Washington State Legislature | KUOW News and Information

Washington State Legislature

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.

All four Washington legislative leaders have signed a letter calling on indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley to immediately resign. The letter was hand delivered to the auditor’s office Wednesday morning.

Flickr Photo/Brian Turner (CC BY 2.0)/ http://bit.ly/1QiDCKB

Ross Reynolds talks with state Representatives Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) and Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) about a proposed initiative that would make state Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from cases involving donors who've given them more than $1,000.

Former Representative Ross Hunter, in a photo from 2009.
Flickr Photo/Michael B. (CC BY NC ND 2.0)

Ross Reynolds sits down with Ross Hunter, former Microsoft executive and state legislator, to talk about his time in the state House and his new job as director of the Washington Department of Early Learning.

David Hyde talks to Jerry Cornfield, legislative reporter for the Everett Daily Herald, about the role of state funding in Seattle's teacher strike. Last month, Washington State's Supreme Court held lawmakers in contempt for failing to fully fund public education.

After a record-long session, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and legislative leaders still aren’t done. They’ll resume talks on schools funding on Monday afternoon in SeaTac after an unprecedented ruling from the state Supreme Court.

education kid school
Flickr Photo/jeweledlion (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Phil Talmadge, former Washington state Democratic legislator and former state justice, about the McCleary decision concerning education funding and how it's dividing government. 

State lawmakers from around the country will descend on Seattle the week of August 3 for a national legislative summit.

It was a record-long legislative session in Washington. But the number of bills that actually became law was quite few – comparatively.

Before they left town, Washington lawmakers approved a nearly $4 billion capital construction budget. That includes $130 million in member-requested projects – what you might call pork.

Ross Reynolds talks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the end of the session and what lawmakers left on the table for next time.

The Washington Legislature finally adjourned its 2015 session Friday. The last piece of business was for the state House to approve $508 million in new spending on roads, ferries and transit.

Highline senior Lesley Delgadillo's graduation is held up by one thing: the biology exit exam newly required in Washington state this year.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Washington State Senate Republicans and Democrats have agreed to delay a requirement for high school students to pass a biology exit exam this year and 2016.

This helps about 2,000 high school seniors who were supposed to graduate in June, but still hadn't met the science requirement.

One of the students is Lesley Delgadillo, whose story we brought you last month.

The Washington state Senate voted Thursday afternoon to delay a voter-approved class size measure and a biology test high school graduation requirement.

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