Washington State Legislature | KUOW News and Information

Washington State Legislature

Washington’s 30-day special session of the legislature ends Tuesday. But there’s still no sign of a budget deal or a plan to fully fund education. That means Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to call a second overtime session.

The majority of Washingtonians with a regular driver's license will have an interesting choice to make the next time they renew—a choice possibly coming to Oregon too. Continue with the same old license they have grown accustomed to or apply for a so-called "enhanced driver license."

Monday marks the start of candidate filing week in Washington state. It’s the week when people running for public office must file with the secretary of state’s office. But one political contest is already underway in a big way.

It’s a bold move by Washington Realtors and other business groups. They’re taking on the number two Democrat in the Washington House with a TV ad that accuses him of “squeezing” taxpayers.

Bill Radke speaks with state Senator Phil Fortunato about his new bill which would allow Washington state counties to redefine their borders. Fortunato's bill is especially aimed at King County, where he thinks ideas like minimum wage and safe consumption sites are problems that originate from Seattle and shouldn't be allowed to affect the rest of King County. The senator feels places like Renton and Kent would be in better shape if they were allowed to cleave off from the city. 

Acrimony and gridlock. That’s the state of affairs at the Washington state Capitol where  lawmakers Monday began a 30-day overtime session. Gov.Jay Inslee called lawmakers back after they failed to reach agreement on a state budget and school funding package. 

Washington State Capitol
Flickr Photo/Alan Cordova (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the special legislative session that began today in the state's capitol. The legislature needs to hammer out a state budget before the June 30 deadline. Also, lawmakers must come to an agreement on how to fully fund education in the state.

Washington state legislators appear to have bought extra time for travelers who use a standard driver's license to pass through airport security. The Oregon Legislature is plodding down a similar path to make identity card security upgrades demanded by the federal government.

It’s taken five years, but injured railroad worker Dwight Hauck sees victory at hand. Washington lawmakers are on the verge of requiring new safety standards for private transport companies that shuttle rail crews between trains. 


On March 23, 2011, union railroader Hauck nearly lost his life. He was the lone survivor of a crash in a rail yard in Kelso, Washington. 


“I don’t remember anything at all,” Hauck said. 

 


Washington lawmakers are working this year to craft a solution to the state’s school funding crisis. Much of their work is happening behind the scenes and in closed door meetings. So who’s in those meetings and who’s trying to influence the outcome? The top four leaders of the legislature denied a public records request to see their emails and calendars. 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says initiative promoter Tim Eyman violated campaign finance laws for personal gain. Ferguson filed a lawsuit Friday against Eyman and a signature-gathering firm he worked closely with. 

The Washington state Capitol in Olympia.
Flickr Photo/amishrobot (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/4PxvK4

Bill Radke talks to KUOW's Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the budget proposals of the House Democrats and Senate Republicans and how these budgets may pay for education. 

Baby kid mom parent
Flickr Photo/DonkerDink (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/21d0GBQ

Some states have paid family leave. Not Washington, though.

That could change.

Police, prosecutors and victims say it’s time for the state of Washington to crack down on prohibited gun buyers. Lawmakers heard testimony Thursday on a proposal to require gun dealers to alert authorities when someone tries to buy a gun and fails a background check.

Flickr Photo/Tony Swartz (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to state Senator Joe Fain (R-Auburn) about the bipartisan Senate bill he is working on with Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Burien) that would require paid family and sick leave in Washington state. 

Washington Senate Republicans have proposed a $5 billion increase in state spending over the next two years, including $1.8 billion more for public schools in an attempt to satisfy a Supreme Court ruling that found the state is not adequately funding K-12 education.

ballot drop box ballot box
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

The Washington state Senate has approved a bill to move the presidential primary election to March from May.

Washington state school districts will not go over the so-called “levy cliff.” At least not next year. The state House Thursday sent the governor a bipartisan measure to extend current levy capacity for another year.

You may brag about your ability to multitask, but lawmakers in the Pacific Northwest insist you don’t do it behind the wheel. The Washington Legislature passed a pair of bills this week that would increase penalties for dangerous driving habits.

Lawmakers in Salem and Olympia are debating measures intended to crack down on distracted driving.

A bill requiring hospitals to inform patients they may be eligible for charity care has passed the Washington State House Thursday.

By law, Washington hospitals can’t turn away people seeking emergency care because they’re not able to pay. The law also requires hospitals to screen low income patients to see if they’re eligible for charity care. 


Washington state’s 105-day legislative session is almost at the halfway point. But a final, bipartisan deal on school funding could still be months away.

In 2013 the Washington Legislature killed the idea of a bigger, safer bridge between Portland and Vancouver, Washington. Three years later, Washington state lawmakers could take preliminary votes to revive plans to replace the aging Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.

Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board has fined state Rep. Melanie Stambaugh $5,000 for posting taxpayer funded videos and photos to a campaign-related Facebook page. The Republican from Puyallup said she will challenge the ethics ruling.

Washington’s House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources hosted a public hearing Wednesday on a bill that proposes the partial delisting of wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

The Washington state Capitol in Olympia.
Flickr Photo/amishrobot (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/4PxvK4

Kim Malcolm talks with Washington state Senator Joe Fain (R-Auburn) about why he's co-sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the state from sharing information about someone's religious affiliation with the federal government.

In light of President Donald Trump’s contentious immigration order, Washington lawmakers started making moves of their own. At a press conference in Olympia Thursday, faith leaders said they want to help.

There’s a movement sweeping states across the nation, known as the “Right to Work.” State Senators in Olympia heard a bill Wednesday that would bring it to Washington.

You may think the existence of climate change is settled. But at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia Tuesday, a climate denier was given a prominent platform.

Eye-rolling and harrumphing ensued.

Lawmakers in Olympia heard a set of bills Monday, that would enhance regulations around oil transportation by rail, water, and pipeline.

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