Washington State Legislature

U.S. Department of Transportation

Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers want to move swiftly to crack down on repeat drunk drivers. This after two recent high profile tragedies in Seattle. But on Thursday, they got some pushback from judges, prosecutors, civil libertarians and even the restaurant industry.

It’s a classic case of the devil’s in the details. Take ignition interlock devices. There’s a proposal to install them at the impound lot after a drunk driver is arrested. But the installers say that isn’t technically feasible and lawyers question whether it’s legal prior to a conviction.

Gov. Jay Inslee says he would apply a “broad” interpretation to the term “law enforcement” when issuing fictitious driver’s licenses to undercover agents. The governor’s comment follows our report that the CIA has obtained nearly 300 so-called confidential Washington driver’s licenses since 2007.

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt is stepping down as minority leader because of recent health issues.

DeBolt, a Republican from Chehalis, announced to his colleagues on the House floor Wednesday that he would be leaving his role, but would still serve out his two-year term.

The Washington House has voted to allow the Department of Licensing to continue to issue fictitious driver’s licenses to undercover police officers. But with new safeguards. Even so, the vote late Tuesday came over the objections of some Republicans.

The Department of Licensing has issued so-called confidential driver’s licenses for decades. But it never had direct authorization from the Legislature to do so. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Repeat drunk drivers in Washington may soon carry a scarlet letter driver’s license and have to wear an alcohol detection bracelet. Those are just two of the requirements contained in DUI legislation proposed Tuesday in Olympia.

The bipartisan plan follows two recent drunk driving tragedies in the Seattle area. 

House Public Safety Chair Roger Goodman says the ankle bracelet detects alcohol consumption and alerts authorities.

The Washington state House has approved a transportation budget that would allocate $8.4 billion over the next two years.

Under the proposal passed Tuesday, the money would go toward maintenance and preservation of infrastructure and toward existing big-ticket projects like the State Route 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington and the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel replacement.

The Senate has approved a measure that would no longer allow marriage to remain an absolute defense against allegations of some forms of rape and sexual assault.

The measure that was passed on an unanimous vote on Monday would remove the spousal exemption from both rape in the third degree — in which no physical force is used — and from taking indecent liberties.

 

More than 60 lobbyists in Washington have been sent warning letters for failing to submit monthly reports that detail how much they earned and how much they spent to lobby state lawmakers. 

“This letter is the only formal warning you will receive from PDC staff for not filing timely lobbying reports during 2013," said Lori Anderson of the Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, which issued the letters.

Democrats in the state House are proposing a budget plan that would eliminate a variety of tax breaks to help pay for education in the state.

Similar to a budget proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee, the plan by House Democrats unveiled Wednesday would increase government spending by more than 10 percent. The two-year budget would spend $34.5 billion, more than $1 billion beyond a plan approved by the Senate.

Stricter guidelines may come to a program that lets undercover police officers in Washington obtain fictitious driver licenses. The Washington House could vote soon on a measure that would require additional safeguards to ensure the false IDs are not misused.

A bipartisan group of state senators is advancing a budget plan that balances spending without new taxes, relying on cuts to social programs and fund transfers that irked some Democrats.

Budget writers from both parties said the spending proposal was developed with input from both sides, and the final vote included support from 21 Republicans and nine Democrats. Republican Sen. Andy Hill said the measure includes some tough decisions but helps reprioritize state spending without relying on taxes.

New Mexico Department of Public Safety

In the wake of several fatal crashes in which alcohol likely played a role, state lawmakers are debating stricter DUI penalties.

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, has proposed a bill to that would require suspected drunk drivers to use the ignition interlock device.

The mostly Republican majority in the Washington state Senate has unveiled its budget proposal. It would put $1 billion more into basic education without raising taxes. The spending blueprint released Wednesday contrasts sharply with what Gov. Jay Inslee proposed last week.

A bipartisan group of Washington state senators has released a transportation budget proposal that both sides call "bare bones."

The $8.7 billion proposal, released Wednesday, puts $4.1 billion into maintaining and improving roads, banks $200 million in projected toll revenue toward the Alaskan Way Viaduct project and puts $1.2 billion toward servicing bonding debt.

In the coming months, Washington state will embark on a study of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The research is one provision of a measure Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Tuesday. It’s a key legislative win for the Democrat. So why are Republicans declaring victory?

Abortion-rights supporters say they have enough votes to pass a controversial insurance mandate measure in the Washington state Senate. But it appears unlikely to clear a Republican-led health care committee before a Wednesday deadline.

