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.
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.
After InvestigateWest’s revelations last month about how Native Americans were searched at a rate five times higher than white motorists, the State Patrol and the Washington Legislature are weighing in. From funding new studies to calls for more diverse hiring, the agencies are planning to address the issue.
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.
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.
The more than 20 environmental groups that make up the Environmental Priorities Coalition lobbying the 2020 Washington Legislature are focusing on clean fuels, greenhouse gas standards, improving salmon habitat and banning one-use plastic shopping bags.
Even though the Washington Legislature’s 2019 session was momentous, there’s still work to be done, which is why the legislature is going into their 2020 session with four priorities: clean fuels, climate limits, plastic bags and orcas. Among these efforts, the clean fuels proposition has been met with the most pushback from opponents.
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.
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.
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.