Washington State Legislature | KUOW News and Information

Washington State Legislature

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.

Some school children say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. Now Washington lawmakers are making a pledge: to end the reliance on local school district levies to fund basic education -- by next year.

Complying with a state Supreme Court order to fully fund public schools in Washington might have just gotten even harder. A new revenue forecast out Wednesday projects a sizable drop-off in tax dollars flowing to state coffers.

Concerned Mother Pushes For Washington Travis Alert Bill

Feb 16, 2016
Courtesy of Threasa King

Bill Radke speaks with Threasa King about her efforts, along with state Rep. Gina McCabe, to pass a bill named after King's autistic son. The Travis Alert Bill will give first responders more training in helping people with autism or other disabilities and also help alert first responders that special care may be needed.

Should Washington’s Constitution be amended to require a two-thirds vote for tax hikes? The Republican-led state Senate voted “yes” to that Friday. But supporters failed to muster the supermajority vote required to send the question to voters.

State lawmakers this week began discussing a measure that could make Washington the first state to tax residents and businesses on their carbon emissions.

You can watch the two-hour work session, or watch the below video, which explains everything you need to know about carbon pricing in three minutes.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the gloves off Monday and launched a full-throated attack on Senate Republicans for sacking his Secretary of Transportation in a surprise move last Friday afternoon. 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has cancelled a series of regularly scheduled meetings with the Republican leader of the state Senate. The move follows Friday’s surprise vote by Senate Republicans to oust Inslee’s Secretary of Transportation.

File Photo: Gender neutral toilet sign in London.
Flickr Photo/Cory Doctorow (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/qUDxsQ

Bill Radke talks with Betsy White about why she's opposed to a bill that would prevent people from using bathrooms and lockers rooms that are consistent with their gender identities. White, a Spokane resident, is the mother of an 8-year-old transgender girl.

Head Of Washington State Prisons Resigns

Feb 7, 2016

Washington Secretary of Corrections Dan Pacholke has resigned his position after less than four months in the job. His unexpected announcement Saturday came just one day after the Republican-led Washington Senate voted not to confirm Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson resulting in her immediate departure from that agency.

The Republican leader of the Washington Senate said he regrets using the word “racist” to describe ousted Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson.

Republicans listed other problems with transportation in the state since Peterson took the job: Tolling on 520 across Lake Washington, Bertha, the enormous boring tunnel in Seattle that has failed to move forward, and ferries breaking down.
Associated Press Pool Photo/Joshua Trujillo/Seattlepi.com

A coup went down in Olympia this afternoon.

Surprising Democrats, Republican lawmakers called for a confirmation vote for Lynn Peterson, Secretary of Transportation for Washington state. In a party line vote of 25 to 21, they fired her.

Purple Heart
Flickr Photo/Phil Renaud (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ex7KSS

Bill Radke speaks with Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the resignation of Rep. Graham Hunt after allegations that the Washington state lawmaker exaggerated his military service record.

Also, Radke talks with Doug Sterner, a veteran who has spent decades investigating fraudulent claims of military service, for his take on why people distort, exaggerate, or lie about military service.

Flooded with requests for public records, local officials want to put limits on how much information public servants have to make available to the public.  

The concepts have long been enshrined in Washington state law:

  • Information held by the government belongs to the people.
  • Public access to that information is essential to a functioning democracy.

A delegation from a tiny eastern Washington farm town is rallying to protect a walking, biking and horse riding trail that spans the state. They trekked to the Capitol to make their case.

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.

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