Political news

Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

The Washington state Senate has advanced a measure championed by Gov. Jay Inslee to study the best practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the measure passed Wednesday, an outside consultant would review both Washington state's ongoing efforts to cut carbon emissions and similar endeavors elsewhere. It would then report back to the governor and legislative leaders.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Gov. Inslee disappointed with fate of gun bill Gov. Jay Inslee says he is disappointed that a proposal to expand background checks on Washington state gun sales has stalled, but says he'll continue making phone calls on the issue.

After the issue locked up the House for much of the day Tuesday, the bill ultimately was not brought out for a vote and its sponsors conceded they could not get majority support for the measure, even with a proposed referendum clause that would have allowed the public to vote on the measure.

M Glasgow / Flickr

A proposal to expand background checks on Washington state gun sales has failed in the state House.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle said Tuesday night he was unable to corral the 50 votes necessary to pass the bill through the chamber. Pedersen says he was disappointed by the result, coming even after he agreed to add a referendum clause to the bill.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In the decades since the Iranian Revolution, immigrants from there have made it to the corner offices of corporate America, academia and Hollywood. But they're largely absent from the political scene.

In the U.S., the highest ranking Iranian-American elected official is a freshman state representative from suburban Seattle. But his heritage is not the only thing worth noticing about Representative Cyrus Habib.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Senate moved Monday to limit the reach of Seattle’s pioneering paid sick leave law. In 2011, the city council voted to require all companies that do business in Seattle to offer paid sick leave. But in Olympia, the state Senate approved a measure to limit the benefit only to those companies and workers based almost all the time within the city limits.

State Sen. David Frockt from Seattle complained the bill is an attack on local control.

RICHLAND, Wash. – President Obama’s nominee for the next federal Energy Secretary is no stranger to the cleanup work at the Northwest’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Ernest Moniz was Energy undersecretary during the Clinton Administration and back in the late '90s he faced scrutiny about tank leaks at Hanford.

The problem -- and question then -- was whether about a million gallons of leaked radioactive tank waste had reached the groundwater and was headed toward the Columbia River. Or if it was staying put in a dry layer of soil, above the groundwater.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Three months ago, 23 Republicans and two breakaway Democrats seized control of the Washington state Senate. At the time, Majority Leader Rodney Tom, one of the Democrats, pledged a new spirit of bipartisanship.

“The public out there is hungry for us to come together, to work together in a collaborative manner and that’s exactly what this coalition is trying to accomplish,” he said.

But as the halfway point of the legislative session approaches, the Washington state Senate has become a hotbed of partisan recriminations.

YAKIMA, Wash. – Marijuana advocates, people concerned about the effects of drugs on children and hopeful entrepreneurs filled a huge room at the Yakima Convention Center Thursday night. This hearing is part of a series across Washington on how to implement voter-approved marijuana legalization. Correspondent Anna King brings us our story from Yakima.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Raising taxes in Washington just got a whole lot easier. The state Supreme Court Thursday threw out the requirement that tax increases muster a two-thirds vote of the legislature. Democrats say the ruling will allow more options as lawmakers grapple with ongoing budget woes. But Republicans vow to uphold the will of voters who have repeatedly supported a high bar for tax hikes.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Democrats say it’s a victory for democracy. Republicans call it a defeat for taxpayers. In a major decision Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court tossed out the state’s two-thirds supermajority requirement for raising taxes. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the voter-approved law violates a provision of the Washington state constitution that requires a simple majority vote in the state legislature to approve bills.

SALEM, Ore. – The top state prosecutors in Oregon and Washington have filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The high court is expected to take up the cases later this month.

The first case involves an effort to strike down California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. The second case involves efforts to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Inconveniencing the public is part of the plan.

It may never have been intended to play out in quite this way, but the automatic spending cuts set to take effect for most federal programs Friday leave little room for preserving the most visible and popular programs.

"The law basically says the cuts have to be across-the-board by 'project, program and activity,' " says Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with the communications firm Qorvis. "That was specifically written to take away flexibility from the administration."

OLYMPIA, Wash. – He is synonymous with keeping Washington car tabs at $30. Now anti-tax initiative sponsor Tim Eyman is fired up again. He testified in Olympia Monday against a series of proposals to allow local transportation districts to impose higher vehicle fees.

Eyman says even Seattle voters have demonstrated a scorn for car tab hikes.

Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called "sequester" is scheduled to take effect on Friday, March 1. Not much else is certain beyond that including who in the region could feel the pain immediately, if anyone.

Snohomish County

The Snohomish County Executive’s abrupt resignation announcement came as a shock to his fellow public officials. Aaron Reardon has been under the gun for more than a year, dating back to revelations of an extramarital affair.

But audience members were caught off guard when, at the end of an otherwise unremarkable “State of the County” speech, he announced he would step down May 31.

Drug testing welfare recipients debated in Olympia

Feb 14, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – People seeking welfare assistance could face a drug test before they receive any benefits, under a bill in Olympia. Thursday, Washington lawmakers heard debate over a drug test requirement that would kick in early in the application process, if caseworkers feel it’s necessary.

