Political news

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.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Time is running out for new voters who want to register in time for special elections on April 22. In-person registration will be accepted until the end of the day today. 

Among the biggest contests is a King County question about raising vehicle registration fees to fund bus service. If the measure doesn't pass, King County Metro will face cuts.

County officials expect about 38 percent of voters will return their ballots. 

University of Washington

Depression is one of the biggest risk factors for suicide, and people who seek help for it tend to go to their regular doctor. But, as one Seattle family discovered, doctors aren’t always prepared to deal with a patient who has thoughts of suicide. A new law in Washington state, the first of its kind nationwide, seeks to change that.  

King County Metro Transit's Facebook Page

King County voters have less than two weeks to decide whether they want to pay a higher sales tax and car tab fee to prevent major cuts to King County Metro Transit bus service.

Proposition 1 would raise the sales tax by .1 percent and boost car tabs by $60. These increases would stay in place for the next 10 years.

If the measure fails, Metro says it will have to get rid of 16 percent of its bus routes and cut thousands of hours of service. 

Matt Kowalczyk / Flickr

The city of Seattle says its parks need major repairs and it doesn’t have the money to pay for them.

On Monday night, the Seattle City Council will hear from the public on the idea of creating a special park district that could levy its own taxes.

Austin Jenkins

These days, an old-fashioned stretch limo can look a bit stodgy. The new rage is party buses.

The buses carry more people, and you can even stand up, dance and drink as you cruise down the road. But these parties on wheels can come at a price. Nationwide, there have been 21 deaths on these buses, including one here in the Northwest.

Now regulators in Washington state are getting ready to crack down on the industry.

Activists are standing in solidarity with immigrants who’ve been staging a hunger strike at the detention center in Tacoma by holding their own hunger strike this week.

The protesters, who are mostly women, are calling the demonstration the Women’s Fast For Families. They want to remind the public that lawmakers have yet to act on any comprehensive immigration legislation.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington state senators are giving themselves a pay raise. Senators will get $120 a day in per diem when they are in session – up from the current rate of $90 a day. 

The Senate facilities and operations committee approved the increase  Tuesday in a split vote. 

AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says the U.S. Department of Energy is failing to provide him a “comprehensive” Hanford cleanup plan.

The Democrats’ comments follow a face-to-face meeting Monday with the secretary of energy who made a special trip to meet with the governor.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Washington state policymakers are pondering whether to make an end run around looming cutbacks in the federally-funded food stamp program.

This would mimic what Oregon and three eastern states just decided to do.

DAR56 / Wikimedia Commons

British Columbia has staked out a negotiating position on a cross-border water treaty that puts it at odds with public utilities and ratepayers in the U.S. Northwest. At issue is whether and how to renew the 50-year-old Columbia River Treaty.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

The Washington Legislature adjourned its 60-day session just before midnight Thursday night.

In the final hours, lawmakers passed a bipartisan update to the state’s two-year budget. They also sent the governor a bill to give military veterans in-state tuition to attend college, and reauthorized a fee that pays for homeless housing.

But it’s what lawmakers did not do this Legislative session that may stand out most for voters.