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Articles written by Brooklynn Hillemann

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  • Columbia River bridge tops state transportation plan

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Mar 17, 2022

    The $17 billion transportation package dubbed “Move Ahead Washington,” is on its way to the Governor’s Office for final signature. House legislators passed the 16-year plan on a pair of votes of 54-44 and 57-41 on the final day of the 2022 legislative session. Senators voted an hour later, passing the package 29-20 and 30-19. One of the package’s sponsors, Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, said in a news release: “We’re investing in projects from rural to urban areas across our state, letting kids ride free on buses, ferries and trains, and so much...

  • Statewide COVID-19 restrictions begin to relax

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Feb 17, 2022

    With data showing a decline in cases and COVID-related hospitalizations, the state is entering a period when restrictions can be lifted, Gov. Jay Inslee said last week. A date to end the indoor mask requirement hasn’t been set, but Inslee said the pause on elective surgeries and procedures at hospitals will end today. Additionally, requiring people to wear masks at outdoor events with 500 people or more will expire Friday. “I think it would be helpful for Washingtonians to have a goal and helpful for them to do whatever planning is nec...

  • Democrats push $16 billion transportation plan

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Feb 17, 2022

    A $16 billion plan to fund hybrid ferries, high-speed rail and highway maintenance is gaining speed in the Legislature. “‘Move Ahead Washington’ is a promise to put Washingtonians first,” said Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, chairman of the House Transportation Committee. “It’s future-oriented while still dealing with the realities people face today. It reflects what people told us they wanted to see in this package.” Transit programs get $3.1 billion, including $150 million for high-speed rail. Another $3 billion would go toward highway preservation...

  • Salmon habitat rules would affect agricultural uses

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Jan 27, 2022

    Advocates hope mandatory conservation of key habitat areas will help salmon runs recover, but opponents worry farmers will pay a price. House Bill 1838, to be known as the Lorraine Loomis Act in honor of the deceased Northwest Indian Fisheries commissioner, will reserve land on public and private property near salmon-bearing waterways. Prime sponsor of the bill, Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Anacortes, said salmon play a vital cultural and economic role in Washington. The potential loss of the species will affect all Washingtonians, she said....

  • Employment test for marijuana use questioned

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Jan 27, 2022

    Washington marijuana users won’t face losing their job over a positive drug test, if a proposal under consideration in the Legislature wins approval. Senate Bill 5517 would update the Washington law that allows employers to turn away job applicants and fire employees who test positive for marijuana in drug screenings. The prime sponsor of the bill, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, said current employment laws must be changed to accommodate legalization of the drug. “The war on drugs has had a really negative impact on so many communities,” she...

  • Bill would post signs about cold-water peril

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Jan 20, 2022

    March 23, 2021, was a sunny day in Lewis County. Zachary Lee Rager, an 18-year-old Centralia teen wanting to take advantage of the pleasant weather, headed to a familiar hangout with some friends, a bridge connecting the banks of the Chehalis River. When Rager jumped, he did not know how cold the water would be. He did not know the temperature would be 42 degrees Fahrenheit. “He jumped off this bridge so many times, he’d done this time and time again with all his friends,” Lee Hines, Zachary’s stepfather said. “But the difference this time...

  • Additional aid for college students proposed

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Jan 20, 2022

    College students struggling to balance the cost of higher education with daily expenses will have the burden eased if lawmakers pass a bill increasing access to money through the Washington College Grant program. The House College & Workforce Development Committee had a hearing for HB 1659 on Jan. 12. It aims to modify the WCG program by increasing award eligibility and providing an annual stipend for expenses beyond tuition and fees. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Vandana Slatter, D-Bellevue, said, “You should not have to be extraordinarily luc...

  • Inslee: We must act on housing, climate change

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Jan 20, 2022

    Immediate action must be taken to address climate change, the housing crisis, transportation and education, Gov. Jay Inslee said in his annual State of the State address Jan. 11. "We face a variety and dimension of demands greater than ever as we enter 2022," he said. "We must take action this day to keep and strengthen our commitments to those in need right now and in the future." With a 2021-23 budget supplemented with leftover COVID relief money and new federal revenue sources, Inslee said le...

  • Inslee proposes criminalizing lying about election results

    Brooklynn Hillemann, Washington State Journal|Jan 13, 2022

    One year to the day after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Gov. Jay Inslee announced he supports legislation criminalizing lying about election results. “It should not be legal in the state of Washington for elected officials or candidates for office to willfully lie about these election results,” he said speaking to reporters in Olympia on Jan. 6. Making false statements about election results without evidence would be classified as a gross misdemeanor under his proposal, Inslee said. A draft is undergoing finishing touches, but it doesn...