Washington Senate

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Time is running out for Washington Republican Senate hopeful Chris Vance. That's one conclusion from a new poll. But there is still a glimmer of hope for Vance in his race against Democratic Senator Patty Murray.

The political spotlight this week is on the Republican convention in Cleveland. Next week it will move to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. But Washington voters have a political homework assignment that has nothing to do with the conventions -- and it’s due August 2.

A new rule that lets transgender people in Washington choose whether to use the men’s or women’s facilities will stand -- for now. The state Senate Wednesday afternoon narrowly defeated an effort to repeal the rule.

Longtime Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray has drawn a Republican challenger. Former GOP Chair Chris Vance formally announced his 2016 run Tuesday.

The Republican-led Washington Senate Monday approved a nearly 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase phased in over three years.

In January, the Washington state Senate adopted a rule requiring that new taxes pass the Senate by a two-thirds vote. Monday Lt. Governor Brad Owen tossed it out.

Owen said the super majority threshold runs afoul of the state constitution. Owen pointed to a 2013 Washington Supreme Court ruling that overturned a voter-approved super majority requirement for tax hikes.

When temperatures rise this spring, you're bound to hear the occasional sad tale of a dog locked in a hot car in the sun.

A bipartisan group of Washington state senators is backing an 11.7 cent gas tax increase over three years.

Three Washington state senators received a boost in their per diem last month, despite previously saying they wouldn’t take a raise in their daily allowance.

The Washington House has joined the state Senate in banning openly carried guns in the public viewing galleries.

Umbrellas, strollers and backpacks were already banned from the public viewing galleries in the Washington House and Senate.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Republicans control the Washington Senate. But  Monday’s start of the 2015 session featured a Democratic insurgency. It happened when Republicans tried to re-elect Senator Tim Sheldon as President Pro Tem of the Senate.

Sheldon is a Democrat who in 2012 joined with Republicans to help them take control of the Washington Senate.

Majority Republicans wanted to re-elect Sheldon to the position when suddenly minority Democrats nominated a Republican. And not just any Republican: Senator Pam Roach who’s been a lightning rod over the years.

In the end Roach won.

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The Republican-controlled Washington Senate has voted to make it harder to approve new forms of taxation.

The Senate Monday narrowly adopted a rule that requires a two-thirds vote to bring proposals for new taxes to the floor for a final vote. Republican Joe Fain defended the rule change.

"It only would impact things like a capital gains tax or an income tax or a radical change to our tax structure in this state which I think, reasonably, should require a higher threshold from this chamber if we’re going to do so,” Fain said.

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The battle for control of the Washington State Senate is getting a lot of attention. But all Washington House members are also up for re-election this year.

Currently Democrats hold 55 seats – 50 is a majority. In recent years, Republicans have been closing the gap. If Republicans were to pick up two or three more seats, that could amplify the voices of swing district Democrats.

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California billionaire Tom Steyer is poised to help Democrats try to win back control of the Washington Senate. But first, his NextGen political action committee had to satisfy a quirk in the law. Call it the ten-ten rule. In Washington, political committees have to jump a small hurdle before they can play in Washington’s political sandbox.

Washington Senate Panel Approves $30 Per Diem Increase

Mar 25, 2014
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Washington state senators are giving themselves a pay raise. They will get $120 a day in per diem when they are in session, up from the current $90 a day.

An ethics panel in Washington has ruled that five Republican state senators did not violate Washington ethics law when they accepted dozens of free meals from lobbyists earlier this year.


Senator Patty Murray is pressing legislation in the U.S. Senate that would make some historic sites at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington part of the national parks system. The Democrat toured the historic site of Hanford High School Thursday. The building was part of the town that was forcibly vacated to make way for the secretive Manhattan Project during World War II. Now, the remains of the building sit amid the brush near the Columbia River. Murray says she wants these sites preserved and available for public visits along with the more famous “B” Reactor.

The Washington Senate has passed a two-year operating budget on a 44 to 4 vote. It now goes to the House for debate.

The sudden momentum in Olympia Friday follows weeks of budget gridlock. But in order to find common ground, both the House and Senate gave up things they wanted. That included all but one tax exemption that Democrats proposed to repeal.

For the second time this week, minority Democrats in the Washington Senate have tried to force a vote on a controversial insurance measure that deals with abortion coverage. The parliamentary move Wednesday highlights partisan tensions as the deadline for adjournment approaches.

Democrat Karen Keiser led the effort to revive the so-called Reproductive Parity Act. On the floor of the Senate, she said the bill has enough votes to pass. “But," she said, "the Majority Caucus leadership has been not inclined to bring this bill to the floor.”

The serious illness of a Washington state Senator could threaten to alter the balance of power in that legislative chamber. The majority is now potentially short a critical vote.

The new Republican-dominated majority in the Washington state Senate has approved a series of controversial measures that deal with injured workers. The votes Monday were a key test of the Majority Coalition’s one vote advantage. The most controversial of the proposed laws would lower the age when permanently injured workers are eligible to choose a lump sum insurance payout.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington Senate are on the attack over a series of Republican-backed education reform measures. At a news conference Friday, the Democrats accused Republicans of getting boilerplate legislation from a corporate-backed education foundation run by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Democrat Andy Billig serves on the Senate K-12 committee. He highlighted two specific proposals: letter grades for schools and holding back struggling third graders.

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.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The partisan fallout continues in the Washington state Senate over its response to how a controversial Republican senator treats staff. Minority Democrats took to the Senate floor Wednesday to accuse the new majority of caring more about who leaked a report about Senator Pam Roach than creating a safe workplace.

On an already tense first day of session in the Washington State Senate, the opening prayer became a source of controversy. It had to do with the issue of same-sex marriage.

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 big shake-up in the control of the Washington state Senate could have major implications for how lawmakers address funding for schools next year. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday it has just enough votes to depose the current Democratic majority.

Northwest News Network

Two southwest Washington legislative races are headed for hand recounts. They are that close. One of them could hand control of the Washington state Senate to a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats.

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A staff attorney for Washington state Senate Republicans has agreed to drop his $1.75 million hostile workplace claim, and will receive no damages. The agreement announced Friday follows allegations that Senate leaders failed to protect the lawyer from verbal abuse by Sen. Pam Roach.