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Regional News Archives for 2013-02


Possible Sales Tax for All Washington Shoppers


If you have a business on the Washington side of the Columbia River you like Oregon shoppers, and Oregonians enjoy not having to pay the Washington 8.3% sales tax.  Kelly Parker with the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce says lawmakers looking for more revenue think it's time Oregonians paid up.  She’s trying to convince money-hungry lawmakers that Oregon shoppers will just stay home.

 

 

Washington State Supreme Court Overturns Tax Law


 

The Washington State Supreme Court has overturned a requirement fir a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature to pass tax increases.  Chris Korsmo with the League of Education Voters applauds the decision, saying voters do want it to be difficult to raise taxes.  Groups that helped pass the law disagree that the requirement violates the state constitution.

CPR Classes Could Be Requirement for High School Graduation


The old phrase that something is so simple "even a child can do it" now applies to saving lives.  Mark Stevens with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue told a State Senate committee how easy it is to do "hands only" CPR.  Stevens was testifying in favor of a bill to make learning "hands-only" CPR a requirement to graduate from high school.  The bill had its first public hearing Thursday and has strong support from first responders around the state.

First Woman Brigadier General in Oregon to be Honored


The favorite daughter of Jordan, Oregon is being honored by the State Legislature.  Brigadier General Julie Bentz is the first woman to make that rank in the State's Army National Guard.  She's currently assigned to the National Security Council.  Oregon Military Department Deputy Commander, Brigadier Mike Caldwell says Bentz was instrumental in establishing the Oregon Guard units that respond to emergencies.

 

Snowpack Levels Iffy


 

Mount Hood is getting the wet snow needed to meet spring and summer water demands in the Willamette Basin.  But Julie Koeberle with the Natural Resource Conservation Service says other parts of the state have to catch up.  She says the Klamath Basin is at 76% of normal and the John Day is at 89%.

 

League of Oregon Cities Wants More Tax Code Freedom


 

Oregon’s mayors are telling state lawmakers they need space, or rather freedom from state tax codes set in the mid-90's that limit their cities' abilities to re-set assessed value of properties to reflect growth in the economy. George Endicott, President of the League of Oregon Cities says property taxes have, essentially, remained stagnant because of Measure Five. Endicott, Mayor of Redmond in Central Oregon, says cities must still provide services and their costs change with inflation - that's why they need more room to call for local option levies and tax codes changes. They’re trying to convince lawmakers to put the topic on the Oregon ballot.

Tsunami Dock Piece in Museum


 

A piece of the Japanese tsunami dock that washed up in Oregon will go on permanent display at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.  Visitor Center Manager Mark Farley says part of the exhibit will focus on the area off the Oregon coast that will cause an earthquake here.  They know that, because there's a long history of strong earthquakes and tsunamis that hit the coast.  The exhibit will also point out evacuation routes from the area near the Marine Science Center.  They want it to serve as a reminder whenever you visit the coast to know how to get to higher ground quickly when there's an earthquake.

Portland Aquarium Owner Arrested Again


 

The co-owner of the Portland Aquarium has been arrested - again.  Ammon Covino was originally arrested on allegations he tried to illegally obtain marine animals in Florida.  He was released on bond.  Now, Covino has been arrested again for allegedly trying to get his nephew, Pete Covino the fourth, to destroy potential evidence in Florida regarding an order for undersized and illegal nurse sharks.  Ammon Covino was out on a $100,000 bond and the second arrest could cause him to forfeit that money.  Pete Covino was also arrested.  Fish and Wildlife and NOAA are investigating the case.

 

Closing a Foreclosure Loophole


 

The Oregon law requiring mediation before a mortgage lender forecloses on a homeowner is getting a lot of attention.  State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says they’ve received about 800 complaints on their website and 14-hundred contacts about foreclosure problems.  But the law only applies to non-judicial foreclosures, so lenders have been clogging courts by going to foreclosures requiring court hearings.

