1. For people buying health insurance on the new health care exchanges formed under Obamacare, the Spokesman-Review reports that insurance in Washington state will cost less and cover more; the huge rate increases opponents predicted, in other words, did not materialize. Under the exchange, insurance companies will compete for customers' business, and lower-income households (those making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level) will receive federal subsidies.
2. After residents and businesses failed to convince the city of Tacoma to paint a crosswalk in a busy downtown intersection where pedestrians have been hit by cars, someone took matters into their own hands, painting a (fairly professional-looking) crosswalk in the intersection. This week, KING 5 reports, the city showed up and sanded the crosswalk away, at a cost of about $1,000. A city spokesman told the KING 5 reporter that the city would take another look at traffic safety at the intersection.
3. The Tri-City Herald reports that the Richland florist who is facing lawsuits from the state and the ACLU over her refusal to serve a gay couple has countersued the state, charging that the state's lawsuit violates her constitutional right to practice her religion. State law prohibits discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.
4. The state liquor control board issued draft rules governing the sale of recreational marijuana yesterday. The AP reports that while the liquor board will regulate the number of legal pot stores allowed in each county, they won't set limits on the number of licensed pot growers or distributors. Still undecided: How the state will collect taxes on pot, which is illegal under federal law, and what will happen to the remains of marijuana plants after their buds are harvested.
A full list of the initial draft regulations is available on the liquor control board's web site.