December 14, 2015
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Auditor Troy Kelley unexpectedly returns to work as lawmakers push for impeachment

Washington Auditor Troy Kelley, who has been on self-imposed unpaid leave since May, returned to work last week. He said his unexpected return was a direct response to a move by four lawmakers from both parties to impeach Kelley for “dereliction of duty.”

Kelley is facing trial on 16 federal felony charges, including money laundering and tax evasion, related to his former business in mortgage processing. Kelley allegedly held back nearly $3 million in mortgage-related fees that should have been refunded to consumers. Kelley has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Two Republicans and two of Kelley’s fellow Democrats are pushing to remove Kelley from office, saying he “willfully abandoned” his office, and that this dereliction of duty “cannot be cured even by his returning to office in the foreseeable future.” The lawmakers propose to introduce the impeachment resolution when the Legislature returns to session on Jan. 11.

In an interview with public radio’s Austin Jenkins, Kelley said, “I think I will be very effective” leading the auditor’s office despite the ongoing legal issues.

The Olympian urged Kelley to resign, saying the agency was running well in his absence under the leadership of his former deputy, Jan Jutte, and that his service hurts the public’s faith in state government.

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Leading Without New Top-Down Mandates

Recognize success industries are having in cutting CO2

By Kris Johnson, AWB president, and Daren Konopaski, vice president and business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302

It is true this year's drought and wildfire season wreaked havoc on the state, a point that Gov. Jay Inslee makes while promoting his government-centric carbon emissions reduction plan. But the governor's labeling of those who disagree with the details of his plan as "fear mongers" is not fair.

There is no denying there is more work ahead, but there is also no denying that Washington employers and their employees are already leading the way toward the cleaner future that Gov. Inslee -- and frankly all Washingtonians -- so strongly desire.

Gov. Inslee has continued to say "it's time to lead," but Washington employers and employees are already leading the way toward environmental solutions that work -- without top-down, bureaucratic mandates that raise taxes on everyday citizens but don't solve the problem.

Click here to read the full op-ed in The Herald
Delays Hurt Workers and Economy

State should speed up permits for export docks

By Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch

While our neighbors to the north and south of Washington watch their port infrastructure grow and flourish, our state -- the most export-dependent in the nation -- is improbably holding up billions of dollars in private infrastructure development that would only help us compete with California and Canada.

The delay with regard to the export terminal expansions in Bellingham and Longview is patently unacceptable. Proposed projects and potential investments in this state should benefit from a fair, timely and predictable review process. Yet that is not the case with these projects, whose review has been in process for three years and subject to numerous, ongoing delays.

It is one thing to politically disagree with these projects on the basis of exporting a particular commodity -- in this case, coal -- and to express concern over the environmental standards to which these projects must adhere. It is quite another to attempt to bind these projects with endless government bureaucracy and red tape in hopes that the investors will give up and go elsewhere. Our competition is ready and willing to accept new business and is making the needed investments to do so.
Click here to read the full column in The Olympian
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