Political news

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says he will not release any of his tax returns, calling the matter a distraction from important issues.

Great Beyond / Flickr

Seattle public libraries are closed this week, in an effort to cope with budget cuts. That inspired some locals to take matters into their own hands, establishing a temporary, outdoor “People’s Library.”

This is the fourth year Seattle libraries have taken a furlough week to save money, stranding would-be readers, internet users and stir-crazy parents. Among the exasperated were University of Washington graduate student Yates Coley and her friends.

The Associated Press

Former Seattle councilwoman Cheryl Chow has brain cancer and says she has one more thing she wants to do before she dies.

She told KING-TV she is coming out and telling people she is gay after being secretive for more than 60 years. She wants to encourage others to not be afraid to tell their parents or children the truth.

In Tampa, Fla., a week ahead of their national convention, Republicans are drawing up their party platform. There are muted disagreements over a few issues, such as immigration and same-sex marriage. But at least within the platform committee, one of the least controversial issues discussed this week is abortion.

With little discussion, the committee on Tuesday adopted the same anti-abortion language it included in GOP platforms in 2004 and 2008. It seeks passage of a constitutional amendment that would extend legal rights to the unborn, essentially banning abortion.

Based on book sales, Republicans are dominating Democrats in most of the country (including Washington state), according to a new “election heat map” created by book retailer Amazon.com.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A controversial photo of state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane, standing in front of his Democratic challenger's house has become a political hot potato for Republicans.

The chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party is trying to persuade Shea to remove the photo from his Facebook page. Amy Biviano, the Democrat challenging Shea, has accused Shea of trying to intimidate her by posting the photo of her home and refusing to take it down.

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, the Republican who's challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for the U.S. Senate seat, said in a television interview Sunday that it's "rare" for women to become pregnant when they are raped.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said in an interview with KTVI, a St. Louis television station.

Above: The first of many thousands lined up early today to enter Hempfest, Seattle's mega pro-pot festival.

For more than 20 years, the Seattle Hempfest festival, rally and outdoor party has pushed for the decriminalization and mainstreaming of marijuana.

But as this year’s event gets underway today, with more than 300,000 expected over the weekend, regulations contained in an initiative that would legalize pot have split many advocates.

It seemed normal enough when President Obama chatted with a coffee shop patron about beer in Iowa Tuesday. The president has shown he's a fan of beer — and it's the most politically expedient, "everyman" beverage a candidate can drink. But then the president told a man at Knoxville, Iowa's Coffee Connection cafe that he travels with his own home-brew — and gave him a bottle to prove it.

Two days after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced him as his running mate, Paul Ryan made his first solo appearance at the Iowa State Fair, today.

It's a grand tradition in Des Moines where candidates stand on a "soapbox" and get a microphone and 20 minutes to say whatever they like.

The latest election results from Washington’s primary shows that more than 43 percent of Washington voters cast their ballots for a state supreme court justice candidate with no judicial experience, who raised no campaign funds and was a public no-show.

The biggest factor in the race appears to have been one candidate's last name - Gonzalez.

Election results published by the Washington Secretary of State’s office this afternoon showed Bruce O. Danielson pulled in 276,142 votes for, so far, 43.1 percent of voters.

Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna will advance to the November election, after winning the top two spots in Tuesday's primary for Washington governor. At last count, Inslee won 47 percent of the vote to McKenna’s 43 percent.

A new commercial featuring a regular-ol’-mom-type-person pitching the legalization of marijuana in Washington is about to kickoff a $1 million campaign.

Democrats are on the path to including an endorsement of same-sex marriage for the first time in their official party platform.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reported Monday that the proposal has made it through an important Democratic committee.

The 15 Democrats who serve on the party's platform drafting committee voted unanimously to endorse same-sex marriage in the party's official agenda, says Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who serves on the committee.

Frank recently married his partner.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The city of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Justice have struck a deal on how to reform Seattle’s police department. The agreement heads off a threatened civil rights lawsuit against the city.

melissajonas / Flickr

Seattle recently spent a big chunk of money to improve services for homeless families with children, but city officials are at odds over whether it was spent solving the right problems. They grappled with it at a public meeting Wednesday, where homeless mothers told members of the city council that many were without a place to sleep that night.

