Washington State Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Supporters and opponents of gay marriage plan to descend on Washington’s capitol on Monday when House and Senate committees are scheduled to take public testimony on legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry.

It now appears sponsors in the state Senate are just one vote shy of passage.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are considering a pair of bills that target Johns who solicit prostitutes. Proposals to increase state fines for prostitution and human trafficking had a hearing Tuesday in Olympia.

Supporters say some Washington speeding tickets cost more than the current fine for buying sex.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In Washington, it's the law that ferry boats be built in-state. But when it comes to taxpayer-funded art, the world is the palette. There's no requirement that public art contracts go to Washington artists. Now a Democratic state senator wants to change that. But his proposal is meeting resistance from Washington's art community.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Washington Legislature adjourns special session

Dec 15, 2011

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.

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.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire appears to have given up hope of a balanced budget on her desk by Christmas. Instead, this week her budget director sent lawmakers a shorter wish list to get done before they adjourn for the holidays.

The protesters have gone home. So have many lawmakers.

But majority Democrats in the Washington legislature say they will be back next week with a goal. Cut the $1.4 billion budget shortfall down by, say, $500 million.

The secret list

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Wenatchee-area agency is defaulting on its debt but still may get support from the state Legislature.

Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter said Thursday that his committee will consider a measure that would make a belated payment on the $42 million bond debt.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington businesses will get some unexpected tax relief next year – to the tune of $350 million. Governor Chris Gregoire made the announcement Thursday in Olympia.

“There will be no overall increase in workers’ compensation rates in 2012 and an actual reduction in unemployment insurance rates for all rate classes," Gregoire said.

Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A dirty dome is blamed for leaks at the Capitol in Olympia.

State Department of Enterprise Services spokesman Jim Erskine says with cleaning postponed by budget cuts, it's possible mold and grime are widening cracks in the mortar and allowing water into the building.

Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – State troopers arrested ten people at the Washington state capitol Tuesday. Four of them after protesters disrupted a Washington legislative committee.

Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — After compiling reports on Monday night's demonstration at the Capitol in Olympia, the Washington State Patrol says a total of six troopers were injured in clashes with protesters, five more than first reported.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A panel of state lawmakers is considering a $42 million bailout package for a Wenatchee-area agency.

The Greater Wenatchee Regional Events Center Public Facilities District has been unable to pay off short-term debt for the Town Toyota Center arena.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Protesters disrupted the start to Washington's 30-day special session. Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol to deal with a $1.4 billion budget shortfall.

Students and others associated with the Occupy movement took over the House and Senate galleries and delayed a budget committee hearing.

A new poll shows that 64 percent of Washington voters are likely to support a temporary sales tax increase to mitigate cuts to education and social services.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Lawmakers return to the state capital for the start of a 30-day special legislative session called by the governor to address a projected $1.4 billion deficit.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is set to propose a mix of cuts and new revenues to close a $1.4 billion budget shortfall. The Democrat has scheduled a news conference Monday morning.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire says it’s time to look for new sources of funding for the state budget. That’s a major shift from her position a year ago. The Democrat’s comments today came after she proposed another $2 billion in cuts.

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