Washington State Legislature

Austin Jenkins

In Washington, D.C., there’s a waiting period before members of Congress and their staffers can work as lobbyists.

And unlike Oregon and 31 other states, Washington state does not require a waiting or “cooling off” period to slow the revolving door. 

Justin Henry / Flickr

 

To raise taxes, or not raises taxes? That is the question. Washington Democrats have been hinting at yes. Republicans like Senate budget chair Andy Hill say it’s a last resort.

Hill started the toothpaste analogy.

mathteacherguy / Flickr

Washington Democrats appear to have failed in their bid to retake control of the state Senate. Early election returns Tuesday night showed Republicans holding onto their majority. Republicans were also poised to pick up seats in the Democratically-controlled Washington House. 

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer has dumped $1 million into Washington state.

The seven-figure contribution was made last week and became public Monday.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

So far this year, business interests have contributed more than $16 million to political campaigns and committees in Washington.

But gifts from individual donors eclipse even that. That’s because a small group of wealthy people are writing large checks.

Washington state employees have not had a cost-of-living raise in six years. But that could change in the next budget cycle.

A tentative contract deal has been struck between the state and the union representing general government workers.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer plans to try to help Democrats win back the Washington state Senate.

Steyer and his NextGen Political Action Committee plan to target three to four state legislative races, likely Washington state Senate races. They will work in coordination with state environmentalists who have their own political action committees.

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

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.

Austin Jenkins

Get out. Hide out. Take out. That’s the lesson employees at the Washington state Capitol got Wednesday in a class on active shooters. The refresher course comes in the wake of recent high profile shootings in the Northwest.

The sign on the door to the legislative hearing room said it all: “Workplace Violence Prevention and Active Shooter Survival.” About 50 state legislative and executive branch employees showed up for the lunch-hour training.

AP Photo

This is the week undocumented students in Washington will become eligible for state college tuition aid. The “Real Hope Act” is just one of dozens of new state laws that take effect Thursday, 90 days after the Washington legislature adjourned.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia

After a slow start, the state of Washington says it’s on track to fill the former headquarters of Amazon.com with tenants. But long-term costs remain a concern.

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.

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.  

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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