Washington State Legislature | KUOW News and Information

Washington State Legislature

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.

AP Photo/Manuel Valdes

Bill Radke talks with privacy advocate Jared Friend about a bill in the state legislature that would restrict public access to police body camera footage. Friend is director of technology and liberty at the ACLU of Washington. We also hear from state Rep. Drew Hansen, who is backing the bill.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has a blunt warning for state lawmakers:

“Your bills are going to get vetoed if you don’t do your job and pass a budget.”

Bill Radke talks with Danni Askini about why she's running for an open seat in the 43rd legislative district of the Washington state House of Representatives. Askini is currently the executive director of the Gender Justice League.

The Washington Legislature has no plans to impeach indicted State Auditor Troy Kelley. And now it’s clear he also won’t be recalled from office.

Partisan tensions are building over the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates that resulted in two deaths. Republicans held a third hearing Monday into the matter.

Washington state government workers would be forbidden to travel to Victoria, British Columbia, on business under a budget proviso passed by the Washington House of Representatives. The proposed travel ban is meant to pressure Victoria to stop dumping raw sewage into shared border waters.

Ricky Garcia and Lauren Davis are fighting to pass Ricky's Law in the Washington State Legislature that would allow involuntary committment for addicts.
Courtesy of Lauren Davis

What can you do if someone you love wants to hurt themselves? If the underlying cause is mental illness, one option is to have them involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment.

But, if the underlying cause is addiction, things get much harder.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has released a 52-page investigative report by two former federal prosecutors, Carl Blackstone and Robert Westinghouse, into the early release of nearly 3,000 prison inmates over a 13-year period. Those releases resulted in two deaths.

The stage is set in Olympia for a fight over eliminating tax breaks and whether to dip into the state’s rainy day fund. House Democrats say ‘yes’ to both. Senate Republicans say ‘no’.

Washington lawmakers plan to tap the state’s rainy day fund to pay for last summer’s devastating wildfires. But legislative Democrats said several other crises also deserve immediate funding.

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