Northwest News Network

Alaska Airlines executives sounded upbeat after their first meeting with antitrust regulators about Alaska's proposed acquisition of rival Virgin America.

"So far, so good" was Alaska Air General Counsel Kyle Levine's summary of how the initial meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice went.

After a nearly six week trial, the guilt or acquittal of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley rests with a jury of seven men and five women. The case went to the jury late Wednesday afternoon following lengthy closing arguments by the prosecution and defense.

Taxes from marijuana sales continue to outpace expectations in Oregon. The state Department of Revenue Wednesday said the state has collected nearly $7 million in pot taxes so far this year.

Voters in two Oregon counties will decide in the May primary whether to allow marijuana-related businesses. County commissioners banned marijuana retailers and growers in unincorporated parts of Klamath and Grant counties last year.

After nearly six weeks, the jury in the trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley will hear closing arguments Wednesday and then retire to decide the case.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton dismissed one of the false declaration charges against Kelley on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to introduce sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable jury to convict on that particular charge.

However, the judge denied a defense motion for a judgment of acquittal on all of the charges and declared the case will go to the jury.

The early heat wave across most of the Northwest is forecast to start winding down Wednesday. It might have felt nice while it lasted, but the unusual warmth --record-setting, in some cases-- compounded the rapid melting of the Northwest's precious mountain snowpack.

When winter officially ended last month, snow measurements showed near normal to above normal snowpack across the Northwest. In four short weeks though, the snowpack in Oregon, Washington and Idaho has significantly eroded.

A southwest Washington mill owner has been sentenced to six months in prison for trafficking in bigleaf maple that was later sold to guitar makers. Harold Clause Kupers will also serve six months of home detention and pay nearly $160,000 in restitution.

Come July, a wider range of fully electric and extended range plug-in hybrid cars will benefit from a sales tax break in Washington state. Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Monday to raise the cutoff for a tax incentive.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is not expected to testify in his real estate services and fraud trial.

Instead, the first-term Democrat is counting on his defense team to convince a jury to acquit him of an array of charges that include possession of stolen funds, money laundering and filing false tax returns.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Monday signed into law an update to the state's two-year budget. It puts more money into the state's mental health hospitals and pays for costs from last summer's wildfires.

The governor also wielded his veto pen.

An apparent surge in leakage from a huge tank of radioactive waste set off alarms at the Hanford nuclear site in south-central Washington. This involves an aging, double-shelled tank that contractors were slowly pumping out.

Keep your kicker or donate it?

Oregon taxpayers have the chance to donate their kicker rebate to fund state schools as they fill out their tax forms this year. But hardly anyone is choosing to do that. So far this tax season, less than one-half of one percent of Oregonians are choosing to donate their kicker.

When Tim McClure was 42 years old, he was convicted of illegally growing marijuana on his ranch near The Dalles, Oregon. And at this time last year, McClure was living with the shame of being a felon.

"I don't think it's the measure of me as a man,” McClure said 2015.

Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley. The defense plans to call its last witness Monday.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg wants to make his office nonpartisan. The Republican said he will ask the county council to send a charter amendment to voters this fall.

After five weeks, the end of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley's trial is in sight. Defense attorney Angelo Calfo has spiced up the at times eye-glazing real estate services and tax fraud trial with surprises.

After opening statements, Calfo moved for a mistrial. After the prosecution rested, he moved for most of the charges to be dismissed. The judge rejected both ploys.

Then on Thursday, Calfo did something that can fairly be called unusual for a criminal proceeding: he called as a defense witness the lead FBI agent on the case.

An Oregon-based nuclear company presented a detailed timeline Thursday for the deployment of its first small modular nuclear power plant. An executive from NuScale Power presented the roadmap during a keynote address to the International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit taking place this week in Atlanta.

People who are interested in solar energy but don't own the perfect roof on which to install solar panels may have the option to buy into a bigger, centrally-located project. These are called shared solar or community solar. There's a boomlet of such projects in Washington state right now, while there are hardly any in sunnier Oregon and Idaho.

But Washington's generous solar incentives are coming under scrutiny.

When home buyers and sellers sign a HUD-1 settlement statement at the closing of a real estate deal, they sign away their rights to the money they agree to pay in closing fees.

That was the testimony Wednesday of the first defense witness to be called in the real estate services and tax fraud case against Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.

More Oregon taxpayers than normal are facing a longer wait for their refund this year. But as a later-than-usual April 18 filing deadline approaches, the Oregon Department of Revenue said it's clearing out the backlog.

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