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If you have a reservation at a Washington state park this weekend or you rely on state services, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Washington lawmakers have passed a nearly $44 billion, two-year budget, averting an imminent government shutdown.

Oregon lawmakers are moving ahead with a measure that would require school districts to test for lead.

As campaign slogans go, it was a good one: "Keep Zombies in Washington."

And it worked in the end. The Washington Legislature late Friday voted to renew the state's film production tax breaks.






The Hanford nuclear reservation in southeast Washington state has two train tunnels full of very hot radioactive waste—and both tunnels are in danger of further collapse. That’s according to a new report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy.

An oil train bill was pulled from the Oregon House floor and returned to committee Friday over concerns about language that would make secret railroad spill contingency plans and financial responsibility documents.

The House voted 31-26 to return the bill to the Joint Committee On Ways and Means.

Recent University of Washington oceanography graduate, Frances Eshom-Arzadon, collecting samples for microplastics study.
Courtesy of Frances Eshom-Arzadon

If you put any fleeces in the wash lately, there’s a chance small pieces of plastic fibers from the clothing could be sitting on the sands of a Puget Sound beach.

A recent University of Washington graduate conducted a local study on microplastics. They’re teeny, tiny pieces of plastic that can be smaller than a grain of rice. 

Despite what state lawmakers say, Washington’s next budget doesn’t fully fund schools. That’s the opinion of the lawyer who sued the state in 2007 over school funding.

Attorney Thomas Ahearne said it’s not enough money and it doesn’t get to the schools fast enough.

A lot can happen in seven years. Just ask Jim Thayer, who spent nearly that long searching for the perfect hiking route from Portland to the Oregon Coast. Thayer, an avid hiker, wanted an accessible trail through the Coastal Range that avoided highways and stayed on public land. After years of trekking through forests and creeks, he’s finally found it.

The secret to Thayer’s coastal trail? What he calls the “Blue Gate Rule.” Many logging roads along the route have blue gates, meaning they’re open to the public for recreational use.

Many Oregonians dream of throwing their belongings in a backpack, getting off the grid and hitting the trail. But what if you love the wilderness but don’t want to carry a heavy pack to experience it? For Monica Drost, the answer was simple: Llamas.

“We couldn’t carry the heavy packs that we needed to carry anymore,” says Drost about her and her hiking friends. So we researched about llamas carrying all our gear.

Counting Mountain Goats on Mount St. Helens

Jun 30, 2017

Prior to the eruption of Mount St. Helens, few people realized there were mountain goats living in the area. While that population was likely wiped out by the blast, anecdotal sightings of these high-climbing, sure-footed animals began to crop up in the 1990s. Over the years, U.S. Forest Service biologist Mitch Wainwright heard more reports of mountain goat sightings, prompting him to put together the first official mountain goat survey in 2014.

Chad Brown Helps Kids (And Himself) By Fly-Fishing

Jun 30, 2017

Yeah I ran away from a salmon,” laughs Brown. “How about that?

Though that was Brown’s first experience with a salmon, it was far from his last. Thanks in part to a friendship he struck up that day with Chou, Brown discovered a passion for fly-fishing. And as someone who struggles with PTSD, he found healing there as well.

Washington lawmakers plan to vote on a $43.7 billion, 620-page budget bill Friday. Unless they are speed readers, it's doubtful lawmakers--much less the public--will actually have time to read the budget prior to the vote. But there is a 24-page cheat sheet.

Irfan Fazl, center, a dual citizen of the UK and Kenya, reunites with friends at Sea-Tac Airport after his flight from London. He's Muslim and his friends worried the travel ban might cause problems.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Part of President Donald Trump’s travel ban is now reinstated at U.S. borders. It places new visa restrictions six Muslim countries and refugees — except for people with a close connection to the U.S. KUOW was at Sea-Tac airport Thursday night as the ban started and the first international flight came through.

 

PacifiCorp Looks To Expand Wind Energy As Coal Plants Retire

Jun 29, 2017

PacifiCorp is moving forward with a 20-year plan that reduces its use of coal-fired power while expanding investments in wind energy.

The utility, which serves customers in six Western states, has proposed spending $3.5 billion on a plan to add 1,100 megawatts of new wind energy — mostly in Wyoming — as well as a new transmission line.

