Law

Stories about law and politics in the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Law and Justice reporter, Paula Wissel.

Austin Jenkins / N3

Welfare dollars are supposed to help the poorest of families pay for the necessities of life. But Washington welfare recipients are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each month on ATM surcharges. That’s what correspondent Austin Jenkins found through a public disclosure request. The finding comes as Washington’s welfare program faces budget cuts. 

A hue and cry has erupted in response to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposal to slash billions more in anticipated state spending. The Democrat Wednesday unveiled her plan to close a $4.6 billion budget shortfall.

Chris Lehman / N3

Some Washington welfare recipients are withdrawing cash at out-of-state liquor stores, smoke shops and even strip clubs. That’s the finding of a public radio investigation into welfare debit card use outside Washington’s borders. The finding comes at a time when the state’s welfare program is $82 million in the red.

WSP

Slow down and move over.  That’s the message from the Washington State Patrol as a new law goes into effect.  It’s meant to better protect troopers and emergency workers who handle car accidents.  

Lawmakers hope they’ve taken a sizeable bite out of the state’s one-point-one billion dollar budget shortfall. The legislature met Saturday in what’s been called an unprecedented December special session. Governor Chris Gregoire demanded the lame-duck meeting saying she couldn’t solve the problem alone.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The State Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the state’s formula for calculating how much money school districts get for special education classes.

Russell Dickerson III (right) is suing the Aberdeen School District
Charla Bear

An African-American teen in Aberdeen is suing the city’s school district for not keeping him safe from bullying when he was a student.  He alleges administrators knew he endured racial and sexual harassment for years, but did little to stop it.

Governor Chris Gregoire says she will call a budget-cutting special session of the legislature before the year is out. As the state’s budget crisis worsens, the governor and lawmakers are looking to save money anywhere they can. One target in the crosshairs: lobbyists for state agencies.

Department of Homeland Security

Next time you walk into a Walmart store, you might see the head of the U-S Department of Homeland Security.  Secretary Janet Napolitano has recorded video messages that are being aired inside Walmart stores in 27 states, including Washington.

Twiter.com/@getyourcarback

Seattle police are tweeting for stolen cars.  They’re using Twitter to get the word out whenever a theft is reported. Police say making use of the popular social networking site just makes sense. 

The mentally ill man charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of  Joseph LaMagno on Capitol Hill on Nov. 22 is a suspect in an earlier killing. 

Paula Wissel/KPLU

A lesbian flight nurse says she's anxiously waiting to rejoin her unit in the U.S. Air Force reserve.  Major Margaret Witt was discharged in 2004 under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Governor Chris Gregoire wants an agreement from Republican and Democratic lawmakers on a package of immediate cuts to the state's budget by the end of this week.

Three years ago Washington voters upheld the Insurance Fair Conduct Act. It allows triple damages when insurance companies are found to have unfairly denied a claim. At the time, the insurance industry warned premiums would skyrocket and lawyers would get rich. Has that happened? 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Was there a breakdown of leadership in the 5th Stryker Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord? That question is central to a month-old Army review that’s just now coming to light. It’s the latest development in the case against a dozen soldiers recently back from Afghanistan – including five who’ve been charged with murder.

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