Olympia Spring 2015
The Murrow News Service/Olympia is a year-round academic program that pairs Washington State University students aspiring to political multi-platform news reporting careers with professional news organizations.
Since the program began in 2011, students from The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication have filed hundreds of news reports from the state capital for media outlets in Washington and Oregon.
Murrow reporters attend the governor's briefings and have access to floors of the state Senate and the state House of Representatives, and work side-by-side with political correspondents from state, regional and national news outlets.
Students receive a minimum stipend of $250 per week from the sponsoring news organization and earn up to 12 academic credits from the Murrow College for a semester internship with the Olympia program. Each student completes a visit to the sponsoring news organization main office before beginning the semester in Olympia.
Once in Olympia, they are advised daily by a professional mentor, but each student ultimately reports to the editors of their news organization.
To become a sponsoring news organization or get more information on the Olympia bureau, contact Professor Benjamin Shors at email@example.com.
Read more about the Murrow News Service bureaus in Olympia and Pullman.
Senate passes bill requiring data on mentally ill patients turned away
OLYMPIA – The state would find out how many people with mental illness are being turned away from treatment facilities under a bill the Senate passed unanimously Wednesday.
Under the state’s Involuntary Treatment Act, mental health professionals can detain a person they believe to be “gravely disabled” or at risk of physical harm.
But hospitals and care centers are often too crowded to accept new patients, leaving many without treatment that experts say they need.
Shea says student-tracking bill poses terror risk to military families
OLYMPIA – Terrorists could use data from school report cards to track American soldiers and their families if a bill that passed the House on Monday becomes law, a Spokane Valley legislator warned.
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, argued against the legislation to revise how the state monitors academic progress in grades K-12, to add a focus on children from military families. That includes students’ grades, schedules, enrollment and program participation
Lawmakers struggle to define meals
OLYMPIA – Washington lawmakers can take up to 12 meals per year from lobbyists, but just what constitutes a “meal” – or who gets to define it – isn’t clear.
The Legislative Ethics Board tried to clear that up Tuesday, just four months after creating the 12-meal rule to limit freebies. In the end, however, the board decided that’s a decision for the Legislature.
“I get a sense that legislators are trying to comply with the 12 meals,” said Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Felida. “I just feel like there's a lot of ambiguity out there for meals that are more social in nature rather than policy-driven.”
Bill seeks college tuition and wage link
OLYMPIA – College tuition could fall more than 25 percent under a bill to link it to Washington wages.
To make up the difference, Senate Republicans want to give universities and colleges a bigger cut of the state’s already-strained budget.
“Despite having one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country, over 50 percent of Washington students graduate with debt,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey, the bill’s prime sponsor.
House bill would require second opinion for foster children prescriptions:
OLYMPIA – Washington’s foster care system forces too many children to take mind-altering drugs, mental health experts told state legislators Friday.
They supported a bill that would require foster homes to get a second opinion before giving children certain drugs. Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Kagi, the bill covers any drug used to treat depression, psychotic or manic conditions, anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“I think we have an obligation as a state, because they are our children, to ensure all of those prescriptions are appropriate and necessary,” said Kagi, D-Seattle.
Washington bill would ban open pot containers in cars
OLYMPIA – Drivers couldn’t have an open container of marijuana in their cars under broad legislation to crack down on driving under the influence.
Convicted drunk drivers could have their cars fitted with GPS devices so state troopers could track them. And getting someone else to blow into an ignition interlock device would become a crime.
These are just a few of the provisions in a 51-page bill sponsored by Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, which got a second hearing Monday before the General Government and Information Technology Committee.
Washington state searches for tax solution to fix crumbling roads
OLYMPIA – On a typical morning commute from Spokane Valley to downtown Spokane on Interstate 90, drivers pass under eight bridges deemed “structurally deficient” by state engineers.
It could be a while before they’re fixed.
As roads and bridges crumble across the country, lawmakers scramble to pay for repairs. The nation’s infrastructure faces huge challenges because of falling gas tax revenue, and the Inland Northwest has not gone unscathed
Senate panel hears Padden abortion bills
OLYMPIA – Doctors would not have to tell expectant mothers about life-threatening conditions in an unborn child that could lead her to choose an abortion, under a bill aired Monday in a state Senate committee.
The bill, and another that would require pregnant minors to prove they’ve notified their parents before getting an abortion, received hearings in the Senate Law and Justice Committee. Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, is the prime sponsor of both and the committee chairman.
