Political news

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.

Since the 1970s, U.S. policy toward American Indian tribes has been to encourage economic independence. Tribal casinos are probably the most visible symbol of that policy.

These days, tribes are diversifying into other businesses. In 2005, the Chehalis Indian tribe in southwest Washington partnered with a Wisconsin-based water park chain to build a destination resort. The state of Washington, in turn, granted the project tax exempt status. But now, internal state documents question whether Great Wolf Lodge really is a tribal entity and eligible for favorable tax treatment.

Erin Hennessey

Weeks have passed since the May Day protests, but Seattle police are still asking for help identifying the individuals who damaged property. The violence was largely attributed to people who've been called anarchists. So what is anarchy anyway?

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

President Barack Obama was in Seattle yesterday on a fundraising swing. It was his first trip since the big announcement Wednesday that he now supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, a stance that was celebrated by supporters both inside and outside his speech at the Paramount theater downtown.

At 8th and Pine, a colorful band of demonstrators gathered for a rally near the barricades to say thank you to the President, even though they couldn’t afford the thousand-dollar ticket to see him speak.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved a $1 billion stimulus plan that seeks to get construction workers back on the job.

The Associated Press

Now that U.S. Representative Norm Dicks has announced he’s retiring, western Washington will have three open seats for Congress in this fall’s election. That’s unusual, and it could mean a lot of national attention for those elections.

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon appears unmoved by a call for him to stand down.

As allegations mount that he has abused his public office, the County Council voted unanimously to request he take a voluntary leave of absence. 

As the president delivered the final State of the Union address of his term before a looming re-election battle, he looked out at a sea of angry and skeptical Republicans who had fought him on budgets, government shutdowns, and whether or not to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

And what did President Bill Clinton do in 1996?

He delivered his "the era of big government is over" speech, which The Washington Post summed up this way: "Clinton Embraced GOP Themes in Setting Agenda."

The Mayor of Oakridge, Oregon and three city councilors survived a recall election Tuesday. A financial crisis created turmoil at recent council meetings.

Mayor Don Hampton and councilors Rayetta Clark, Amy Kordosky, and Glenn Fortune are all still in office. But, for the mayor and councilor Fortune, the margin was narrow. Mayor Hampton attributes that to the widespread dissatisfaction people feel with government these days. Hampton says he's heard of the threat of recall used recently in other Oregon communities.

The state's election watchdog has proposed a fine against the Washington State Republican Party for campaign finance violations, including the failure to timely report $500,000 in contributions.

Kin Cheung / AP

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants some change in Washington D.C. and the best way to get it, he says, is by boycotting donations to political campaigns. In an open letter sent to Starbucks on Monday, he urged other company heads to withholding campaign contribution until President Obama and Congress solve the nation’s financial woes.  

Chris Lehman

SALEM, Ore. - Conservative Oregon initiative activist Bill Sizemore will serve 30 days in jail. The former Republican nominee for governor pled guilty Thursday to three counts of tax evasion.

Bill Sizemore was best known for his anti-tax initiatives. Now, it's a failure to file his state taxes over the course of three years that's sending him to jail.

He was set to go on trial next week. As part of the plea deal, Sizemore will serve 30 days in the Marion County jail. That's followed by three years of supervised probation, plus 100 hours of community service.

Southern Poverty Law Center

A national conference in Spokane focuses on something a lot of people fear is dying out: civility in American politics. Many see the January shooting in Tuscon as just one sign that the nation's civic discourse has been replaced with mudslinging, threats, and even violence.

Spokane itself was shaken by backpack bomb discovered along the route of a Martin Luther King Day parade.

But consider this: Incivility can sometimes play a positive role in democracy, at least according to some experts.