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The director of a chimpanzee institute at Central Washington University says she feels urgency to bring in new animals. The education and research program in Ellensburg is now down to two aging chimps after the weekend death of another ape known for his sign language abilities.

The chimpanzee named "Dar" was 36 years old when he died unexpectedly on Saturday of unknown causes. Autopsy results are expected later this week.

In recognition of their tenuous majority, Senate Democrats have proposed to give minority Republicans an additional seat on each policy committee, including the budget-writing Ways and Means committee. That would mean Democrats would have just a one vote advantage over Republicans. "No majority, Republican or Democratic, has allowed for such a narrow split in at least a decade," says a Democratic Caucus press release. 

Northwest's Rural Gay Community Coming Out Of The Shadows

Nov 23, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Washington legalizes same-sex marriage next month at a time when the geography of the Northwest’s gay and lesbian population is changing. Their numbers are still largest in metropolitan areas. But if you look for the biggest increases – that trend is happening in small towns and rural areas. In Idaho more gay and lesbian couples are making a choice that was once unthinkable in rural areas — they’re living openly.

Joe Palisano is used to a certain kind of reaction when he tells people where he lives.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – When Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber unveils his budget proposal November 30, it will include something of a gamble. Advisors say the Democrat's spending plan will include cost-cutting to the state's public pension system. Getting those changes through the legislature — and the courts — will be no easy task. But the cost of the pension system has gone up substantially.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - The last herds of reindeer in the continental United States are found in the Northwest. But even here, there aren't very many left. 

Randy Hoodenpyl

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Heavy rains and high winds are making it hard to get around parts of western Washington and northwest Oregon this afternoon. Flood watches and warnings are in effect across a wide area of the Northwest. At least half a dozen mudslides have blocked highways and rail lines since this morning .

The freight train of storms pummeling the Northwest has saturated soils. Some places are not getting enough time between downpours for the water to drain off. Oregon's Department of Geology put all of western Oregon on notice for increased potential of landslides.

Oregon Dept. of Corrections

SALEM, Ore. – One year ago this week, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stunned the state and made international headlines when he issued a moratorium on the death penalty. He said he hoped his action would spur state lawmakers to a conversation about the death penalty. But so far, there's little momentum for the legislature to act on the issue.

Kitzhaber called Oregon's capital punishment system "compromised and inequitable." He said the ban on executions would last through the end of his time in office.

The folks over at CFM Strategic Communications, a prominent Oregon lobbying/public relations firm, have written up an interesting post-election analysis of the campaign to pass Ballot Measure 79. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In Olympia, a new revenue outlook shows a shortfall in the next state budget cycle. That is putting renewed attention on promises not to raise taxes.

Washington's Democratic governor-elect Jay Inslee made such a pledge during the recent campaign. So did many Republicans elected to the Legislature.

The chief budget writer for House Democrats, Ross Hunter, says he's working on a no-new-taxes spending blueprint for the next two years. But Hunter Wednesday predicted the product will include so many unpalatable cuts, he doubts it could pass.

Austin Jenkins

SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee says states are the incubators of new ideas – and that should extend to marijuana legalization. Inslee Wednesday said he’s hopeful Washington’s new recreational pot law can take effect without federal interference.

Inslee didn’t support Washington’s marijuana legalization initiative. But now that it has passed he says, “The voters have spoken.”

Inslee says he will work in a “rational and mature” way to persuade the Obama administration to allow Washington to implement the law.

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