Washington

Ingrid Taylar

A wild collection of sail and paddle-powered boats has assembled in Port Townsend, Washington for the inaugural Race to Alaska. The 750-mile adventure race from Puget Sound to Ketchikan begins at dawn Thursday. Among the 33 teams entered is a 6-person outrigger canoe. Mackenzie Punter is with that Victoria-based crew, named Team Soggy Beavers.

Dan Perry

Earlier this year, Pierce County offered free U.S. Open tickets to some Washington state lawmakers.

The county is hosting the golf championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course later this month.

Many have scoffed at the idea state lawmakers could go to the U.S. Open for free, especially before they reach a budget deal.

Each ticket is worth more than double the amount lawmakers are allowed to accept in gifts.

A former police officer from Pasco, Washington, has been charged with a homicide from nearly three decades ago.

Preparations for a state government shutdown are underway because Washington lawmakers haven’t agreed on a budget for the next two years.

To raise or not to raise taxes? That is the question that’s pushing Washington lawmakers into a second 30-day special session.

The U.S. Department of Justice is having Pasco, Washington, police officers and residents meet for coffee and a conversation Wednesday following the police shooting of a farmworker there earlier in February.

Washington lawmakers will have to return for a second 30-day special session. The first overtime session ends Thursday and the House and Senate still don’t have a budget deal.

Burke Museum

Washington State finally has its first dinosaur fossil. Scientists at the Burke Museum in Seattle say they’ve unearthed an 80-million year old thigh bone from a beach in the San Juan Islands. 

State workers at more than 80 workplaces around Washington walked off the job Wednesday. They want lawmakers to fund pay raises promised in contracts.

Budget negotiations have stalled in Olympia and there’s still no funding to increase pay for state workers.

The nearly five percent raise would be their first in more than seven years.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are poised to get a raise twice that size later this year.

Steve Hoffman, a shop steward at North Seattle Community College, says that’s not fair.

Marijuana sales and a recovering housing market should help boost Washington tax collections by more than $300 million over the next two years.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/22746515@N02/

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

He says snowpack levels are at unprecedented lows, rivers are drying out and irrigation districts are cutting off water to farmers.

Mentally ill inmates continue to languish in Washington jails despite a recent federal judge’s ruling that the practice is unconstitutional.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/greggjerdingen/

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill Thursday to boost oil train safety regulations.

It’s one of the ways the state is bracing to take on a growing number of oil trains.

Inslee requested the bill, but he says it’s not enough.

By 2018, the state of Washington should have a treasure trove of data on the cost and quality of health care.

Washington lawmakers are taking heat for an 11 percent pay raise they didn’t ask for.

There's a process in place now for Indian tribes and the state of Washington to jointly regulate marijuana should any tribes choose to legalize and sell it.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Growing marijuana indoors requires a lot of energy -- lights to speed up plant growth, dehumidifiers, heating and cooling equipment. Could sustainable outdoor farms be a more environmentally responsible alternative? A group of Washington marijuana growers say yes.

Several workers sit around a  white table in a small room on a marijuana farm in Goldendale, Washington. They’ve got scissors in hand, scales set to carefully measure out grams.

“I am weighing out some weed," said one of the workers. "Yesterday was an 18 hour day trying to get an order out.”

Benjamin Chun / Flickr

The top education official in Washington State said teachers could face investigation and schools could lose funding - if the number of students refusing standardized tests keeps rising. 

Washington superintendent Randy Dorn doesn't like the phrase "opt-out."

"It's really a refusal to take an assessment that's required by the federal government," Dorn said.

He said low participation rates could cost schools federal money.

Across the Northwest, farmers are already making tough calls because of this year’s drought. The dismal snowpack is to blame.

'Small' Oil Spills Can Add Up To Big Costs

Mar 19, 2015
Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

The region's recent stretch of warm weather means Northwest sweet cherries will likely be going early to market this year.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest Public Radio

For some schools, the most basic task is getting students through the door. One school district on the Yakama Nation Reservation learned the hard way that punishment wouldn't fix its attendance problem. Now, administrators are trying a friendlier strategy to get students to school.

Principal Joey Castilleja is manning White Swan High School’s newly christened Welcome Room, alternating between good-natured jokes and asking students why they’re coming late to school.

Freedom could be just weeks away for the youngest person in the U.S. sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

We’ve been reporting on students who are sent to juvenile detention for skipping school and other non-criminal behavior. Nationally, there’s a push to outlaw incarceration for these youth and use alternatives. But some judges are reluctant to give detention up.

On a recent morning, Judge David Edwards presides over Grays Harbor County truancy court.

“You have two F's, two incompletes because of missing work,” Edawrds said.

The first time a judge sent Marquise-Unique Travon Flynn to juvenile detention he was in fifth grade. He had one goal: not to cry in front of the other kids in the courtroom.

A new statistic from Washington state illustrates a problem 911 dispatch centers throughout the Northwest grapple with. About a third of 911 calls in Washington state are mistaken.

Democrats in the Washington state House have passed a $12 per hour minimum wage measure. The increase would phase-in over four years.

Skipping school is not a crime in Washington state, but it can still land a student behind bars.

The (Not So) Secret World Of Northwest Curling

Mar 3, 2015
Peter Miller / Flickr

Curling: it's that sport with the stones and the brooms. You might have seen it played at the Olympics. Canadians play it. For many Americans, that's the extent of our curling knowledge. So this video might help bring everyone up to speed:

So that's curling. It's a little bit hockey, a little bit bowling, a little bit shuffleboard.

Washington, Oregon and Idaho are trying to figure out how to keep their state driver’s licenses from becoming obsolete in the eyes of the federal government.

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