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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Card-holding medical marijuana patients would get protection from arrest under a proposal in the Washington legislature. But some industry insiders say it doesn’t go far enough. That was their message Monday at a state Senate hearing.

By the end of this year, the production and use of recreational marijuana in Washington will be regulated and taxed. That’s because of voter-approved Initiative 502. But medical marijuana – also voter-approved back in 1998 – is largely unregulated.

A proposed bill in Olympia aims to crackdown on employers who shortchange their workers. The measure would create harsher penalties for businesses that skimp on minimum wage or overtime pay, or just flat out fail to hand over a paycheck.

Northwest News Network

One of the key battles shaping up in Olympia this year is over education reform. The Senate’s new majority coalition is proposing a series of measures aimed at getting better results in the classroom. Among the ideas: a state takeover of failing schools.

Fight Brewing Over College Bound Scholarship

Jan 25, 2013

First it was Washington’s guaranteed tuition program. Now the new majority leader of the state Senate has another college access program in his budget-cutting sights: College Bound.

Lawmakers Consider Increasing Penalties For Illegal Guns

Jan 24, 2013
Northwest News Network

Washington lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it easier to lock up juveniles who carry guns illegally. Currently, it takes five felony convictions on firearms charges before someone under 18 is sent to a juvenile lockup.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A federal watchdog agency says work should stop on parts of Hanford’s troubled Waste Treatment Plant. That’s the complex factory in southeast Washington being built to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. A new report out Friday says the project will cost even more and take even longer.

The new report by the federal Government Accountability Office says the U.S. has paid contractors millions of dollars for work they didn’t do right. And the agency recommends trying to recoup those tax dollars.

Washington Governor website

In his inaugural address, Washington Governor Jay Inslee talked about gun violence, climate change and school funding. But the new governor’s speech Wednesday offered few specific policy proposals.

Washington State Seeks Marijuana Experts

Jan 11, 2013
Rad Racer / Wikimedia

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is forging ahead in its new role creating access to legalized marijuana. On Jan. 14,  the board will issue a request for consultants to gauge pot consumption in Washington state.

Osvaldo Gago / Wikimedia Commons

Last year, the Washington legislature passed a law that sponsors referred to as “driving while poor." The law aims to help people who end up with a suspended license because they failed to pay a traffic ticket. Now, it’s up to the Department of Licensing to decide which traffic violations no longer warrant a suspension.

Orna Izakson / Wikimedia Commons

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber spent Tuesday in Eugene meeting with business, employment and education leaders to discuss efforts to create and retain jobs.

Sen. Crapo Pleads Guilty To DUI, Apologizes

Jan 4, 2013

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo apologized profusely Friday after pleading guilty to drunken driving. A judge outside Washington, D.C. ordered the Republican from Idaho to pay a $250 fine and take an alcohol safety class. Crapo will also lose his driver's license for a year.

Crapo was arrested two days before Christmas in Alexandria, Va. In statement after his court appearance, Crapo said politicians should be held to a higher standard.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says he wants to make it easier to put an initiative on the ballot. Eyman submitted nearly 350,000 signatures Thursday for his latest ballot measure. But critics are suspicious.

Protestors Urge Oregon Lawmakers To Reject Nike Bill

Dec 14, 2012
Chris Lehman

Protesters outside the Oregon capitol building Friday are urging lawmakers to reject a bill to give Nike special tax status. Lawmakers are meeting in special session to consider the measure. It would allow the governor to freeze the way Oregon calculates the shoe giant’s corporate income taxes. In exchange, the Beaverton-based company would promise to invest at least $150 million and expand by at least 500 jobs in Oregon.

Office of the Governor

When Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee is sworn in this January he’ll get more than just the keys to the office. Outgoing Governor Chris Gregoire plans to leave behind a book for future governors to consult when it starts feeling lonely at the top.

Democrats React Angrily To Power Grab In Wash. Senate

Dec 10, 2012
Washington Legislature

Some Washington Democrats are reacting angrily to a power grab in the state Senate. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday they will seize the majority, but share power.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

A coalition of Republicans and two renegade Democrats have announced a plan to seize control of the Washington state Senate.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Audio Pending...

Oregon lawmakers will convene in special session this Friday. Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Monday that the session is urgently needed to facilitate a major expansion of Oregon-based Nike.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

 On the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Washington, the scene was quiet at the Benton County Annex in Kennewick in southeast Washington. Workers sat at the ready to hand out marriage licenses, but only a few people showed up. But one couple that did got their paperwork after 26 years together.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In Washington’s capital city, the County Auditor was prepared for a rush on the day same-sex marriage became legal. Instead, it felt like business as usual.

Northwest News Network

On the eve of same-sex marriage taking effect in Washington, Gov. Chris Gregoire hosted an emotional ceremony in her office. Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the results of the vote to uphold Washington’s new marriage equality law.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Northwest agriculture advocates are more optimistic Congress will take up the issue of immigration after a forum this week in Washington, D.C. The effort is getting support from a surprising mix of organizations.

Many same-sex couples in Washington were planning to get married whether or not the state sanctioned their union. That includes Spike Huntington and Nick Chandler-Klein of Seattle, who are planning a wedding next summer.

Drug Enforcement Agency

  Pot becomes legal in Washington on Thursday. But state officials have not even begun to write the complicated rules for who can grow it, process it and sell it. That year-long process begins Wednesday.

Yuen Lui

A lesbian couple that’s been together for more than three decades will receive the first same-sex marriage license in Washington’s Thurston County. Lynn Grotsky and Lisa Brodoff won a county-sponsored lottery Monday. They will be the first of 10 couples to get their license just after midnight on Thursday.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Reverend Todd Eklof made a vow in 2004, the year 11 states, including Oregon and Kentucky, passed constitutional amendments against gay marriage. He stopped performing any marriages. But starting Dec. 9 same-sex couples can get married legally in Washington. And that day will also mark a turning point for the Spokane minister. Eklof discussed his vow with Northwest News Network's Jessica Robinson.

OPB News

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber firmly put the ball in the court of Oregon lawmakers when he released his two-year budget proposal Friday. The spending plan relies on savings gained from potentially controversial changes to the state's pension and public safety systems.

A Clackamas County grand jury indicted a temporary elections worker for allegedly altering ballots.

A Clackamas County woman indicted on felony charges of ballot tampering spoke out Thursday, saying she had no agenda to try to influence election results, and that she does not remember the moments when the alleged violations occurred.

Governor-elect Jay Inslee and Washington lawmakers face a nearly $3B conundrum in the next two-year budget. That's the stark assessment of House Budget Chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Hunter outlined the bigger-than-previously-reported budget gap in a PowerPoint slide presentation to fellow House Democrats at the start of two days of pre-session meetings at the Capitol.

Murray Urges More Republicans To Break Anti-tax Pledge

Nov 28, 2012
CSPAN

U.S. Senator Patty Murray is encouraging Republican members of Congress to break campaign pledges to vote against any tax increases. The Washington Democrat made the comments on the floor of the U.S Senate Wednesday.

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