Political news

Austin Jenkins

Washington public schools will get an additional nearly $60 million, but teachers will not get a cost of living raise this year. That’s the upshot of a budget deal that’s being announced at the Capitol in Olympia.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In the 1990s, an embattled President Bill Clinton created a legal defense fund. Now Washington Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen wants all state elected officials to have that option.

The Democrat, the state’s four-term lieutenant governor, is motivated by his own ethics troubles. 

AP Photo

A state bill to limit the purchase of PCB-containing products is heading to the Washington governor’s desk. The state Senate on Tuesday approved final changes to the bill, which the sponsor says could lower river pollution levels.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, wants to rekindle one of the state's best basketball rivalries.

Baumgartner has introduced a bill that would require the University of Washington and Gonzaga University of Spokane to play at least once each season.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

It looks like Washington lawmakers may adjourn their 60-day legislative session without addressing the issue of lobbyist-paid entertainment. Free meals for lawmakers became an issue last year after we reported on several state senators who regularly allowed lobbyists to pick up the tab.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington lawmakers are in the home stretch — or at least they hope they are.

The current 60-day session is supposed to adjourn this coming Thursday. But the House and Senate still have to agree on an update to the two-year budget. And that’s not the only major issue that remains unresolved.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner wants to notify consumers if their insurance company is on the verge of bankruptcy. But Democrat Mike Kreidler says lobbying by health insurance giant Premera Blue Cross has “gutted” his consumer protection measure in the Washington Legislature.

After the collapse of AIG in 2008, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners developed something called the Holding Company Act. It basically gives state regulators additional oversight of insurance carriers that are held by a parent company.

AP Photo

The debate over a gas tax hike has revved up again in the state Legislature. A key Senate Republican formally introduced legislation Monday to raise the gas tax by 11.5 cents to fund road projects. But Democrats are reacting warily.

The latest plan Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, still spends about $12 billion to maintain and preserve existing roads, build and complete new projects and pay for other transportation priorities. But it includes some concessions to Democrats, including more money for transit.

AP Photo

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is preparing to take action on an issue that could secure his legacy, or complicate his re-election chances.

He wants to cap carbon, the biggest culprit in greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. It’s a controversial and potentially costly idea. But the Democrat believes it’s an economic and even moral imperative in the long term.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington Speaker of the House Frank Chopp supports a minimum wage hike. But he says the issue wasn’t ready for a vote on the House floor this year. The Democrat made his comments Friday in a rare meeting with the Capitol press corps.

“I think it was important to start the conversation and have a good discussion, and figure out where there’s consensus over moving forward. Because if you’re working, you shouldn’t be poor,” Chopp said.

A Native American is the newest challenger in the race for the Congressional seat currently held by Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Joe Pakootas, CEO for the Colville Federal Tribal Corporation and former tribal chairman, has announced his intention to run as a Democrat in the race against Republican Rep. Rodgers.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The final two weeks of the Washington legislative session may come down to a battle over tax breaks.

Democrats want to eliminate a series of tax exemptions to fund teacher cost-of-living raises and other education priorities. Republicans propose just the opposite; they want to renew several tax incentives with the goal of creating or preserving jobs.

Bill Would Gradually Lower Liquor Taxes

Feb 26, 2014
AP Photo

Republican and Democrat lawmakers are introducing a measure on Wednesday that would gradually lower liquor taxes.

Backers say lowering taxes would spur more purchases in Washington state and the revenue to the state would eventually be at the same levels prior to privatization.

Young Kwak / AP Photo

The race has begun for candidates vying to oust Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Congress. A Spokane businessman on Tuesday announced his candidacy for the seat that represents eastern Washington.

More than 30 years ago, Dave Wilson founded the computer training school Interface College. This year, he’s running as an independent for U.S. Congress.

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Minority Democrats in the Washington Senate want to tax oil refineries, bottled water, prescription drug resellers and out-of-state shoppers. The proposal released Tuesday could generate $100 million per year for public schools.

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The Washington Senate is proposing the creation or extension of nearly two dozen tax breaks, mostly for businesses.

Gov. Jay Inslee supports the largest of those tax incentives. But overall, the Senate package unveiled Monday runs counter to the Democratic governor’s push to eliminate several tax exemptions to pay for education.

