Washington State Legislature

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.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Local leaders from across King County want to tax themselves to pay for bus service, ferries, roads and bridges, but even local measures would need approval from the state.

The coalition, which includes the mayor of Seattle and more than 40 other cities, want to be able to tack on fees to car tab renewals and vehicle transfers, among others. That requires approval from state legislators.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said local governments should be free to invest in their own infrastructure.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In the world of state legislatures, there’s a powerful breed of players who normally shun the spotlight. They prefer to work behind the scenes to influence policy outcomes. We’re talking about business lobbyists. Inside this often hidden world, you’ll meet two of the most successful corporate contract lobbyists in the Washington state capitol. And learn some of their tricks of the trade.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Democrats say it’s a victory for democracy. Republicans call it a defeat for taxpayers. In a major decision Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court tossed out the state’s two-thirds supermajority requirement for raising taxes. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the voter-approved law violates a provision of the Washington state constitution that requires a simple majority vote in the state legislature to approve bills.

Fate of abortion coverage bill uncertain in Olympia

Feb 25, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. − A bill to require insurance companies to offer plans that cover maternity services and abortions passed the Washington House Friday. It is unclear, however, whether the legislation will make it through the Senate’s Republican-majority caucus. Majority Leader Rodney Tom has said he doesn’t want to vote on divisive social issues.

In the House debate, Rep. Laurie Jinkins said this bill would provide options for abortion coverage after the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A bill to require background checks for private gun sales is one step closer to a final vote. Tuesday, members of a Washington House committee voted seven to six.

Republican Rep. Jay Rodne opposed the bill, saying it would not be enforceable.

“We’re going to drain precious law enforcement resources to policing this measure,” he says.

But, Republican Rep. Mike Hope, a police officer, said this measure could help prevent shootings like what happened in Newtown, Conn.

Seattle's sick leave law is being targeted in by two new bills introduced in the Senate.

The city's law requires businesses with at least five employees operating in Seattle to provide paid sick leave to workers. It took effect in September.

Two bills introduced Tuesday by Senate Republicans would directly impact that law. One would take Seattle's law off the books completely by declaring that the Legislature has the sole responsibility for sick-leave requirements.

Five years ago, Washington became the first state in the nation to ban a class of toxic flame retardants known as PBDEs.

Now, evidence is mounting that a widely-used alternative is just as toxic.

A new bill before lawmakers in Olympia would ban the flame retardant called Tris from children’s products and household furniture.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democratic lawmakers in both Washington and Oregon are working on measures to require background checks for all gun sales. A universal check proposal was introduced Wednesday in the Washington House. A similar bill is expected in the Oregon Senate soon.

During last year's legislative session that focused on budget troubles, Washington state Sen. Jerome Delvin racked up a cellphone bill that would make most users recoil: $309.21 in one month alone.

It wasn't out of the norm for Delvin, who submitted his costs for taxpayers to cover.

A few days after Washington lawmakers approved a budget deal to lower state spending last year, small-government Rep. Gary Alexander got $40.60 worth of dry cleaning done.

Then he made sure taxpayers paid the bill.

Fight brewing over College Bound scholarship

Jan 28, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – First it was Washington’s guaranteed tuition program. Now the new Majority Leader of the state senate has another college access program in his budget-cutting sights: College Bound. Democrat Rodney Tom says this higher education scholarship program is an unfunded state liability.

“It’s a great promise and it’s a promise that I think we should have as a state, Tom said.  "But, you know, it could be a $1 billion to $2 billion liability out there that we haven’t even recognized yet.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington lawmakers convene for the start of the 2013 session. They face a $2B budget problem, an unusual political dynamic in the state senate and hot button issues like gun control.

It’s like Downton Abbey. A new season of the legislature begins with plenty of intrigue and tensions between powerful personalities. There are familiar faces and new ones. Chief among them Governor-elect Jay Inslee.

Jay Inslee: “We’ve got fiscal challenges, we have some creative and different situations in the state senate, we have ideas that are contentious.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In Olympia, a new revenue outlook shows a shortfall in the next state budget cycle. That is putting renewed attention on promises not to raise taxes.

Washington's Democratic governor-elect Jay Inslee made such a pledge during the recent campaign. So did many Republicans elected to the Legislature.

The chief budget writer for House Democrats, Ross Hunter, says he's working on a no-new-taxes spending blueprint for the next two years. But Hunter Wednesday predicted the product will include so many unpalatable cuts, he doubts it could pass.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Republicans have released documents that show Governor Chris Gregoire appointed a state senator to a $92,000 a year job –- despite concerns that the senator wasn’t qualified for the position. This is just the latest development in a political drama touched off by the appointment.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The film industry is getting incentives reinstated. Teachers are getting a new evaluation system. Universities are getting new rules on how to handle abuse allegations.

