1. State schools superintendent Randy Dorn has said he would like to reduce the number of exams students have to pass to graduate from public high schools from five tests to three, putting Washington in line with most other states and saving an estimated $20 million a year the AP reports.
Washington is the only state that requires students to pass five tests to graduate; nine states require four tests, 14 states have between one and three, and the remaining 26 states do not require students to pass any graduation tests.
The state currently requires students to pass tests in reading, writing, algebra, geometry, and biology to qualify for a diploma. They're about to add two more tests, in language arts and math, although neither of those will be graduation requirements.
2. The Hill reports that Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski may hold up the appointment of REI CEO Sally Jewell as head of the Department of the Interior. The issue? A holdover issue from outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's tenure. The Interior Department has said it doesn't plan to approve a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge that Murkowski says is critical for providing access to a remote Aleutian village.
Interior has said the road would endanger a fragile wildnerness area that is home to many wildlife species, including grizzly bears, caribou, and salmon.
Support from the Times, which has been a gung-ho supporter of the Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus, should send a signal to Republican critics of the legislation that it's not a communist scheme by outside agitators.
4. Not one to be outdone by his mayoral opponent (and council colleague) Bruce Harrell, who proposed a statewide ballot measure that would give cities the right to adopt their own gun regulations, Tim Burgess just rolled out a package of proposed new gun-safety initiatives, including funds for research into the relationship between gun violence and various public-health issues, enhanced funding for emergency management and response for mental-health crises, and the adoption of national standards for reporting violent deaths.
Burgess' proposal, which he outlines on his blog, would cost a total of $371,000.
5. As cities across the country move toward land-use policies that promote more density and less driving, Bellevue is poised to move in exactly the opposite direction.
According to the Bellevue Reporter, the city is considering a change to its land use code that would allow more auto dealerships in the city's Eastgate Corridor, an area that was previously identified as a prime location for residential redevelopment.