The Death Penalty Could Be Reversed


Banning the Oregon death penalty is the reason for House Joint Resolution one introduced Tuesday in the Oregon House.  Supporters say the death penalty is immoral, too expensive and seldom used in the state.

 

But Terri Hakim - the wife of a police officer killed in the Woodburn bank bombing is worried the men who killed her husband might not spend life in prison.  If it is passed the issue of a death penalty would be on the ballot in 2014.

Marijuana To Be Officially Reclassified


Sometimes it takes more than one try to get things right.  A few years ago, the Oregon Legislature told a state agency to re-classify marijuana and methamphetamine.  But Gale Meyer with the State Criminal Defense Lawyers Association says lawmakers forgot to make the same changes in the criminal code.  This session they will try to lighten the sentences for marijuana and stiffen them for meth.

Oregon Legislators Looking to Sweeten the Deal for Movie Makers


The Clackamas Community College is seeing a jump in students wanting to learn more about television, film and digital production.  The interest is tied to more TV shows and movies being shot in Oregon.  Tom Pitowski with the Northwest Economic Research Center supports expansion of state support for those productions.  A new bill would open up the state fund to out-of-state productions.  Currently the fund focuses on local filmmakers.

 

Left Lane Law


An Oregon Senator says the state needs a Left Lane Law, requiring drivers to only use the left lane when passing.  Oregon State Police Captain Ted Phillips sees it as a safety measure.  The Left Lane Law could make it easier to speed but may also reduce the chance that a speeding driver will tailgate a slower driver trying to force him to move  over

Oregon Lawmakers Considering Per Mile Charge for Electric Cars


Oregon lawmakers ran out of gas the last time they tried to set up a special per mile charge for things like electric vehicles.  Now, Senator Vicki Berger is re-charging the issue.  The new bill would give the driver options of paying a flat rate or on a per mile basis.  Berger says the bill still needs work.

 

ICE To Release Some Illegal Immigrants


The Department of Homeland Security is releasing some illegal immigrants from jails ahead of the sequestration budget cuts this Friday.  The Northwest Division for ICE is not saying whether any releases have been made in Portland; and they aren't announcing the total number of releases, or how those people were selected for release.  The National Immigration Forum says it costs $164 a day to keep an illegal immigrant facing deportation jailed, while it costs up to $14 a day to supervise someone who has been released.  ICE has 34,000 immigration jail beds across the country. 

The Sequester Will Hurt Oregon


There are about 27,000 public and private sector workers who could lose salaries if the federal sequester is not avoided. But Mark McMullen, an Oregon State Economist, thinks a bigger impact will be the loss of assistance programs to low income families.  Oregon gets a little over a billion dollars in federal money.

Lower White River Ready for Kayak


The fish are returning to the Lower White Salmon River... but you want to know when you can drop a kayak on the water. A Washington rafting company is exploring just that... now that white water has returned with the removal of the Condit Dam.  Todd Collins with “Wet Planet” says it will take some time to determine the best ways to navigate tours safely. Collins says the lower-lower White Salmon River is the most scenic part of the river. In his trips, he's seen bear and fish. He thinks more wildlife with return to the river's edge as animals discover the constructions gone for good.

State House Passes Tuition Equity


If the Oregon State Senate passes the Tuition Equity Bill passed by the House Friday the children of undocumented parents will have to meet a short list of criteria.  Among those are: applying for an official tax I.D. number and shown their intention of becoming a citizen or lawful resident.  Representative Michael Dembrow says they will also have to meet residency and educational requirements.  The Bill passed the House on a bipartisan 38 to 18 vote.

Dense Breasts a Problem with Mammograms


There are only five states in the U.S. that require a doctor tell a woman if she has dense breast tissue, and only two of those states require insurance companies cover the needed tests.  Laura Caldwell of Eugene needed an ultra sound to find out she had cancer.  A mammogram couldn't see past the dense tissue. A proposed Oregon bill would change that.

