Washington State Legislature

Consumer Protection
3:29 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Washington Insurance Commissioner: Premera ‘Guts’ Consumer Protection Bill

FILE - Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is interviewed in his office Friday, Jan. 11, 2008, at the Capitol in Olympia.
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.

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Gas Tax
4:11 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

‘Heavy Lift’ Gas Tax Vote In Washington Legislature Breeds Partisan Mistrust

File image
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.

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Tax Breaks
3:28 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Washington Legislature On Collision Course Over Tax Breaks

FILE - From left, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, and Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, talk about the supplemental budget proposal by the House Democrats, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
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.

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Liquor Tax
11:12 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Bill Would Gradually Lower Liquor Taxes

File image
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.

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Education Funding
4:04 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Washington Senate Democrats Target Tax Exemptions To Fund Schools

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AP Photo

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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Tax Breaks
9:43 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Washington Senate Includes Nearly Two Dozen Tax Breaks In Budget Plan

File image
AP Photo

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.

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Real Hope Act
9:10 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Wash. State Lawmakers Send ‘Real Hope’ Act To Governor

In this photo taken Jan. 9, 2014, the Legislative Building at the Washington state Capitol in Olympia, Wash., is shown as rain falls on the sundial in the foreground.
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.

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Gay Rights
7:28 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Bill To Prevent Gay Conversion Passes Wash. State House, Headed To Senate

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. 

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Faith Healing
1:57 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Faith Healing Exemption Gets Scrutiny In Wash. Legislature

<< Jonny Boy >> Flickr

Christian Scientists who treat their sick children with faith healing instead of medical care have special protection under Washington law. But that could soon change.

Lawmakers are considering whether to repeal the Christian Science exemption following the death of a teenager in north-central Washington.

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Environment
3:18 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Crude Oil Train Oversight Divides Lawmakers

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2013 file photo is a warning placard on a tank car carrying crude oil near a loading terminal in Trenton, N.D. U.S.
Matthew Brown AP Photo

State lawmakers in Olympia are going down divergent tracks in how to respond to the rapid increase of crude oil trains crossing the region. Timely public disclosure of train cargoes and safety risks is one point of contention.

Four recent derailments and explosions of crude oil trains in other parts of North America have raised alarm in city halls and state capitols in the Northwest. But state and local officials soon discovered their hands are largely tied because the feds have sole jurisdiction in this arena.

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Mental Health
3:59 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Mental Health Patients' Families Seek Right To Challenge Forced Commitment

More than 10,000 mental health patients were involuntarily hospitalized last year in Washington. But not every patient qualifies for forced hospitalization under the law.

Now some families want the right to appeal when a mental health professional says their loved one is not sick enough to be committed. They told their emotional stories to Washington lawmakers Monday.

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Boeing Incentives
2:01 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Boeing To Throw Party To Thank Lawmakers For Tax Incentives

File - In this Nov. 11, 2013 file photo Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, adjusts his glasses as he prepares to sign legislation in Seattle to help keep production of Boeing's new 777X in Washington.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Boeing lobbyists are throwing a "thank you" party for lawmakers who helped provide the company with billions in tax breaks.

An invitation obtained by The Associated Press shows Boeing executives will host a reception for lawmakers on Tuesday evening. The event will take place at a house across the street from the Capitol campus and is slated to thank lawmakers for their efforts on the 777X airplane talks.

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Troublesome Static
5:01 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Dead Air, Garbled Transmissions Trouble Washington State Troopers

This is one of the Washington State Patrol’s new portable radios by Motorola.

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.

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Supreme Court Vs. Legislature
1:18 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Senator Chides High Court For 'Overreach,' Sponsors Bill To Reduce Court Size

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.

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Social Services
9:48 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Washington Considers Private Investment Bonds To Address Social Problems

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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.

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