December 14, 2015
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Inslee declares state of emergency after floods, landslides

Hazardous weather last week caused landslides that closed major highways, high winds that knocked out power to thousands, and heavy rainfall that caused widespread flooding. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as floodwaters continued to rise across much of the region. The proclamation included a series of storms that began Nov. 30 and have continued to cause havoc from heavy rainfall on saturated soils.

Early Thursday, northbound Interstate 5 near Woodland was closed by a mudslide. By that evening one lane had reopened, but not before thousands of drivers were stranded or delayed for hours on crowded alternate routes. The storms also possibly included a tornado in Battle Ground.

U.S. Highway 12 at White Pass is closed indefinitely by three washouts (video) and a rockslide, stranding workers and closing the White Pass Resort.

A mudslide in the north Cascades reduced U.S. Highway 2 to one lane in both directions heading up Stevens Pass, and another mudslide briefly closed Highway 2 west of Leavenworth. reports that Washington’s congressional delegation is united in urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to quickly approve emergency relief for the series of storms that begin Nov. 30.

In the recovery period after the storms, the Northwest Insurance Council offers tips on what property owners and renters need to know, both to recover from this event and to prepare for the next one. Along the same lines, the Department of Labor & Industries has its own tipsheet on safety, home repair and resources.

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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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