Sequester Will Affect FAA Towers


In advance of the cuts; the Federal Aviation Administration is preparing to eliminate $600-million from its budget.  It has sent notice to 100 air traffic control facilities across the country that they'll be closed.  Four airports are on the list in Oregon: North Bend, Eastern Oregon Regional at Pendleton, McNary Field in Salem and Troutdale.  Eight airports are on the list in Washington State: including Tacoma, Yakima, Olympia and Felts Field in Spokane.  Not having a tower means pilots will need to use another set of procedures to communicate when they're landing and taking off.  The airports will remain open.

 

Arrest in Lucky Fortune Restaurant Owner Killing


Salem Police have arrested a man accused of hitting and killing an owner of the Lucky Fortune Restaurant last Thursday. Lt. Steve Birr says a patrol officer learned Brandon Paine-Smith, 26, was staying in a residence on 22nd Street southeast.  They also arrested Kimberly Doan, 46, on a charge of hindering prosecution.  Police are still looking for Kayla Jo Holden, 20, who was reportedly in the car with Paine-Smith. Birr says before Holden and Paine-Smith fled, restaurant employees were trying to detain her for previously stealing a jacket from the owner.

Wednesday is Exclusion Day


Starting Wednesday, Oregon children can be excluded from school or daycare if they haven't had all the required shots.  Stacy de Assis Matthews with the Oregon Health Authority says only a small percentage of the 650,000 kids attending Oregon's public and private schools and daycares are actually excluded each year.  Last year, of the 35,000 exclusion warning sent out by local health departments, only about 4600 kids were turned away from school.  If your child needs vaccinations, contact your county health department, or call 1-800-safenet.

Sex Trafficking Laws


Getting kids away from sex traffickers is the aim of a proposed Oregon law; it sounds good.  A new law would label child prostitutes “victims” rather than offenders. Representative Jessica Vega Pedersen says the victims should be put in a diversion program rather than in jail.  But prosecutors want to arrest the kids first to get the information they need to chase down pimps and traffickers.

Child Burned By Hand Sanitizer


Hand sanitizer is apparently responsible for a fire that injured an 11-year-old girl at Portland’s Doernbecher Children's Hospital.  Ireland Lane was in bed when her shirt caught fire.  Investigators don't know what ignited the fire.  Doctor Stacey Nicholson says this does not mean that hospitals should stop using hand sanitizer.  Lane suffered burn injuries requiring skin grafts.  She was previously treated for cancer and a head injury from a fall.  She was supposed to leave the hospital the day of the fire.

Oracle Loves Oregon


If you're looking for a job, you should check the Oracle website.  Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber had good news for a lot of people at the Oracle plant in Hillsboro Tuesday.  The company is committed to staying in Oregon and there will be 130 new jobs created in part by $1.4 million worth of state incentives. Those incentives are based on the fact that the new jobs will pay 150-percent of the average Oregon wage.

Oregon Legislators Want to Help Vets with Dogs


Oregon lawmakers are pushing a 75-thousand dollar plan to help veterans with posttraumatic stress. It involves using assistance dogs, like those trained by Joy St. Peter at "Joys of Living".  The dogs are trained to recognize triggers that bring on PTSD episodes. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not recognize service dogs for vets with posttraumatic stress.  Oregon lawmakers want to fill that gap.

Higher Education Legislation


An Oregon House committee is considering a couple bills aimed at helping families decide if getting a college degree or certificate is worth the investment.

State Representative Michael Dembrow (dem-bro) is sponsoring a bill, which would require the State Education Department to maintain a list of loan default rates for each degree or certificate program.

A companion bill would require colleges and universities to publish the costs of degrees and certificates, as well as the average salaries earned by recent graduates in those programs. The nation's student loan default rate is close to 25 percent.

