State Supreme Court upholds liquor privatization initiative

June 5, 2012

The state Supreme Court upheld a liquor privatization initiative May 31, less than 24 hours before the measure enabled liquor sales to expand statewide.

In a 5-4 ruling, justices upheld Initiative 1183, a Costco-backed measure to end the state-run liquor system. Voters approved the measure in November. In April, the state auctioned the rights to private entrepreneurs to sell liquor at former state-run stores.

Opponents said I-1183 violated the single subject rule for statewide ballot initiatives.

In addition to liquor privatization language, the initiative included a requirement for a portion of revenue from liquor license fees to be used to increase funding for local public safety programs, such as police and emergency services.

Plaintiffs argued the “fees” should have been called “taxes” in the ballot language. Such a change could have swayed voters on the initiative, plaintiffs argued.

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Rob McKenna defends health care lawsuit in Issaquah High School stop

June 1, 2012

NEW — 12:20 p.m. June 1, 2012

In a stop at Issaquah High School early Friday, state Attorney General Rob McKenna defended Washington’s participation in a lawsuit against the federal health care law, days before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling.

Rob McKenna

The top legal officer in the state used the health care lawsuit to illustrate the concept of federalism — powers shared by state and federal governments — to seniors in Jeremy Ritzer’s Advanced Placement Government & Politics class.

The lawsuit stems from a provision in the Affordable Care Act — a requirement for all Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or pay a penalty.

“Under that mandate, for the first time, Congress is attempting to do something which they’ve never tried before in our country’s history,” McKenna said. “They’re telling Americans that they have to go into the private markets to buy a commercial product — health insurance — with their own money.”

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Campaign season starts as candidates file for election

May 22, 2012

The ballot voters receive in the mailbox by late July is all but certain to contain some familiar names, as elected officials campaign for higher offices and other candidates try another run for elected office.

The period for candidates to enter races up for election on the August and November ballots ended May 18 in a buzz of activity.

Local voters face choices in countywide, legislative, statewide and federal offices.

Voters pick the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, Aug. 7 in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

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Online survey benefits Issaquah History Museums

May 22, 2012

Citizens can help the Issaquah History Museums earn a grant by completing a survey online and then forwarding the link to others.

The nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving local history is participating in a program to earn up to a $2,000 grant from Community Forums Network and Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants.

The participating organizations help Community Forums Network gather information. The network then awards grants based on how many people complete the survey and designate a particular organization as a beneficiary.

The survey topic is young adult employment. The survey includes a topic video featuring interviews with state Attorney General Rob McKenna, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, state Sen. Jim Kastama and state Rep. Cary Condotta.

The survey takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Find the survey at www.communityforumsnetwork.org/take-survey. Incomplete surveys do not count for the beneficiaries.

The museums received $100 last year after encouraging citizens to participate in a previous survey.

NASCAR driver, attorney general target teens’ texting

May 22, 2012

State Attorney General Rob McKenna and NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne teamed up May 1 to warn teenagers about the dangers of texting and driving.

In order to address the problem, the National Association of Attorneys General — led by McKenna — joined a national coalition to roll out public service announcements featuring Kahne, a Washington native. The coalition also includes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council.

The spots marked a nationwide Stop the Texts Day and the start of National Youth Traffic Safety Month. Watch the PSAs at www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org

Federal officials rank distracted driving as the No. 1 killer of teenagers in the United States. In 2010, more than 3,000 people died and another 416,000 sustained injuries due to texting and other forms of distracted driving.

“While teen drivers often feel invincible, the reality is that texting and driving too often leads to terrible injuries and even death,” McKenna said in a statement. “No text message is worth risking your life or the lives of others. Texting while driving should be at least as socially unacceptable as driving without a seat belt.”

Issaquah police officers earn top law enforcement honor

May 8, 2012

Officer Jesse Petersen, Cpl. Christian Munoz, and officers Brian Horn and Laura Asbell (from left) stand at the Washington Law Enforcement Memorial after receiving the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor in a May 4 ceremony in Olympia. By Jacqueline Kerness/Issaquah Police Department

In a solemn ceremony not far from the state Capitol, Gov. Chris Gregoire slipped a Law Enforcement Medal of Honor around the necks of police officers involved in a deadly September 2011 shootout at Clark Elementary School.

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Judge upholds Costco-backed liquor initiative

April 10, 2012

The state can continue to implement the Costco-backed initiative to privatize liquor operations, a judge ruled March 19.

Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning reversed a March 2 ruling and upheld Initiative 1183.

In the earlier ruling, Warning upheld most of I-1183, but decided the measure violated a state rule prohibiting initiatives from addressing more than a single subject. I-1183 included a section directing $10 million to public safety, in addition to the liquor-privatization language.

The attorneys for the state said the source of funds and the allocation of funds share a close connection, so the section did not violate the single-subject rule.

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State joins complaint against mortgage services

April 10, 2012

State Attorney General Rob McKenna and other legal officials from throughout the United States joined the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to protest misconduct by the largest mortgage services in the nation.

The complaint against the banks, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is a major step toward finalizing the biggest consumer protection settlement in U.S. history. The complaint claims the financial institutions’ misconduct “resulted in the issuance of improper mortgages, premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of service members’ and other homeowners’ rights and protections, the use of false and deceptive affidavits and other documents, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.”

The complaint follows a joint investigation and a $25 billion settlement announced in February.

The parties also submitted a series of proposed federal court orders to formalize the settlements.

The settlement could provide $648 million in benefits to Washington homeowners. The state is still deciding how to best distribute $44 million for foreclosure relief and other programs.

In addition to the consumer relief, the proposed settlement agreements include comprehensive reforms of mortgage loan servicing practices.

Judge upholds Costco-backed liquor-privatization initiative

March 20, 2012

NEW — 7 p.m. March 20, 2012

The state can continue to implement the Costco-backed initiative to privatize liquor operations, a judge ruled Monday.

Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning reversed a March 2 ruling and upheld I-1183. In the earlier ruling, Warning upheld most of I-1183, but decided the measure violated a state rule prohibiting initiatives from addressing more than a single subject. I-1183 included a section directing $10 million to public safety, in addition to the liquor-privatization language.

The attorneys for the state said the source of funds and the allocation of funds share a close connection, so the section did not violate the single-subject rule.

Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — led the push to pass I-1183 last year. Statewide, almost 60 percent of voters supported the liquor-privatization measure. I-1183 garnered lopsided support in the Issaquah area.

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Former school board member enters race for Congress

January 31, 2012

Larry Ishmael, a former Issaquah School Board member and Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee in 2006 and 2008, is running for Congress in the redrawn 1st Congressional District.

The independent candidate eschewed a party label for the latest run, but said voters seek a candidate unattached to the political establishment in either party.

“The reasons I ran in 2006 are the same reasons I am running today, bitter partisan politics have destroyed Congress’s ability to accomplish anything for the American people,” he said in a statement. “The only way to break the cycle of pain is to elect more independents that are willing to represent their constituents in Congress and not their political party or special interest groups.”

Ishmael faltered in the contests against the incumbent Democrat, garnering 32 percent against Inslee in 2006 and 2008 — both strong years for Democrats in Washington and nationwide. Inslee is running for governor against Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

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