As early as next week, Washington residents will be able to register to vote on Facebook.

The idea started coming to life last fall: Create a web application for voter registration. Secretary of State Sam Reed worked with Facebook and Microsoft Corporation on the app.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A campaign staffer for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna has apologized for two tweets she sent months ago making fun of Asians and the elderly.

Initiative deadline arrives in Washington, Oregon

Jul 5, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – “Groundhog Day.” That’s what Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says it going to feel like Friday. This will be the third time Eyman has submitted signatures for a ballot measure to require a supermajority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Friday is the deadline in Washington and Oregon for initiative sponsors seeking to qualify for the November ballot.

The Associated Press

As potentially millions of people collectively held their breath, again, Monday morning waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the fate of Obama’s health care reform, one of the many questions lingering in the air is will the justices keep their politics out of the decision? (Update: The court did not issue its ruling Monday and will likely do so on Thursday.)

And, we must also wonder: Will Americans keep their politics out of their assessments of whatever the court decides, when it does? (Warning, this is a “Take our survey” story … see below.)

Elsie Esq. / KPLU

Seattle's 38th annual Pride Parade is coming up this Sunday. The parade usually draws big crowds, but with a referendum on same-sex marriage on the November ballot, parade organizers are expecting a record turnout.

"I think we’re going to see an increase this year, especially with the marriage referendum out there," says Adam Rosencrantz, the board president of Seattle Out and Proud, the group hosting the parade. "People are going to come out and support us and show their excitement."

A Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s health care law could force Washington state lawmakers to shift gears. They want to prevent a repeat of the 1990's, when the insurance market "went over a cliff," says the state Insurance Commissioner.

That could force them to require state residents to have health insurance. But, their first choice to prevent a health-care "disaster," say Democrats, is to rely on federal subsidies to keep insurance affordable.

Rep. Ron Paul, who is still technically in the hunt for the Republican presidential nomination, seems to have finally accepted his fate.

In an email sent to supporters late last night, the Texas congressman said by the time the Republican National Convention comes around, he won't have sufficient delegates to secure the nomination.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The film industry is getting incentives reinstated. Teachers are getting a new evaluation system. Universities are getting new rules on how to handle abuse allegations.

Dozens of new laws approved by Washington lawmakers earlier this year took effect on Thursday, though two of the most contentious proposals were not implemented as planned.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, just the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall effort, is now the first to successfully defeat such an attempt. The Associated Press projected that Walker would defeat Milwaukee's Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett in what was a rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial election.

The Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. — They jeer at the idea of coalescing behind Mitt Romney. They're still scraping for every possible delegate. And they hold out hope that Ron Paul could win the presidency this year.

By just by watching Paul's loyal supporters, you'd never know that the Republican presidential contest is over.

A judge has ruled the two-thirds majority initiative violates the simple majority provision of the state constitution.

Initiative 1053 was approved by Washington voters in November 2010 and has made it difficult for lawmakers to adopt tax increases since then.

A lawyer and a citizen have each filed ethics complaints against Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.

Kyle Olive and Kimberly Christensen said Thursday they submitted concerns this week to the King County ombudsman, arguing that McKenna violated various parts of the county ethics law during his time on the King County Council.

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

How would taxpayers be protected if a new basketball arena gets built in Seattle? The details are in an agreement between the city, King County and the man who wants to bring an NBA team to town.

After three months of meetings and negotiations, there’s now a formal Memorandum of Understanding between investor Chris Hansen and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn along with County Executive Dow Constantine. In the fine print, it describes how Hansen will purchase the land south of Safeco Field, build a new basketball arena on it, and then sell it to the city.

Austin Jenkins / KPLU

GRAND MOUND, Wash. - Great Wolf Resorts is a Wisconsin-based chain of indoor water parks and hotels. Four years ago, the company expanded what it calls its “paw print” to the Northwest.

It opened its first west coast property at Grand Mound, Washington south of Olympia. The state of Washington declared the resort tax exempt because Great Wolf partnered with the Chehalis Indian Tribe.

Now, Correspondent Austin Jenkins has obtained internal state documents that question that tax-free status – potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.