Abused and neglected kids in Washington State’s overwhelmed foster care system were housed at hotels and state offices at a higher rate than ever over the last year, new figures show — a practice that costs taxpayers millions. The state reports spending more than $2,100 nightly for each hotel stay, on average.
When Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson set out to pass a long-stalled strengthening of Seattle’s tree-protection ordinance, fans of the urban forest called it wonderful news. They said his move last fall was far overdue considering how Seattle’s development boom is reducing the leafy canopy that gave “The Emerald City” its nickname. But when Johnson aides recently released their third suggestion this year for how to update the city law, the pro-trees people said that despite Johnson’s claims to the contrary, the changes would be unlikely to save more trees. In addition, they say, Johnson’s proposal appears to remove important existing protections for big trees, which studies show shade and cool streets while helping neutralize air and water pollution and reduce residents’ stress levels while improving cardiovascular health. “This is going backwards.
Kinship caregivers such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and close family care for an estimated 43,000 children in Washington State. Without kinship care, these children would enter the already stretched thin Washington state foster care system. But although these kinship caregivers tend to be older, poorer and in worse health than foster parent counterparts, they receive comparatively little financial support from the state.
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?