Washington State Legislature

Dream Act
4:43 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

State House Again Passes College Aid For Immigrant Students

A sidewalk outside the Legislative building is bustling with people on the first day of the 2014 session of the Washington state Legislature, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

It wasn’t all pomp and circumstance. The opening day of the Washington Legislature included something rare for the first day of session: a floor vote.

The Washington House voted Monday to give college grant money to low-income high school graduates who are in the country illegally. 

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Politics
12:08 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

2014 Elections Will Loom Over Wash. Legislative Session

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

Washington lawmakers convened Monday for what could prove to be the most partisan session in a decade. Control of the Washington Senate is up for grabs this fall, and both sides will be looking for political advantage over the next 60 days.

Currently, a coalition of 24 Republicans and two breakaway Democrats hold a three-seat advantage. Democrats think they have a shot at winning back the majority in November.

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Transportation Package
5:00 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Inslee’s Optimism May Not Be Enough For Gas Tax Package

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks about the upcoming legislative session, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the AP Legislative Preview in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Gov.  Jay Inslee says he will continue to push for a gas tax package in the 60-day session that starts Monday. But a key transportation leader in the State Senate signaled last Thursday that prospects for a deal may be dimming.

Nearly a decade has passed since the last gas tax increase passed in Washington. Now leaders on both sides of the aisle agree another multi-billion dollar roads and transit package is needed.

But the details are the topic of heated debate in the state Capitol. A dozen negotiating sessions this fall ended with promises to resume talks this month.

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Education
3:25 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

State Supreme Court: Lawmakers Must Expedite Education Funding

Washington State Supreme Court

 

The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday ordered lawmakers to submit a complete plan by the end of April to detail how the state will fully pay for basic education.

The 8-1 ruling said that while the state made progress in last year's budget to increase funding for K-12 education, it was "not on target" to hit the constitutionally required funding level by the 2017-18 school year.

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Pension Funds
4:49 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

State Senator Proposes End To Pensions For Elected Officials

File image
AP Photo

A Washington state senator says if 401(k) plans are good enough for Boeing machinists, they should be good enough for those who hold elected office.

Republican John Braun on Wednesday said he will introduce legislation to end pensions for all elected officials in Washington.

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Politics
2:54 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

In Attempt To Resurrect Anti-Tax Rule, Eyman Files Measure With Costly Caveat

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2012, file photo, professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman shakes hands with a supporter in Bellevue, Wash.
Stephen Brashear AP Photo

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman is kicking off the new year with a new initiative. 

Eyman's new ballot proposal aims to resurrect the requirement that tax hikes get a two-thirds majority in the Legislature or be referred to the people. And this time, Eyman has designed a hammer to get the Legislature to act.

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Lobbyists & Legislators
12:39 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Free Meal Complaint Against Lawmakers Dismissed, ‘Serious Concerns’ Remain

mathteacherguy Flickr

Five Republican state senators did not violate Washington ethics law when they accepted dozens of free meals from lobbyists earlier this year, according to a ruling made public Friday by Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board.

However, the board added the situation raises “serious questions” and an “enforceable” rule is needed.

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Transportation Package
9:53 am
Thu December 19, 2013

No Deal On Gas Tax Package, Talks To Resume In January

Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee’s hopes for a gas tax package agreement before the end of the year have been dashed. The Democrat announced  Wednesday evening that with no deal at hand, talks are over for now, but will resume in January.

Inslee made his announcement flanked by House and Senate transportation leaders. It follows a dozen negotiating sessions in recent weeks. Among the roadblocks to agreement: a dispute over whether to put sales tax proceeds from transportation projects back into transportation instead of the state’s general fund.

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State Budget
1:13 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Inslee Proposes More Prison Beds, But No Teacher COLAs In Budget Update

Members of the Washington Education Association wore these buttons to the governor's supplemental budget rollout to signify five years without voter-approved cost-of-living increases.
Austin Jenkins

More prison beds, but no cost-of-living raises for school teachers were the two takeaways after Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday proposed a modest update to the state’s two-year budget.

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lobbyists & legislators
5:00 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

State Lawmakers to Get Clearer Guidance on Lobbyist-Paid Meals

Associated Press

Washington lawmakers will soon get clearer guidance on when it’s appropriate to accept free meals from lobbyists.

The state’s Legislative Ethics Board on Tuesday wrapped up a months-long review of lobbyist-paid meals. The move followed our investigation earlier this year into lawmakers who regularly dine out at lobbyist expense.

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Politics
3:39 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Frosty Politics on Display at Wash. State Capitol

This sign at the steps to the Washington statehouse captures more than just the weather conditions.

Like the weather, political relations in the Washington state Capitol have taken a frosty turn.

With split control of the Legislature, grueling negotiations have become the norm, first on the budget earlier this year and now on transportation funding. And the partisan divide cuts against a refrain you hear a lot in Olympia: “We’re not Washington, D.C.”

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corporate tax breaks
2:21 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

State Lawmakers Hear Pitch for Corporate Tax Disclosure

Associated Press

The issue of tax transparency in Washington is getting fresh attention on the heels of a major tax deal for Boeing. The message Friday at a legislative hearing was that the public deserves to know how much publicly-traded companies pay in state taxes.

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transportation package
2:14 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Transpo Leaders: Window May Be Closing on Gas Tax Package

Rachel La Corte Associated Press

Time is running out for Washington lawmakers to agree on a multi-billion dollar roads and transit package. If they don’t act soon, a vote could be delayed for another year, said two key transportation leaders on Thursday.

Senators Tracey Eide, a Democrat, and Curtis King, a Republican, co-chair the Senate transportation committee.

“I’m worried that if we don’t do it in December, I don’t know if we’re going to see it next session,” said Eide, D-Federal Way.

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transportation package
11:42 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Constantine: Time Running Out for State to Save Metro Services

King County Metro Transit's Facebook Page

King County will take its own measures to save Metro Transit services if the state Legislature fails to pass a transportation package in time, said King County Executive Dow Constantine on Thursday.

“Let me be clear: this is not our first choice,” Constantine said of taking local measures.

But time is running out for state lawmakers to act, he said; the Legislature on Thursday missed its target day to take up a statewide transportation package. 

"It's not happening," Constantine said. 

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corporate tax breaks
1:33 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

A Closely-Guarded Secret: State Tax Bill for Boeing, Others

Washington lawmakers recently approved an additional $8.7B in tax breaks for Boeing, however the company won’t release its total state tax liability.

Washington lawmakers recently rushed into special session to pass $8.7 billion in aerospace tax breaks in an attempt to land assembly work of Boeing’s next generation 777 airplane.

But how much does Boeing, or any other major company in Washington, pay in taxes? That’s actually a closely-guarded secret. Now, one state lawmaker wants to change that, and a hearing is scheduled for this Friday.

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