idaho Briefings.

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Another round of federal approval to go after sea lions, which have been going after fish (as is their wont), has gotten federal approval, and we’re more likely to see stepped up activity along that front in Washington and Oregon.

In Washington and Idaho, meanwhile, legislatures continue on. Budget battles are the big issue in Washington, as a coalition of Senate Republicans plus a few Democrats have began to face off against the larger-majority House Democrats. (Will they use up the rest of their special session time on this?) In Idaho, budget issues are mostly resolved, but others still abound as legislators hope for adjournment soon – from the ultrasound bill in the Senate to the ethics issues involving Senator Monty Pearce.

More on all this and more in this week’s Washington, Oregon and Idaho’s weekly briefings. Write us ([email protected]) for more information or a sample.

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Coming up Monday in the Washington, Oregon and Idaho Public Affairs Digests, stories about:

How wolves may be helping another predator species, the Canada lynx.

The meaning behind the new yelloweye rockfish efforts.

The impact of the significant auto fabrication plant opening in Moses Lake.

The abrupt launch of wildfires around the region.

The big Hanford contract just given to a local Richland firm.

Studies of how the middle class in Oregon, and wages overall in Idaho, are fast losing ground.

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sheep
Shearing sheep in a late Oregon winter. (photo/Linda Watkins)

Washington and Idaho legislative sessions moved toward final budget decisions as March moved into April, while Oregon’s legislators began rolling out their major initial proposals – though final action there may be several months away.

Economic indicators in Oregon and Washington continued cautiously upward, though on a slow trajectory.

Some of the larger stories in the Washington edition:

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger completed

bullet Still little consensus over Alaskan Way

bullet Highway spending report

bullet Efficiency projects launched at UW

In the Oregon edition:

bullet Budget committee chairs release proposal

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger completed

bullet Not all Portland utility money goes to utilities

bullet New biodiesel fuel requirement

In the Idaho edition:

bullet Third bill in Luna proposal passes

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger completed

bullet PUC rejects conservation fund proposal

bullet A child abuse proclamation

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Canyon County
Idaho Democrats speak at a Canyon County event. (photo/Idaho House Democrats)

Washington and Idaho legislative sessions moved toward their climaxes, with major budget structuring underway in Washington and a couple of major bills – the last of the Tom Luna overhaul bills, which cleared the Senate, and the guns on campus bill, which died there – moving toward final action.

Economic indicators in Oregon and Washington continued to point cautiously upward.

Some of the larger stories in the Washington edition:

bullet Prison safety initiatives planned

bullet Tacoma port volume triples

bullet Seattle allows park and ride options

bullet Island farming

In the Oregon edition:

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger approved by PUC

bullet Representatives urge small-county payments

bullet SEIU proposes state budget shifts

bullet Commission offers global warming report

In the Idaho edition:

bullet Third bill in Luna proposal passes

bullet Personal income growth in Idaho dips

bullet Wolf litigation sans Idaho

bullet Idaho State enrollment drops

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