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AP - Oregon-Northwest

Latest Washington news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. PDT


Seattle police forcibly clear ‘lawless’ protest zone

SEATTLE (AP) — Police on Wednesday forcibly cleared out Seattle’s “occupied” protest zone after about two weeks in a situation that had attracted the complaints of local business owners and the ire of President Donald Trump during a number of Twitter posts. The order by Mayor Jenny Durkan followed two recent fatal shootings in the area. More than three dozen people were arrested during the early morning ouster, charged with failure to disperse, obstruction, assault and unlawful weapon possession. Durkan said later Wednesday she didn’t think most should be prosecuted on the misdemeanor charges. The zone was set up following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


Seattle City Council panel votes to advance businesses tax

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council has taken a key step toward adopting a new tax on big businesses. The Seattle Times reports the council voted in a budget committee meeting Wednesday to advance a proposal expected to raise more than $200 million per year. Just two years ago, the council — under pressure from corporations such as Amazon and the prospect of a voter referendum — repealed a $47 million-per-year big business tax adopted weeks before. Lead sponsor and council member Teresa Mosqueda says the new tax would would target companies with many highly paid employees, whereas the 2018 “head tax” would have applied to all employees at large companies.


Court invalidates governor’s transportation budget vetoes

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A judge has ruled that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee overstepped his authority with a series of one-sentence vetoes in last year’s transportation budget. The decision was handed down by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy late last week. The ruling invalidates the vetoes of provisions of the budget relating to grant funding for transit services that said fuel type could not be a factor in the grant selection process. The ruling was a win for the Democratic-led Legislature that filed suit against the Democratic governor last year.


Washington state begins trapping for Asian giant hornets

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — About 600 traps to catch invasive Asian giant hornets are being placed in Northwestern Washington’s Whatcom County by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, more than doubling the number already set out by citizens. The Capital Press reports the state traps are being placed around Blaine, Custer and Bellingham, the only places in the U.S. that the giant hornet has been found. The traps are being put on the edge of forested areas. Asian giant hornets are brutal to pollinators, known to decapitate honey bees and are the subject of wide fascination. Five Asian giant hornets have been found in Whatcom County since last winter. 


Alaska Airlines could ban non-masked flyers from travel

SEATTLE (AP) — Alaska Airlines says its flight attendants can issue warnings to passengers who refuse to wear a mask which could lead to them being banned from future flights. The Seattle Times reports that starting in early July, the airline will hand yellow cards to noncompliant passengers, advising them that it is their “final notice” and that a written report about them will be made. If a passenger continues to refuse, it will be noted in the report and a decision could be made to ban the passenger from future flights. The company said Tuesday a change was needed because of tension caused for people on a plane when travelers disregard or disobey the mask requirement. 


Washington state prison reports 220 confirmed COVID-19 cases

TRI-CITIES, Wash. (AP) — About 220 officers and inmates at a Washington state prison have tested positive for COVID-19, nearly doubling since restricting movement in its medium-security unit last month. The state Department of Corrections brought in the Washington National Guard last week to administer coronavirus testing at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. The Tri-City Herald reported that the results showed 171 inmates and 47 staff members tested positive Tuesday. Two inmates died. Coyote Ridge, located in Connell, has minimum- and medium-security units. Officials say all employees in both units, and all inmates in the medium-security unit will now be regularly tested.


City crews remove some barriers from Seattle protest zone

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle city crews used heavy equipment to remove makeshift barriers around the city’s “occupied” protest zone following two fatal shootings in the area. Demonstrators Tuesday then dragged couches and other things to replace the structures in the area east of downtown, but those were largely gone later Tuesday. Protesters have occupied several blocks around a park and the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct for about two weeks after police abandoned the precinct following clashes and standoffs with protesters calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality. President Donald Trump has called on officials to shut down the area.  


Washington state court hears arguments over car-tab tax cuts

SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington state Supreme Court heard arguments about whether a voter-approved car-tab tax cut was legal or if its ballot title misled voters. The Seattle Times reported that the state Legislature and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee suspended some projects and shuffled budgets as if the tax reduction will take effect, but the court has yet to rule.  Justice Steven Gonzalez critiqued a phrase in the ballot title that said vehicle taxes and fees would be lowered to $30 “except voter-approved charges.” Others questioned if it was legal to use car values from a private company to determine state tax.


Report: Boeing fell short in disclosing key changes to Max

A government watchdog says Boeing didn’t give regulators documents about changes it made in a key system blamed in two crashes of its 737 Max jet. The Transportation Department’s inspector general says government experts responsible for approving the plane didn’t know how powerful the flight-control system was. In both crashes, the system, called MCAS, pushed the nose of the plane down and pilots couldn’t regain control. The crashes killed 346 people and led regulators around the world to ground every Boeing 737 Max — nearly 400 of them. This week, Boeing and the FAA are testing changes Boeing has made in the plane.


Inslee heckled off stage during Tri-Cities appearance

PASCO, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was heckled and had to cut short his speech on battling the coronavirus pandemic in the Tri-Cities on Tuesday. Speaking outdoors at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Inslee was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers as he urged residents to wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus.“Open it up,″ one heckler shouted in an apparent reference to widespread business closures in the Tri-Cities of Richland, Pasco and Kennewick. The community is still in Stage I of the pandemic, which is largely a shutdown.The hecking continued as a masked Inslee spoke. Finally the Democratic governor had had enough and went inside to finish.

The Associated Press