Political news

Stephen Brashear / AP Photo

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman is kicking off the new year with a new initiative. 

Eyman's new ballot proposal aims to resurrect the requirement that tax hikes get a two-thirds majority in the Legislature or be referred to the people. And this time, Eyman has designed a hammer to get the Legislature to act.

AP Photo

As many as 2,000 people are expected to attend the inauguration of the city's first gay mayor and its first modern-day socialist council member at City Hall today.

Both candidates were officially sworn in during a private ceremony on Jan. 1. Today's ceremonial event is open to the public, and takes place in the City Hall lobby at 3:30 p.m.

mathteacherguy / Flickr

Five Republican state senators did not violate Washington ethics law when they accepted dozens of free meals from lobbyists earlier this year, according to a ruling made public Friday by Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board.

However, the board added the situation raises “serious questions” and an “enforceable” rule is needed.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time for a discussion on raising the state’s already highest-in-the-nation minimum wage. The Democrat’s comments Thursday come in the wake of a vote in the city of SeaTac and a new push by Seattle Mayor-Elect Ed Murray to raise the local minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The governor stopped short of calling for a $15 statewide minimum wage.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle’s incoming mayor has convened a task force to study boosting the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, and he has asked incoming socialist city council member Kshama Sawant to join.

Mayor-Elect Ed Murray said he believes it is a necessary step toward tackling economic inequality, but he also insists he is not prejudicing the outcome of the committee. In addition to Sawant, his 23-member task force includes business interests, organized labor and community groups.

Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee’s hopes for a gas tax package agreement before the end of the year have been dashed. The Democrat announced  Wednesday evening that with no deal at hand, talks are over for now, but will resume in January.

Inslee made his announcement flanked by House and Senate transportation leaders. It follows a dozen negotiating sessions in recent weeks. Among the roadblocks to agreement: a dispute over whether to put sales tax proceeds from transportation projects back into transportation instead of the state’s general fund.

Austin Jenkins

More prison beds, but no cost-of-living raises for school teachers were the two takeaways after Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday proposed a modest update to the state’s two-year budget.

Associated Press

The Seattle City Council could move one step closer to using its power of eminent domain as a way to curb foreclosures. 

The council is looking to create a committee to explore eminent domain and two other principal reduction programs, namely lease swapping and setting up a municipal land bank, as tools for struggling homeowners.

Associated Press

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holes said he is working on ways to accommodate “marijuana tourists” who might face barriers to partaking in legal pot.

Holmes pointed out to a Seattle City Council committee that rules banning consumption in public, which he supports, could make it harder for out-of-towners to participate. Most of those people would presumable stay in hotels, where smoking is banned.

“We need to recognize that tourists coming to this state to sample wines, to sample Washington marijuana, to sample any of the attributes of this destination city, that we accommodate them somehow,” he said.

Associated Press

Washington lawmakers will soon get clearer guidance on when it’s appropriate to accept free meals from lobbyists.

The state’s Legislative Ethics Board on Tuesday wrapped up a months-long review of lobbyist-paid meals. The move followed our investigation earlier this year into lawmakers who regularly dine out at lobbyist expense.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Congressional negotiators reached a modest budget agreement Tuesday to restore about $63 billion in automatic spending cuts from programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon, with votes expected in both houses in the next several days.

Officials said the increases would be offset by a variety of spending reductions and increased fees elsewhere in the budget totaling about $85 billion over a decade, leaving enough for a largely symbolic cut of more than $20 billion in the nation's $17 trillion debt.

Like the weather, political relations in the Washington state Capitol have taken a frosty turn.

With split control of the Legislature, grueling negotiations have become the norm, first on the budget earlier this year and now on transportation funding. And the partisan divide cuts against a refrain you hear a lot in Olympia: “We’re not Washington, D.C.”

Gov. Jay Inslee has been dealt a setback in his campaign to reduce carbon emissions. The governor’s climate change workgroup quickly adjourned Friday with no consensus and after some testy exchanges.

Inslee wanted the workgroup to adopt five recommendations to the Legislature, including a proposal for the state to enact a market-based cap on carbon pollution. But when it came time for the Republicans on the panel to weigh in, they made it clear all of the governor’s proposals were non-starters—at least without more information on the cost.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

It’s been a year since the first same-sex couples married in Washington State, and since then about one marriage in six has joined partners of the same sex.

New data from the Washington Department of Health begins to fill out what has changed since December 5, 2012. Some 7,071 same-sex couples have been married in Washington through September 30th, according to the most recent data available from the state Department of Health.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Some military families can’t get treatment for their children with developmental disabilities, even if it’s prescribed by a doctor. Washington’s senior senator hopes to force a change, even though her efforts have fallen short once before.

