Interview with AG Ferguson regarding current events - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Interview with AG Ferguson regarding current events

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PASCO, WA - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson was in the Tri-Cities today, and was the keynote speaker at the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce luncheon this afternoon. Reporter Rex Carlin caught up with Ferguson after the luncheon and talked with him about an array of topics affecting the Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley.

Rex Carlin's conversation with AG Ferguson started with Hanford and the ongoing legal battle between the state and the federal government over worker safety.

 AG Ferguson says his office will continue to fight the federal government until workplace safety significantly improves for workers at the site.

"It should not be like the NFL where you assume a certain level of risk," said AG Ferguson. "It should not be that way for any worker here in Washington state, and frankly, it's up to the federal government to improve their safety provisions at Hanford. It shouldn't have taken a lawsuit from me to force them to do that. That's unfortunate, but we're going to continue that lawsuit until we get those protections in place permanently for the workers."

The next topic they jumped to is the potential for a farm worker shortage during the upcoming harvest due to a variety of factors...one of which being the shifting policies toward undocumented immigrants from the new administration.

"I think those businesses have expressed that concern to the federal government," AG Ferguson said. "Concern about potential shortage of workers. So, no, I think that's a concern not just for me, but for businesses."

They touched on the Arlene's Flowers case out of Richland; a case AG Ferguson personally argued in front of the Washington Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously against the store's owner, Barronelle Stutzman, for refusing to provide floral arrangements for a gay wedding.

"It's a cut and dry case, which is why, again, the state supreme court ruled unanimously 9-0, completely rejecting Barronelle Stutzman's arguments," AG Ferguson reflected. "You simply cannot discriminate against someone based on their race, based on their religion, or based on their sexual orientation in Washington state. That's just the law. It's not a particularly remarkable law, it's just the law."

And finally, marijuana.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer have previously hinted at greater enforcement of federal marijuana laws, even in states that have legalized it, like Washington.

State marijuana sales are into the billions of dollars, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in increased tax revenue for the state since 2014.

"My role as Attorney General is to make sure that state law, legalizing marijuana, is upheld," AG Ferguson admitted. "And we're doing everything in our power to make sure that continues. So I just want them to know that we're fighting this issue, that we're going to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make sure state law is upheld. And that's our role at this point."

Rex Carlin asked him if this is an imminent issue or if this is just something that came out.

"It's hard to know. It's hard to know, right?" said AG Ferguson. "That said, I take seriously statements that the new Attorney General Sessions has made, his concerns about the legalization of marijuana, so as a legal team we are prepared if the federal government was to take some sort of action to prevent Washington from moving forward, we would obviously resist that."

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