Federal government shutdown does not affect AMBER Alerts

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington State Patrol is reminding both the public and other law enforcement agencies that the AMBER Alert system is in full operation despite the shutdown of the federal government.

 

“We’re hearing of incorrect reports on both mainstream and social media about the status of the AMBER Alert System,” said Carri Gordon, AMBER Alert Coordinator for the Washington State Patrol. “The system is in full operation, and ready to help recover an abducted child.”

 

Although there is some federal coordination of the overall AMBER Alert program, each state has its own distribution system for alerts. Washington’s alerts are distributed by a private contractor that is in no way affected by the federal government shutdown.

Washington state parks remain open – Federal shutdown does not affect state parks operations

OLYMPIA, Wash. - As news of the Federal Government shutdown reaches the public today, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission reminds visitors that state parks remain open and available as normal, moving into the fall and winter season. 

The fall season in Washington typically is inviting to visitors, as fall colors and intermittent sunny weather lures recreationists out to enjoy parks for overnight RV and other camping, for daytime activities such as hiking and biking and for special vacation house rental stays in historic houses, cabins and yurts. The Federal Government shutdown reportedly includes national parks and U.S. Forest Service offices and sites. 

Most state park day-use areas and many campgrounds in the Washington state park system remain open year-round, though specific areas within some parks have partial closures or limited access as winter gets under way. The State Parks winter schedule will be finalized and made available later this month so visitors can plan trips and continue to enjoy state parks. 

Washington health exchange ready to launch – regardless of federal government shutdown

SEATTLE (AP) - Politicians and administrators launching Washington's new health care exchange on Tuesday say nothing will stop the state from signing people up for health insurance.

They're not concerned about technical glitches or being overwhelmed by consumer phone calls and web traffic. They are prepared to take comments and complaints from the public. And they say the debate in the other Washington won't affect Washington Healthplanfinder, even if there is a federal government shutdown.

State Sen. Karen Keiser says the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and nothing that happens in Washington, D.C., this week will change that. She doesn't expect protests to disrupt the launch. She adds, however, that the first open enrollment period will last six months, so early protests will not stop what she calls this landmark in history.

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP

Associated Press


Starting today, uninsured residents in Grays Harbor County can enroll in quality, affordable health plans simply by calling or visiting www.wahealthplanfinder.org Coverage begins on January 1, 2014.




Rep. Derek Kilmer statement on Federal Government shutdown

Representative Derek Kilmer released the following statement after the news that the House and Senate did not reach a compromise by October 1st on legislation to keep federal agencies funded. Yesterday, Representative Derek Kilmer announced he will give up his pay for the duration of a government shutdown.

A government shutdown will cause roughly half of the government’s civilian workforce, about 1.2 million employees to face furloughs.  Additionally, national parks will close, veterans’ disability payments may be disrupted, and there will be a suspension of approval of applications for Small Business Loans. It is estimated that a government shutdown will cost taxpayers $150 million a day.

“The fact that some in Congress would risk a shutdown in order to score political points demonstrates why Congress is currently held in lower regard than head lice,” said Representative Derek Kilmer. “I’m voluntarily giving up my own pay during this shutdown because I believe in leading by example.  Unfortunately, many federal employees in our region unfortunately won’t have a say about losing theirs.  They’ll be furloughed and lose pay through no fault of their own.  These employees and the folks who depend on their work deserve better.” 

One of Representative Kilmer’s first actions in Congress was to break with members of his party to vote for a plan called No Budget, No Pay – a plan that would withhold pay from Members of Congress if Congress doesn’t pass a budget.

State Representative Derek Kilmer urges Congress to avoid shutdown

PORT ANGELES, Wash. - State Representative Derek Kilmer spoke on the floor of the House this morning to urge Congress to stop partisan games and avoid a government shutdown. "As we all know on September 30th the government will run out of funding."
The Democratic Congressman explained how the shutdown could affect his constituents. "For folks back home on the Olympic Peninsula, and around Puget Sound, a shutdown would have serious consequences. Troops in JBLM and workers of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard could go without pay. Olympic National Park could close to tourists. Senior citizens could be delayed in receiving checks for Social Security, [and] veterans may go without the benefits and care that they have earned."
Much of the federal government will cease operation in 10 days unless Congress passes new legislation, referred to as a continuing resolution, to keep the lights on.  Meanwhile House republicans are hoping to use the legislation to defund obamacare, with an amendment to prohibit funding to implement the new healthcare law.

