Politics

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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.

AP Photo

Someday in the not-too-distant future, social service programs here in the Northwest could get funding from Wall Street.

The idea is gaining traction across the nation. Goldman Sachs already funds preschool slots in Utah and a youth intervention program in New York.

A proposal to pilot “pay-for-success” bonds in Washington got a hearing Monday before a legislative committee.

mathteacherguy / Flickr

Washington’s ethics boards should define how often lawmakers can dine out at lobbyist expense, according to nearly a dozen state senators who’ve signed onto a proposal that would direct legislative and executive ethics panels to clarify the rules for lobbyist-paid meals.

mSeattle / Flickr

Washington’s minimum wage would rise to $12 an hour by 2017 under a proposal from Democrats in the state House. The measure introduced Thursday would phase-in the $2.68 increase over three years.

Freshman Democrat Jessyn Farrell of Seattle is the prime sponsor.

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