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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.

Inauguration Mashup: The speech in 11 easy steps

Jan 18, 2013
NPR

May the eagles of democracy soar above the covenant that binds our great nation in an era of new beginning ... or something.

Have you ever watched an inaugural address and wondered: How DO those guys (because they're always guys) do it? Well, we've prepared this handy guide so you, too, can give a speech like the chief executive.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s new governor touched a nerve with some Republicans in his inaugural address. On the topic of abortion Democrat Jay Inslee called on the legislature to pass the so-called Reproductive Parity Act. It would require health insurers that cover maternity services to also pay for abortions.

Inslee said, "Washington women need the freedom and privacy” to make their own health care decisions.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Washington state senator with a long record of reprimands for her treatment of staff is taking the offensive. Republican Pam Roach Thursday fired back at her accusers – they include some fellow Republicans. The move comes just as fresh allegations of staff mistreatment emerge. And a narrow majority coalition takes power in the Washington senate.

The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington state is poised to develop the next wave of innovations that will change the world.

In prepared remarks for his inaugural speech Wednesday, Inslee cited the state's history of ideas in aerospace and software. He said Washington isn't done.

Inslee's first talk took an international focus, noting that the world economy is changing as it emerges from the recession. And he said the state must move swiftly to continue competing with the rest of the world.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington lawmakers convene for the start of the 2013 session. They face a $2B budget problem, an unusual political dynamic in the state senate and hot button issues like gun control.

It’s like Downton Abbey. A new season of the legislature begins with plenty of intrigue and tensions between powerful personalities. There are familiar faces and new ones. Chief among them Governor-elect Jay Inslee.

Jay Inslee: “We’ve got fiscal challenges, we have some creative and different situations in the state senate, we have ideas that are contentious.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – We’re starting to see real world fallout from some of the state budget cuts made in last few years. One of the clearest examples in Washington is juvenile parole. It turns out that the chief suspect in a recent high profile bar shooting had committed a previous murder – but did not qualify for intensive parole supervision because of cutbacks. One study finds juveniles who don’t receive parole are far more likely to be re-arrested within nine months of their release.

Keith Seinfeld / kplu

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he’s seeking a second term, despite the presence of several high-profile, well-funded challengers. He launched his campaign Wednesday with a big group of supporters in south Seattle, at the Filipino Community Center.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says he wants to make it easier to put an initiative on the ballot. Eyman submitted nearly 350,000 signatures Thursday for his latest ballot measure. But critics are suspicious.

Eyman’s so-called "Protect the Initiative Act" would give signature-gatherers new protections from harassment. It would also stretch the time initiative backers have to gather signatures in Washington from six months to one year. By comparison Oregon allows up to two years.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

Starting January 6, every branch of the Seattle Public Library will be open on Sundays. Library officials said it’s the first time in at least 100 years.

The extra hours come courtesy of Seattle voters, who approved a 7-year, $122 million property tax levy in August. The new money reverses years if cutbacks, and will allow every library location to open its doors from 1:00 to 5:00 Sunday afternoons. Library programs director Stephanie Chase said it’s gratifying to be adding services for a change instead of scaling them back.

The budget negotiations that led to a frantic New Year's deal on taxes confirmed many lessons about the way Washington works today.

For one thing, many of the most important relationships in the capitol appear to be broken. President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner led negotiations on a budget deal for most of the post-election period, but once again they came up empty.

The House of Representatives voted 257-167 late Tuesday to pass a Senate-approved compromise deal that stops large tax increases for 99 percent of Americans, and delays massive spending cuts for two months.

The bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

NPR's S.V. Date is reporting on the deal for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:

"The eventual deal was hammered out by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. It passed the Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support.

Update at 9:45 p.m. Deal Reached

Vice President Joe Biden was meeting late Monday with Senate Democrats to brief them on a proposed deal to stop sharp tax increases and spending cuts. A source told NPR the deal with congressional Democratic and Republican leaders includes a mix of both.

Hillary Clinton is preparing to leave the Obama administration after four years as secretary of state, earning generally high marks and fueling all kinds of speculation about what she wants to do next.

Her boss, President Obama, has paid tribute to her, calling her "tireless and extraordinary," though illness and a concussion have kept her out of public view for the past two weeks.

