Washington State Legislature

Washington State Legislature
8:55 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Olympia hearing Wednesday on medical marijuana

Some Washington lawmakers are trying to pass a new medical marijuana law that would legalize nonprofit dispensaries.

Supporters hope it will clear up the uncertainty that followed Gov. Chris Gregoire's partial veto last year of a medical marijuana law.

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Washington State Legislature
11:40 am
Fri January 13, 2012

Democrats abandon teachers' union over health benefits fight

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 4:43 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington Senate have endorsed a state takeover of K-12 employee health benefits similar to what Oregon did in 2007. The goal is to save money, but it angers a key Democratic constituency — Washington's teachers' union.

For decades, the Washington Education Association in partnership with Premera Blue Cross has provided health coverage to school employees. This is big business. We're talking about nearly 300 school districts in Washington, some 200,000 staff and their dependents and $1 billion a year in public funds.

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Washington State Legislature
4:12 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Senate Democrats unveil government reform ideas

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Senate Democrats are unveiling a series of reform ideas that won't bank much money for the state's immediate budget problem, but which they say will save hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years.

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Washington State Legislature
2:25 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Bill would allow 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote in Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington 16 and 17-year-olds could preregister to vote while getting their first driver’s license under a bill in Olympia. That idea got a hearing Thursday. But those teens still won’t be able to vote until they turn 18.

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Washington State Legislature
1:27 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

AP: Gay marriage within reach in Wash. Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington's Legislature is on the verge of having enough support to approve gay marriage, with votes continuing to realign in the state Senate.

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Washington State Legislature
3:50 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

With no budget solutions in sight, Wash. lawmakers begin session

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state lawmakers begin their 2012 session with no agreement in sight for how to solve major budget shortfall.

In the House of Representatives Monday, leaders from both parties laid out different visions for how they would balance the budget.

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Washington state legislature
9:06 am
Sun January 8, 2012

Budget crisis, gay marriage shake up next Wash. Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A one billion dollar budget shortfall, taxes and gay marriage are all on the agenda as the Washington legislature convenes Monday. But the timeframe is short – just 60 days – and already the Governor’s push for gay marriage is setting off partisan tension.

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Washington legislature
9:36 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Abortion insurance to be considered in Wash. Legislature

In the session that begins next week in Olympia, the Washington Legislature will consider a bill that would require private insurance companies the cover maternity care to also pay for abortions.

The Seattle Times reports abortion rights groups will announce details at a news conference Sunday in Seattle.

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Budget crisis
3:53 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Gregoire proposes state-run business tax system

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire wants the state to handle local business tax collections, saying a streamlined system would save small businesses time and money.

Gregoire's proposal on Thursday would take the duties away from local jurisdictions, similar to how the state currently collects and distributes sales tax money.

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Politics
6:52 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Gay marriage suddenly back to being a major issue in Wash.

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 5:44 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gay marriage is poised to become a major issue of debate in Washington in 2012. Governor Chris Gregoire said Wednesday she will personally introduce same-sex marriage legislation this year. Conservative activists responded by vowing to form a coalition to defend marriage as between one man and one woman.

Outside the Governor's office, gay couples and their supporters gathered in giddy anticipation. An informal lottery was held to decide who could watch the speech in person.

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Law
10:45 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Death of Jewish man on Rainier fuels fight over autopsy

Mount Rainier: Scene of a death and a controversy.
Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. — The death of a 54-year-old Jewish man on a snowy slope on Mount Rainier set the stage for a Pierce County court fight pitting religious belief against scientific certainty.

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Budget crisis
4:43 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Gregoire signs budget, seeks timeline on more cuts

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved a plan to ease the state's $1.4 billion shortfall.

Gregoire signed a new budget Tuesday that uses a variety of cuts, transfers and delayed payments to save $480 million.

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Initiative rules
11:56 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Olympia leaders eye overhaul of Washington initiatives 

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Political leaders in Olympia are considering an overhaul of the state's popular initiative system, proposing a requirement that ballot measures have their own funding source.

A group of lawmakers proposed a constitutional amendment Thursday. The Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire have expressed frustration with voter-approved measures that require hundreds of millions of dollars in spending with no way to pay the bill.

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Budget crisis
9:56 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Washington Legislature adjourns special session

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen presides over the Washington State Senate as it prepares to adjourn. Photo by Joe Concannon

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 5:27 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are headed home for the holidays. The legislature adjourned its special session Wednesday afternoon after taking a nearly $500 million bite out of the state budget gap.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire called lawmakers back for 30 days to close a $2 billion hole. Instead, they stayed 17 and addressed about a quarter of the problem.

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Washington state legislature
12:33 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

$479 million in cuts, transfers, delays indentified in state budget

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State lawmakers are looking to trim $479 million off the state's $1.4 billion shortfall through a combination of cuts, fund transfers and delayed payments.

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