Political news

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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.

Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington and Oregon may follow Idaho’s lead in temporarily suspending advertising for bids for some highway projects.

Idaho’s decision is the result of a standoff in Congress over how to replenish the money in the pot for highway construction.  

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

An Oregon political campaign wants your digital donations. The group behind the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana says it's now accepting bitcoin contributions.

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Oregon voters may get the chance to require food companies to label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Sponsors of an initiative to require labels turned in more than 150,000 signatures — nearly double the required minimum — Wednesday in an effort to make the ballot this November. Opponents have already denounced the measure.


Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco will not receive a six-figure raise after all, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday.

The Seattle City Council recently authorized a pay hike of up to $119,000 per year for Carrasco, who currently earns $245,000 annually as the highest paid city employee. The raise was slated to take effect on July 1.

However, Murray, who previously supported a higher salary for Carrasco, said he has reversed his decision in light of questions recently raised regarding the utility CEO’s judgment.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council has confirmed Kathleen O’Toole as the first female chief of the Seattle Police Department.

With an 8-to-1 vote Monday, the council approved Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s nomination. Council member Kshama Sawant cast the lone dissent vote.

Imagine driving your personal car for work so much that your boss cuts you a $10,000 mileage reimbursement check. That’s what happened recently at Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services.

But the person who got the check isn’t an employee, and she’s not the only one who’s logging high miles and collecting large reimbursements from DSHS. So far this fiscal year, the agency has reimbursed volunteer drivers more than $300,000.

One candidate for an eastern Washington congressional seat has hit on a way to appeal to Second Amendment advocates and increase the names on his campaign mailing list: He’s offering voters a chance to win a gun.

People who give Clint Didier their name and email address will be entered to win one of three firearms. The Republican candidate for Doc Hastings’ seat is offering up two handguns and a semi-automatic rifle. Didier calls it the Freedom Fighters Gun Giveaway.

mathteacherguy / Flickr

How often is “infrequent” when it comes to state lawmakers accepting free meals from lobbyists? Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board spent nearly two hours Tuesday taking testimony on that issue and then grappling with the answer. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee is directing Washington state agencies to identify 15 percent cuts in the next budget. The directive comes as the latest revenue forecast released Tuesday shows an ongoing sluggish recovery.

State budget director David Schumacher says the budget-cutting exercise does not mean all agencies will be cut by 15 percent.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Washington Supreme Court could hold state lawmakers in contempt over school funding. But is the high court overstepping its bounds? A Republican-led legislative panel held a hearing Monday on separation of powers.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

The surprising upset for House Majority leader Eric Cantor has the GOP looking for a possible successor.

Pundits are already throwing a few names around as possible replacements, including two Northwest lawmakers who have prominent roles in the House Republican leadership. But neither is likely to seek a promotion.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has named Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Kate Joncas as his new deputy mayor of operations.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

An administrative law judge who says her boss meddled in her deliberations is calling for more independence for hearings officers who, like her, work for state agencies. But she faces questions about her own conduct in the case, too.

Chief presiding officer Patricia Petersen was in the middle of a high-profile dispute between Seattle Children’s Hospital and the state insurance commissioner when she said a prominent official at the commissioner’s office leaned on her to decide in the agency’s favor. That official also happens to be Petersen’s direct supervisor.

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner is hiring an outside investigator to look into ethics complaints lodged by a hearing officer, and raising questions about the accuser’s own conduct.

Chief presiding officer Patricia Peterson referees disputes that arise at the commissioner’s office. During an especially contentious case, she says the commissioner’s number-two official tried to improperly influence her judgment.

It’s an mid-term election year. Even so, some 300 candidates are vying for 162 local, state and federal positions in Washington state alone.

So who are these would-be officeholders, and what kind of troubles may they have had in the past? Formal background checks for candidates are not a part of the typical vetting process, but a former candidate wants to change that.

Atomic Taco / Flickr

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is urging voters and elected officials not to get behind a local property tax hike to fund mass transit. Instead, the mayor plans to introduce his own proposal next week.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

In the world of Democratic politics, Tom Steyer, a former California hedge-fund manager, is like a real-life Bruce Wayne, aka Batman.

Steyer is a billionaire philanthropist who wants to save not just Gotham City, but the entire planet, from global climate change.

Jennifer Wing

Some state lawmakers who are supporting a Seattle initiative to undo King County Metro bus cuts say it could give them some bargaining power in Olympia.

State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, is one of eight Democratic lawmakers who’ve signed on as endorsers of the so-called Keep Seattle Moving Initiative.

Ng Han Guan / AP Photo/Pool

It may sound like the life of a movie star or famous athlete: posing for a magazine cover, having your picture taken at restaurants and gaining international attention by simply ordering a cup of coffee. But we’re talking about Gary Locke.

The former Washington governor and commerce secretary is now back in the Seattle area, after serving two years as the U.S. ambassador to China, and sat down with KPLU for his first radio interview since his return.

Ryan Healy / Flickr

A committee searching for Seattle’s next police chief has handed three names to Mayor Ed Murray. The finalists are Elk Grove, California police chief Robert Lehner, Mesa, Arizona chief Frank Milstead and former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O’Toole. Committee co-chair Ron Sims said each candidate is a “change agent,” who clears a very high bar set by the mayor.

“They don’t make people like he just demanded that we meet. Where are they? But we found them. And I think the public will be incredibly well served by any of these three,” Sims said.

Austin Jenkins

Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu to the Washington Supreme Court. Yu replaces two-term Justice James Johnson who stepped down this week for health reasons. Johnson was viewed as a lone conservative voice on the high court.

Yu will be the first woman of color, the first Asian-American, the first Latina and the first openly LGBT justice on our state's highest court.  

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

AP Photo

King County Council members are proceeding with the unwelcome task of eliminating bus service. Metro already has a plan, but council members have the final say on how to parcel out the cuts in the most logical and equitable way. 

Austin Jenkins

By next January, Washington state lawmakers should have clearer guidance on when it’s OK to accept free meals from lobbyists. The state’s Legislative Ethics Board decided Tuesday to clarify the rules governing gifts in the form of food and beverage. The board’s action follows our investigation last year into lobbyist-paid meals.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

One of the most influential and controversial members of the Washington state Legislature made a bombshell announcement Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, announced he is dropping his bid for re-election. Tom is one of two Democrats who joined with Republicans last year to help them take control of the state Senate.