Hello Loyal Readers, boy is it good to be back. Three weeks ago, I managed to fracture one of my vertebra (see right) and I’ve just now been healed up enough to catch up on all that I missed, so I’m sorry for the lack of posting.
Without further ado, let’s go to the triumphant return of the Friday Odds and Ends.
In Olympia, the clock is ticking down to the end of session and one of the main points of contention are the dueling transportation packages. You might remember this as the thing that Sen. Doug Ericksen and his Republican allies stonewalled last year that would have created hundreds of jobs in Whatcom County repairing our streets, roads and bridges. Currently, the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House have each passed a version of the package and they are duking it out over how to merge them. Below is a little table, numbers courtesy of the Association of Washington Cities, that shows how much our area would receive in state transportation funds:
|House Plan||Senate Plan|
In other legislative news, the state has finally begun to seriously regulate the medical marijuana business. Since medical marijuana was legalized in Washington, many of the dispensaries have operated in a sort of legal limbo, unable to file taxes for fear of federal involvement and with several loosely defined restrictions over “collective gardens” where the dispensaries would be the designated grower for a specific patient.
This year, the legislature changed that by folding medical marijuana under the auspices of the Liquor Control Board. They eliminated the collective gardens model. Patients will have to register into a designated database, will be issued a registration card that allows them to carry more marijuana than the current legal limit and provides more protections from arrest. They will be able to grow plants in their homes, and retail stores can become certified to sell medical-grade marijuana to card-holding patients. The governor is expected to sign the bill in the next week or so.
In the wake of forty-seven Republican senators interfering in peace negotiations with Iran, the Republican-controlled Senate reached a deal to cede power to President Obama to negotiate trade agreements with less oversight, a process dubbed “Fast Track.” This is seen as a key step toward approving the Trans Pacific Partnership (known as TPP), a trade deal that has become a flashpoint for economic justice advocates locally.
One of the key objections to TPP is that it would allow foreign companies to seek financial compensation from the United States government for complying with American laws – a provision that sets off warning bells in the labor and environmental community. There is a rally at Pioneer Park in Ferndale this Saturday at 1 p.m. in opposition to TPP hosted by the Washington Labor and Fair Trade Advocates.
That’s all folks! Stay tuned for more legislative coverage this weekend!