Legislature eyes ways to control speculators buying Washington water rights

Several upcoming bills in the Washington Legislature aim to take on the state’s convoluted water rights system, which balances two conflicting positions – that water is a public resource stewarded by the state, and that water rights are private property. While legislators want to cut out water speculators who are looking to make a profit on water, farmers, builders and environmental stewardship organizations fear that regulations could impede community water banks.

Surge in abused, neglected kids housed at hotels ‘just another level of trauma’

Record numbers of foster children are sleeping in hotels and state offices as Washington State struggles to find beds for youth with mental health and behavioral challenges. Having previously sent some of the hardest-to-place foster youths to out-of-state homes, the state is now working to bring them back, but it’s facing a lack of qualified in-state facilities in part due to low payment rates by the state.

Senator: To help orcas and salmon, seawalls should be a last resort

Newly proposed legislation in the Washington Legislature would require waterfront homeowners along Puget Sound’s 2,500-mile shoreline to consider fish-friendly fixes when replacing concrete seawalls. Proponents believe it’s the best opportunity to soften the Sound’s shores and jumpstart populations of forage fish that feed juvenile Chinook salmon, the preferred food of endangered orcas. The building lobby and others aren’t convinced.

Whistleblower status proposed to help harassed foster parents

In the midst of the ongoing crisis in the Washington foster care system, foster parents have few options when faced with what they consider retaliation. Officials from the Department Children, Youth and Families, Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds, Republican Senator Steve O’Ban and Democractic Rep. Tana Senn weigh in on whether foster parents should be afforded whistleblower protections.

Driving while Indian? You’re more likely to be searched by the Washington State Patrol

Academic researchers found that minority groups, particularly Native Americans, were being searched at a much higher rate than whites. Analysis of open-records requests, data from millions of traffic stops, and interviews with law enforcement officials and civil rights experts has shown that this trend has continued over the past twelve years, exacerbating existing tensions between police and the communities they patrol.

Driving while Indian: How InvestigateWest conducted the analysis

In our Driving While Indian project, InvestigateWest used data obtained by Stanford University’s Open Policing Project to look at the demographics of who state troopers stop and how often they’re searched. Focusing on searches that weren’t required by statute or policy, we compared the search rates to how often contraband was found in order to determine bias. We found that Native Americans are being searched at a rate more than five times higher than the rate at which white motorists are searched.

Value Village rebuked by judge for deceiving consumers

The Value Village thrift store chain was rebuked by a King County judge for creating a “deceptive net impression” that shoppers making purchases were helping charity. The judge ruled Friday in a long-running legal battle about consumer protection between Value Village and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. The ruling comes on the heels of Value Village’s announcement that it will close its last store in Seattle. Value Village maintained that it had never misled consumers.