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Laws And Litigation

The Central Kitsap Community Council and the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce are jointly sponsoring a meeting to examine Kitsap County’s proposals for changes to the county sign code. Darren Gurnee, project leader for this effort with Kitsap County, will outline the county’s proposed changes and seek input from businesses and citizens on these amendments.

This is an opportunity for Central Kitsap citizens to express their concerns with signage in and around Silverdale. In addition, there will be a brief presentation by county planner David Greetham on the early stages of the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan update, and how the county intends to work with community councils during the update process. read more »

 

The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) is suing the state Department of Health over new rules that subject hospital affiliations to a state review process.

The process is called Certificate of Need, and historically it has been used as a tool to ensure that hospital beds and medical services are distributed appropriately around the state. In other words, the process works to prevent a glut of hospital beds and duplicated services in some areas and a dearth of services in other regions.

The WSHA filed the petition Feb. 13 in Thurston County Superior Court, asking the court to invalidate the rules that recently expanded the Certificate of Need’s scope of authority. read more »

 

Voters soundly rejected a ballot measure to annex more property in Poulsbo and along Liberty Bay into the Port of Poulsbo district.

However, port officials said the election outcome won’t have any effect on the port’s plans to expand its marina and to possibly purchase the old City Hall property in downtown Poulsbo for development.

In Tuesday’s special election, 75 percent of the ballots were ‘no’ votes on the annexation measure, which was defeated by a margin of 706-237.

Had the measure passed, the 2,404 properties in the proposed annexation area would have generated about $190,000 a year in additional tax revenue for the port. But a revenue boost wasn’t the port’s purpose in sending the annexation measure to voters, Commissioner Mark DeSalvo said. read more »

 
No fines for most employers until 2016 as firms pressure White House in wake of troubled rollout

Most employers won’t face a fine next year if they fail to offer workers health insurance, the Obama administration said Feb. 10, in the latest big delay of the health law rollout.

The Treasury Department, in regulations outlining the Affordable Care Act, said employers with 50 to 99 full-time workers won’t have to comply with the law’s requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee until 2016. Companies with more workers could avoid some penalties in 2015 if they showed they were offering coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time workers.

The move came after employers pressured the Obama administration to peel back the law’s insurance requirements. Some firms had trimmed workers’ hours to below 30 hours a week to avoid paying a penalty if they didn’t offer insurance. read more »

 

PR Newswire

TACOMA — In a 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that religious nonprofit employers cannot discriminate against their employees whose jobs are unrelated to the religious mission of the employer. While the court held that a state law exemption for religious employers is not unconstitutional in all circumstances, it determined that a hospital security guard who was terminated after suffering a stroke can continue his disability discrimination case against Franciscan Health System. (Ockletree v. Franciscan Health System, No. 88218-5)

Larry Ockletree was employed as a security guard in Tacoma at St. Joseph Hospital, which is owned and operated by Franciscan Health System, a business affiliated with Catholic Health Initiatives. Ockletree’s duties involved staffing a visitors desk in the emergency department where he checked visitor identification. During his employment, Ockletree suffered a stroke that impaired his nondominant arm. Franciscan Health System terminated his employment as a result of the disability. read more »

 

Prospective hemp growers are celebrating this week’s passage of the Farm Bill in the U.S. Senate, as the legislation could be the first step toward creating a multi-billion dollar hemp industry.

Tucked into the $956.4 billion Farm Bill is an amendment proposed by representatives Jared Polis, Thomas Massie and Earl Blumenauer that allows universities and state agricultural departments to grow and research the industrial properties of the plant without fear of reprisal from the federal government.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

The only states that are allowed to grow and research under the rule are the 10 states that currently have laws legalizing hemp farming: California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. read more »

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Last week marked the deadline for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to accept public comments on proposed regulations to permit companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding. In submitted comments, John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute argued that the proposed rules could result in “costly, paternalistic requirements on crowdfunding that have the effect of keeping the status quo and locking ordinary investors out of startup capital.”

“Tens of thousands of ordinary Americans who crowdfund music, films and other projects are legally barred from getting a share of the project’s profits,” said Berlau. “It’s time for the SEC to let crowdfunding’s people go — and pursue the opportunity to grow wealthy with what they fund.” read more »

 
Commentary

The Seattle Times headline said it all: “Obama running out of reasons to reject Keystone XL.”

For five years, the Keystone XL pipeline has been mired in studies, red tape and delay. Now, the State Department has released its final report, concluding that the pipeline would have little or no environmental impact.

The State Department has jurisdiction because the pipeline would cross the U.S. border, carrying 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Western Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with an existing pipeline to refineries in Texas. The report concluded that, with or without the pipeline, Canada will continue to develop and market its tar sands oil.

The non-significance finding removed the president’s last excuse for not making a decision. read more »

 
Real Estate And Construction

Pierce County-based Pettit Oil Co., a longtime distributor of fuel and heating oil on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, shut down abruptly in January after plans to restructure the business through a bankruptcy filing did not work out.

The company, owned by former Silverdale residents Norm and Linda Sather, had one of its distribution facilities in Bremerton and reportedly had about 10,000 customers in Western Washington. But Pettit had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late 2013, and the company’s attorney, Brian Budsberg of Olympia, said its assets would be liquidated since the company was unable to maintain operations while reorganizing under the bankruptcy filing. read more »

 
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