Politics

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Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

Starting in January, Washington lawmakers will be barred from accepting more than 12-lobbyist-paid meals per year. The state’s Legislative Ethics Board adopted that limit today after months of public hearings and deliberation.

The issue of free meals first came to light in May of last year when we, in partnership with the Associated Press, reported on the practice of lawmakers letting lobbyists pick up the tab.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A ballot measure to expand background checks for gun sales in Washington has lost some support, but still enjoys a healthy lead, according to the latest Elway Poll released Monday.

Meanwhile, a competing gun rights measure appears to be in trouble.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Election 2014 is less than a month away. 

Ballots will soon be arriving in mailboxes in Washington and Oregon where the election is all vote-by-mail. Idaho voters still go to the polls, but about a quarter of Gem State ballots are cast absentee.

Gosia Wozniacka / AP Photo

Oregon’s first lady said she committed a federal crime 17 years ago. Cylvia Hayes told reporters Thursday that she married a man for the sole purpose of helping him get a green card.

She said the confession came as a surprise even to the man who, this summer, became her fiancé: the governor of Oregon.

Political Action Committees in Washington have spent more than $14 million so far this year. The top spenders are teachers, trial lawyers, SEIU and a business PAC called Enterprise Washington. But there are also dozens of smaller PACs — PACs in a box — that have been set up for just this election year.

You’ve heard of a jack in the box. Single-year political action committees are sort of like that. They just pop up. And then when the election is over, they disappear again.

Colin Fogarty

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national Republican group with a focus on “down ballot” races, is pumping money into Washington state.

So far this year, the committee has invested more than $300,000 in the state.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer has dumped $1 million into Washington state.

The seven-figure contribution was made last week and became public Monday.

King County WA / Flickr

The economy in King County is booming, but county government is planning to cut more than 500 jobs to balance its budget. King County Executive Dow Constantine says the problem is that state laws restrict the ability of local government to raise taxes to keep up with growth. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

So far this year, business interests have contributed more than $16 million to political campaigns and committees in Washington.

But gifts from individual donors eclipse even that. That’s because a small group of wealthy people are writing large checks.

Steve Helber / AP Photo

California billionaire Tom Steyer is poised to help Democrats try to win back control of the Washington Senate. But first, his NextGen political action committee had to satisfy a quirk in the law.

Call it the ten-ten rule. In Washington, political committees have to jump a small hurdle before they can play in Washington’s political sandbox. The rule is the committee must receive $10 or more from at least 10 registered Washington voters. Now that NextGen has this bit of local skin in the game, climate activist Tom Steyer is free to start spending some serious on Washington races.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen has agreed to a $15,000 ethics fine. The settlement announced Friday stems from the five-term Democrat’s use of state resources to operate a nonprofit with his wife.

The ethics investigation concluded that Owen used his office and staff to help run Strategies for Youth, a nonprofit that went around to schools, performing concerts with an anti-bullying message.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says the Legislature has not “acted appropriately” in the face of the McCleary decision on school funding. But he cautioned the state Supreme Court Thursday not to impose sanctions that would penalize other areas of state government.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Cybercriminals, terrorists, white collar bankers - U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan has taken on all of them in her five years on the job in Western Washington. Now, she says she’s stepping down at the end of the month after holding the post for five years.

She was among the first six U.S. attorneys nominated by President Barack Obama in May 2009 and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in September 2009.

Austin Jenkins

This November’s election will decide who controls the Washington state Senate. Democrats are desperate to win back the majority while a mostly-Republican coalition that took power last year is determined to hold on.

In the meantime, big-money interests on both sides are trying to influence the outcome. They’re pouring unlimited contributions into political action committees controlled by the legislative caucuses.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington’s November election will decide three statewide ballot measures. So far, nearly $6 million has flowed to these campaigns, and it’s still early.

Initiative 594 to expand background checks for gun sales is far out in the lead when it comes to fundraising. So far, nearly $3.4 million raised with recent $500,000 contributions each from Paul Allen, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates. Plus, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer just contributed $1 million.

