Washington State Legislature | KUOW News and Information

Washington State Legislature

At a hearing in Olympia Tuesday, citizens supporting a pair of bills in the Washington legislature involving the use of deadly force by police said it’s too hard to keep law enforcement officers accountable. But some officers who showed up to testify said it’s not a change of legal language that's needed.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants a new capital gains tax and carbon tax to comply with a court order to fully fund public schools. Republicans in the state Senate Friday instead proposed to solve the state’s school funding crisis by raising the state property tax while lowering local rates.

Democrats in the Washington Legislature are looking to bolster the state’s oil spill prevention efforts.

An expansion of a Kinder Morgan oil pipeline through British Columbia is expected to increase oil tanker traffic in Washington’s Salish Sea sevenfold. Meanwhile, Washington’s Department of Ecology estimates a shortfall of $4 million in its oil spill prevention program.

A conservative Republican state senator from northeast Washington has resigned his seat to take a job with the new Trump administration. Sen. Brian Dansel announced his resignation Tuesday leaving the Washington Senate in a temporary political tie.

The idea of giving workers paid time off to care for a new baby or an elderly parent has long been a priority of the left. But now the idea is gaining traction with some Republicans in the Washington Legislature.

Workers in Washington state are already eligible for up to 24 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave under state and federal law. A decade ago the Washington Legislature passed a paid family leave program, but never funded it. Now Washington Democrats and their labor allies are making a hard push to finally fund and expand that program.

In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass at right, in Walla Walla, Wash.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Bill Radke speaks with State Senator Steve O'Ban and Seattle attorney Jason Rittereiser about the proposal by the attorney general's office to abolish the death penalty in Washington State. 

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

Washington state lawmkers are back at the state Capitol for this year’s legislative session with one of the biggest spending questions looming over their heads in recent years.

That's how to comply with a 2012 court order to fully pay for K-12 education. KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins told Kim Malcolm that lawmakers are facing tough deadlines.


This week, we're the target

Jan 6, 2017
'Week in Review' panel Joni Balter, Knute Berger, Eli Sanders and Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The Washington State Legislature convenes on Monday and one of the issues on the table is a bill that would ban drivers from holding their phone while driving. Is this a necessity or distracted legislating?

The former head of the CIA General Michael Hayden said that by the end of Trump’s first four years in office, North Korea could have a nuclear weapon that would reach Seattle. Richard Ellings of the National Bureau of Asian Research says Seattle would be the perfect target. Is it time to move?  

Lt. Gov.-elect Cyrus Habib is among five statewide elected officials set to take office in Washington next week. He also happens to be blind.

Governor Jay Inslee.
Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a carbon tax within weeks of Washington voters' rejecting what would have been the nation's first such tax. Inslee's proposal is a big part of his plan to raise $4 billion in new revenue, with $3 billion of it going to improve education.

Seattle's Mayor and City Council approve their own agenda for the state Legislature every year. For the 2017 legislative session, the city is calling for more protections for tenants and for people of color.


A lot has changed since election night when it looked like House Democrats were poised to gain two seats and cement their majority. Now fortunes could be changing in favor of Republicans and the Washington state House could be headed for a tie.

Republican candidate Janice Huxford on the campaign trail.
KUOW Photos / David Hyde

A bump in the state minimum wage is on your fall ballot – Initiative 1433. It would raise the hourly wage $4 by the year 2020.

In one Snohomish County swing district, Republicans and Democrats are battling over that increase. And their struggle may help determine which party controls the state Legislature next year. 

Kaitlyn Beck is running for Position 1 in the 49th District in Vancouver, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Hillary Clinton could be America's first female president, but for Washington state, another historic first is possible this year. 

Down in Vancouver, there’s a candidate who would be the first openly transgender member of the Washington State Legislature. Kaitlyn Beck is running for Position 1 in the 49th District. 

It’s back to school time. It was also back to court Wednesday for lawyers in an ongoing school funding lawsuit in Washington state.

Close to $100 million has gone into this year's elections in Washington state so far, all aiming to influence you and your neighbors' votes.

That's just one of the things your official voters' guide won't tell you, but KUOW's new Field Guide to Influence will. The Field Guide lets you see the largely hidden actors trying to sway your vote behind the scenes.


Alan Copsey, center, a deputy attorney general for the state of Washington, speaks during a hearing before the Washington State Supreme Court regarding a lawsuit against the state over education funding, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Olympia, Wash.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Kim Malcolm talks with Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about this week's state Supreme Court hearing over funding public education in Washington.

Just as the school year begins, the Washington state Supreme Court will get an update Wednesday on school funding efforts in the state legislature. Tuesday, a panel of lawmakers got an earful.

It’s been 18 years since Republicans last controlled both chambers of the Washington legislature. They’re hoping 2016 is the year they can reclaim the majority. But that will require holding on to their narrow grip on the state Senate and flipping the Washington House -- something Democrats are determined not to let happen.

Washington Republicans are working hard this election cycle to hold onto their slim majority in the state Senate. And they’re getting some help from a new political action committee set up by the debt collection industry.

Bill Radke talks with Everett Herald reporter Jerry Cornfield about a new push for state lawmakers to pass an assault weapons ban in Washington.

Washington state schools superintendent Randy Dorn filed a lawsuit Tuesday in King County Superior Court against seven school districts for using levy dollars to boost teacher salaries.

Dorn said the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision was clear: Under the state Constitution, teacher salaries must be funded by the Legislature, not levies. 

Students at Margaret Mead Elementary in Sammamish load their lunch trays beneath a canopy of bird netting. The school is so crowded that children line up for lunch outside.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Close down public schools in Washington.

State education chief Randy Dorn says that drastic action might be needed to force the Legislature to find enough money to pay for public schools.


Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is back on the job after his federal criminal trial. And he’s firing back at Gov. Jay Inslee.

Last week Kelley asked for the resignation of his chief of staff and chief spokesman. Inslee demanded an explanation for the firings. Now Kelley has responded.

The Washington Legislature has adjourned. And now the campaign season has begun. Within hours of the final gavels falling Tuesday night, fundraising pleas went out.

Bill Radke talks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the budget deal that ended this year's overtime state legislative session.

A fresh budget proposal and some partisan sparks. That’s how a special session of the Washington legislature kicked off Friday. Senate Republicans went public with their latest budget offer and House Democrats quickly cried foul.

The Jungle, the morning after five people were shot at the homeless encampment. Officially the East Duwamish Greenbelt, everyone calls it The Jungle.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Washington state lawmakers have passed the supplemental transportation budget. It is now headed to Governor Inslee's desk for approval.

How to spend a chunk of that money is a contentious topic in Seattle: $1 million is set aside for safety improvements at the Jungle homeless encampment. That money could be used to build a fence around the camp under Interstate 5.

Police officers pause next to a sign outside a restaurant as they observe a May Day anti-capitalism march, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Seattle.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

A bill that would put police use-of-force under the microscope is headed to the governor for final approval. But recent amendments have stripped down the measure.  

The measure would create a task force to review policing laws. Current law says an officer can't be convicted of a crime involving deadly force unless they acted with malice.

The clock is running out on Washington’s 60-day legislative session. House Democrats and Senate Republicans have until Thursday at midnight to approve an update to the state’s two-year budget. But first they need to agree on the details.

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