Government

Washington lawmakers have departed the Capitol and are getting back to their normal lives. For most of them, that means going back to their regular jobs as farmers, lawyers, nurses, business owners. It’s the essence of a citizen legislature.

But this dual existence – one job as a lawmaker and another job back home - can invite conflicts of interest.

Family Matters

Nearly $500 million.

That’s how much the federal government has awarded Washington, Oregon and Idaho to create health benefit exchanges. These are the new web portals to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a costly undertaking that involves six-figure salaries, hefty IT contracts and high-end advertising campaigns.

If a green, talking gecko can sell car insurance, then maybe Portland-based folk singer Laura Gibson can sell health insurance.

With less than a month to go before the August primary, candidates in the crowded Seattle mayor's race are now trying to reach voters with new ads on cable TV.

Ads from two of the nine mayoral candidates are now on the air, and a third will begin airing this week.

Flickr Photo/A. Davey

Correction 7/9/13: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that on the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry, the peak season, round-trip fare for a car and driver would go up $0.90 to $17.30. That total was a one-way fare. In fact, the round-trip fare would increase $1.80, to $34.60.

If you ride the Washington State Ferries, prepare to pay a bit more. The Washington State Transportation Commission wants to increase fares by about six percent within the next year. The commission says the rate hike is needed to meet revenue targets set by the legislature in the 2013-2015 transportation budget.

Flickr Photo/Army Medicine

Correction 7/8/2013: A previous version of this story contained an error. Furloughs begin Monday, July 8, not Friday, July 12.

Beginning Monday, more than 2,600 civilian employees at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma will begin mandatory one-day-a-week furloughs.

The furloughs are a result of the federal spending cuts known as sequestration.

Here's a little known fact that may affect your power bill: Every year, public utilities in the Northwest give British Columbia several hundred million dollars worth of electricity. That's to compensate Canada for managing the upper Columbia River to minimize flooding and maximize hydropower downstream.

Americans are pushing for a better deal, but the B.C. government is preparing to defend what's now considered an entitlement.

Controversy In The Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Plan

Jul 3, 2013

 The Yakima Basin Water Plan includes one of the biggest land purchases in Washington state history: 50,000 acres in Upper Kittitas County. But it also includes some projects such as a dam on Bumping Lake that some people are not at all happy about. Ross Reynolds talks with Chris Maycut, president of the organization Friends of Bumping Lake about his issues with the water plan.

Washington’s $100 Million Land Purchase In Upper Kittitas County

Jul 2, 2013
Flickr Photo/Jay Inslee

Yesterday, Governor Inslee put the final stamp of approval on one of the biggest land purchases Washington state has ever seen. The state budget includes $100 million for 50,000 acres in Upper Kittitas County, at the headwater of the Yakima River Basin. Officials say protecting this land will be a big step towards securing water supplies in the region. Ross Reynolds talks with columnist Joel Connelly about the significance of this land purchase.

Troubled Bridge Over Oregon And Washington’s Waters

Jul 2, 2013
Flickr Photo/Robert Gaskin

The Washington state budget was signed by Governor Inslee yesterday without the $10 billion transportation deal. That’s fatal news for the Columbia River Crossing — a bridge that would link Portland, Or. to Vancouver, Wash. Ross Reynolds talks with Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman about why the bridge failed and what that means for Oregon.

In what Washington Governor Jay Inslee calls "a dang shame," plans for a new bridge over the Columbia River are shelved -- if not dead. The Washington legislature adjourned without funding the construction phase of the project.

You might call the Columbia River Crossing “the bridge to the archives.” That’s where the blueprints will go now that the Washington Senate said “no” to a gas tax increase. That nixes $450 million for the new bridge over the mighty Columbia between Vancouver and Portland.

flickr photo / Al404

You can bet the U.S. Supreme Court was toasted a number of times over the weekend by same-sex couples and their friends. Last Wednesday, the court overturned a key provision of the national Defense Of Marriage Act. That decision extended federal rights and benefits to same-sex couples in states like Washington where such marriages are legal. But national conservative groups aren’t calling it quits just yet. They’re working to stop the spread of same-sex marriage to other states.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, July 1:

Flickr Photo/Alexis Baden-Mayer

  Washington voters will decide in November whether food products with genetically engineered ingredients should be labeled. California voters rejected a similar measure in last year’s general election—but the vote was close with nearly 49 percent in favor of labeling and 51 percent against it.

Here in Washington, the campaigns are already recruiting supporters. Ross Reynolds hears from both sides of the debate. On the pro-labeling side representing the Yes On 522 Campaign is Trudy Bialic. She’s the campaign’s co-chair and also the public affairs director for PCC Natural Markets. Heather Hansen is the spokesperson for the No On 522 Campaign. She’s also executive director of Washington Friends of Farms and Forests—an umbrella group that advocates for various AGRA-business interests.

Transportation Package Fails To Pass

Jul 1, 2013

  The Washington state legislature failed to pass a transportation package this past weekend. With the recent collapse of the Skagit Bridge at the forefront of our minds, we take a look at what this means for current and future transportation projects in the state. Ross Reynolds hears from Dan O'Neal, the chairman of the Washington State Transportation Committee.

Christopher Parker's book "Change They Can't Believe In."

  This (Last) Week In Olympia 
The 2013 Washington state legislative session draws to a close. Everett Herald reporter and columnist Jerry Cornfield gives us a roundup of what lawmakers did – and did not – achieve in Olympia.

Working In Television: Frank Buxton Did It All
Frank Buxton spent much of his career working in television as an actor, director, writer and producer before moving to Bainbridge Island. He hosted a game show, wrote for “The Odd Couple” and appeared in countless TV commercials. He talks with Katy Sewall about what it was like to work with Woody Allen and travel the world for ABC.

“Change They Can’t Believe In”
The Tea Party has risen in politics over the past few years, bringing conservatism on social issues and economic policy to Washington, DC. They've impacted local and national politics, so what’s their message that’s bringing people together? University of Washington professor Christopher Parker joins us to talk about his new book examining what motivates the Tea Party.

This Week In Olympia With Austin Jenkins

Jun 28, 2013
Flickr Photo/Harvey Barrison

  The Washington state legislature finally came to a budget proposal this week, narrowly avoiding a massive government shutdown. What held them up? How will the new budget cover the increases in education spending mandated by the state supreme court? Ross Reynolds talks about that and other state news with KUOW’s Olympia correspondent, Austin Jenkins.

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