Washington Senate

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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.

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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.

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