government

A new report by the federal Government Accountability Office calls for a better plan for leaking tanks of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.

Washington drivers currently pay a gas tax every time they pump, but the state is considering a new option to fund roads projects.
Flickr Photo/futureatlas.com (CC-BY-NC-ND)

There’s hundreds of millions of dollars in backlog for repairs to Washington roads, and according to Mark Hallenbeck, director of the University of Washington’s Transportation Center, the gas tax won’t cover the cost.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is considering a different option: pay-by-mile.

Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET

President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Obama said "we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries."

Governor Jay Inslee unveiled a new transportation plan at a Eastside Transit Project site atop SR520 on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Governor Jay Inslee has been traveling around the state to unveil portions of his budget proposal. Tuesday morning he stopped in Medina, where workers are completing the Eastside Transit Project atop the 520 floating bridge, to announce his transportation plan.

Demonstrators in Seattle form a human chain around City Hall in support of a $15 minimum wage in April 2014.
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Ross Reynolds talks with Harold Meyerson,  journalist and editor of The American Prospect, about the future of organized labor and Seattle's $15 minimum wage movement.

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien, longtime opponent of the waterfront tunnel, has been pushing Washington State Department of Transportation officials to be more transparent.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Pioneer Square sank more than an inch, and Bertha the giant tunnel boring machine is still stuck, but state officials are putting on a happy face.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials returned to the Seattle City Council Monday to discuss worst-case scenarios for the waterfront tunnel project. Bertha, stuck under downtown Seattle for nearly a year, was mid-rescue when officials realized that buildings were settling deeper into the ground.

Yikes.

The state of Washington has good cyber security standards, but state agencies don’t always adhere to those standards.

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of an Arizona law aimed at limiting use of the increasingly popular abortion pill. In 2012 nearly half of the abortions in the state were via the pill, known as RU-486.

The pill was approved by the FDA in 2000 for the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Since then, scientists have developed safer and smaller doses that allow the drug to be used through the ninth week.

The new federal budget sent to the president's desk over the weekend includes $5 million for earthquake early warning along the West Coast. With this funding, an alert system should begin to roll out regionally next year.

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

Flickr Photo/HeatherHeatherHeather (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks to Lynn Peterson, secretary of transportation for WSDOT, about solutions to ease congestion on the highway, including adding tolls.

Several hundred gun rights activists rallied at Washington’s capitol Saturday to protest the new voter-approved law that requires background checks for person-to-person gun sales and transfers. Most participants in the "I Will Not Comply" rally were openly carrying handguns or rifles or both.

Congress has approved a new national park in Washington state that commemorates the Manhattan Project at Hanford.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Saturday, Dec. 13.

One small point in a spending bill approved by Congress Saturday could be a big deal for sage grouse.

A spending bill rider would delay a decision about whether to extend endangered species protection to the greater sage grouse. A decision about whether to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act is currently scheduled for September, 2015.

Real Change field organizer Neil Lampi says the sticky door to the closet where they store unsold newspapers became so stuck, they had to take it off its hinges. He says he's "put two and two together," and now blames the soil settlement in Pioneer Square
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Pioneer Square has stopped settling, or so say Washington State Department of Transportation officials. They’re monitoring 20 buildings in this old downtown Seattle quarter, some of which have sunk up to 1.4 inches since 2010. But some building owners are nervous, especially in light of news that effort to rescue Bertha, the massive tunnel boring machine, may be causing further sinking.

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