Wine Growler


A bill to legalize refillable “growler” style bottles had it’s first hearing in committee in the Oregon legislature yesterday.

Oregon winemakers would like it if you could take an empty bottle to your local wine shop and fill it up.

State representative Jim Thompson says it's a way of buying wine that has a long history in other countries.

The "wine growler" bill is similar what breweries already do and at the same time reduce the amount of glass going into the waste stream.

Gas Prices on the Rise


Gas prices are on the rise.

The national average is up 15-cents in the last week to 3-73.  Oregon and Washington's average is up six cents to 3-63 which is still below the national average. 

Market speculation is seen as a major reason behind the price increases. 

Also, refineries are starting to produce more expensive blends of summer fuel, but those price increases normally happen toward spring, diesel increased about a nickel over the last week to 4-10 a gallon as well.

OSU Nuclear Concept


A new nuclear energy concept is being tested at Oregon State University.  It is called a high temperature reactor.  Project Director Brian Woods says it uses helium for cooling and is cleaner than the old water-cooled models. He adds, these reactors will do more than make electricity; it will also reduce carbon emissions and reduce greenhouse gasses.  The $4 million project is funded by grants from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and testing begins in April.

Drunk Driver Is A Dumb Bandit


The arrest of a drunk driver on I-5 in Eugene turned out to be a much larger arrest.  Lt. Gregg Hastings says they found a large amount of cash in James Dear's vehicle and some of the cash was stained with dye – which was unusual.  Dear had pink hair, pink fingernails and a skirt, which matched the description of a bank robbery suspect from Sacramento.  He was arrested a second time and will be held until he's extradited to California.

Oregons Economic Forecast


Oregon’s economic recovery remains on the slow track.  Economist Mark McMullen told lawmakers that expected revenue remains about the same.  There should be an increase in April as households pay higher taxes on investments taken in 2012, because they're expecting federal taxes to go up this year.  But, the extra revenue will balance out in 2014 when fewer investments are cashed in. The forecast remains in line with the budget that Governor Kitzhaber has put forward.

Oregon Legislature to Vote on Veterans Day for Vets


A bill giving veterans time off from their jobs to observe Veterans’ Day is on its way to the Oregon Senate for a vote.  With no discussion Thursday, a Senate committee passed Senate Bill 1.  It directs Oregon employers to provide their employees who are military veterans a paid or unpaid day off on veterans' day or an alternate day.  If the measure passes both houses of the Legislature, it heads to the Governor for signature.

Governor Hopes to See Fewer Medical Mistakes Lawsuits


Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber wants to see fewer lawsuits by patients for medical mistakes. Instead, he wants patients to be able to final a complaint with a Patient Safety Commission that kick-starts a review process: doctors talking with patients about solutions, under the guidance of risk managers and mediators.  The Oregon Medical Association and Oregon Trial Lawyers Association back the proposal. The Governor says it will allow for better review and prevention of mistakes to improve safety within the healthcare system, eventually reducing costs. It moves to the Ways and Means Committee for review of fiscal impact to the state.

Salmonella Warning


The Oregon Health Authority is warning about the danger of getting salmonella poisoning from uncooked chicken.  Dr. Paul Cieslak says cross contamination is the biggest problem. Anything that raw chicken or the drippings touch...needs to be sanitized.  That would include cutting boards or counter tops.  You never want to use the same surface to prepare food, such as a salad, that isn't cooked.  Last year, the number of salmonella cases doubled in Oregon.

Oregon Food Bank Gets Generous Gift


It was announced at Shaver Elementary in Portland’s Parkrose neighborhood.  The Zidell family providing a $150,000 check to fill empty bellies in Oregon. The Oregonian announced the gift was announced was announced on the 100th anniversary of Sam Zidells arrival in the U.S. from his birthplace in the Ukraine.  The family owns Zidell Marine. The money will be used to expand a food pantry program that helps families in 6 Multnomah County schools, with an aim to serve 24 more schools in other areas. In Oregon, more than a third of people who consume emergency food box meals are children. The state’s child food insecurity rate is at 29%, one of the highest in the nation.

