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It’s no 1997, but a great 2014 hop harvest is on tap

You’ll find almost as many hop yards in Yakima’s central Washington agrarian latitude as you’d see anywhere else in the world. And that’s saying something. Why, even the No. 1 hopsters in Germany must surely feel our Yankee challenge to their own Teutonic vines.

 Seventy-five percent of America’s hops are produced by Washington farmers. Hop growers in the Evergreen State are expected to harvest almost 30,000 acres this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). OK, so that’s 10 percent fewer acres than the 1997 crop of more than 32,000 acres of hops, but this year’s yield is still ahead of any return in the past four years.

Hop cultivation actually dates from 1,600 years ago, all the way back to eighth-century Bavaria. But never mind history. Let’s talk about the here and now. For instance, consider the 2014 Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival later this month, Sept. 26 and 27, at Avista Stadium on North Havana Street in Spokane. Representing dozens of Washington towns large and small, the 30 craft breweries at the festival will draw off more than 100 different draughts.

Here’s a good newspaper story on the current harvest. And for telling the hops tale, you’ll find no better encyclopedia than information from Roy Farms, Inc.Also check out this enlightening Washington State University website, not to mention the treasury of tidbits at the Washington Beer Commission.

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Is it legal to spank children in Washington state?

The case of NFL running back Adrian Pederson has brought national attention to corporal punishment of children vs. child abuse. Pederson was indicted by a grand jury in Texas for causing injuries to his four-year-old son with a switch or branch from a tree.

Would that action be legal here in Washington state?

Our state does NOT allow corporal punishment in public schools. Lawmakers banned that in 1983.

Washington state – like every other state in the union – DOES allow corporal punishment in the home.

If spanking is okay, what’s not?

Here’s how Washington state defines child abuse:

(1) Physical abuse means the nonaccidental infliction of physical injury or physical mistreatment on a child. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, such actions as:

(a) Throwing, kicking, burning, or cutting a child;

(b) Striking a child with a closed fist;

(c) Shaking a child under age three;

(d) Interfering with a child’s breathing;

(e) Threatening a child with a deadly weapon;

(f) Doing any other act that is likely to cause and which does cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks or which is injurious to the child’s health, welfare or safety.

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Wage thieves steal more money than is lost from all robberies in U.S.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that the biggest robbers in America just may be unethical employers.

 Most of us expect to be paid at an agreed upon rate for the amount of time we put in at our jobs. Work eight hours at $10 per hour, you should expect to be paid $80 for that labor.

However, wage theft is costing America’s workers a lot of their hard earned cash. According to the study, employers found guilty of wage theft had to pay had to pay back nearly three times more than all the money stolen in U.S. robberies.

In 2012 there were 292,074 robberies of all kinds. The total value of the property taken in those robberies was $340,850,358. While no one knows exactly how many instances of wage theft occurred, the EPI was able to find the amount of money recovered for victims of wage theft during 2012 was at least $933 million.

House Democrats attempted to address this insidious problem by passing House Bills 2331, 2332, 2333 & 2334. This package of legislation was designed to discourage wage theft, level the playing field for honest employers, and recover state revenues lost due to the deliberate misclassification of workers as independent contractors (another way some employers undercut worker compensation). All these measures died in the Republican-controlled Senate.

We must continue working towards making sure everyone gets the pay they have rightfully earned.

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Position Announcement: HDC Communications Specialist

Position Announcement: Communications Specialist

Washington State House of Representatives, Democratic Caucus
Salary: Based on previous job experience and qualifications
Closing Date: 9/29/2014


The House of Representatives is comprised of the elected Members of the House of Representatives and the staff necessary to carry out the business of a legislative branch of government. The Democratic Caucus consists of the Democratic members of the Washington State House. Each caucus has partisan staff positions that assist the members of the House. This job is primarily in Olympia and is a full-time position with benefits.

Caucus Communications Specialists are experienced communications professionals who are responsible for disseminating legislative information to the public for House Democrats.

Duties include but are not limited to:

  • Work with elected officials and staff to provide district-specific communication strategies for mass media and constituent outreach
  • Write press statements, talking points, editorial pieces, newsletters, speeches etc.
  • Produce audio and video clips, post to websites, and coordinate new media opportunities
  • Organize media events within district and on capitol campus
  • Produce town hall and end of session products, presentations for caucus and committee hearings
  • Help maintain and expand the caucus webpages

Successful candidates will have the ability to:

  • Communicate clearly and concisely to a variety of audiences
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the legislative process
  • Juggle multiple tasks and make decisions in a fast-paced, pressure-filled environment
  • Maintain a sense of humor and flexibility to adapt to a wide variety of circumstances
  • Work efficiently with diverse personalities in team and individual settings


  • 3 years’ work experience in journalism and/or communications
  • Strong messaging skills
  • Experienced in Share Point and WordPress
  • Familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and other web-based communications apps

INTERESTED CANDIDATES should send electronically a cover letter, résumé and a writing sample to:

The Washington State House of Representatives is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, people of color and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

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New Online Database to check for Toxic Chemicals

Ecology baby - toxic chemicals

Our state has taken important steps to keep toxic chemicals away from Washington’s children and families, for example:

  • In 2008, the Legislature passed the Children’s Safe Products Act, requiring manufacturers of children products sold in Washington to report if their products contain chemicals of high concern to children.
  • Then in 2010 the Legislature passed the Safe Baby Bottle Act, which banned the manufacture, distribution and sale of certain products containing Bisphenol A (BPA) such as bottles, cups and other containers for children, as well as sports bottles up to 64 ounces. BPA can interfere with the body’s hormone system, or can have negative effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children.
  • Continuing the fight to get our state off the “toxic treadmill,” over the past biennium House Democrats have pushed legislation to ban two forms of cancer-causing Tris flame retardants found in furniture and common children’s products, such as car seats and changing pads. Unfortunately, the bill has died in the Senate.

But many of the products we use on a daily basis may still contain unsafe ingredients. To find out the levels of toxic chemicals in items in your household, you can check the Department of Ecology’s new online database. Products in the database so far include children’s and baby’s items, clothing, personal care items, and toys. Information on more product types, such as children’s upholstered furniture, electrical and electronic items, and office and art supplies, will be added in the future.

To help you understand the information currently available in the database, you can read Ecology’s recent report, Focus on Chemicals in Consumer Products. And if you are interested in Ecology’s work on toxics, you can follow the ECOconnect blog series Tackling Toxics, which provides in-depth coverage of product testing and other actions the agency is taking to reduce toxic threats in our state.

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