The plan will also re-power wind turbines in the Columbia River Gorge by adding bigger turbine blades and upgrading equipment inside the turbines to increase their energy output by an average of 20 percent.

Details are emerging about the budget Washington state lawmakers plan to pass before midnight Friday. Over the next four years, schools in Washington will get more than $7 billion in additional state funds.

Much of that money will come from a hike in the state property tax.

Study: Orcas Lose Two-Thirds Of Their Pregnancies

Jun 29, 2017

Two-thirds of all detectable orca pregnancies have ended in miscarriages over the past seven years, a new study shows.

To figure out if orcas were pregnant, the researchers trained dogs to find orca scat and then tested the scat’s hormone levels. What they found was sobering.

“Of those that we confirmed were pregnant, 31 percent of the pregnancies are successful. So 69 percent were lost,” said Sam Wasser, a University of Washington professor and study author.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is in search of a new way to pay for Gov. Kate Brown's clean air initiative, after lawmakers did not pass its primary funding mechanism.

Brown’s Cleaner Air Oregon initiative aims to create more stringent air toxics regulations based on what’s safe for human health. Those would be similar to what states like California and Washington already have.

House Bill 2269 would have funded that work by increasing the permit fees paid by polluters. Lawmakers abandoned the idea after opposition from industry groups.

If you think trying to carry on a conversation in a noisy restaurant or bar is difficult, imagine how whales in the noisy waters of the Salish Sea feel.

Oregon lawmakers have approved the nation's first statewide law on predictable scheduling for employees.

Stephan Blanford, Seattle School Board member
KUOW: Megan Farmer

When Stephan Blanford ran for Seattle school board four years ago, he won 89 percent of the vote.

But he often felt stuck as a member of that board and now says he won’t run again.


If the world does nothing to limit carbon emissions, the US economy will suffer — but, according to a new study published Thursday in Science, the Pacific Northwest might actually benefit.

Two wildfires in north-central Washington are being managed as one. Fresh firefighters poured in Thursday to battle the Sutherland Canyon Fire, which grew dramatically overnight. The Spartan Fire near Wenatchee is transitioning to mop-up.

Fourteen states — including Oregon and Washington — are threatening to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Air Act.

In a letter to the EPA sent Thursday, the group argues Director Scott Pruitt broke the law when he ordered his agency to halt part of the rule-making process for regulating methane and other air pollution from oil and gas facilities.

Jenny Durkan speaks at the Paramount Theater after Mayor Ed Murray endorsed her for the Seattle mayor's race on Thursday, June 29, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

Mayor Ed Murray said he won't wage a write-in candidacy for re-election and instead endorsed Jenny Durkan on Thursday.

Murray said Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, was committed to policies he has put in place during his four years in office.

Alternative sentencing programs have reduced the number of kids in King County’s juvenile jail, but they’re still disproportionately black.

The county council’s Law and Justice Committee got an update this week on efforts to address the problem.


Bella, a pot belly pig from Seattle, gets a weekly manicure. She used to get bubble baths, but she's become too heavy for her own to lift into the tub, so she settles for showers.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Louren Reed first saw the sign at Eckstein Middle School in north Seattle: “No dogs, cats, or pot bellied pigs.”

Dan Schiaffo's business card reads 'Laser Craftsman.' Tap/click on the image for more photos.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

It's a lot less expensive to live in Bremerton than on the Seattle side of Puget Sound. That's allowed many people to pursue their way of life. But housing costs have started to tick upward, and builders are redeveloping land where cheap rental housing used to be. The result: fewer cheap places around.

For the second time since 2015, the Oregon Legislature has stripped language out of a bill that would have increased the state’s regulation of oil trains.

Oregon has the weakest regulations among West Coast states.

A year after a Union Pacific oil train derailed and caught fire in the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, lawmakers are advancing to the House and Senate floors House Bill 2131, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland.

Oregon lawmakers are advancing a measure that would make it a crime to attach a tracking device to another person's vehicle without their permission.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said a deal has been reached on what she calls the "sticking points" of a massive transportation funding package. The Democrat said Wednesday that she and her staff have been meeting evenings and weekends to try to reach a resolution.

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