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$1 boost proposed for cigarette tax

State Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, has introduced legislation to boost the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack.

Tom’s proposal joins a variety of tax and fee proposals being floated this session, including Gov. Chris Gregoire’s push to send voters a half-penny sales-tax increase and a proposal by state Rep. Ross Hunter to revamp the state property tax system.

Tom called his proposal a public-health measure.

“Smoking is a self-inflicted cost that we as a society can no longer continue to subsidize,” Tom said in a statement.

He noted that the state-run quit-line was closed because of budget cuts and said a portion of the proposed tax would be used to restore the service.

Under state law, it would take a two-thirds vote in the state House and Senate — which is highly unlikely — or voter approval to increase the tax.

The state currently charges a tax of $3.025 for a pack of 20 cigarettes.


2 suspects held in man’s slaying

A SWAT team arrested two suspects Monday morning in the slaying of a 57-year-old man whose body was left outside a vacant house in Auburn over the weekend.

The suspects, 34 and 44, both of Des Moines, heard news about the shooting on television and returned to the scene Sunday, surprised that the body already had been removed, said Auburn police Cmdr. Mike Hirman.

Police received a tip about the pair’s involvement and uncovered additional evidence about the shooting death, he said.

The two suspects were arrested by the Valley SWAT team without incident and transported to the King County Jail.

Hirman said the victim was shot several times in the head and shoulders during an argument as the three traveled in a car in the Des Moines area. His body was left outside the vacant house in the Lea Hill area of Auburn, Hirman said.

A contractor working next door was unloading equipment in the neighboring driveway when he discovered the body Saturday.

No identification was found on the victim, but police identified him through fingerprints Sunday, Hirman said. Police did not release the victim’s name.

Queen Anne Hill

Apartment fire traced to candles

Some unattended candles sparked a fire that caused about $130,000 in damage and more than 40 people to be evacuated from a Queen Anne apartment building Monday morning, officials said.

The fire started at a building near Queen Anne Avenue North and West Galer Street just before 4 a.m., Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said.

Firefighters responding to the scene used a ladder to rescue a trapped woman from her second-floor unit, he said. It took them about half an hour to knock down the fire, he added.

The evacuated residents waited in a Metro bus as the firefighters fought the blaze. By about 6 a.m., all but two of them were able to return to their homes. Those two residents, a man and a woman, are being helped by Red Cross.

The fire caused about $100,000 in damage to the building and about $30,000 in damage to its contents, Moore said. Fire investigators determined it was started by unattended candles.

Moore said the fire should serve as a lesson about the danger of candles on a day when many may be using them to stay warm.

“These are things that can happen, unfortunately,” he said.

Firefighters were not significantly affected by the slick road conditions on the day after the first significant lowland snowstorm of the year, Moore said. All firetrucks will operate with chains for the next couple of days, and all of them are carrying de-icing solution.

Seattle Times staff and news services