U.S. House could vote this week on “Healthy Forests” bill to increase logging of federal forest lands

PORTLAND, Ore. - Legislation that would greatly increase logging on public land could be on the U.S. House floor by Friday.
Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Doc Hastings tells KBKW "The Healthy Forests Act would allow for more economic activity on federal timber land. After all federal timber lands were designed to be multiple use, but over the years - as you in Southwestern Washington know - timber harvests have declined."
HR 1526 would also exempt some timber sales from federal environmental laws that Hastings said have tightened the choker on logging. "Principally in the Northwest it's because of the Endangered Species Act - and the spotted owl specifically. But in other parts of the country it has been regulations and red tape that has essentially caused timber harvests nationwide in the last 30 years to decline by some %80. - more in the Northwest."
Opponents of the measure say it could bring back clear cutting, and would incentivize local jurisdictions to liquidate their forests.
Hastings said he expected bipartisan support for the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act. If it passes the House floor, it would move to the Senate for review.

Unofficial Olympic Land Management Week Unofficially Declared (by me)

ABERDEEN, Wash. - Two groups have been granted a brief audience at the Hoquiam City Council meeting tonight, both the Working Wild Olympics, and the Wild Olympics groups will be presenting their side of a land management debate raging over the proposed expansion and management of the Olympic National Forest.
George Donovan, a local property developer tells us land management in Washington is an important topic that everyone should be involved in "We have a substantial National Park, and Federal Government owned land in the state of Washington, but those were set up for specific purposes, for you and I to be able to enjoy those properties." On the other side of Myrtle Street, the City of Aberdeen has a draft version of their resolution to oppose the wildolympics campaign, however Aberdeen has not yet heard from the wildolympics group.

Columbia River Crossing project moves forward

VANCOUVER – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced today that $42 million in federal transportation funding is headed to the Columbia River Crossing project. The funding is a significant step forward toward completing environmental reviews and starting final design on the project.

“Over the past several months, our local project partners have dedicated substantial time and effort working collaboratively to address unresolved issues” said Paula Hammond, Washington State Secretary of Transportation. “Senator Murray’s support is another clear signal that our local, state, and federal partners are speaking with one voice about the importance of getting this project done.”

Bill Represents Major Action by U.S. Senate to Help Puget Sound

OLYMPIA – The Federal Government today took a major step to augment the monumental collaborative efforts already underway to restore Puget Sound by 2020. The Puget Sound Recovery Act, sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell and co-sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, is designed to strengthen cleanup of the Puget Sound. It won the approval Wednesday of the key Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works (EPW).

“As the second largest estuary in the nation and the core of our region’s identity and prosperity, it is absolutely critical to restore and preserve this important body of water for generations to come,” Senator Cantwell said. “With the passage of the Puget Sound Recovery Act, the ongoing cleanup of Puget Sound will benefit significantly from the creation of a federal grant program to support a more comprehensive effort and complement the great work of the Puget Sound Partnership. I am proud that with the committee’s passage, we have taken a significant step toward restoring Puget Sound and protecting everything from animal habitats, to tourism, to our precious environment and our regional economy.”

WDFW cautions boat owners to steer clear of orca whales

OLYMPIA – With summer approaching, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding recreational boaters to give orca whales and other marine mammals a wide berth.

State law requires boaters to stay at least 100 yards away from southern resident orca whales. Boaters who unexpectedly come into closer proximity to an orca are required to stop immediately and allow the whales to pass.

These and other state regulations apply to a variety of small watercraft, including tour boats, private powerboats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes and personal floatation devices.

Federal law also includes broad restrictions against disturbing or harassing any marine mammal, said Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement.