Political news

(This post was last updated at 1:31 p.m. ET.)

House Speaker John Boehner will give up his seat in Congress at the end of October.

Boehner became the 53rd speaker of the House in 2011. The Ohio Republican's tenure has been marked by fierce confrontations with Democrats and sometimes with his own party. One of those fights led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013.

Amid renewed conflict with more conservative members of his party, Boehner is once again facing the prospect of a government shutdown.

The perimeter surrounding Washington’s governor’s mansion has been breached twice by trespassers since 2013. The incidents were not publicized at the time.

The Oregon Governor's office has released the first 5,000 of more than 12,000 emails archived from the private account of the state's disgraced former governor.

The final two undecided Northwest Democratic Senators, Oregon's Ron Wyden and Washington's Maria Cantwell, came out Tuesday in favor of the Iran nuclear deal.

Vance for Senate Campaign

Longtime Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray has drawn a Republican challenger. Former GOP Chair Chris Vance says he plans to focus on issues like the national debt. Vance formally announced his 2016 run Tuesday.

Vance launched his campaign with a video announcement and a promise to be a different kind of candidate.

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen traveled to China last year and touted a company that’s now at the center of a federal fraud investigation.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU


A King County Superior Court judge says Tim Eyman’s latest initiative will not be removed from the November ballot.

Initiative 1366 requires the Legislature to put a constitutional amendment before voters that would reinstate a two-thirds legislative majority to raise taxes.


The threat if they don’t do this, is that the state’s 6.5 cent sales tax would be lowered to 5.5 cents, costing the state more than a billion dollars each year.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

You’re in downtown Seattle getting ready to drive onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Then, an alert comes over the radio or shows up on your phone saying an earthquake is about to strike, allowing you to pull over and avoid being on the elevated highway when it could collapse.

That’s an example of how getting even just a few seconds’ warning before a big earthquake hits could save lives. Such an alert system for the Pacific Northwest is being tested right now.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Some news reports say the 2016 presidential campaign could cost twice as much as the 2012 race. People in Washington state who are disgusted by all the money flowing into politics are gathering signatures to try to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Diane Tilstra is one of them. She remembers vaguely hearing about the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.

“Just on a peripheral level, I was paying attention to it and thinking, `Gee, that doesn’t sound good,’” she said.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is backing away from a controversial proposal to alter nearly all of the city's single-family neighborhood zoning to allow duplexes, triplexes, cottages and other denser housing types.

The idea — one of 65 the city's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee recommended this month — drew significant blowback from neighborhood groups who oppose granting greater flexibility to housing developers.

City Of Seattle

Seattle city officials want to put a stop to a scenario that’s playing out more often in this region’s tight and competitive housing market. It goes like this: landlords issue a staggering rent hike, tenants move out and not to long after that, the building undergoes a big remodel. It’s called an “economic eviction.”


This is how landlords avoid the responsibility of paying about $1500 to low-income tenants to help them find a new home. When landlords do this, tenants also lose the opportunity to collect a similar amount of money from the city for a total of more than $3,000.

Paula Wissel

The state is cracking down on handicapped parking abuse. Beginning tomorrow, July 1st, you’ll need a doctor’s prescription in order to get a disabled parking placard. It was rampant misuse and abuse of disabled parking permits that prompted the Washington state legislature to act.

In Seattle, a 2013 auditor’s report showed a loss of $1.4 million a year in parking meter fees due to people cheating the system.

Under the new state law, according to Department of Licensing spokesman David Bennett, penalties for cheating are tougher. 

“Illegally obtaining  or selling a special parking placard is now a gross misdemeanor instead of an infraction,” Bennett said.

Meaning, you could face criminal charges and a fine of $250 dollars.

Paula Wissel

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says the solution to disjointed planning in Seattle is to create a new city office to deal with the city's booming growth.  At a news conference, Murray signed an executive order creating a new Office of Planning and Community Development.

Associate Press


Backers of Seattle voter initiative I-122 want political candidates to start knocking on the doors of regular people to raise money instead of relying on big donors and special interest groups.

What Initiative 122 would do has never been tried before. Registered voters would get four vouchers, each worth $25. They would be able to give that money directly to their candidate or candidates of choice. The goal is to encourage candidates to spend more time meeting with voters.