Dozens of new laws approved by Washington lawmakers earlier this year took effect on Thursday, though two of the most contentious proposals were not implemented as planned.

A judge has ruled the two-thirds majority initiative violates the simple majority provision of the state constitution.

Initiative 1053 was approved by Washington voters in November 2010 and has made it difficult for lawmakers to adopt tax increases since then.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington teachers are woefully underpaid. That’s the conclusion of a draft legislative task force report. Now a key Washington state lawmaker says teachers and other school employees deserve at least a cost-of-living pay raise next year.

Twelve years ago, Washington voters approved Initiative 732. It requires annual pay increases for K-12 employees. The initiative didn’t come with any funding.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – For liberal activists in Washington, it has become the Holy Grail of tax breaks. We’re talking about a deduction banks can claim on some mortgages. Last week, the Washington legislature voted to end this tax exemption for large, out-of-state banks. But now some on the left are calling it a “hollow” victory.

This was the scene last September outside a meeting of business leaders in central Washington.

Advocates for the poor protested JPMorgan Chase and the tax break it –- and other banks -– get on interest earnings from first mortgages.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Senate Republican senior attorney is a step closer to filing a lawsuit against the state in response to what he says was a hostile work environment that increased when a controversial senator was allowed back into the GOP caucus.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Gregoire played the role of negotiator-in-chief. Her shuttle diplomacy finally brought the Washington House and Senate to a bipartisan go-home deal. Lawmakers needed some extra time on the clock. But they were able to pass a budget that closes a half-billion dollar budget shortfall.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The three Washington Senate Democrats who broke from their caucus last month to vote with Republicans face renewed criticism - from their fellow Democrats. At issue is whether to link a series of government reforms to a plan to rebalance the state budget.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Senate Republican senior attorney is seeking to settle with the state for $1.75 million, arguing Senate Republicans have created a hostile work environment by allowing Sen. Pam Roach back into the caucus in exchange for a vital vote on their budget plan last month.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s deadline for a bipartisan budget deal has come and gone. Lawmakers Tuesday failed to agree on a plan to rebalance the state budget and implement so-called government reforms.

Now, House Democrats say they will pass their own budget in hopes of breaking the logjam.

The clock runs out next Tuesday on the current 30-day overtime session. Gregoire has been unable to broker a deal between House Democrats and the Republican-led philosophical majority that emerged in the state Senate.

The Associated Press

Washington state has become the first in the nation to require verification of age for online ads that promote sex-related services, such as the escort ads that appear in backpage.com.

The bill, Senate Bill 6251, was among a dozen anti-trafficking bills signed into law by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire today.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire would like to see a tax on roll-your-own cigarettes included in any final budget deal.

Gregoire’s comments Monday come at the start of week two of the legislature’s special session. Lawmakers are trying to hammer out a deal to close a roughly $500 million shortfall.

The tax on self-rolled smokes would only raise $12 million toward rebalancing the budget. But Gregoire still thinks it’s worthwhile.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Nearly a week into Washington’s special session and there’s no sign of a budget deal. Now, an angry Governor Chris Gregoire is refusing to sign dozens of bills in protest over the pace of negotiations.

“If they don’t get something done here I’m going to start trickling out vetoes," Gregoire said. "Maybe that’ll get their attention.”

Gregoire is furious that Senate Republicans Thursday unveiled a new budget proposal without getting buy-in from all the negotiators. She says the move undermines trust.

New senate budget could jumpstart talks

Mar 15, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s special session got off to a slow start. But now there are signs that stalled budget negotiations are inching forward. Senate Republicans Thursday rolled out a fresh budget proposal – one that would not cut education.

The coalition that took over the Washington state Senate a couple of weeks ago and passed a budget is back. This time the 22 Republicans and 3 break-away Democrats have a new plan to re-balance the books. One that would restore more than $70 million in cuts to K-12 and higher education.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington legislature has adjourned. But not for long. Late Thursday night, Senate Democrats failed to muster the votes for a plan to re-balance the state budget. That means Washington lawmakers will return to the Capitol to finish their work.

Before there was disharmony at the Capitol, there was actually a little harmony.

Four House Republicans serenaded Governor Chris Gregoire and her staff with a barbershop rendition of "I'll Fly Away."

The governor has signed a measure that will add improvement in student test scores to the list of things principals use to evaluate teachers.

The new law signed Thursday also changes the way principals are evaluated, adding teacher feedback as an element of their reviews.

Pages