Washington State Legislature | KUOW News and Information

Washington State Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Raising taxes in Washington just got a whole lot easier. The state Supreme Court Thursday threw out the requirement that tax increases muster a two-thirds vote of the legislature. Democrats say the ruling will allow more options as lawmakers grapple with ongoing budget woes. But Republicans vow to uphold the will of voters who have repeatedly supported a high bar for tax hikes.

High school Advanced Placement (AP) classes have traditionally been the domain of academically strong students who want an extra challenge. Now Washington state lawmakers are considering legislation based on a policy in the Federal Way school district that puts all kids who meet basic standards into AP and other advanced classes. The goal is to make more low-income kids of color ready for college.

Taps On The Walls: Poems From The Hanoi Hilton

Feb 19, 2013

Many of us have written poetry during stressful times in life. Decorated retired Air Force Major General John Borling wrote his while imprisoned for six and a half years at the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. He joins us to share the poetry that helped him and his fellow POWs survive.

The Interfaith Amigos On Death And Afterlife

Feb 19, 2013

Death is something we all grapple with. What do the world's major religions teach? The Interfaith Amigos join us with a look at what religion has to say about mortality and the afterlife.

N3 Photo/Chantal Andrea

Drug-testing welfare recipients, Governor Inslee’s jobs package, the gun control debate, and extending the waiting period for divorce are just some of the topics that have been discussed by lawmakers in Olympia this week. Ross Reynolds talks with Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the state of things in the state capital.

Teenage boy
Flickr photo/James Evans

Turning 18 marks a form of adulthood at least, bringing new independence and legal rights. For a foster child in Washington state, turning 18 can also mean the end of a stable home life. InvestigateWest reporter Claudia Rowe joins us with the story of one young woman’s experience “aging out” of foster care, and what state government might do to help.

Call The Grammar Police!

Feb 12, 2013
Grammar Police
Flickr photo/Seven Morris

When it comes to proper usage, the Grammar Police work overtime. Have you ever corrected another person’s grammar? How did that go over? Linguist Geoffrey Pullum has written widely on language and usage, from technical syntactic theory to a study called “The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax." He joins us for a conversation about the constant struggle for grammatical excellence (or even just improvement) and the right and wrong way to encourage better sentence structure.

wisetechcolleges / Flickr

On Wednesday, hundreds of immigrants and advocates plan to gather in Olympia to lay out their priorities for lawmakers. One top issue is called the Washington Dream Act, which state Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle, introduced today. Under the measure, undocumented college students would become eligible for state financial aid.

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

Yesterday Ross talked to the Republican Senate chair of the Early Learning and K-12 Education committee. Today he follows up with Democratic State Senator Rosemary McAuliffe. How do Republicans and Democrats differ in their goals and strategies for improving state education? 

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

Washington state is under a state Supreme Court mandate to adequately fund K-12 education. But Democrats and Republican disagree over increasing funding versus guaranteeing the money is used well. Ross Reynolds talks with Republican State Senator Steve Litzow who chairs the Early Learning and K-12 Education committee about what is being done to fund K-12 education.

Your Take On The News

Jan 25, 2013
Obama nominations
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

It’s Friday — time to talk over the news with Joni Balter, Eli Sanders and C.R. Douglas. President Obama spoke of unity and equality as he laid out his policy agenda for a second term. How will the message be received in Washington D.C.? Education and labor were the focus as lawmakers in Olympia got to work in the second week of the state legislative session. Also, Chris Hansen says he's struck a deal to bring the NBA back to Seattle, but officials in Sacramento promise they won't go down without a fight. What stories caught your attention this week? Write to us at weekday@kuow.org.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The partisan fallout continues in the Washington state Senate over its response to how a controversial Republican senator treats staff. Minority Democrats took to the Senate floor Wednesday to accuse the new majority of caring more about who leaked a report about Senator Pam Roach than creating a safe workplace.

A new bill will be proposed this week in the Washington state Legislature that aims to limit access to the criminal records of juvenile offenders.

Increases in tuition and investment shortfalls have left Washington state's Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program with a nearly 20 percent funding gap. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom says it's time for the state to get out of the prepaid tuition business. Tom says that if everyone now enrolled in the program wanted their money right now, the program would be short $631 million. The State Actuary puts the chances of GET not being able to meet its obligations at about one percent. Should Washington state end the GET program? We take a closer look.