Lawyers who support the doctor notification bill told the committee it’s partly aimed at protecting doctors from lawsuits regarding a child born with disabilities. Doctors could not be sued for medical malpractice for withholding that information unless preventive treatments are available
Washington lawmakers discuss oil train safety bills- Feb 2, 2015
OLYMPIA – Somewhere on its way from North Dakota to Western Washington – as it passed through Spokane and other populated areas in early November – a railroad car leaked more than 1,600 gallons of crude oil. But some federal, state and local agencies didn’t learn about it until a month later.
Federal inspectors discovered the car was oil-stained and missing a valve cap when it arrived at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery, but no one notified the Department of Ecology, which responds to inland oil spills, or the U.S. Coast Guard, which responds to spills along waterways like the Columbia River.
Read more here
Warnick and water: finding solutions - Feb. 2nd, 2015
OLYMPIA - The problems concerning water access that once plagued Kittitas County in years past now plague Skagit County, a problem Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, seeks to solve. My sympathies, my desire to try and help other areas of the state, grows out of having represented Kittitas County," Warnick said.
The Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee heard several bills that proposed solutions to water access difficulties on Thursday, an issue Warnick said she hoped to prioritize as chair of the committee before the session began. The seven bills considered at the hearing, if passed, would solve water access problems caused by the Skagit River Basin Instream Resources Protection Rule. The rule prohibits the use of water sources that eight businesses and 475 homes depend on, according to a report provided by the Senate committee staff.
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Bills suggest raising child porn fines for offenders - Spokesman.com - Jan. 31, 2015
OLYMPIA – In an effort to fight rapidly growing cases of child pornography in Washington, legislators are considering raising the fines when offenders are found with those images. Washington has nearly 17,000 cases of child pornography possession each year, with more than half directly linked to rape and abuse, law enforcement officials said. A pair of bills would charge offenders $1,000 for each image found in their possession.
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Dent backs mental health bill- Shares story of adult son's struggles - Jan 31, 2015
OLYMPIA - Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, closed arguments regarding House Bill 1258 with a personal anecdote about his own son's struggle with maintaining mental health.
House Bill 1258, which passed through the House of Representatives 98-0 on Thursday, allows people to petition the court for the involuntary detainment of an immediate family member. The bill is also known as Joel's Law, named after Joel Reuter, a Seattle man with severe bipolar disorder who died in 2013 after exchanging gun shots with police.
Lawmakers look at banning hazardous, yet popular microbeads - Jan 30, 2015
OLYMPIA – Many facial soaps contain tiny, gritty pieces of plastic called microbeads, for scrubbing away dead skin and stubborn blemishes. Some Washington lawmakers want to ban them.
The exfoliating beads present an environmental hazard, researchers warn. Small enough to slip through bathroom drains, the beads end up in rivers, lakes and oceans around the world. They are easily swallowed by fish and other creatures and are known to cause cell damage, even death.
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House collectively passes ‘Joel’s Law’ - Jan 30, 2015
OLYMPIA – Rep. Tom Dent urged his colleagues to pass “Joel’s Law” by recalling his son’s tense standoff late last year with Spokane County sheriff’s deputies.
A patient of severe bipolar disorder, Monty Dent went missing for several days last year after stealing a family car, and Tom Dent feared he was suicidal. After letting his father know where he was, Monty Dent was arrested by Spokane County deputies.
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Outdoor enthusiasts fight proposed bill that could cut access to Washington waters - Jan 29, 2015
OLYMPIA – Following backlash from state agencies and outdoor enthusiasts, a Benton County lawmaker is shrinking the scope of a bill that could cut access to Washington’s lakes, rivers and streams.
The bill aims to alleviate a parking problem along the Yakima River, but opponents worried it would hinder public water access statewide. It could result in a misdemeanor for someone who uses public land to access a public body of water.
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Proposed Silver Alert bill aimed at missing seniors- Jan. 20, 2015OLYMPIA – Samuel Counts left his Spokane Valley home on Nov. 23, 2012, to buy a loaf of bread and didn’t return.
In the early stages of dementia, Counts, 71, wasn’t supposed to drive alone. But he insisted he could get to the store and back. Hours later, his family called police, spread notices on Facebook and scoured the area. His daughter, Susan Belote, said the ordeal was “an entire week of misery, sleeplessness and panic.”
A bill in the Legislature could help find people like Counts soon after they go missing. HB 1021 would have Washington create a Silver Alert – for missing people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other mental illnesses – similar to the Amber Alert for missing children.
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