Washington State Legislature Cracking Down on Sex Trafficking


Washington lawmakers are considering proposals designed to reduce sex trafficking and toughen penalties for pimps and johns who force people under age 18 into prostitution. King County Detective Joel Banks works with a non-profit that works to help victims escape the lifestyle.  He says they want to make it easier for the state to prosecute pimps. One provision amends trafficking laws to eliminate the requirement to prove force, fraud of coercion when the victim is a minor.  The proposals backed by Shared Hope International are being pitched in other states, including Oregon.

Electric Vehicles Big Business


The electric revolution is building in Oregon. At the Northwest Economic Resource Center Tom Potiowsky says the electric vehicle industry is creating jobs and adding millions to the economy.  The EV industry added about $265-million to the state economy in 2012.  But, Potiowsky adds, it is hard to predict how rapidly the new industry will grow.

Coordinated Care Expert Wants Doctor Rates to Rise


Jeff Hetherington, CEO of Family Care, Inc., one of the area's first state-approved coordinated care organizations wants to improve care for Medicare and Medicaid patients by raising rates for primary care physicians.  He says improving rates will increase the number of primary care doctors available to treat patients, so they can stay away from specialists and unnecessary E-R visits. He says the money to cover the increased rates would be derived from cost savings within the healthcare system; those specialist and E-R visits much more expensive for patients, insurers and healthcare providers.

Lily the Elephant Can Stay


Lily the baby elephant now officially belongs to the Oregon Zoo. In an agreement penned Friday, Zoo Director Kim Smith says the zoo voided its loan contract with the controversial company "Have Trunk will travel", and took ownership of Lily and her father, Tusko.  News that lily wasn't owned by the zoo made headlines when she was born in December.  Now, she will stay, as will any other siblings fathered by Tusko.  The zoo  paid 400-thousand dollars for both elephants. The money came entirely from funds raised by the private, nonprofit Oregon Zoo Foundation.

Rural Hospital Limits


Some rural hospitals deemed "critical access hospitals," like Providence Hood River Memorial, are required to limit the number of patients they treat per-day to 25. Oregon Congressman Greg Walden says the patient limit can be a problem when demand for care increases, during a flu outbreak, for example. He wants to change the limit to a daily average of 20 patients. When these hospitals reach the 25 patient cap, they sent patients to other hospitals... some a long distance from home.

Nurse Practitioners Win Points in the Senate


More nurse practitioners will be allowed to apply for the right to dispense prescription drugs if a bill that unanimously passed through the Oregon Senate makes it to the Governor's desk for final approval. Senator Alan Bates, a practicing physician, voted "aye" but with some apprehension. He thinks it will improve the affordability and accessibility of health care overall; but he doesn't care for one of the bill's biggest supporters: Zoom Care.  Zoom Care, he says, is hurting the health care system by only serving middle- and high-income patients who can pay with cash and refuse Medicare and Medicaid patients.  Nurse practitioners would be required to complete additional training and apply for a permit through the Board of Nursing before they could provide medications to patients.  The Bill moves to the House.

State Senators Working on Privacy Act


Three Oregon Senate Republicans are hoping to see their proposal on the agenda in an upcoming hearing.  The Social Networking Privacy Protection Act - Senate Bill 499 - would make it illegal for potential employers to ask you for your social media log-in information to perform background checks before hiring.  Senator Tim Knopp says criminal background checks make sense for employers, but applicants should be able to keep aspects of their personal lives private.  The bill would apply to Oregon employers and universities, public and private.  Other states have passed similar legislation, including Maryland, Delaware, Illinois and California.

