Washington State Legislature

Democrats in the Washington state House have proposed a $3 billion tax package to help fund schools and social services over the next two years. The budget and tax plan unveiled Monday includes a new tax on capital gains.

Washington Senate Republicans are looking for ways to save money on state subsidized child care for low-income families. And they think they’ve found a way.

Washington Senate Republicans have proposed a $5 billion increase in state spending over the next two years, including $1.8 billion more for public schools in an attempt to satisfy a Supreme Court ruling that found the state is not adequately funding K-12 education.

Washington’s 105-day legislative session is more than half over. But the big job of negotiating a new two-year state budget has yet to begin. Senate Republicans are expected to unveil their budget proposal early this week, followed by House Democrats.

President Donald Trump has made it clear climate change is not a priority for his administration, but it is still a top issue for Democratic governors and lawmakers in Washington and Oregon.

In Oregon, there’s talk of a cap-and-trade system. And in Washington, the idea of a carbon tax keeps popping up as Democrats and Republicans face off over the budget.

The next generation of cell technology will feature smaller antennas in more places and will eventually lead to 5G connectivity. Wireless carriers are pushing legislation in Washington state to give them access to power poles, street lights and other public infrastructure for placement of the small antennas.

But this has created a fight with cities.

Gun rights advocates are declaring victory after several firearms-related measures failed to advance in the Washington Legislature. But gun control advocates say they see momentum on their side.

No matter how frustrated you might be with any given election, don’t batter the ballot drop boxes in Washington state. Lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature passed bills Wednesday with hopes of protecting the boxes many voters use to submit their ballots.

Washington state school districts will not go over the so-called “levy cliff.” At least not next year. The state House Thursday sent the governor a bipartisan measure to extend current levy capacity for another year.

The Washington state House has voted to give added protections to sick workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Washington state’s 105-day legislative session is almost at the halfway point. But a final, bipartisan deal on school funding could still be months away.

Education Plans Move Forward In Washington Legislature

Feb 23, 2017

The Washington Legislature has reached a milestone in its court-ordered quest to amply fund schools. Both chambers have now passed education funding plans.

The House vote happened Wednesday. But negotiating a final compromise could take months.

Washington lawmakers are considering a bill that would reduce the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers from .08 to .05. That would make the limit one of the lowest in the nation. The House Transportation Committee heard the bill Tuesday

There’s a movement sweeping states across the nation, known as the “Right to Work.” State Senators in Olympia heard a bill Wednesday that would bring it to Washington.

You may think the existence of climate change is settled. But at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia Tuesday, a climate denier was given a prominent platform.

Eye-rolling and harrumphing ensued.

The idea of giving workers paid time off to care for a new baby or an elderly parent has long been a priority of the left. But now the idea is gaining traction with some Republicans in the Washington Legislature.

Workers in Washington state are already eligible for up to 24 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave under state and federal law. A decade ago the Washington Legislature passed a paid family leave program, but never funded it. Now Washington Democrats and their labor allies are making a hard push to finally fund and expand that program.

In Washington state, there’s no law to keep you from checking Facebook while you drive. But that could change during this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday that could force you to cut down your phone use on the road -- or pay a hefty fine if you get caught.

Some lawmakers in Olympia want public university athletic departments to face closer scrutiny when they overspend. A bill was introduced Thursday that would make universities accountable to the legislature for deficits in those budgets.

The Consumer Technology Association estimates about 1.2 million drones were sold during the just-completed holiday shopping season. Now one state lawmaker from western Washington wants to give you the legal right to tell a drone operator to buzz off.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Should it be easier to criminally charge police officers in Washington who use deadly force? A legislative task force says “yes”—but the vote was far from unanimous. Washington lawmakers are undecided on the issue as they convene Monday for their 2017 session.

Washington state lawmakers face a daunting task as they convene on Monday for the 2017 legislative session: how to fully fund public schools by 2018. And that job might have just gotten harder.

The face of Washington state government is about to get a makeover. Five new statewide elected officials will take office in January -- a record in modern times.

"jo0966.JPG" by Mark Goebel is licensed under CC by 2.0

An obscure $48 fee Washington residents pay for filing real-estate paperwork is one of the most important weapons in the state's fight against homelessness, housing advocates say.

They're preparing to fight for the fee's future during next year's legislative session in Olympia, as an approaching "sunset" provision threatens to shrink the fee to $18.

In 2014, Washington’s Medicaid program resumed covering dental care for adults. That was celebrated by advocates for the poor. But on Thursday, a panel of lawmakers will hear about ongoing challenges to that program.

What happens when someone who’s not supposed to have a gun lies about their background and tries to buy one? In Washington state, the answer is not much.

FBI records show that between January and August of this year, 3,259 would-be gun buyers in Washington failed a federal background check. But police and prosecutors rarely, if ever, pursue these people.

In what’s believed to be the first prosecution under a 2014 voter-approved background check law, a former Oak Harbor, Washington, resident has been charged with illegally transferring a .22-caliber pistol that was later used in a homicide.

Just as the school year begins, the Washington state Supreme Court will get an update Wednesday on school funding efforts in the state legislature. Tuesday, a panel of lawmakers got an earful.

It’s been 18 years since Republicans last controlled both chambers of the Washington legislature. They’re hoping 2016 is the year they can reclaim the majority. But that will require holding on to their narrow grip on the state Senate and flipping the Washington House -- something Democrats are determined not to let happen.

WSDOT / FLICKR

Environmental groups say there’s really just one priority as lawmakers head back to the to the legislature in Olympia next week: no rollbacks. 

Every legislative session, the broad spectrum of green-minded groups in the state gets together to discuss their main issues and work toward achieving them.

Clifford Traisman is a lobbyist with Washington Conservation Voters and a spokesman for the Environmental Council that sets the priorities. For the early session this year, he says it’s pretty simple. They just don’t want things they’ve accomplished to be undone.

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

 

Washington lawmakers are approaching the halfway mark of their 105-day session. Hot issues include marijuana, mental health, oil trains and cap-and-trade.

But the heavy lift for lawmakers will be writing a new two-year operating budget that increases funding for public schools. Both House Democrats and Senate Republicans will unveil dueling budget proposals in the weeks ahead.

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