Seattle mayor to unveil plan for minimum wage hike
SEATTLE (AP) - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced he will unveil on Thursday his plan to increase the minimum wage in the city.
The mayor's announcement came as his advisory group of business, labor, non-profits and other representatives apparently did not agree on a plan. Murray had created the group late last year to chart a plan following a pledge to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
In a statement, Murray says he hopes that the advisory group manages to reach an agreement by Thursday. If not, he's ready to present his plan.
In Seattle, the prevailing debate is not whether the minimum wage will be increased to $15, but how and when. Business groups want a training wage, a phase-in period and for a total wage to count health care, commissions, tips and bonuses. Meanwhile, a group led by socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant is lobbying for an immediate wage hike for large businesses and a three-year phase-in for small and medium sized employers.
WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE-FABLED FISH
Biologists watching fish runs after deadly slide
DARRINGTON, Wash. (AP) - As search crews continue to look for two missing people following the devastating mudslide in Washington state, scientists are closely monitoring how the avalanche is affecting federally endangered fish runs.
It's too early to know the slide's long-term effects, but so far scientists are hopeful about the immediate prospects: adult steelhead are spawning in clear waters above the slide area, and typical numbers of baby fish are migrating downstream to the marine waters.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife's Jenni Whitney says the mudslide is foremost a human tragedy. But they're doing fish monitoring work because people will eventually want to know.
The Stillaguamish River once had legendary runs of wild steelhead. Novelist Zane Grey fished its creeks nearly a century ago and described one as the most beautiful trout water he'd seen.
BRITISH COLUMBIA QUAKE
Magnitude 6.6 quake off British Columbia coast
PORT ALICE, British Columbia (AP) - The U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center says a magnitude 6.6 quake has been recorded in the Pacific Ocean off the northwest corner of British Columbia's Vancouver Island.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, says there is no danger of a tsunami.
The quake hit at 8:10 p.m. local time Wednesday and was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Port Alice, British Columbia, and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) northwest of Seattle, Washington.
In less than two hours, more than 650 people logged on to the earthquake information site to report feeling the quake.
Port Hardy resident Jennifer Nickerson says the quake caused lights to sway and the fish tank in the hotel where she works to rock.
TOBACCO LEGAL AGE
Age to buy tobacco in Washington could go up to 21
SEATTLE (AP) - The King County Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Board is asking the Legislature to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco in Washington from 18 to 21.
Board President Pat Godfrey tells KIRO-FM you have to be 21 to buy alcohol and marijuana, so a substance as harmful as tobacco should have the same age restriction.
Godfrey says raising the age to 21 would help reduce the number of teens who try smoking and become addicted.
Seattle group to file transit initiative
SEATTLE (AP) - A Seattle group says it will file a citywide initiative to raise money for bus service following Tuesdays' apparent defeat of a King County measure that would have prevented Metro Transit cuts in exchange for a sales tax hike and an increase to car-tab fees.
The group - called Friends of Transit - said Wednesday that by the end of the week, they will file an initiative that would increase Seattle's property tax by $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value between 2015 and 2021. The group estimates the tax hike would generate $25 million a year for transit services.
The group needs over 20,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.
Friends of Transit founder Ben Schiendelman says Seattle contracts with King County Metro for roughly 45,000 hours of bus service.
Governor triggers dispute resolution
RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - The state of Washington has formally triggered the dispute resolution phase in its dispute over cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
The move came Wednesday, after the federal government last week rejected Washington state's plan to clean up the former nuclear weapons production site.
The state announced its proposed amendments to a federal court consent decree at a news conference on March 31, and that plan was rejected last Friday.
The state sent a letter to the Justice Department on Wednesday, triggering a 40-day process of negotiation.
If the state and federal governments cannot reach agreement, the state can then ask a federal court to implement the state's cleanup plan.
Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons and now has the nation's biggest collection of nuclear waste.
FORMER SOLDIER-CHILD PORN
Former soldier gets 17 years for child porn
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A former soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for producing and distributing child pornography, including a video of him molesting a 3-year-old child.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle imposed the sentence this week on Arron D. Burton in federal court in Tacoma.
Burton pleaded guilty in January.
According to the plea agreement, Burton was living at the base near Tacoma in late 2012 when he came to the attention of law enforcement because of the child pornography he distributed on the Internet. Warrant searches of Burton's computers showed more than 100 images and 27 videos of child pornography.
Following his release from prison, Burton will be required to register as a sex offender.
NORTHWEST CRIME SPREE
David Pedersen pleads guilty in NW killing rampage
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A white supremacist whose Pacific Northwest crime rampage claimed four lives in 2011 has pleaded guilty to federal charges.
Court-appointed attorney Richard Wolf said Wednesday that David "Joey" Pedersen pleaded guilty to two counts of carjacking resulting in death - one for Oregon teenager Cody Myers and the other for Reginald Clark of California.
Pedersen is to be sentenced at an August hearing to life in prison.
He previously pleaded guilty in state court to murder in the slaying of his father and stepmother in Everett, Wash.
His girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, pleaded guilty to federal charges last month and will receive a life sentence.
6-year sentence for robbery at Spanaway home
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A 41-year-old man who disguised himself as a delivery driver and robbed a woman in her Spanaway home has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Brian Chong Han pleaded guilty to robbery and assault charges Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court.
The News Tribune reports he had been charged with attempted murder for the attack two years ago that left the victim with critical knife wounds.
SPOKANE SHOOTING DEATH
Former scuba instructor convicted of murder
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - A former scuba instructor has been convicted in Spokane of murdering a former girlfriend on New Year's Day in 2012.
The Spokesman-Review reports that Daniel Arteaga will be sentenced in June for the death of Kimberly Schmidt. A jury convicted him Wednesday.
Schmidt died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Her body was found by her mother.
Arteaga denied killing the woman.
Twisp police chief's dog brings home skull
TWISP, Wash. (AP) - A dog belonging to the family of the Twisp police chief brought home a skull.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers says Chief Paul Budrow and deputies searched Monday and found the rest of the human remains about 300 yards from his home in a wooded area near the Methow River.
The sheriff says a cellphone at the scene indicates the remains are those of 21-year-old Nicholas A. Tortora who was reported missing in June 2012. His family said they were concerned about his mental and emotional health at the time.
Rogers told The Wenatchee World there was nothing to indicate Tortora was a crime victim. The remains were found about a half-mile from his home.
Mudslide victim readmitted to Seattle hospital
SEATTLE (AP) - A young mother who suffered two broken legs and a broken arm in the Oso mudslide is back in a Seattle hospital.
Amanda Skorjanc (SKOR'-yonz) had been discharged on April 10 from Harborview Medical Center.
Spokeswoman Liz Hunter says she was readmitted Tuesday and is in satisfactory condition on Wednesday.
Earlier, the 25-year-old Skorjanc told reporters how she held on to her baby as the March 22 mudslide destroyed their home. The 5-month-old boy, Duke Suddarth, also spent weeks in Seattle hospitals.
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