From marijuana to nuclear waste to coal dust, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson covered a wide range of issues during his visit to the Rotary Club of Edmonds Daybreakers breakfast meeting Tuesday.
Noting that his 1,100-employee office serves as the in-house law firm for the State of Washington, Ferguson highlighted several important initiatives during his early morning speech, including:
– Rules aimed at protecting the public in the wake of new products springing up following marijuana legalization. In particular, he cited concerns over pot-laced edible products, such as cookies and gummy bears, which can be more powerful than many people realize. To illustrate the issue, he suggested that those in the audience read New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s account of her experience following a few bites of a pot-containing treat in Colorado, where marijuana is also legal. “It’s a big issue and a difficult issue,” Ferguson said.
– Campaign finance laws. Ferguson filed a lawsuit in 2013 against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, alleging the group illegally collected and spent more than $7 million to oppose Initiative 522, the measure requiring labeling of genetically modified foods. You can find more background here from our online news partner The Seattle Times.
– The clean up of high-level radioactive and chemically hazardous waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. “I’ve been unimpressed with the federal government’s pace of clean-up,” Ferguson said, adding that the plan to transfer nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been stalled due to political maneuvering. You can read the latest on this issue at the Attorney General’s website.
– Concerns about coal dust given the increasing number of coal trains traveling through Washington state communities, including along the Edmonds waterfront. Answering a question from the audience, Ferguson said he can’t say much about the current process, since the state Department of Ecology and others are considering the impacts of this practice. However, “it’s no secret that I have concerns” about environmental effects of coal trains, he said, noting that he had spoken out about the issue during his 2012 campaign for office.
– School funding. The Washington State Supreme Court has ordered the state to appear before it Sept. 3 and show how it has complied with the McCleary decision, in which the court ruled that the state Legislature is not meeting its constitutional responsibility to fully fund basic education. The Supreme Court could hold the state in contempt, but Ferguson said he’s hopeful that the court will wait to see if lawmakers can address the issue during the 2015 legislative session.