"More than 400 travel days, nearly 1 million miles," President Obama proclaimed at a diplomatic reception recently. "These are not frequent flier miles. She doesn't get discounts."

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Taxes are a key part of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s final budget before leaving office . The outgoing Democrat released her proposed two-year spending plan Tuesday as required by law. Gregoire says she wrote her budget with incoming Governor Jay Inslee in mind. But he hasn’t exactly embraced it.

SALEM, Ore. – The state of Oregon is at odds with the federal government over how to use money from Japan meant for cleaning up tsunami debris. It can’t be used to reimburse the state for money it’s already spent.

The Japanese government donated $5 million to the US this fall to help pay for the cost of cleaning up debris from last year’s deadly tsunami. But Oregon hasn't seen a penny of that money so far.

Writing that "after four of the most challenging years in the nation's history, his chance to leave office as a great president who was able to face crises and build a new majority coalition remains within reach," Time magazine has named President Obama its "person of the year."

The others on Time's "short list" were:

AP

OLYMPIA, Wash. – President Obama’s first comments about marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado leave more questions than answers. The President tells ABC news that federal agents have – quote – “bigger fish to fry” than recreational pot users.

"I want to get in a car and just drive."

That's one of the freedoms Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is most excited to reclaim when she leaves office in January. For the past eight years, Gregoire has been relegated to the backseat of a Chevy Suburban chauffeured by the State Patrol. "I like driving and there's something that's freeing about [it]," says the governor.

But before Gregoire gets behind the wheel, she'll get a refresher course on how to drive - from the State Patrol.  

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon lawmakers will convene in Special Session this Friday.  Governor John Kitzhaber announced Monday that the session is urgently needed to facilitate a major expansion of Oregon-based Nike.  Nike says it is on the verge of an expansion of its Oregon operations that could affect the Northwest economy.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington is currently a Democratic one party rule state. But that could change this week. A possible challenge to the Democrats' tenuous control of the Washington state senate could emerge. Senate Republicans have called a news conference Monday morning at the Capitol.

A bipartisan group of senators is expected make an announcement regarding the leadership of the state’s upper chamber. All it would take is two Democratic senators to join with Republicans to create a philosophical majority.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

After waiting for hours in line last week to obtain marriage licenses, hundreds of same sex couples finally got to tie the knot this weekend.  The ceremonies were made possible by the new voter approved same sex marriage law. 

Inside the sanctuary at Seattle First Baptist Church  twenty five couples, dressed in everything from matching, dapper suits and white dresses to coordinated western cowboy shirts, became a part of Washington State history when Pastor Tim Phillips said these familiar words.

History was made at midnight in Washington on two fronts last night: Bans on both gay marriage and recreational marijuana use were lifted.

As you might expect, as the sun set and the clock struck 12, there were scenes of celebration across the state's biggest city. The pictures tell the story, so with that here are five photographs from Seattle.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

At the stroke of midnight, adult marijuana users will no longer be lawbreakers in Washington. But lots of legal questions remain about how marijuana commerce will work, where it’s legal to use and how the federal government will respond.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The new Democratic leader in the Washington state Senate now intends to run for Seattle mayor. Sen. Ed Murray said Wednesday that he is establishing an exploratory committee and will work in the coming months to build the foundation for a campaign. Because of rules for state lawmakers, Murray can't raise money until the Legislature completes next year's session. Murray said he is focused on his duties in the state Senate, where Democrats have chosen him to be their new leader.

The president of the Seattle City Council says the state needs to make sure it adequately funds schools – and that may mean the state has to raise taxes. 

The state of Washington faces a grim budget deficit – more than $2.5 billion over the next two years, by one estimate. At the same time, the state also has to boost money for schools, according to a state supreme court decision.

Tacoma’s City Council will vote this afternoon to slash the city budget by 15 percent - with cuts to pretty much everything, including the police and fire departments.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax took the job in February from San Antonio, Texas. He says he knew Tacoma had some cutting to do – but as he dug into the numbers, he realized spending was deeply out of whack and anticipated revenue was not there.

The housing slump continues to hurt property tax revenue,and  money from sales tax hasn’t bounced back. Broadnax says Tacoma had been trying to put off cuts for years.

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