Capitol News Jan 30
Wanted: A green thumb with extensive knowledge of the black, or at least gray, market.
As Washington State tries to figure out how to regulate its newly legal marijuana, officials are hiring an adviser on all things weed: how it's best grown, tested, labeled, and cooked into brownies.
Those angling for the job are expected to meet Wednesday in Tacoma with state bidding experts to discuss the requirements and hiring process. Officials reserved a convention center hall that fits 275 people - plus an overflow room.
Last fall, Washington and Colorado became the first states to pass laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and setting up systems of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores. Adults over 21 can buy up to an ounce of heavily taxed cannabis.
Challenges Still Exist On Marijuana
Officials tasked with creating a regulated marijuana system in Washington state say they are moving forward with a timeline of issuing producer licenses by August, but say that several challenges and uncertainties still exist.
Pat Kohler, director of the state Liquor Control Board, on Tuesday told lawmakers on the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee that those concerns include continued uncertainty about what the federal government will ultimately do about Washington and Colorado's voter-approved marijuana legalization laws.
She says another concern has to do with banking and how, if at all, they'll be able to get federally-insured banks to do the banking for taxes and other revenue related to marijuana. She says these concerns are among several that have been raised during the first two of six public forums on the issue.
WA Lawmakers Rack Up Hefty Cellphone Bills
During last year's legislative session that focused on budget troubles, Washington state Sen. Jerome Delvin racked up a cellphone bill that would make most users recoil: $309.21 in one month alone.
It wasn't out of the norm for Delvin, who submitted his costs for taxpayers to cover. The Republican from Richland regularly posted cellphone bills surpassing $180 per month over the past two years, with some jumping much higher and one topping out at $382.75.
Records obtained by The Associated Press under public records laws show that a variety of lawmakers have consistently submitted hefty cellphone bills that stretched beyond the normal cost of even some of the most generous wireless plans. Delvin conceded that he made need to reassess his plan to see if there's a cheaper option.
Lawmakers Renew Push On Abortion Insurance Bill
Democratic state lawmakers are renewing a push t to require insurers who cover maternity care - which Washington insurers are mandated to provide - to also pay for abortions.
They are championing the Reproductive Parity Act, which is meant to ensure that existing abortion coverage be preserved once new health insurance rules come into effect in 2014 under national health care reform.
The bill will receive a public hearing on Thursday in the Health Care and Wellness Committee of the Democratic-controlled House, which passed a similar measure a year ago.
Its fate will likely be determined in the Senate, however, which is controlled by a group of 23 Republicans and two Democrats calling itself the Majority Coalition Caucus.
Senate Delays Vote On Workers' Compensation Bills
Washington state Senate has passed its first bills of the 2013 legislative session, but has put off a vote on a set of controversial measures intended to save businesses money by changing workers' compensation rules.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said the five bills dealing with workers' compensation, which passed out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Monday, will likely come to the floor soon.
Among the five bills passed Wednesday with broad support were Senate Bill 5052, which would allocate an additional superior court judge to Whatcom County and Senate Bill 5021, which would change the name of the crime of rioting to that of criminal mischief.
Those bills will now be transferred to the House.
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