Washington State Legislature

Politics
10:45 am
Sun March 4, 2012

Minority Republicans force budget to floor of Wash. Senate

It was standing room only in the Senate galleries for the GOP take-over of the floor. Photo by Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – There was high drama on the floor of the Washington state Senate last Friday. Three Democrats broke ranks to join minority Republicans. It was a coup of sorts. This newly formed “philosophical majority” took control of the Senate and forced four bills to the floor -– including an alternate budget-balancing proposal.

Senate Republican leader Mike Hewitt said the GOP “unlocked the gridlock” over the budget. Senator Rodney Tom was one of the Democratic defectors.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
5:33 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

GOP senators take control of Washington Senate

The Senate gallery was packed as Republican Senators took over the chamber from Democrats. Photo by Austin Jenkins.

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 12:00 am

GOP Senators Take Control Of Washington Senate

copy for now March 2, 2012 Austin Jenkins/cf

OLYMPIA, Wash. - It's been a day of high drama in the Washington state Senate. Republicans took control of the chamber with the help of three Democratic colleagues. Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt told reporters that GOP Senators, in his words, "unlocked the gridlock" over the state budget. Earlier, Democratic budget writers said they were one vote shy of passing their proposal to plug a gap in the state's two year spending plan.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
9:45 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Wash. Legislature passes teacher evaluation bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Legislature has approved a bill that uses improvement in student test scores as a factor in hiring, firing and tenure decisions for teachers.

The measure passed on an 82-16 bipartisan vote late Wednesday night. The Senate already had passed the bill, so it now goes to the governor for her signature.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
5:04 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Wash. House passes bill pressuring sex ad sellers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Legislature has passed a bill going after classified advertising companies that don't demand ID before allowing sex-related ads to be posted online. The measure is primarily targeted at Backpage.com.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
3:36 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Washington House Dems roll out budget; no general tax increase

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a plan to rebalance the state’s budget. The spending blueprint released Tuesday does not call for a general tax increase. But it would delay a massive payment to public schools. It also relies on savings from reduced demand for state services.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
9:27 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Revenue forecast up as tax idea loses steam

Governor Chris Gregoire is backing off her proposal for a half-penny sales tax increase. The shift comes after Thursday’s positive revenue forecast. It shows a nearly $100 million bump in state revenues.

Just a few days ago, Governor Gregoire was standing in the Senate wings surrounded by reporters. And she reiterated her support for a temporary sales tax increase to offset budget cuts.

“We’re in tough times," Gregoire said. "We need a little help from the public to get us through for the next three years until we get our feet on the ground again.”

Read more
Washington State Legislature
4:08 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Most new money in transpo budget would go to 520

OLYMPIA, Wash. — House Transportation leaders are unveiling their proposed supplemental transportation budget with $770 million in new spending, most of it pegged to the 520 bridge replacement project.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
9:46 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Washington Democrats may find path to avoid sales tax measure

If Washington's new revenue forecast is positive, the state may avoid the governor's proposal to ask voters to approve a half-penny sales tax hike. Photo by Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 5:31 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington legislature are suddenly hopeful they can rebalance the state budget without asking voters to approve a tax hike. Their optimism comes even before they see the latest revenue forecast out Thursday.

For majority Democrats the budget stars could be aligning. A new caseload forecast shows demand for state services is down. That means the current $900 million budget hole drops to less than $600 million. Plus, House Republicans have reversed their position and now support ending a tax break for out of state banks.

Read more
Budget crisis
2:43 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Legislature edges closer to budget solution for Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Republicans and Democrats are merging closer on tax policy as they begin to formulate solutions on the state's budget shortfall.

Read more
Fighting prostitution
1:37 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Higher fines on Johns, pimps would benefit anti-prostitution programs

A volunteer shows a girl around the Genesis Project's facility.
Courtesy of the Genesis Project

SEATAC, Wash. – Critics of backpage.com have accused the classifieds website of promoting child prostitution. The company has defended its policies but lawmakers in Olympia are considering new requirements for the site.

They are also considering more funding for anti-prostitution programs. And they plan to get the extra money from the Johns and pimps themselves.

Read more
Crime
10:58 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Drunk drivers who kill could face stiffer sentences

Drunk drivers who cause deadly accidents in Washington rarely spend more than two years in prison. A bill working its way through the state legislature would increase the maximum sentence to eight years.

Prosecutors and people who've lost loved ones to accidents caused by drunk drivers say it's about time.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
5:40 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

New teacher evaluation system passes senate in Washington

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 5:26 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington state senate has approved a new four-tier teacher evaluation system. The bill that passed Tuesday also creates a mechanism for firing under-performing teachers who don't improve.

School kids are graded A through F. But not teachers in Washington. For the most part they're still evaluated on a pass-fail system. But that's changing.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
4:43 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Penn State scandal spurring changes in Washington

Joe Paterno was fired for a scandal state lawmakers hope to avoid here.
The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The sex abuse scandal at Penn State University is spurring changes in Washington state.

Washington senators voted unanimously Tuesday to advance a plan that requires officials at higher education institutions to report suspected child abuse to authorities or to state's social services agency.

Read more
Politics
12:01 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Charter schools backers still want vote in Wash. Legislature

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 3:16 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Forty one states allow charter schools. But not Washington. Opponents in the legislature recently killed a bipartisan proposal to allow a limited number of under-performing schools to convert. But supporters of the idea haven't given up.

For the legislature it was high drama. A stand-off in the Senate Education Committee. A coalition of five Republicans and two Democrats had the votes to advance the charter school bill.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
9:22 am
Fri February 10, 2012

With gay marriage passed in Washington, it's back to budget and taxes

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 5:24 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Now that gay marriage has passed, it's back to the budget and taxes for Washington lawmakers. The 60-day session is more than halfway over. Next week will bring the February revenue forecast. Then majority Democrats plan to roll out a budget and possible tax hikes.

Gay marriage has overshadowed just about everything else in the Washington legislature. Legislative offices were deluged with calls and emails. The floor votes emotional and historic.

Read more

Pages