Paul Morigi/Invision for JPMorgan Chase & Co./AP Images

Women entrepreneurs aren’t getting the same access to business loans as their male counterparts nationwide, and a new report shows the gender gap is even bigger in Washington.

Women own about 30 percent of American businesses, but get just 13 percent of the dollars lent by the federal Small Business Administration. In Washington, it’s just 11 percent, according to a new report commissioned by a U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, chaired by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. 

mathteacherguy / Flickr

Washington lawmakers will be allowed to accept a dozen lobbyist-paid meals per year, but no more, according to a new vote by the state’s Legislative Ethics Board.

On the low side, one board member proposed a limit of three free meals a year. On the high side there was a proposal to allow two dozen a year. Even the compromise of 12 lobbyist-paid meals per year did not receive a unanimous vote. The vote is also not a final rule. That will come this October when the board meets again.

mathteacherguy / Flickr

How many free meals is too many? That’s the question an ethics panel aims to answer at a public hearing Tuesday in Olympia. The Legislative Ethics Board will consider a draft proposal to limit how many free meals lawmakers can accept from lobbyists.

Ed Ronco

The Seattle Police Department’s former interim chief Jim Pugel will take over as second-in-command to King County Sheriff John Urquhart, the sheriff announced Monday.

Pugel was handpicked by Urquhart, who said he only spoke to Pugel about the job.

Washington’s August primary appears to have delivered an historic first. Two Republicans are likely to advance to the November election in central Washington’s Fourth Congressional District.

Never before has the state’s top-two primary produced two contenders of the same party for a Congressional seat. 

It’s primary day in Washington. Tuesday’s vote will decide a parks levy in Seattle and narrow the field in dozens of state legislative and Congressional races.

Ballots for the all vote-by-mail election are due in drop boxes by 8 p.m.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer plans to try to help Democrats win back the Washington state Senate.

Steyer and his NextGen Political Action Committee plan to target three to four state legislative races, likely Washington state Senate races. They will work in coordination with state environmentalists who have their own political action committees.

Washington State Redistricting Commission

Washington voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to turn in their primary ballots. Secretary of State Kim Wyman projects a turnout of about 40 percent.

Among others, the primary will winnow the crowded fields for an open central Washington Congressional seat and a Seattle-area state Senate position.

Supporters of a Washington gun control measure on the November ballot may have just gotten a mid-summer boost. They’re capitalizing on an audio recording that recently surfaced.

The hard-to-understand audio recording first appeared on the left-wing blog “Horses Ass.” The blog’s author said the audio is of NRA lobbyist Brian Judy speaking recently to a pro-gun group. Judy questioned Jewish people who are anti-guns.

Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons

A divided county council in Pierce County, Washington Tuesday voted to display the motto "In God We Trust" in its chambers, becoming the first jurisdiction in the Northwest to take part in a national campaign to feature the motto.

But the approval came with a twist.

beataT1i / flckr

Voters in Seattle will decide whether to establish a special taxing district to help fund the city’s parks.

Proposition 1, which appears on the Aug. 5 ballot, has created a rift in the ranks of park advocates.

Washington Public Disclosure Commission

Washington’s Aug. 5 primary is now less than a month away. It’s a mid-term election year with no statewide offices on the ballot. Even so, nearly $33 million have already been contributed to campaigns.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The House voted Wednesday in support of making it easier for banks to do business with legal pot shops and providers of medical marijuana.

The 236-186 vote rejected a move by Rep. John Fleming, R-La., to block the Treasury Department from implementing guidance it issued in February telling banks how to report on their dealings with marijuana-related businesses without running afoul of federal money-laundering laws.

Malcolm Griffes / KPLU

When Michael Wells was growing up in Normal, Illinois, his dad would frequently come home from work wearing a pin that had a little blood drop.

“I was always fascinated by it, because my dad never wore any kind of jewelry or anything,” Wells said.

When Wells asked about the pin, his father told him it signaled he'd given blood.

Photo provided by Weyerhaeuser.

A coastal Northwest county is the first to strike back against pricey recreation permits now being required by some large timber companies. The Grays Harbor County commission voted unanimously Monday to take a tax deferral away from private timberland owners that charge for public access.

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