Mixed environmental results marked the whirlwind 60-day session of the 2018 Washington Legislature, which brought a few environmental firsts but also some significant losses on climate change that go beyond their inability to pass a carbon tax.
With just over a week before the Washington Legislature adjourns for the year, the question recurs: Will legislators make Washington the first state in the nation to tax greenhouse-gas emissions to fight climate change? Lurking in the background as state legislators debate a carbon tax is the threat of a citizens’ initiative on the November 2018 ballot to tax carbon emissions. In Olympia, legislation has passed three Senate committees, the latest on Wednesday. That alone is historic, said to be the first time that a carbon fee was approved by any panel of state politicians.
With just over two weeks left in the 2018 Washington State legislative session, InvestigateWest is tracking key environmental bills. Which are dead? Which are alive? Exciting questions remain. Will Washington become the first state to ban toxic chemicals in food packaging?
A deadline for truckers who serve the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to reduce air pollution by switching to cleaner trucks is delayed nine months as the drivers stage a walkout to lobby port commissioners. The ports are also putting up $1 million to guarantee loans for drivers who want to upgrade. But the drivers say they need a lot more financial help to make the switch.
Short-haul truck drivers who pick up and deliver containers at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are organizing a walkout Tuesday to protest a proposed April 1 deadline restricting port access to allow only newer, cleaner-burning diesel trucks. Independent drivers who own their trucks and contract for work one load at a time say the cost of upgrading to cleaner vehicles will put many of them out of business. The drivers are mostly immigrants from East Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, according to the Northwest Seaport Alliance, an agency formed in 2015 to merge the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. A flyer distributed late last week calls on independent drivers to attend a meeting of commissioners from both ports Tuesday. At the meeting, Seaport Alliance commissioners are set to decide whether to adopt the new April 1 deadline for their self-imposed, decade-old commitment to cleaner-burning trucks.
Washington foster parents are organizing to demand more respect from the state, saying they should get at least some consideration when legal decisions are made about what happens to the kids in their care. They lost on that measure this year, although several other pieces of legislation designed to help foster kids remain alive this year.
Even with Democrats in charge of both houses of the Washington Legislature and the governor’s mansion, the 2018 legislative session is far from a sure-fire win for environmentalists. Climate, water use, oil spill prevention and more are being discussed. Can anything significant pass?
Housing abused and neglected children in Washington state is costing up to $600 a night in some cases, a clear indication that the state’s foster care system is dysfunctional, according to data obtained by InvestigateWest. The main reason is that there are far too few foster parents to handle the number of young people in the state care. With demand high, a small number of foster homes can reap huge financial benefits.
InvestigateWest’s work resulted in 13 laws being passed in Washington and Oregon this year, and $48 million in foster care funding being appropriated in Washington. News partners involved in the coverage include Crosscut.com, KCTS9 TV and Pamplin Media Group.
Foster kids and foster parents in Washington state have something to celebrate as state officials carry out legislative orders, backed with extra millions in funding, to overhaul the state’s beleaguered foster-care system