Crowd roars at ‘Moment of Loudness’ celebration in Olympia

By | February 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

It may not be the Seattle victory parade, but Seahawks fans in Olympia got in on the action today.

At exactly 12:12 p.m., a few hundred Seahawks fans gathered on the capitol steps in Olympia to cheer in a “Moment of Loudness” to celebrate team’s Super Bowl win. Earlier this week, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation calling for the moment.

For some it was a spirited way to spend a lunch break, for others it was a chance to let loose in between floor sessions and hearings. Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D- Seattle, fired up the crowd and led a roaring “Go Seahawks” chant.

Moments later, it was back to business as usual.

Watch the video here (warning– you may want to turn down your volume a few notches):

Hemp farming would be legalized under legislation

By | January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington became a marijuana-friendly state when voters approved Initiative 502 legalizing marijuana. Now, the legislature is talking about making hemp farming legal as well.

Joy Maher shows off her hemp collection at the TVW office.

Two bills were discussed Thursday at the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that seek to create a licensing system for hemp growers governed by the Dept. of Agriculture.

While Senate Bill 6214 and Senate Bill 5964 are very similar, the first bill requires Washington State University to conduct a study of the net worth of industrial hemp production before licensing the crop. The cost of the study is estimated to be about $850,000.

Supporters of the hemp bill said that the crop is beneficial from an environmental and financial standpoint. The prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6214, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said that it uses minimal pesticides and helps with erosion control.

She added that it is expected to cause an “explosive” boost in our state’s economy, citing that the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products in 2011.

Committee members raised concerns that marijuana could be concealed in hemp fields.

Aimee Warner, the founder of a cannabis beauty line, brought her "hemp" briefcase to the hearing.

However, testifiers in favor of hemp legalization assured that the plants do not only look different – marijuana is thick and bushy and hemp is tall and thin – but cross pollination would also significantly reduce the potency of the plant.

Joy Beckerman Maher, a longtime industrial hemp consultant, who has been pushing for legalization for decades addressed the myth that hemp can give someone a “high.”

“The only feeling you would get is an awful headache,” said Maher.

Hemp is used to make everything from clothing and beauty products to seed oil and ice cream. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was even written on hemp paper.

On a national scale, the Farm Bill recently allowed hemp cultivation projects to be launched for research and state agriculture department in 10 states that have approved hemp production. These include California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

No action was taken at the hearing. The Impact will air a special segment about the issue Wednesday.

Drone bill attempts to address privacy concerns

By | January 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

As drones get smaller, cheaper and more advanced, lawmakers are talking about putting restrictions on the use of the unmanned aircrafts by local police and other public agencies.

Senate Bill 6172 would require police to get search warrants for drone surveillance. The person who is the target of the surveillance must be given a copy of the warrant within 10 days. It would also make agencies record details about all of the information gathered in the process.

Police drone (Photo credit: KOMO)

Exceptions would be made for emergency situations, in which there is an immediate danger of death or serious physical injury.

Supporters said the bill balances the benefits and dangers of drones. Shankar Narayan with the ACLU of Washington testified in favor of the bill, saying the state needs regulations in place.

“Now is the right time — before abuses happen — to enact a statewide regulatory scheme on this powerful technology,” Narayan said.

Opponents voiced concerns that the bill violates the “plain view doctrine” which allows an officer to seize evidence found in plain view without a warrant. Officers would not be allowed to use information collected from a drone if it wasn’t part of the original search warrant.

“The only thing this bill really does to us is it makes us spend more money and put police officers at risk when we don’t need to,” said Don Pierce of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

Thirteen states have drone regulations in place including Montana and Oregon, which require law enforcement agencies to get warrants. Idaho restricts use by law enforcement and has a strict set of guidelines for private citizens.

No action was taken at the hearing. Another drone bill scheduled to be discussed this week would ban the use of drones above private property to capture personal information.

At American Indian lobby day Nooksacks fight to belong in the tribe

By | January 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Indian American lobby day brought about 50 to the capitol Friday morning to voice their opinions about tribal issues.

A group from the Nooksack tribe, based in Deming in Whatcom County, gathered mainly to express their anger with the disenrollment conflict that would cut the tribe by about about 15 percent.

According to the Nooksack Tribal Council, 306 members do not meet membership requirements because their common ancestor Annie George is missing from a 1942 census that is used as to verify lineage.

Since the council cannot find proof that supports their membership, the group is losing medical, housing, fishing and hunting rights. But the excluded members said that they are upset for reasons that go much deeper than these surface issues.

“I feel like they’re dragging my ancestors through the mud,” said Michelle Roberts, a member who would be excluded. “We have unity and belong just as much as they do.”

Rudy St. Germaine, who was removed from his council position of executive tribal secretary because of the issue, agreed. He said this is a fight for his and his family’s identity.

Tribal police have started to serve disenrollment notices. Now, the impacted Nooksacks are raising awareness about the issue and calling on fellow members to get informed about issues discussed at the capitol.

Elizabeth Satiacum, a tribe member, challenged the crowd to look up a bill that affects them, whether it’s related to hunting, gathering, health or education. For example, she mentioned House Bill 1290 that would require county auditors to place ballot drop boxes at various locations, which would allow tribe members to vote without making a trip to the city.

She added it is important to be aware of the issues in order to impact them.

“It all starts with one thought because thoughts can and do become things,” said Satiacum.

House committee passes bill that aims to protect children at daycare

By | January 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

The “Eve Uphold Act” was approved by a House committee this week, named after a child who died while at a state-licensed daycare in Seattle.

The bill would require the Department of Early Learning to conduct official investigations when a child dies at a licensed child care center. The department must also publicize the reports online.

Portrait of Eve Uphold before she died of SIDS. Photo credit: KOMO news

Amanda and Kyle Uphold are pushing House Bill 2165 after losing their five-month-old daughter, Eve, to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

After an investigation, the Upholds discovered that their state-licensed daycare provider left Eve alone for more than an hour and put her to sleep improperly. They also learned that another child died years before at the same facility.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, said the goal is to protect children and hold care providers accountable for their actions.

“There is no way we can reverse the terrible tragedy of baby Eve’s death. But, together, we can learn from this tragedy and help prevent future deaths from SIDS and other causes,” said Kagi.

However, opponents testified at a hearing last week that the bill would not solve the problem.

The House Early Learning and Human Services Committee passed the bill out of committee on Monday with an 11-0 vote.

Christmas tree arrives at the Capitol

By | December 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

Workers hauled a 25-foot Noble fir up the steps up the Capitol this morning to prepare for the annual tree-lighting ceremony on Friday. The tree was donated by timber company Rayonier as part of an event sponsored by Association of Washington Business.

The ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, ending with Gov. Chris Gregoire lighting the tree at 6:27 p.m. TVW’s Anita Kissee snapped a few photos this morning of the tree arriving at the Capitol.