Opinions on Gun Control


The two sides in the shoot out over new gun laws are digging in.  Neither side seems willing to give in.  But former U.S. Attorney for Oregon Dwight Holton says we have to remember the issue is about the common good, and should make the community safer.  Holton says real reform won't happen until lawmakers address the other issues surrounding gun violence and stop the single focus on the guns themselves.

Portlant Students Boycott Standardized Tests


Students in the Portland School District are being asked to boycott standardized testing.  The campaign is being launched by members of the student union.  Paul Wells, a student from Grant High School says the tests are not a fair representation of a student's achievement.  They would like to see the tests replaced with a community review process where administrators, teachers, students and parents would review their school to determine how it's doing.

 

Earthquake Report Says We Need More Prep


A new earthquake planning report going to the state details what's needed to prepare infrastructure for the big one; a magnitude 9 earthquake.  Jay Wilson helped write the report.  He says history shows there's no question it's in our future.  Making repairs to keep power, water, transportation and communications operational after the big one is so costly; the time frame for getting it finished is 50 years.  They'll submit the final report to the state later this month.

Democrats Unveil Session Plans


Oregon Senate Democrats outlined their goals for the legislative session, now underway in Salem. Senator Diane Rosenbaum says investigating in education is their top priority and they’ll look for ways to find funds to reduce class sizes and restore programs.  Rosenbaum says looking at ways to reduce state spending on the public employees retirement system, PERs, is one of many ways they'll look for money for schools. They'll also review tax credits and exemptions that are sunsetting and up for review.  Senate Republicans outlined their goals last month.

Forest Grove Cops Subdue Ex-Cop


A statement released by the Forest Grove Police Department outlines the confrontation like this: they were sent to the home of Timothy Cannon when his wife called 9-1-1, saying she and their daughter were locked in a room, Cannon outside -armed and trying to get in. When police entered the house, it was dark. They attempted to talk with Cannon, but he was confrontational, saying police would have to shoot him, and he'd shoot them. Police allegedly heard Cannon loading his rifle and the threats and reacted; gunfire erupting. The Washington County Tactical Negotiations Team was called in. Police later managed to restrain Cannon after a struggle.

Suspect Arrested in rock throwing incident


It took three months, but a tip has led to an arrest in a rock throwing incident on I-5 in southern Oregon that injured two University of Oregon students.  State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings says they got a tip froma private citizen that led to the arrest.  The suspect is Matthew McKinney, 19, from Sutherlin.  He’s charged with assault and throwing an object from an overpass.

First snow survey is not good news


Recent snow storms on Mount Hood have not added much to the water supply we'll need this summer. Julie Koeberle with the USDA says the snow level was 88% of normal; and the water content was only at about 33 inches and it should be much more.  She says we have until deep into April to get the snow we need.  That snow becomes the water that runs power generators and irrigates farmland.

Lender must pay for fraud


Lender Processing Services, Inc. has settled a lawsuit by Oregon and 46 others states alleging the company and it's subsidiaries engaged in "robo-signing" or forgeries of foreclosure documents and other bad behavior. Named subsidiaries are LPS Default Services, Inc and Dox-X, LLC.  Jeff Manning in the Oregon Attorney General's Office says the state will get $3-million of the $120-million settlement.  Individuals affected by LPS's "robo-signing" may be eligible for compensation related to the suit but Manning says how much and when it would be available isn't yet known; encouraging you to watch the AG's website for details in coming months.

Bipartisan Senators working on trafficking laws


Two Oregon Senators say they'll work together, despite their political differences, to support changes to Oregon law aimed to reduce sex trafficking in the state. Senator Betsy Close, a Republican, says Shared Hope International gives Oregon a "D" grade on sex trafficking issues.  She and Sen. Betsy Johnson, a Democrat, will champion legislation designed to strengthen laws that target pimps and johns and the prostitution industry and protect minors forced into the sex trade. The legislation is in the drafting process. E-mail the Senators to get involved.

 

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