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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.

During last year's legislative session that focused on budget troubles, Washington state Sen. Jerome Delvin racked up a cellphone bill that would make most users recoil: $309.21 in one month alone.

It wasn't out of the norm for Delvin, who submitted his costs for taxpayers to cover.

The United States Senate voted today to confirm Sen. John Kerry as the next secretary of state.

Just five days ago, Kerry, a democratic senator from Massachusetts, testified before the committee he chaired. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reported at the time, the hearing was a love fest.

Kerry is decorated Vietnam war veteran and the son of a diplomat. He has served in the Senate since 1985.

A few days after Washington lawmakers approved a budget deal to lower state spending last year, small-government Rep. Gary Alexander got $40.60 worth of dry cleaning done.

Then he made sure taxpayers paid the bill.

Fight brewing over College Bound scholarship

Jan 28, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – First it was Washington’s guaranteed tuition program. Now the new Majority Leader of the state senate has another college access program in his budget-cutting sights: College Bound. Democrat Rodney Tom says this higher education scholarship program is an unfunded state liability.

“It’s a great promise and it’s a promise that I think we should have as a state, Tom said.  "But, you know, it could be a $1 billion to $2 billion liability out there that we haven’t even recognized yet.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – One of the key battles shaping up in Olympia this year is over education reform. The Senate’s new majority coalition is proposing a series of measures aimed at getting better results in the classroom. Among the ideas: a state takeover of failing schools. Meanwhile, a key Senate Democrat says the focus should be on school funding – and proposes a new capital gains tax.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the eyes of the nation will be on the state as it creates a legal marijuana market over the next year. The new governor said Thursday that along with legalization comes the expectation that illegal pot production and sales will mostly end.

Inslee doesn’t expect a clear answer from the Obama administration anytime soon on how the federal government will respond to Washington’s new marijuana law. He met earlier this week with US Attorney General Eric Holder.

SPOKANE, Wash. - This week, a Republican lawmaker who represents eastern Washington ranch country introduced what many see as a poke in the eye for his colleagues who support wolf recovery. The new bill would move wolves to the west side of the Cascades. The proposal was immediately taken as a joke. But some conservationists say: moving wolves west is not a bad idea.

OLYMPIA, Wash. –The first public forum on how to implement Washington’s new marijuana law drew a capacity crowd Tuesday night in Olympia. The state’s Liquor Control Board is seeking input as it writes the rules for enacting Initiative 502 – Washington’s new pot legalization law.

They arrived early and in droves – the smell of marijuana clung in the air. First in line to get a seat for the forum, Leslie Tikka of Olympia. She mainly came to see a bit of history in the making.

WATCH: Three lighter moments from Inauguration Day

Jan 22, 2013

We've covered the serious, so we thought we'd bring you three lighter moments from this historic day.

Calling on Americans to "answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom," President Obama used his second inaugural address to push for action on the nation's problems and to say that partisan politics should not get in the way of pragmatism.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s new Secretary of State Kim Wyman wants printed voters’ pamphlets in statewide and legislative primary elections. She’s asking state lawmakers to pay the $1 million cost. Currently it’s up to county auditors to decide whether to print voters’ pamphlets for those primaries and some choose not to.

Wyman says the handy guides are especially important in low-profile races.

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