“And the way to do that is to make the voters the donor class in the city by giving them all vouchers," said Sightline Institute's Alan Durning, who helped write the measure.

House Democrats on Friday unveiled a proposed $1.5 billion tax package. Senate Republicans plan to rollout their proposed budget later this week.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Technically speaking, Alicia Goodwin knows she's benefiting from one of Washington state's biggest tax exemptions just by checking out at the grocery store. Sales taxes aren't charged on food purchases.

Seattle Daily Times

Editor's Note: We're taking a closer look at Washington's tax system through a week-long series. This is the first installment of “Where’s the Dough? On the Hunt for Washington’s Missing Tax Dollars."

Washington state’s tax system has long been heaped with insults. Lately, it’s been called a jalopy, a Ford Pinto and the worst in the country.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, says Washington's tax system is the most regressive in the nation. That’s because with our state’s heavy reliance on sales tax and lack of an income tax, the poorest 20 percent of residents pay 16.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the richest pay 2.4 percent.

Washington state Senator Jim Honeyford of Yakima has apologized after using the term “colored” to refer to people of color.

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons


Washington lawmakers are approaching the halfway mark of their 105-day session. Hot issues include marijuana, mental health, oil trains and cap-and-trade.

But the heavy lift for lawmakers will be writing a new two-year operating budget that increases funding for public schools. Both House Democrats and Senate Republicans will unveil dueling budget proposals in the weeks ahead.

City of Seattle Community Tech / Flickr

Somali immigrants living in Washington hope the federal government will help them restart the flow of money to relatives in Somalia. Those remittances have ground to a halt since a California bank announced last month it would stop handling them.

That leaves an uncertain future for many families in Somalia who depend on money from relatives abroad. Mohammed Jama, executive director of the Abu Bakr Islamic Center in Tukwila, said in the devastated Somali economy, his relatives have hardly any income.

Brennan Linsley / AP Photo


An Idaho lawmaker and farmer said the state should press the federal government to establish a national labeling system for genetically engineered foods before states create their own.

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons


Washington lawmakers are in contempt of court over school funding. But it’s a couple of non-funding issues that could create a partisan rift.

Republicans are back this year with two controversial school reform measures. One would require teacher layoffs to be based on performance, not seniority. The other would make student performance on a statewide standardized test part of a teacher’s annual evaluation.

Tradnor / Wikimedia



In Olympia, legislative budget writers got a shot of good news Friday regarding tax collections.

Washington's chief economist said about $274 million more than previously projected should flow into the state treasury from now through 2017. A strong economic recovery gets credit. This prompted a reaction from the legislature's lead budget writers.

Paul Eggert / Wikimedia Commons

The sun rose and then quickly set again on a proposal by some state legislators to abolish daylight saving time in Washington state.

Constituent complaints about disrupted sleep and the hassle of changing clocks prompted legislation in both Oregon and Washington.

Staying on Pacific Standard Time year-round would avoid the twice-yearly ritual. But it raises complications if other states keep springing forward, said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, at a committee hearing on Thursday.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Families of murder victims and opponents of capital punishment spoke out in support of a measure to abolish the death penalty in Washington, saying that a costly and drawn out appeals process only prolongs the pain of the crime.

Don Ryan / AP Photo

Kate Brown has been sworn in as Oregon's 38th governor.

"It's been a tough few months," Brown said in a speech at the capitol after taking the oath of office. "The people of Oregon have reason to question their trust in state government." 

Colin Fogarty


Washington lawmakers are considering whether to beef up oversight of the party bus industry. At a public hearing Monday, the head of the state agency that regulates in-state bus lines said it’s a matter of safety.

Don Ryan / AP Photo

Under a cloud of pressure and scrutiny, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced his resignation on Friday, cutting short his record-setting fourth term in office.

The governor had said as recently as Wednesday that he would stay in office. Kitzhaber and his fiancée Cylvia Hayes face a criminal investigation and political pressure over allegations of selling access to his office.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo


A bipartisan group of Washington state senators is backing an 11.7 cent gas tax increase over three years.

The 16-year proposal was rolled out late Thursday at the Capitol. The higher gas tax would help fund a multi-billion dollar roads and transit package.

Don Ryan / AP Photo


Oregon's House speaker and Senate president have both asked Gov. John Kitzhaber to resign. The request comes as the governor is under intense pressure as part of an ongoing ethics scandal.