The controversy revolves around a therapy called Applied Behavior Analysis, which is widely used to treat children with autism by reinforcing desired behaviors. Tricare, the military insurance provider, does cover it for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. But the therapy is being prescribed more and more to children with other disabilities, and those populations are not covered.

Associated Press

The issue of tax transparency in Washington is getting fresh attention on the heels of a major tax deal for Boeing. The message Friday at a legislative hearing was that the public deserves to know how much publicly-traded companies pay in state taxes.

Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

Time is running out for Washington lawmakers to agree on a multi-billion dollar roads and transit package. If they don’t act soon, a vote could be delayed for another year, said two key transportation leaders on Thursday.

Senators Tracey Eide, a Democrat, and Curtis King, a Republican, co-chair the Senate transportation committee.

“I’m worried that if we don’t do it in December, I don’t know if we’re going to see it next session,” said Eide, D-Federal Way.

Austin Jenkins / KPLU

Washington voters can expect dueling gun-related measures on next fall’s ballot. Sponsors of a gun rights initiative submitted nearly 350,000 signatures Thursday. 

Thirteen boxes labeled “Save Your Gun: Yes on 591” were loaded onto a cart and trucked into the Washington Secretary of State’s Office. Initiative 591 would prohibit the state from confiscating a gun without due process. It would also bar state background checks that go beyond federal standards.

Andy Wong / AP Photo

The American ambassador to China says he will step down from his post early next year to rejoin his family in Seattle.

Gary Locke says he informed President Barack Obama of his decision when they met earlier this month.

There’s the possibility of another election turnaround.

First there was Kshama Sawant’s dramatic post-election night come-from-behind win over Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin. Now, supporters of Seattle Proposition 1 hope it’s their turn.

Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

State lawmakers are negotiating a proposed gas tax package, a top priority of Gov. Jay Inslee and the Boeing company as it decides where to site the 777X assembly line.

Now that Boeing machinists have rejected a company contract offer, Washington will have to compete with other states to land the 777X. Inslee says approval of a transportation funding measure is essential to positioning the state well.

Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

Senate leaders are proposing a $12.3 billion transportation revenue package that includes a gas tax increase of 11.5 cents.

The proposal was put forth by Senate Transportation Committee co-chair Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and is part of ongoing negotiations between the House and the Senate. 

Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

Bill and Melinda Gates have each contributed $25,000 to the campaign to require background checks for most gun sales in Washington. The couple’s personal contributions late last month helped push the Yes on Initiative 594 campaign over the $1 million mark.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Several races have swung wildly since the first vote count on Election Day, and it may be because campaigns are getting the hang of Washington’s all-mail elections.

University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto said it’s not uncommon for races to swing a percentage point or two in the days after election night, but not much more than that.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has conceded his run for re-election, and called his successor, Ed Murray.

McGinn’s tone was relaxed and candid at the press conference held at his campaign headquarters Thursday.He offered few regrets, but acknowledged he’d made missteps in office and on the campaign trail.

“I may have to question my tactics and how I played it,” said McGinn. “To use a basketball analogy I probably dribbled the ball off my foot a couple of times when I could have made a good pass instead.”

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Happy Election Day! Here's a quick reference guide if you're still holding on to a ballot.

Your ballot must be postmarked today (Tuesday, Nov. 5). Before you drop your ballot into the nearest blue mailbox, look at the sticker on that mailbox to see what time mail is collected. If you've missed that deadline you'll need to head to the post office to make sure your ballot is accepted in time.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Seattle mayoral candidate Ed Murray accepted free meals from lobbying firms who work with Comcast on 12 occasions over the first four months of this year—with a total estimated benefit of $250.

Associated Press

Voters are about to decide whether Washington becomes the first state in the nation to label some genetically engineered foods.

A poll last month showed Initiative 522 with a 4-point lead and 12-percent of voters still undecided.

The funeral for Former House Speaker Tom Foley in Spokane Friday may get disrupted by a well-known group of publicity seekers. 

The Westboro Baptist Church, long known for protesting military funerals, has posted information on its website that members plan to attend the service. 

Gov. Jay Inslee has said he wants a transportation funding package on his desk by the Apple Cup at the end of November. Key lawmakers met with the Democratic governor Wednesday on this topic.

Afterward, Sen. Tracey Eide, co-chair of the Senate Tranportation Committee, was noncommittal when asked whether there will be a special session of the Legislature in November.