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House Republicans, Senate Democrats make assignments

Dec. 19, 2014 9:33 a.m. - Updated: 6:11 p.m.

OLYMPIA — Legislative caucuses continued to assign members to committee and internal leadership posts as the countdown to the 2015 session continues.

On Thursday, the two minority caucuses, House Republicans and Senate Democrats, announced some of their spots;

Andy Billig is the only Senate Democrat in the Spokane area. He'll be the deputy minority leader in the Senate and assigned to both the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee and the Ways & Means Committee.

House Republicans from the Spokane area, of which there are many, got several top spots, known as “ranking member” and No. 2 spots “assistant ranking” as their caucus announced committee assignments. The full list is inside the blog, with Spokane reps in italics. Click here to check it out, or to comment.

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Today’s fun video: George Bailey reimagined

Dec. 17, 2014 11:26 a.m. - Updated: 11:31 a.m.


Before you watch “It's A Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth time this year — and face it, you know you will — check out this Jimmy Kimmel rewrite of the script.

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UW should expand med training in Spokane, panel says

Dec. 16, 2014 1:11 p.m. - Updated: 6:22 p.m.

The University of Washington Medical School should “proceed as soon as possible” to expand and modernize its program in Spokane, a special advisory council set up by the university said Tuesday. 

It should “aggressively pursue regional expansion opportunities”, the council said, with a special nod to the Tri-Cities, where it said expanded residencies and medical education are priorities for the business and health care community. It also should develop more residency programs, particularly for rural and underserved areas.

The special Presidential Advisory Council on Medical Education Access and Affordability, an 11-member body headed by former Gov. Dan Evans, is silent on whether Washington State University should develop its own medical school in Spokane. It does say the two universities should work together on a plan to provide medical education in the state and specifically for Spokane.

UW operates a five-state consortium known as WWAMI – for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – which was innovative when it started 43 years ago and has been successful and efficient, Evans said: “It needs to be expanded, modernized and adjusted so it can continue to produce high-quality physicians for the next 40 years.”

 The two universities will ask for money for separate medical school programs in Spokane in the upcoming legislative session. UW is seeking $8 million to have more slots for first- and second-year students at the five-state WWAMI program located on WSU-Spokane campus, while WSU is seeking $2.5 million for to begin hiring staff and applying for accreditation for a new med school.

For more information on the advisory council recommendations, go inside the blog.
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Inslee undecided on Spokane med school, nothing in current budget plan

Dec. 15, 2014 6 p.m.

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee is undecided on how medical school education should expand in Spokane. The budget he will unveil Thursday and send next month to the Legislature currently has no new money for medical school plans by either of the state's two research universities.

“At this point we're not saying yes or no to the medical school in Spokane,” Budget Director David Schumacher said a few hours before Inslee was scheduled to discuss his priorities for public schools and colleges at internet-connected town hall meetings. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.


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Spokane GOP elects leaders

Dec. 15, 2014 4:32 p.m. - Updated: 5:02 p.m.

The Spokane County Republican Party precinct officers chose their party leaders for the next two years, electing Dave Moore to the chairmanship he has held since March when the previous chairman resigned.

Also elected in the biennial organizational meeting were Stephanie Cates as vice chairwoman, Susan Wilmoth, state committeewoman, and Mike Volz, state committeeman. All three ran unopposed.

Moore was elected GOP county chairman last March after the resignation of Ben Oakley. This will be his first full two-year term. 

Precinct officers also elected a total of 13 district leaders for Spokane County's five legislative districts. Some districts are so large they have as many as four elected leaders. 


Today’s fun video: SNL on torture report

Dec. 15, 2014 3:26 p.m. - Updated: 3:29 p.m.


Saturday Night Live's opening skit was about the Senate torture report.

If you don't know the Spokane connection to this, click here.


Inslee to hold internet town hall on education

Dec. 15, 2014 11:52 a.m. - Updated: 11:52 a.m.

 OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee will take his plans for public schools to the public, in Rogers High School and three other locations, via Skype tonight.

With large screens set in the schools to carry the online video-phone connection, Inslee will unveil his proposals for the state to meet court orders to improve public schools, along with other education and public college initiatives for he will will include in his upcoming 2015-17 state budget. He will then take questions from audiences in four locations. 

He'll be live at Newport High School in Bellevue for one hour, starting at 6 p.m., and carried via Skype to the Rogers Commons, the Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center in Moses Lake and the Jason Lee Middle School Auditorium in Tacoma. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

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Consequences of the election clear in Olympia

Dec. 13, 2014 6:04 p.m.

OLYMPIA – The axiom that elections have consequences is much in evidence in the capital these days as the Senate’s new Republican majority rearranges the deck chairs.

Although they have kept the title “Majority Coalition Caucus” in an apparent nod to Sen. Tim Sheldon, the one Democrat in their midst, gone is any suggestion of power-sharing with the remainder of the minority Democrats. All committee chairmen or chairwomen are Republicans, as one would expect when a party has enough seats to decide most issues by itself. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

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Hundreds gather to protest I-594 background checks

Dec. 13, 2014 4:21 p.m. - Updated: 7:18 p.m.

OLYMPIA — Hundreds of gun-rights advocates, some dressed in camouflage and a few wearing Santa hats, gathered on the Capitol grounds to denounce the background-check law voters approved last month.

A crowd estimated between 600 and 800 by the Washington State Patrol – and 1,000 to 2,000 by organizers – cheered as a string of speakers called Initiative 594 everything from as unenforceable to “a constitutional abomination.” Some carried rifles, others shotguns, still others pistols or other handguns. One had a sheathed broadsword.

They gathered in fog on the rain-soaked Capitol lawn…  

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog

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An unusual split in NW delegation

Dec. 12, 2014 12:47 p.m. - Updated: 12:48 p.m.

When congressional votes are close, they usually break down on partisan lines with Republicans in Washington and Idaho voting one way and Democrats the other.

Not the case with yesterday's House vote on the omnibus spending bill, technically known as the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted yes, along with other Republicans from Washington, but Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, voted no.

That put Labrador, one of the House's more prominent tea party conservatives, on the same side as Washington Democrats, including Seattle's Rep. Jim McDermott, who regularly ranks up there with the House's most liberal. But not all liberal Ds voted no; for example Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also the head of the Democratic National Committee, voted yes.

As might be expected, McMorris Rodgers, Labrador and McDermott all had different things to say about the “Cromnibus” as it is being called.To see their different takes, continue inside the blog.

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