May 20, 2019
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Washington drought covers 70% of state, more than half of population

The weekly map is clear: Most of the state is in a drought.

This morning, Gov. Jay Inslee expanded a previous drought declaration to cover nearly half the state. Snowpack conditions are less than 50% of average for this time of year. The Washington State Department of Ecology expects the warmer, drier weather will cause the already diminished snowpack to melt more quickly, reducing water availability when it is most needed for farms, fish, firefighting and communities.

Public radio station KUOW reports that Washington is one of the few states in the country experiencing drought now.

"This may be a very unique year in the sense that we’re looking at our greatest likelihood for hot, dry conditions in the more coastal and west of the Cascades areas,” meteorologist Brad Rippey told the station. Eastern Washington appears to be spared from the dry conditions for now.

Rippey, the co-author of the U.S. Drought Monitor, also said the state has not recovered from dry conditions in 2018, which started later in the year compared to now.

The National Park Service has closed some campsites in the North Cascades National Park due to low water levels.

Capital Press also covered the story, noting that three times as much of the state is in at least moderate drought than two weeks ago.

Today's expanded drought declaration covers the Chelan, Colville, Cowlitz, Deschutes, Elwha-Dungeness, Entiat, Grays-Elochoman, Kennedy-Goldsborough, Kettle, Lower Chehalis, Lower Skagit-Samish, Lower Yakima, Lyre-Hoko, Naches, Nooksack, Queets-Quinault, Quilcene-Snow, Skokomish-Dosewallips, Soleduc, Stillaguamish, Upper Chehalis, Upper Skagit, Wenatchee, and Willapa watersheds. On April 4, the governor had declared drought for the Methow, Okanogan and Upper Yakima basins.

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Housing Forum
Moving Backward

Gov. Inslee is wrong to flip-flop on liquefied natural-gas facility in Tacoma

By The Seatte Times Editorial Board

Gov. Jay Inslee is doing an outstanding job staying on message in his presidential campaign, making climate change his signature issue and a focus of the primaries.

But Inslee went too far last week when he pulled support for a project in Tacoma that will cut emissions and create jobs.

Early in his governorship, Inslee championed the Tacoma liquefied natural-gas (LNG) facility. That pragmatic, nuanced approach provided certainty for local companies to commit more than $500 million to a project that will substantially reduce emissions from ships sailing between Puget Sound and Alaska.

That stance no longer jibes with the current mantra of his far-left environmental base, which now advocates for halting additional fossil-fuel consumption. It also had put Inslee in conflict with one of the state's wealthiest tribes, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which opposed the project.

Moving goal posts late in the game may discourage companies from innovating and investing in cleaner ways of doing business, at least in Washington....

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
A New Challenge for Border Towns

Lawmakers changed the sales tax exemption. Will Oregon residents still want to shop Tri-Cities?

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Of all the new, last-minute tax measures approved by the Legislature two weeks ago, one in particular likely will cause headaches for Mid-Columbia retailers in coming months.

Oregon residents will no longer get a sales tax exemption right away at a Tri-Cities checkout counter.

Thanks to ESSB 5997, out-of-state shoppers will have to pay the sales tax upfront, save their receipts and file for a one-time, yearly reimbursement from the state of Washington.

They will qualify only if the amount they are requesting exceeds $25.

Clay Hill, government affairs director for the Association of Washington Business, said approval of ESSB 5997 was "especially disheartening" because there was a unified voice of opposition by business and retail organizations.

Democratic lawmakers are betting they will raise $53 million for a two-year budget from out-of-state shoppers who don't turn in their paperwork or who don't meet the $25 minimum threshold.

But it is the border communities that will pay the biggest price for the tax grab, and it isn't right to put the burden primarily on the edges of the state.

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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