Washington State Legislature

Gregoire confirms need for special session

Mar 8, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that a special session of the legislature will be necessary to re-balance the state budget. But Gregoire says she’s still trying to keep the pressure on lawmakers to come to an agreement.

“The minute I say special session, they’ll go to sleep. They’ll stop working. And the public expects more.”

Wenatchee-area default results in new reform law

Mar 6, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A follow-up now to a story we first brought you in December. It was about the default of an under-performing hockey and concert arena in Wenatchee, Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed into law a rescue plan for that project. But the new law also aims to prevent future municipal defaults.

Here’s the quick back story. On December 1st of last year, the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee went into default. This happened after the two counties and seven small cities that backed the events center missed a $42 million balloon payment.

Tension lingers after budget coup in Washington senate

Mar 5, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Tension lingers in Olympia as Washington legislators head into what is supposed to be the last week of session. The task of re-balancing the state budget was put into disarray on Friday when Republicans and centrist Democrats took over the state Senate.

Senate Republican Leader Joseph Zarelli says he doubts a compromise budget can happen before the scheduled adjournment on Thursday.

“I don’t know how we’ll get a budget done by the end of this so we’re pretty much assured, I think, we’re going to see a special session,” Zarelli says.

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.

GOP senators take control of Washington Senate

Mar 2, 2012

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Legislature has voted to legalize gay marriage, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed.

Some Washington lawmakers are pushing a measure that would require drug makers to pay for a statewide program to collect unused prescription drugs and other medicine.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state lawmakers are pressing ahead with a series of mostly driving-related fee increases to raise money for road repairs and other transportation needs.

The fee increases, which include an 80 percent hike for driver's licenses, passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee Monday. They would raise an estimated $52 million next year and an average of $80 million each year over the next decade.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A House committee approved a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state, setting the stage for final passage this week.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Out-of-pocket medical expenses are crushing some Washington families – even though they have health insurance. A key legislative committee voted Thursday to place an overall cap on how much a family would have to pay each year.

KPLU

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are introducing several proposals that echo the demands of the Occupy protesters. In fact, the formal title of one proposal introduced Thursday says it is aimed at “Guaranteeing that the top one percent pay too.”

The chief sponsor, Democratic Representative Marko Liias, says the Occupy movement wasn’t the only thing that prompted this idea.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Lawmakers are advancing a plan that could limit how governments respond to requests for public documents.

A Senate panel voted 4-2 on Thursday to approve the measure.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.

striatic / Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State lawmakers are exploring a plan that could limit how governments respond to requests for public documents.

A Senate panel heard arguments Tuesday on a plan that would permit agencies to get a court order if they can prove that a records request creates a "significant burden."

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two credit rating agencies have delivered a warning to the State of Washington to get its financial house in order. The ratings agencies lowered the outlook for Washington state debt, citing the magnitude of the budget shortfall.

The Associated Press

"I clearly wanted him dead. But I got smart."

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are considering a plan to save money by abolishing the death penalty in the state. That idea got a hearing in Olympia.

Karil Klingbeil testified in support of the ban. Her sister, Candy Hemmig, was murdered 30 years ago in Olympia. The killer, Mitchell Rupe was dubbed “the man too fat to hang.” He initially got the death penalty, but after 20 years of appeals, received a life sentence instead.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington lawmakers are looking at a $1 billion stimulus package to help create construction jobs.

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