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Thursday morning's headlines

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Business Unemployment Tax Breaks on Horizon
  • Seattle Considers Garbage Collection Reductions
  • UW Accused in Animal Welfare Complaint


State House OK's Business Tax Cuts, Benefit Boost for Unemployed

Washington businesses will get a break on unemployment taxes in a deal unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. 

The much-debated bill also gives a nod to those who will lose their job this year, according to The Olympian's Brad Shannon: extends benefits for thousands of unemployed workers by $25 per week – until money runs out, possibly in November...

The deal represents about $300 million in unemployment insurance (UI) tax breaks. The Senate is expected to vote on the package Friday. Gov. Chris Gregoire had asked for the UI tax cuts this week; without lawmaker approval, UI tax rates would increase 36%.  Gregoire responded to yesterday's vote this way:

Thanks to the quick action of the Legislature, more than 80,000 small businesses will pay lower tax rates and be able to reinvest in their employees and spur hiring.


Seattle Garbage: Home Pick-Up Every 2 Weeks?

People are doing such a good job of recycling and separating waste, Seattle Public Utilities is considering cutting home pick-up service to every two weeks. The plan does not reduce service to apartment buildings. KING-TV's Alan Schauffler reports the idea may not have much traction:

But, surveys by Seattle Public Utilities show that the majority of Seattleites just aren't ready for it. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they would be "not very satisfied" or "extremely unsatisfied" if they couldn't count on weekly garbage pick-up.

The notion requires city council approval first. If that happens, garbage contractors would begin testing the system in limited neighborhoods in July. 


UW Faulted Over Use of Ferrets in Medical Training

A national physicians group has accused the University of Washington of violating a federal guidelines regarding animal research. The Seattle Times reports that the group filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the UW’s use of ferrets to train medical residents how to perform an emergency procedure.

Reporter Carol Ostrom writes the complaint centers on a provision in the federal Animal Welfare Act:

That law requires consideration of alternatives to procedures that cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to animals used for research or educational purposes.

UW residents use ferrets to practice inserting breathing tubes in premature infants.  The ferrets are given an anesthesia before the procedure. When they reach the age of six, the ferrets are placed in homes and are not euthanized, according to The Times.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is against animal testing and says the UW’s method is unjustifiable. The director of the university’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit says the practice is necessary because plastic models don’t simulate the airways of extremely small infants.