Washington State Legislature

Allowing transgender people access to the restroom or locker room of their choice stirs strong feelings. Advocates on both sides of that debate packed a hearing room in Olympia Wednesday.

In the future, mental health professionals may not be the only people spreading the word about suicide prevention.

The message could also come from people you’d least likely expect to be front-line educators on suicide awareness: pharmacists, firearm dealers, shooting range operators, and even Fish and Wildlife staff.

Nate Gibbs-Bowling of Lincoln High School in Tacoma received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award in April 2014. He was also named the 2016 Washington state teacher of the year.
Courtesy of Milken Family Foundation

The Washington State Legislature has been trying to fix our education system for years. This year, they've got a new challenge to deal with: a teacher shortage. According to a survey from the state's Office of Superintendent Public Instruction, 58 percent of elementary school principals say they are in crisis mode trying to find qualified substitute teachers.

Highline school bus driver Rodger Fowler shows off his stop paddle – and (in the lower-right corner) the camera that captures motorists who ignore the paddle.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Bill Radke talks with Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about differing education bills out of the Democratic-led House and Republican-controlled Senate in the state capitol this week.

Is the tax on legal marijuana in Washington too high?

Seattle officials say the city’s 24 marijuana delivery businesses are illegal and now outnumber its 19 licensed stores. To combat the problem, Seattle officials are pledging a crackdown as well as a new legal delivery option.

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that paves the way for a partial closure of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant in Montana.

In the face of mounting environmental regulations, Puget Sound Energy wants to develop a plan to close two of Colstrip's four coal units – a move that could reduce the amount of coal-produced electricity used by Washington consumers.

The Washington utility is one of six owners of the overall plant, but co-owns units 1 and 2 with just one other company, Talen Energy.

A proposed summertime ban on consumer fireworks is firing people up at the Washington state Capitol. It’s just one of many ideas being floated in Northwest statehouses to avoid a repeat of last summer's bad wildfire season.

Washington state capitol
Flickr Photo/Alan Cordova (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about how much partisan dysfunction exists in the Washington State Legislature, where there is a Republican Senate and a Democratic house. In his final State of the Union Address Tuesday, President Obama said "Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise." 

Some Democrats in the Washington House want the state to take a look at what it could do to cut back on light pollution.

school pencil education
Flickr Photo/Bill Selak (CC BY ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1mElamA

Bill Radke talks to Brenda McDonald, the co-founder and CEO of Spokane charter school PRIDE Prep. She explains why she supports Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane ) and Sen. Michael Baumgartner's (R-Spokane) bill in the state Senate that would give local school boards more oversight of charter schools. 

Danni Askini, the executive director of the Gender Justice League.
Courtesy of Danielle Askini

Rep. Graham Hunt of Orting doesn’t want to see a naked lady in the locker room.

“If I'm in the restroom, or I'm in the locker room, and I'm changing, and I turn around and there's a woman standing there completely naked, and she has different parts than I do – how is that OK?” he told KUOW’s Bill Radke.

Capitol building in Olympia, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Jim Heising (Cc BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1mSjMNM

Bill Radke spoke with Associated Press reporter Rachel La Corte about the three big issues the state legislature will have to deal with in 2016, including education funding, charter schools and the Tim Eyman tax initiative that passed in November.

The Washington state Senate plans to continue its experiment with remote testimony in the 2016 legislative session. This comes as welcome news to a school superintendent who nearly died on Stevens Pass after testifying at the capitol.

Cigarettes in an ash tray.
Flickr photo/Curran Kelleher (CC BY 2.0) HTTP://BIT.LY/1O4LD7V

State Rep. Tina Orwall just marked the two-year anniversary of her mom’s death from lung cancer.

“It’s a horrific way to lose someone,” Orwall, whose father also died of a smoking-related disease, told KUOW's David Hyde.

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