Legislature Passes $16.1 Billion Transportation Package

jblmtrafficOLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The Legislature has passed a $16.1 billion transportation revenue package that includes an incremental 11.9-cent gas tax increase over the next two years. After a multihour overnight delay because of a dispute between Senate Democrats and Republicans over unrelated bills, senators returned to the floor Wednesday morning to pass the revenue bill on a 37-8 vote and send it to the governor. The House passed the measure earlier in the morning on a bipartisan 54-44 vote. The Senate also passed a bonding bill tied to the package, as well as a spending bill that designates the money to specific projects.

The transportation plan would increase the gas tax in two stages: a 7-cent increase on Aug. 1 and a 4.9-cent increase on July 1, 2016. The plan spends $8.8 billion on state and local road projects and $1.4 billion on maintenance and preservation. Another $1 billion would be spent on non-highway projects, like bike paths, pedestrian walkways and transit. It also would allow Sound Transit to ask voters to pay for potential expansions of its rail line.

July 1, 2015

Gov. Jay Inslee Signs New Two-Year State Budget

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a new two-year budget, averting a government shutdown that state officials had prepared for in case the new spending plan wasn't in place by the end of the day.

The $38.2 billion operating budget was signed by the Democratic governor moments before midnight, a day after lawmakers raced to pass the plan. Inslee also signed a $3.9 billion budget that pays for local projects across the state.

His signature came just hours before the end of the current budget cycle. Thousands of state workers had been warned last week that they could face temporary layoffs because much of state government would need to shut down if a budget plan wasn't in place by midnight Tuesday.

June 30, 2015

Fires That Slowed I-5 Traffic Likely Arson

brushfire snoqMARYSVILLE, WA (AP) - Authorities say multiple brush fires that slowed southbound traffic on Interstate 5 in Snohomish County were likely set by arsonists. The blazes Tuesday afternoon caused traffic southbound to be funneled into a single lane of the highway at one point, and traffic was backed up for miles as crews from several jurisdictions battled the flames. The fires were extinguished before the afternoon rush hour.

The Daily Herald reports ( http://bit.ly/1IL5fH0 ) the Washington State Patrol was looking for two men in their 50s with light-colored hair in a Hyundai Sonata.

Fire danger is acute in most of Washington because of hot, dry weather. June 30, 2015

Girl Scouts Refuse $100,000 Anti-Transgender Donation

SEATTLE (AP) - The Girl Scouts of Western Washington says it has returned a $100,000 donation because it came with the provision that the money couldn't be used to support transgender girls.

The group sent back the money in late May after the donor had asked that the gift be returned unless the group guaranteed that it would not be used to benefit transgender girls.

The local Girl Scouts council set up a crowdfunding campaign Monday asking for help to fill the gap. By midday Tuesday, more than $170,000 in donations had poured in.

The group's vice president of marketing, Kate Dabe, says they've been astounded by the support. Dabe says the money will help girls join a troop, go to camp or participate in other activities.

She declined to share details about the donor, citing privacy concerns. June 30, 2015

2 Injured When Small Plane Crashes On Whidbey Island

WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (AP) - The Island County sheriff's office says two people were injured when their small plane crashed into a tree on Whidbey Island.

Sheriff's spokesman Ed Wallace says the Cessna 182 took off from Monroe, Washington, lost power at about 8:12 p.m. and then slammed into a tree behind a home on the island.

He says the pilot and a passenger were thrown from the plane when it crashed. They were taken to Whidbey General Hospital. Wallace didn't know the extent of their injuries but said they're expected to survive.

KOMO-TV in Seattle reports (http://goo.gl/UeUIs1 ) that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. June 30, 2015

Men Plead Not Guilty To Stealing From Dead Graham Woman

gavel 3TACOMA, WA (AP) - Two men accused of finding a Graham, Washington woman's body, burglarizing her home, hiding the body and assuming her identity have pleaded not guilty in court. The News Tribune of Tacoma reports that James Lawrence Conner pleaded not guilty Monday to 10 felonies: first-degree theft, first-degree identity theft, car theft, six counts of forgery and unlawful disposal of human remains.

Curtis Lee Jones pleaded not guilty to third-degree possession of stolen property for allegedly accepting some of the stolen goods.

Prosecutors say 63-year-old Janet Mueller died of natural causes while unloading horse feed from her truck. Her body was found wrapped in a tent at Conner's home.

Prosecutors say Mueller's credit union alerting police to unusual activity on her account. Two of her three cars had been registered in Conner's name.

June 30, 2015 - The News Tribune (http://is.gd/PUyZdA)

Man Beaten To Death After Country Music Concert

SEATTLE (AP) - Police are looking for two suspects after a man was beaten to death after a country music concert at CenturyLink Field.

The Seattle Times reports (http://is.gd/rLltpd ) that 30-year-old Benito "Benny" Enriquez died at Harborview Medical Center as a result of a severe beating.

Police are looking for a man and a woman both in their 20s who were seen on surveillance video with Enriquez after Saturday's Jason Aldean concert.

Enriquez worked as a nurse to mentally ill patients and leaves two daughters and an estranged wife.

June 30, 2015