Spin Control Page 2Latest comments

WA to US: Hanford plan’s a no-go

April 18, 2014 11:42 a.m. - Updated: 11:55 a.m.

OLYMPIA — Washington is rejecting the U.S. Energy Department's latest plan for the cleanup of leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

In a letter today to the Justice Department, Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the proposal DOE made last moth to amend the 2010 plan on cleaning up the waste is too vague. The Energy Department has fallen behind on its timetable to clean up waste left over from years of production for the nation's nuclear weapons, and came up with a revision.

“Energy's proposal lacks sufficient specificity, accountability and enforceability,” Inslee said. 

The state has its own plan, which it considers more specific. If DOE rejects Washington's plan — which could happen later today — the state could go to “dispute resolution,” which involves a 40-day period of negotiations. If there's no agreement there, the state could go to federal court and ask a judge to order the department to use the state's plan.

0 comments ›

Today’s fun video: MT candidate is quite a shot

April 18, 2014 11:39 a.m. - Updated: 11:42 a.m.

 

This ad from Montana congressional candidate Matt Rosendale suggests two truths about American politics:

Guns are popular.

Drones are not. 

The ad also suggests that Rosendale considers himself a pretty good shot.

0 comments ›

Elway Poll: Voters might support some tax hikes

April 17, 2014 4:23 p.m. - Updated: 4:30 p.m.

Washington voters might be willing to approve higher taxes for some public projects, a new survey by The Elway Poll suggests.

Asked whether they would support or oppose a tax increase for seven different things local governments spend money on, a majority of the 501 voters surveyed to six of them.

75 percent would support tax increase for fire
74 percent for roads
73 percent for schools
64 percent for libraries
61 percent for parks and recreation
60 percent for public transportation.

Only 39 percent said they's support higher taxes for jails.

Elway pollsters were quick to point out that voters were differentiated between the different services, and on average only support tax increases for four of the seven. And, they said, “it's easier to tell a pollster you favor a tax increase than it is to raise your own taxes.” So local governments should be careful about loading up a ballot with a pile of tax plans.

0 comments ›

Shea says feds making war on rural U.S.

April 16, 2014 5:31 p.m. - Updated: 5:31 p.m.

 

YouTube video by Gavin Seim

The federal government has declared “war on rural America” with its rules and regulations on land use, a Spokane Valley legislator said in the wake of last week’s standoff between a Nevada rancher and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

In a speech on land near the center of the dispute, Republican Rep. Matt Shea called for federal land to be transferred to the states. A coalition of legislators from Western states was forming to stand up for Cliven Bundy and others in the fight against overbearing federal rules, he said.

But a spokesman for the group challenging Bundy's rights to graze hundreds of cattle on federal land without a permit or paying fees, said the rancher is trying to do something other cattlemen can't. And a federal judge's order supports that view. . . 

 

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

To read the federal judge's order in the legal battle between the BLM and Cliven Bundy, click on the document below.

0 comments / Read full post ›

Today’s fun video: Boehner opponent’s ad. Funny or over the top?

April 16, 2014 10:26 a.m. - Updated: 10:30 a.m.

 

Some folks will say that J.D. Winteregg, House Speaker John Boehner's Republican primary opponent, is pretty clever. Others will say he went beyond the bounds of good taste.

What do you think?

0 comments ›

Gun initiatives could load confusion into election

April 15, 2014 10:40 a.m. - Updated: 10:52 a.m.

OLYMPIA — Whether they are more likely to support gun rights or stronger background checks, Washington voters appear to be confused about a pair of seemingly conflicting gun initiatives and could approve both of them this fall.

That's the conclusion of a new Elway Poll that asked about 500 voters their support for Initiatives 591 and 594, both of which will be on the November general election ballot.

In the survey, 72 percent said they would definitely or likely vote for I-594, which would expand background checks in Washington for gun sales beyond the current federal standards for purchases from gun dealers; 55 percent said they would definitely or likely vote for I-591, which would allow background checks to be expanded in Washington state only if it's part of a national standard.

Among those questioned, 62 percent said they thought background checks should be made more extensive, while 32 percent said they should be kept as is. But here, too, there was confusion, because half of those who favor more extensive background checks said they would vote for I-591; and half who said background checks should be kept as they are now planned to vote for I-594.

1 comment ›

Flags going to half-staff for mudslide victims

April 14, 2014 4:56 p.m. - Updated: 5:08 p.m.

OLYMPIA — State agencies will lower flags on or outside their buildings to half-staff Tuesday to honor victims of the Oso mudslide, and keep them lowered through next Tuesday.

Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the flag-lowering Monday afternoon for all state agencies and asked other governments, businesses and citizens to join the state. A formal ceremony on the Capitol campus is scheduled for noon Tuesday.

The March 22 slide that brought mud and debris crashing down on State Route 530 and the town of Oso left 36 confirmed dead and another seven remain listed as missing.

0 comments ›

Rodney Tom calls it quits

April 14, 2014 1:15 p.m. - Updated: 6:02 p.m.

Rodney Tom addresses a delegation from Spokane last January.

OLYMPIA — Rodney Tom, a Republican turned Democrat who joined with GOP members of the Senate to form a ruling coalition for the last two years, will not run for re-election this fall. 

Tom, currently the Senate majority leader, announced today he concluded over the weekend “the decision not to run is the right one for me and my family.”

He called his service as leader of the Majority Coalition Caucus “an opportunity of a lifetime for me personally”. . . 

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

1 comment / Read full post ›

Medicaid costs need better oversight, audit says

April 14, 2014 11:39 a.m. - Updated: 4:10 p.m.

OLYMPIA — The state needs to a better job of checking its Medicaid managed care programs for cost overruns, the state auditor's office said today.

A limited audit of the Health Care Authority's system to check doctors and other specialists in eight high-risk areas showed overpayments estimated at $17.5 million in 2010. Other tests showed billing error rates for administrative costs of 8 percent and 12 percent in samples from two of the largest organizations.  Those overpayments could have raised the costs to those managed care organizations, but they also could have cost the state more for higher premium rates in 2013 when the rates are calculated based on past costs. 

Because the audit was limited, and there were underpayments as well as overpayments within the areas examined the auditor's office couldn't say if the net result was an overpayment in the systems as a whole. “We cannot conclude that 2013 premiums paid by the state were higher or lower than they should have been,” the audit says.

The Health Care Authority needs contracts with its managed care organizations that allow the agency to monitor data thoroughly, and to recover overpayments when they are found, auditors said. It should also give the organizations clearer guidance on the data it sends to an actuary and have a more comprehensive monitoring system.

Better controls are becoming more important, auditors said, because Medicaid coverage is expanding under federal health care reforms and most of the people being added to the system will have managed care. The audit studied services that predated the Affordable Care Act.

0 comments ›

Sunday Spin: The Pew elections rankings

April 13, 2014 6 a.m.

To see the rankings by the Pew Charitable Trust for the state's elections performance mentioned in today's Spin Control column, click here. 

Haven't read the column yet? It's inside the blog.

0 comments / Read full post ›
Back to Spokesman Mobile