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Thursday morning's headlines
Did you get snow? Some areas of western Washington did. Today's forecast calls for morning rain with some sun breaks today, highs near 50, and cool temperatures again tonight.
In headlines this morning:
- Avalanches Hit Snoqualmie Pass, I-90
- Protesters Camp Out at State Capitol
- House Rejects Republican Budget Plan
Avalanches Injure Skiers, Temporarily Close I-90
Nine people were rescued Wednesday after being caught in two separate avalanches near Snoqualmie Pass. In one incident, an avalanche hit a group of skiers who were in a backcountry area just below the summit of the pass.
Two men were injured. KING-TV's Joe Fryer reports rescue efforts took several hours and went on past dark:
"Fortunately, none of them were completely buried, so that was a huge thing in their favor," said Bree Loewen of Seattle Mountain Rescue. "If they had been completely buried, it would have been a whole different situation."
A separate avalanche caused minor injuries to two adults and two children after the car in which they were driving was buried by snow and pushed into a jersey barrier on I-90 near the pass.
In Central Washington, rescuers called the Air Force to save a hiker stuck on a cliff. A helicopter crew lowered a harness to the man who was cold but uninjured.
Budget Protest Goes Overnight
There was a camp-out under the capitol dome in Olympia last night. A few dozen protesters with the group Washington Community Action Network are unhappy with state budget proposals they say gives too many tax breaks for businesses at the expense of the poor. KPLU's Austin Jenkins spoke with the group's Fatima Morales:
“We’ve rallied, we’ve called, we’ve emailed. We had lobby day in January, we had a lobby day in February. We’ve done everything we can and the latest budget just shows that it’s an all-cuts budget. Are lawmakers really listening to us?”
The Olympian's Brad Shannon writes that such protests inside the capitol are against the law, but the state's top law enforcement officer did not order their removal:
"As long as they are law abiding and peaceful we'll let them" stay, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said around 8 p.m. after the gentle requests went unheeded. Batiste said he could see no risk to public health or safety – so far.
State House Rejects GOP Budget Plan
As the capitol protest continued, majority Democrats moved ahead with their budget proposal. A House panel discarded a Republican plan, reports The Herald of Everett's Jerry Cornfield:
"We're trying to have a balanced approach with education and human services. I think we reached the balance, and theirs does not," Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, said before a House budget panel turned down the GOP proposal. "It really is devastating to the safety net."
Republican leaders laid out $5.1 billion in cuts for a balanced budget they say is fair, Cornfield writes:
"We want everyone to know there is an alternative solution to what the majority party is proposing, and we welcome the contrast," said Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia. "Our budget proposal is accountable, responsible, sustainable, and reflects economic realities."
Cornfield details the differences in the two budgets, noting the GOP plan would eliminate the state's Basic Health Plan and Disability Lifeline (formerly known as GAU), programs Democrats want to salvage.