Things got testy Monday at a public hearing on the measure. Democrat Karen Keiser urged Republican Chair Randi Becker to allow a committee vote on the bill.

“It’s the right thing to do and I would really ask you to consider my request,” Keiser said. To which Becker responded, “Thank you. We’ll consider it.”

King County Metro

Facing a $75 million shortfall, Metro Transit says it will have to slash its bus service by 17 percent next fall unless the Legislature intervenes.

The cuts would mean the elimination of 65 bus lines; another 86 would have to run on reduced schedules.

Dozens of people danced salsa, swing and blues on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia to protest the taxing of dance venues.

The dancers were showing support for repealing a tax that targets venues that provide the opportunity to dance.

Gov. Jay Inslee says he's following through on his "no new taxes" campaign pledge. Others disagree.

In unveiling a budget plan this week that would increase government spending by 10 percent, Inslee proposed to make temporary taxes permanent and to limit tax exemptions on everything from automobile trade-ins to bottled water. 

"I am doing today exactly - exactly - what I said I was going to do," Inslee said in his news conference. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

For decades, police officers in Washington have been able to obtain false driver licenses for undercover work. But this quasi-secret program inside the Department of Licensing only recently came to light.

It turns out the confidential ID program was never approved by the Legislature. Now two state lawmakers are calling for more oversight to prevent possible abuses.

As a street cop in the early 1980s, Mitch Barker went undercover to work drugs and vice. The Washington Department of Licensing helped him assume a fake identity.

The serious illness of a Washington state Senator could threaten to alter the balance of power in that legislative chamber. The majority is now potentially short a critical vote.

Republican Mike Carrell is home battling a blood disease and is a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. His condition is serious enough he was recently hospitalized. With Carrell gone, the mostly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus has just 24 members – one shy of an actual majority.

In a statement, Democratic leader Ed Murray sent wishes for a “speedy recovery.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New disclosure reports are out on money spent for lobbying in Olympia. Who tops the list? So far Washington’s teachers’ union is spending the most to influence state lawmakers this legislative session.

The Washington Education Association has five top priorities for the 2013 legislature. The list includes more money for schools as directed by the Washington Supreme Court. The union is also pushing for competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and support staff.

Gov. Jay Inslee says that passing a transportation funding package this year must be a priority for the Legislature.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Inslee said he is concerned that momentum for passing such a plan has been dissipating.

A coalition that controls the Washington state Senate is vowing to increase funding for higher education by $300 million.

Senate leaders declined Tuesday to explain how they would pay for the proposal. Lawmakers already face more than a $1 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle and are separately under court order to expand funding for K-12 education.

Big mistakes made on the design and construction of pontoons for the new 520 floating bridge could lead to tougher reporting requirements for the Washington state Department of Transportation.

Lawmakers want more transparency and accountability when it comes to costly mistakes. Repairs to cracks in the new 520 pontoons, for example, are expected to cost tens of millions of dollars.

Hopes for a rosier budget outlook in Washington are dimming. Expected savings in Medicaid haven’t materialized. And many state lawmakers expect this week’s quarterly revenue forecast to show a downward slide. Add to that, a Supreme Court ruling that requires more funding for schools.

In response, Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to announce soon a list of tax “loopholes” ­— as he calls them — he wants to eliminate to fund schools. But closing tax exemptions is easier said than done.

Bill would excuse religious students during holidays

Mar 15, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Students would be able to take up to two days off per year for religious holidays under a proposal in Olympia. A hearing is scheduled Monday on a bill that would benefit Muslim students celebrating Ramadan.

Timur Emek / DAPD

Washington state senators are looking to safeguard the social media passwords of workers and job applicants.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Gov. Inslee disappointed with fate of gun bill Gov. Jay Inslee says he is disappointed that a proposal to expand background checks on Washington state gun sales has stalled, but says he'll continue making phone calls on the issue.

After the issue locked up the House for much of the day Tuesday, the bill ultimately was not brought out for a vote and its sponsors conceded they could not get majority support for the measure, even with a proposed referendum clause that would have allowed the public to vote on the measure.

M Glasgow / Flickr

A proposal to expand background checks on Washington state gun sales has failed in the state House.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle said Tuesday night he was unable to corral the 50 votes necessary to pass the bill through the chamber. Pedersen says he was disappointed by the result, coming even after he agreed to add a referendum clause to the bill.

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