ACLU of Washington

The Washington chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is hoping to change the way elections are run in Pasco. In a lawsuit filed Thursday the group alleges that the city is violating elections laws by not giving Latinos a fair voice in the current election system.

AP Images

Several advocacy groups are warning city officials throughout Washington to review their treatment of homeless people. The groups say bans against sleeping outside are unconstitutional if a person has no place to call home. 

The warning went out to Washington city attorneys, prosecutors and police agencies. It asks them to take a closer look at local laws that make it a crime to sleep or camp in public places.

Paula Wissel

They arrive at nearly every city or county council meeting. The regulars. The gadflies. The people who, no matter the topic, seize the microphone during the public comment period and say things like:

“You’re all criminals,” or “ I’m looking at you being an extraordinary, abusive, pathological liar,” or “I would think that this council would have some pretty high priced heads on spikes when all this clears.”

And so on.

While a member of the public has a right right to say such things – off-topic, on-point, sometimes insulting – that right isn’t unlimited.  In the interest of civility, some local governments have been tightening the rules for public comment speakers.

It becomes a balancing act between protecting people’s free speech rights and moving a meeting along.   

Simen Svale Skogsrud / Flickr

After sharp criticism from advocates for the homeless, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, Seattle's plan to ban smoking in public parks has been softened to reflect concerns it would unfairly target the homeless and minorities.

Under the new proposal from the Seattle Parks Department, a violator will get a warning for lighting up instead of a $27 fine. Two or more warnings could lead to an arrest. Using e-cigarettes and vape pens would still be allowed.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Death penalty cases in Washington state cost the public one-and-a-half times as much as those where capital punishment isn’t on the table, Seattle University researchers have found.

The seven-month study was authored by Seattle University professors Robert Boruchowitz of the School of Law and Peter Collins of the criminal justice department.

zeraien / Flickr

Following a decision by the Seattle City Council this week, the Seattle Police Department will soon use facial recognition software. 

The ACLU of Washington doesn't think the move will encroach on citizens' rights, but privacy advocates, including Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, aren’t fond of the new policy.

Taylor McKnight

These days, a common question on job applications is whether you’ve ever been arrested. But a growing number of states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts, have adopted laws to remove questions about criminal history from initial job applications. Sponsors of a bill in Olympia hope to add Washington to that list. 

House Bill 2545 would prevent employers from asking for non-conviction information in initial job applications.