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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.

Same-sex couples can start applying for marriage licenses in Washington at midnight on Thursday, and county officials say they’ll be ready.

The King County auditor’s office will open bright and early: Couples will be able to start queuing up at 10:00 the night before. County Executive Dow Constantine will preside over a special licensing ceremony for a handful of couples right after the stroke of midnight, and the office will keep operating right through 6:30 that night.

Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – State officials tasked with developing a legal marijuana industry in Washington state have a problem: There's no similar system anywhere in the world that they can look to for guidance.

Young voters helped pass laws legalizing marijuana in Washington and Colorado, but many still won't be allowed to light up.

Most universities have codes of conduct banning marijuana use, and they get millions of dollars in funding from the federal government, which still considers pot illegal.

With the money comes a requirement for a drug-free campus, and the threat of expulsion for students using pot in the dorms.

"Everything we've seen is that nothing changes for us," said Darin Watkins, a spokesman for Washington State University in Pullman.

Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed her daughter, Courtney Gregoire, to the board of trustees for Seattle Community Colleges.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, but health insurance doesn't cover it and patients often scramble to cover the cost.

"It's an expensive medication, no doubt about it," says Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a patient advocacy group. "Patients are struggling to afford it, regardless of whether it's available in their state."

For the sake of argument, let's agree that when we use the word "inauguration" in this particular post, we are talking about the multiday, ball-bestrewn, soiree-soaked, tuxedo-dappled extravaganza that costs tens of millions of dollars and often leaves many Americans out in the cold — figuratively and literally.

Oran Viriyincy

Bus riders all over the Puget Sound region are coping with cuts in service, but Pierce County is facing something much more drastic.

If you don’t have a car in Pierce County, you may be homebound on the weekends and after 7 pm. That’s because voters have now – for the second time – rejected a sales tax increase. Pierce Transit will likely have to cut service in half.

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