U.S. Agricultural Research Service

A measure that seeks to bar animal rights activists from making undercover video in Idaho dairies is moving ahead in the state House.

What critics call the "ag gag" bill is a reaction to a 2012 video that showed workers abusing cows at a farm near Twin Falls. Farmers say they need protection from what they call "vigilante" tactics.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A late vote in the Washington Legislature has the children of immigrants cheering, literally. On Tuesday night, the state House overwhelmingly approved a measure to allow high school graduates who came to this country illegally with their parents to apply for state financial aid.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo


We’re hearing a lot these days about raising the minimum wage.

President Obama talked about it in his State of the Union address last month. SeaTac voters approved a $15 per hour base wage last fall. And there’s a push now to adopt the same in Seattle. Even in Idaho, there’s a minimum wage campaign afoot.

It turns out this is no accident; it's part of a national effort to put the issue before politicians and voters.

tswartz / Flickr

A bill intended to prevent health care providers from trying to convert gay people under age 18 has passed the state House.

House Bill 2451, which passed on a 94-4 vote, would make it an act of unprofessional conduct to try to change the sexual orientation of a patient under 18. That would include efforts to change behaviors, gender expressions or to reduce sexual or romantic attractions toward people of the same sex. 

mathteacherguy / Flickr

The members of the mostly-Republican majority in the Washington Senate say they want to jumpstart negotiations on a gas tax package to fund roads and transit in Washington state.

They unveiled a revised funding proposal Thursday, but also acknowledged they don’t have the votes to pass it.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings will retire at the end of the year, he announced Thursday.

Political watchers are already speculating on who might run to replace the long-time representative. The district is considered strongly Republican, so a Democratic upset is unlikely.

Hastings served two decades as south-central Washington’s Republican congressman. 

“I turned 73 last Friday, and one more term, I would have been nearly 76, so I just thought this was the right time,” he said.

AP Photo


Oregon lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday on the latest version of a plan to fund a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River.

The hearing even drew testimony from lawmakers on the Washington side of the river.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says if the Legislature doesn't act by mid-March, he'll pull the plug on the project for the foreseeable future.

Washington state could do a better job when it comes to assisting families who’ve adopted children from foster care, according to a report by the state auditor's office. 

That’s especially the case for families who’ve adopted children with special needs or those who have been diagnosed with emotional or physical problems, the office found.

Austin Jenkins

The state of Washington could soon become the fourth in the nation after California, Texas and New Mexico to allow the children of illegal immigrants to qualify for state-funded college financial aid.

The idea has now passed both the Washington House and Senate. But allowing undocumented students to compete for these limited dollars is still a thorny issue for some, especially since the program is already seriously underfunded.

James Hall Photography

Advocates plan to rally in Olympia Tuesday in what’s become an annual push for immigrant and refugee rights.

More than a dozen groups plans to make some noise on the Capitol steps and meet with lawmakers on several key issues: restoring previously-cut funds to food aid and job training, and investing in better English-language learner services in public schools.

Dead air, garbled transmissions and poor reception are just some of the problems with the Washington State Patrol’s new state-of-the art radio system. The $40 million conversion to digital technology is behind schedule, and having technical problems.

For most of us, our smartphones have become our figurative lifelines. For state troopers, their literal lifeline is still the two-way radio. When the radio doesn’t work that’s a problem. We first reported on doubts about this project in March of 2012.

Michael Baumgartner's website

Washington lawmakers may be tired of the state Supreme Court telling them how to do their job. At least one bill targeting the court is in front of lawmakers this session. 

The Legislature is under mandate by the State Supreme Court to increase state funding for education. Last year, the court told lawmakers to spend more, and lawmakers responded by upping education funding by $1 billion. Then a month ago, the court gave them even more specifics where the spending should go.

With the country slowly digging itself out of recession, some of his legislative priorities buried under Washington's partisanship and his approval ratings at some of their lowest levels, President Obama called for "a year of action" during his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head during a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, testified in support of Initiative 594 in Olympia on Tuesday. The initiative would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers, even those between individuals.

“Now is the time to come together, be responsible, Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting; fight, fight, fight” Giffords said.