Your Take On The News

Jan 18, 2013
Guns line the walls of the firearms reference collection at the Washington Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin



It’s Friday — time to talk over the news with Knute Berger, Joni Balter and Eli Sanders. A new AP-GfK poll finds support for tighter gun laws as President Obama announces his plan for action and the NRA digs in for a fight. Lawmakers in Olympia get down to business and Governor Jay Inslee takes office in the first full week of the state legislative session. Plus, Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell joins the race for mayor. What stories caught your attention this week? Write to us at weekday@kuow.org.

myJon / Flickr

Do people vote based on race? That’s a question the Washington Legislature will likely tackle this session, as supporters of a state Voting Rights Act prepare to push the measure again this year. The law would aim to strengthen minority representation in places with a large population of Latinos or other racial group.

OLYMPIA, Wash. –A new governing coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats is now in control of the Washington state senate. The power shift happened Monday as the legislature convened for a 105-day budget writing session.

The day began as the first day of session always does with plenty of formalities – including an a cappella rendition of the national anthem.

But that harmony wouldn’t last. Soon Democrats lost a vote to lead the Senate as the majority party. That paved the way for the new philosophical majority to introduce its own governing rules.

State Legislature Convenes In Olympia

Jan 14, 2013
Washington State Capitol
Flickr Photo/Alan Cordova (CC-BY-NC-ND)


Today marks the start of the Washington State Legislature’s 2013 regular session. Lawmakers have their sights set on education as a top priority — they'll be looking at both funding and measuring student success. They’ll also be working with a new governor, Jay Inslee, and a new balance of power in the state Senate. Publicola's Josh Feit joins us with a preview.

Nancy Pearl Recommends Self-Help Books

Jan 9, 2013
Steve Scher and Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo/Serene Careaga

What makes a good self-help book? Book commentator and author Nancy Pearl joins us to think about it. Her favorite is “The Dance of Anger” by Harriet Lerner. What's yours? Call us at 206.543.5869 or email weekday@kuow.org.

Washington DOL

In 2012 the Washington state Legislature passed a law that sponsors called the “driving while poor” bill. The law aims to help people who end up with suspended licenses because they failed to pay traffic tickets.

Lack of Transparency In State Legislature

Jan 3, 2013

Last session, Washington state legislators introduced some "title only" bills into committee — essentially blank legislation with the details to be filled in later. They also held hearings on some bills with only two hours public notice, violating the intent of their own rules. Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center tells us why he wants to see more accountability in Olympia through greater legislative transparency.

Congress Reaches A Deal On Fiscal Cliff

Jan 2, 2013

The House voted 257-167 late last night to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The bill now goes to the President, but sets up another confrontation over taxes and spending in just weeks. We check in with Jill Jackson of CBS News and hear from Representative Jim McDermott about why he voted against the deal.

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week’s news with Joni BalterEli Sanders and Knute Berger. The state legislature doesn't convene until next month, but Olympia was the center of attention this week as a two Democrats joined with minority Republicans to take power in the senate. What stories caught your attention this week? Call us at 206.543.5869 or write to weekday@kuow.org.

Washington Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) will “have to learn” to negotiate. That tough talk comes from former Republican Governor Dan Evans in reaction to the announcement that a philosophical majority of Republicans and two Democrats have formed to take control of the state Senate for the 2013 session.

Looking for a holiday gift for the green thumb in your life? Greg Rabourn and Marty Wingate join us with a few ideas for useful gifts sure to please any gardener.

Washington state Democrats won't have sole control of Olympia in the coming legislative session after all. Two Democratic senators announced on Monday that they will caucus with the GOP to give Republicans a 25-24 bipartisan majority in the state senate. We talk with incoming Senate majority leader Rodney Tom of Medina.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Some Washington Democrats are reacting angrily to a power grab in the state senate. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday they will seize the majority, but share power.

The chair of the Washington State Democratic Party says Senators Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon are turning their backs on their own party. The two Democrats say they will join forces with Republicans to govern the chamber from the middle.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A big shake-up in the control of the Washington state senate could have major implications for how lawmakers address funding for schools next year. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday it has just enough votes to depose the current Democratic majority.

The chair of the Washington Democratic party calls it a “coup” and a “prescription for instability and division.” But former Republican turned Democrat Rodney Tom -- who will lead the new majority coalition -- says voters want governing from the middle.

Ed Murray
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

State Senator Ed Murray is the new majority leader of the Washington state senate.  But he faces some tough challenges, including a $900 million budget hole, a Supreme Court ruling that requires full funding for basic K-12 education and a possible rebellion by conservative Democrats.  David Hyde sits down with State Senator Ed Murray and asks, What's next? 

Randy Dorn
(AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has asked for an additional $4.1 billion for basic education in his biennial budget proposal, a 39 percent increase compared to the current budget. Dorn says that’s what it’ll take for the state Legislature to fulfill its constitutional duty to fully fund K-12 education.

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