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Washington State Legislature

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.

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.

As Washington’s prison population swells, there are renewed calls for a state prisons ombudsman. Legislation to create the position was filed Wednesday in advance of the January legislative session.

Bill Radke talks with state representative Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) about a proposal to protect controversial speech on college campuses in Washington.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will roll out his proposed update to the state’s two-year budget on Thursday. One of the chief spending items will be paying for last summer’s fire season.

Marijuana plants growing at Seattle's first legal pot farm, Sea of Green.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Rick Steves doesn’t think Big Marijuana should control your pot. That’s one reason people in Washington state should be able to grow their own weed, Steves told KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel.

Flickr Photo/dcJohn (CC BY-NC-ND)

The Washington state Legislature has directed funding to reduce class sizes in elementary schools.

But as KUOW’s Ann Dornfeld reports, that doesn’t mean classes are getting much smaller.

A Washington state senator says he will try again in January to convince his colleagues to ban marine mammal shows. That announcement Monday came as SeaWorld said it will end orca whale performances at its San Diego theme park next year.

Money is pouring into a highly competitive special election to fill an open seat in the Washington state House. But tracing where that money comes from is no easy task.

This is an off election year, but there is one hot legislative race that has implications for future control of the Washington state House.

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