Republican Rep. Jan Angel said this measure would encourage addicts to get help before receiving benefits.

“We can get someone into rehab or into treatment, and we can still feed the family.”

Inslee unveils job creation plan

Feb 14, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a series of proposals Wednesday in Olympia he’s hoping will create more jobs. The Democratic governor’s plan focuses on training for tech-savvy workers and funding transportation projects. He also says expanding Medicaid next year will lead to more than 10,000 new jobs within two years.

“Expansion of Medicaid is a system that will not only reach over 250,000 Washingtonians with health care, but will help job creation all across the state.”

UPDATE: The governor's office has provided this additional information. While in Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration, Governor Inslee had a series of unscheduled meetings and visits with members of the Washington Congressional delegation including: Sen. Patty Murray and freshmen Democratic Reps. Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer and Suzan DelBene.

President Obama's second inaugural address was widely perceived as a throwing down of the gauntlet in how it framed his progressive faith in government and challenged his Republican political opponents in any number of ways.

Given that, expect to see more glove-throwing Tuesday as the president delivers the first State of the Union speech of his second term.

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon voters could decide next year whether to legally recognize same-sex marriages. Supporters of gay marriage submitted an initiative Monday aimed at putting such a question on the Oregon ballot in November of 2014.

Nine states including Washington issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But Oregon can't, since voters defined marriage as between one man and one woman nearly a decade ago. It would take a statewide vote to reverse that. So the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon filed an initiative to overturn that Constitutional ban.

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Every school in Washington would be equipped with panic alarms by the end of 2014 under a bill under consideration in Olympia. Monday, the Washington Senate will hear a bill focused on upping security at schools across the state.

The system would work exactly as it does in banks across the country. An alarm button would give school administrators a direct line to local police. Installation of these alarms in all schools would cost an estimated $5.5 million.

SHELTON, Wash. - It’s one of the most vexing problems state lawmakers face: how to curb the rising cost of healthcare. In Washington’s, there’s one specific line item in the healthcare budget that’s startling, but few at the Capitol are talking about: taxpayers now foot the bill for more than half of all births in Washington. Correspondent Austin Jenkins went to find out what that number is so high.

LACEY, Wash. – Thousands of gun owners plan to rally in Olympia and Salem Friday. They’re showing their support for the second amendment and opposition to gun control proposals. The rallies come as gun sales in the Northwest are brisk -- and so are the required background checks.

At the Aging and Disability Services office in Lacey, the fax machine drones on and on.

Parental notification debated in Olympia

Feb 6, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The debate over abortion once again filled a hearing room in Olympia Wednesday. Washington senators heard testimony for and against a bill that would require 48-hour notice to a parent or guardian before a girl under 18 receives an abortion.

Republican Sen. Don Benton argued in favor of the requirement.

“This bill is not trying to stop abortions," he said. "What this bill is about, and let’s be very clear about it, is notifying parents of their children’s activities before they engage in them.”

SPOKANE, Wash. - As Congress prepares for a debate over immigration reform, one group of immigrants in the Northwest quietly completed their paths to citizenship Tuesday. Fourteen people became U.S. citizens at a ceremony in Spokane, Wash.

One of them was Mukti Ryan. She wanted to be able to travel more easily with her American husband and daughter, even though she had to give up her Indian citizenship.

“India doesn't allow dual citizenship, so I can't call myself an Indian citizen anymore," Ryan says. "It's a bittersweet feeling.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The new Republican-dominated majority in the Washington state Senate has approved a series of controversial measures that deal with injured workers. The votes Monday were a key test of the Majority Coalition’s one vote advantage.

The most controversial of the proposed laws would lower the age when permanently injured workers are eligible to choose a lump sum insurance payout. Jason Speicher hurt his back on the job and is getting retrained. At a labor-backed press conference, he said taking a one-time payment is risky.

Divine Harvester / Flickr

The debate over gun control may be focused on the nation’s capital, but one local official says King County will soon take measures of its own.

About 125 people die each year of gun violence in King County. Executive Dow Constantine says the way a county government can chip away at that number is through a public health approach. He announced in his state of the county address that he is directing the health department to collect new data on gun deaths and injuries.

Hillary Clinton formally resigned as the 67th secretary of state, just moments ago.

In a letter to President Obama, she said it was an "honor to serve."

"I am more convinced than ever in the strength and staying power of America's global leadership and our capacity to be a force for good in the world," she said.

She concluded, "On a personal note, it has been a pleasure to work with you and your team. Thank you, Mr. President, for your friendship, and for the opportunity to serve in your Cabinet."

Debate over abortion coverage bill fills every seat

Jan 31, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The prospect of a tense debate over abortion rights filled every seat of a hearing room in Olympia Thursday. Activists on both sides were there to debate a bill to require insurance companies that cover maternity services to also pay for abortions.

Elaine Rose heads Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. She said women who want abortion coverage are not guaranteed that insurance will pay.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democratic lawmakers in both Washington and Oregon are working on measures to require background checks for all gun sales. A universal check proposal was introduced Wednesday in the Washington House. A similar bill is expected in the Oregon Senate soon.