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Kristen Wyatt / AP Photo

 

The Washington state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to make hemp farming legal. The measure now goes to the state House for further consideration.

State Sen. Brian Hatfield said the plant cousin of marijuana has "tremendous potential" as a crop.

A McLin / Flickr

Residents of tent cities in Seattle are speaking out against a proposal from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to allow more such encampments.

Colin Fogarty

 

Paid sick leave and a boost in the minimum wage are among the top priorities of organized labor in Washington state this year.

Democrats in the legislature have embraced both ideas. But Republicans and business interests remain wary. Adding to the politics is the fact Seattle has already adopted these policies.

Fanduel.com

 

On the eve of the Super Bowl, Washington state lawmakers are considering whether to legalize fantasy sports contests.

This is where sports fans build an imaginary team based on the stats of real players. They then compete in a league with other participants.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

 

Nearly two years after public radio and the Associated Press investigated lobbyist-paid meals for Washington lawmakers, the issue is still a topic of discussion in the legislature.

A Senate panel Thursday took testimony on two proposals related to gifts of food and beverage.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

 

Gas prices have plummeted, but Washington’s gas tax could soon go up.

Republican Curtis King, the chair of the Senate Transportation committee, is looking at an 11.5-cent per gallon increase phased in over three years. It would help fund a $14 billion transportation package with projects on both sides of the Cascades.

Jessica Robinson

 

A committee in the Idaho House Thursday rejected a gay rights measure known as the “Add the Words bill” on a 13-4 party line vote.

Austin Jenkins

 

Public utility districts in Washington have the right to place power lines through state trust lands, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

This ends a years-long legal fight between Washington’s elected lands commissioner and the Okanogan PUD.

Robert Pittman / Flickr

 

SeaWorld is famous for its choreographed dolphin and Orca whale performances. Now a Washington state lawmaker wants to make sure what happens at SeaWorld stays at SeaWorld.

Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker introduced legislation to prohibit marine mammal shows in Washington.

Intel Free Press / Flickr

 

It’s long been against the law to text and drive in Washington, but the rules would get much stricter under a proposal introduced Wednesday in the legislature.

The sponsors believe it’s time to update state law to keep up with technology. 

Brianhe / Wikimedia Commons

 

When police are called to a report of domestic abuse, often someone goes to jail.

In Washington state, the mandatory arrest law applies to suspects 16 and older when the officer believes a serious assault has occurred within the last four hours.

A proposal before the Washington legislature would increase the age of mandatory arrest to 18. Police could still arrest 16 and 17-year-olds, but it wouldn’t be required.

Oregon could leapfrog Washington to have the highest state minimum wage in the country if the Democratically-controlled legislature approves a proposed increase.

City Of Seattle

 

 

Longtime Seattle City Councilman, Tom Rasmussen, says he is not running for reelection. Rasmussen was first elected to Seattle City Council in 2003 when he defeated Margaret Pageler. His announcement not to run again comes on the heels of councilman Nick Licata,  saying he’s not seeking reelection either.

 

Rasmussen is the chair of the city coucil's transportation committee. He was an early supporter of building the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and was a critic of former mayor Mike McGinn.

The Washington and Oregon employment departments have closed the book on 2014 with the release of their December jobs numbers.

Mandel Ngan / AP Photo, Pool

Refusing to bend to the new Republican Congress, President Barack Obama unveiled Tuesday night an ambitious State of the Union agenda steeped in Democratic priorities, including tax increases on the wealthy, education and child care help for the middle class and a torrent of veto threats for the GOP's own plans.

Courtesy of Sol Bockelie

What if you could go to medical school and study with some of the most respected doctors in the world for free?

Such a program exists in Cuba.

A McLin / Flickr

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has revived an idea to expand the number of authorized homeless encampments, calling it a short-term fix for a growing crisis. 

It's hard to ignore the problem if you walk in downtown Seattle early in the morning. You'll pass lots of people sleeping in doorways or under store awnings. Some use cardboard boxes to create a semblance of private space.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

 

Washington state is at a crossroads, according to Gov. Jay Inslee.

Those were key themes Tuesday as Inslee delivered his State of the State address before a joint session of the state legislature.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

 

Republicans control the Washington Senate, but Monday’s start of the 2015 session featured a Democratic insurgency.

It happened when Republicans tried to re-elect Sen. Tim Sheldon as president pro tem of the Senate. Sheldon is a Democrat who in 2012 joined with Republicans to help them take control of the Washington Senate.

Austin Jenkins

Gov. Jay Inslee wants a new capital gains tax to help fund schools and other priorities. But Republicans in the state Senate voted Monday to make it harder to get a tax proposal like that through the legislature.

Apaschen / Wikimedia Commons

 

School funding, a roads-and-transit package and medical marijuana are among the hot topics as the Washington legislature convenes Monday. Lawmakers plan to meet for 105 days.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is defending his call for higher taxes in 2015. The Democrat reacted Thursday to criticism from Republican lawmakers.

Washington Republicans said higher taxes should be a last resort and accused Inslee of making taxes his default position.

Elway Research

 

Washington voters would prefer no new taxes and no deep cuts to state services. But if that’s not possible, they’re open to some new taxes.

That’s the finding of a new non-partisan poll from Stuart Elway released Tuesday.

Brianhe / Wikimedia Commons

 

The Washington legislature convenes next Monday for a 105-day session. Transportation funding is one of the top agenda items.

Lawmakers failed to move a roads and transit package last year and pressure continues to build for the legislature to act. But there are also sharp partisan differences.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

"It is time to reinvest in Washington," Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday. 

Misa Shikuma / U.S. Women and Cuban Colaboration

Northwest organizations with ties to Cuba are thrilled the U.S. and the island nation are talking. However, these groups are still trying to figure out what this means for the work they do.

One example is the U.S. Women and Cuba Collaboration. Its co-founder is Cindy Domingo, a longtime Seattle activist. For the last 10 years, she has led groups of women from the U.S. to Cuba.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee touted the benefits of generating state revenues out of efforts to curb pollution during a public appearance Friday, but he stopped short of confirming a carbon tax or cap-and-trade program would be a centerpiece of the budget and policy plans he'll outline this week.

Brianhe / Wikimedia Commons

 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is likely to propose a revenue package that exceeds $1 billion when he unveils his proposed two-year budget next week, according to the governor’s budget director who briefed reporters at the Capitol Tuesday.

mathteacherguy / Flickr

 

Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board has capped the number of free meals lawmakers can accept from lobbyists.

Now the board will consider whether lawmakers must report those meals. A meeting is scheduled for Dec. 2.

Austin Jenkins

 

The election is over, but not the political fundraising. Washington state lawmakers are racing the clock to replenish their coffers before the freeze.

The freeze that hits on Dec. 13 isn't the plummeting temperatures kind; it's a freeze on campaign fundraising.

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