Washington State Legislature

Dow Constantine in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Ross Reynolds talks to King County Executive Dow Constantine about the transportation issues facing the county this year.

The Washington legislature convenes next Monday for a 105-day session. Transportation funding is one of the top agenda items.

bus traffic transportation
Flickr Photo/Oran Viriyincy (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the upcoming session and what's in store for transportation.

File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland, Ore. railyard.
EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

SEATTLE — For the past few years, a growing number of trains have been bringing “rolling pipelines” of oil from North Dakota to ports and refineries in the Pacific Northwest.

And in that time, the Washington and Oregon legislatures have failed to come up with the money to pay for the cost of responding to the increasing risk of oil spills in their states. That could change in 2015.

Olympia Washington State Legislature
Flickr Photo/Harvey Barrison (CC BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with KUOW's Olympia correspondent, Austin Jenkins, about the upcoming session and what that could mean for education funding in Washington state.

Frank Chopp, Washington Speaker of the House, in 2006.
Flickr Photo/The Children's Alliance (CC-BY-NC-ND)

State Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s path to politics began in Bremerton, Washington, in a surplus housing unit from the Navy Yard. He started as an activist and hasn’t abandoned that point of view.

“I consider myself still to be a community organizer, I just happen to be speaker of the House,” he said.

Meager beginnings made him passionate about affordable housing, and helping his sister cope with bipolar disorder turned his attention to mental health care.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has been on a three-day road show to showcase his plans for education, transportation and climate change.

Several hundred gun rights activists rallied at Washington’s capitol Saturday to protest the new voter-approved law that requires background checks for person-to-person gun sales and transfers. Most participants in the "I Will Not Comply" rally were openly carrying handguns or rifles or both.

Amy Radil

Initiative 594 took effect Thursday, and Washington joined six other states with the broadest background checks for gun sales. Cheryl Stumbo and other members of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility marked the date with a press conference at Plymouth Church in downtown Seattle.

“Initiative 594 is in effect, and today Washington has closed the background check loophole,” Stumbo said as members applauded.

Flickr Photo/Skip&Nell (CC BY-NC-ND)

Texting while driving increases the crash risk 23 times – similar to driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.19 (the max in Washington state is 0.08).

Currently, texting or holding a phone to your ear is illegal, but what about other phone activities, like Facebook or shopping?

A Winchester Safes representative sets the lock on one of several gun safes on display at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Ross Reynolds talks to Rep. Jay Rodne (R- 5th District) about Rep. Ruth Kagi's gun bill regarding child access to guns. It would make a person guilty of reckless endangerment for leaving or storing a loaded gun in a place where a child could gain access to it.  

Flickr Photo/Ray Dehler (CC BY 2.0)

For two years, Democratic Rep. Ruth Kagi has been unsuccessful in sending her bill regarding child gun access prevention to the floor of the Washington Legislature.

With the passing of the background check initiative and the school shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, she has more hope for the 2015 session.

Washington State Legislature in Olympia.
Flickr Photo/amishrobot (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with state Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison and state Democratic Party Chair Jaxon Ravens about the election results. Sillman also talks with Q13 Fox political analyst C.R. Douglas.

Olympia Washington State Legislature
Flickr Photo/Harvey Barrison (CC BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about expanded background checks for gun sales and the changed balance of power in the state legislature.

A Washington lawmaker’s trip to the Middle East in 2013 was legitimate legislative travel -- not an illegal junket.

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