Washington

Oregon and Washington have signed mitigation agreements with two of the three industrial companies whose business would be disrupted by the Columbia River Crossing. April Baer reports from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed a law that will allow the state’s fictitious driver license program to continue – but only for undercover law enforcement activities. At the bill signing Inslee backed away from a previous statement that he would apply a broad definition of the term “law enforcement.”

Washington Special Session Starts With No Budget Deal

May 13, 2013

The Washington legislature reconvenes Monday for a 30-day special session. But there’s still no budget deal in sight – despite a two week break to negotiate. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this update from the Capitol.

Washington Dreamers Pin Hopes on Special Session

May 13, 2013

As lawmakers reconvene in Olympia Monday, the headliner is the state budget. But immigrant advocates are pressing to get the Dream Act added to the lineup, too. Liz Jones has more.

Governor Jay Inslee says the state of Washington is in a good position to convince Boeing to build the next version of its triple-seven wide-body jet here.

Pacific Northwest refineries have been getting their crude oil for years from tankers and pipelines. Last September, trains began shipping crude oil into the region by rail. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt explains what that means for emergency crews.

High school students across Washington will be learning how to save a life, starting next fall. A new law requires schools to teach basic C-P-R in health classes. Governor Jay Inslee signed the measure into law. The main advocates were with the American Heart Association, including volunteer Eric Rothenberg who survived cardiac arrest because a bystander performed CPR on him. Rothenberg says the new mandate means more people will be willing to use chest compressions:

Two Washington state lawmakers are defending their frequent dinners with lobbyists. The meals show up in monthly reports filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has been digging into those reports.

Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

Northwest conservationists are suing Washington State University. They say the groundwater used to irrigate the University’s golf course is draining the region’s aquifer. But this case is about more than just watering the fairways and putting greens. It could change how cities and towns manage water for future development. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

In the first three months of this year, lobbyists in Washington state spent more than $200,000 on entertainment. Much of that money was spent to wine and dine state lawmakers during the just-concluded 105-day session. But what are lobbyists and their clients getting in exchange for picking up the tab?

After the legislative day ends up at the Capitol, it’s pretty common for some of the players to decamp. They go to one of a handful of usually higher-end Olympia establishments. This is where – over a meal, perhaps a bottle of Washington wine – the work continues.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will give lawmakers a two week cooling off period before calling them back into special session. That announcement Sunday evening followed the formal adjournment of the regular 105-day session.

Special Session Looms In Olympia

Apr 25, 2013

Washington’s 105-day legislative session ends this Sunday. House Democrats took a nearly $1 billion tax vote Wednesday. But there’s still no budget deal. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins says Governor Jay Inslee stopped short of saying a special session will be necessary.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

A massive landslide that pushed 200,000 cubic yards of earth down the west side of Whidbey Island grabbed national headlines in March. Landslides have also caused numerous delays in passenger and freight rail along Puget Sound.

Pot possession is now legal in Washington. But city and state regulators are drawing the line at marijuana use in bars and coffeeshops. KUOW’s Amy Radil reports.

Washington Dream Act Unlikely to Clear Senate

Apr 2, 2013

Supporters of the so-called Washington Dream Act plan to make one more uphill push in Olympia Tuesday. The measure would extend state financial aid to eligible college students who are in the US illegally. Hopes for the bill dwindled this weekend as a key state senator spoke out against the measure. KUOW’s Liz Jones reports.

Bonnie Stewart / EarthFix

Five coal export terminals have been proposed for the Northwest. Trains would bring coal in from Wyoming and Montana. The route they would travel already is congested in many areas. Congestion means trains hit bottlenecks. Cars get stuck at railroad crossings.

Lamont Granquist

The debate over exporting Wyoming and Montana coal through terminals on the Northwest coast has been heating up in recent months. Those who support exporting coal say the terminals will create thousands of jobs and tax revenue for the state. Opponents of coal exports have raised concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of coal. Some of them are taking matters into their own hands. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Amy Radil / Northwest News Network

Kids in daycamps and childcare programs in Washington are spending less time airborne these days. New state regulations forbid childcare providers from using trampolines and inflatable bouncy houses. State officials say the rule change was based on safety concerns. But doctors say bouncy houses don’t pose the same risks as trampolines. KUOW’s Amy Radil reports.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants to close or curtail a dozen tax breaks and continue a couple of tax increases that are about to expire. The money raised – more than a billion dollars – would be earmarked for public schools. The plan unveiled Thursday is part of the Democrat’s budget priorities for the next two years. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

  OLYMPIA, Wash. – Health care advocates are pushing Washington state lawmakers to keep up momentum toward expanding access to Medicaid. About 100 people rallied on the Capitol steps in Olympia Thursday. They argue one group that will especially benefit is people with mental illness.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s new marijuana consultant says the world will learn a lot from the state’s move to legalize pot. Professor Mark Kleiman believes Washington is the right size state to try this voter-approved experiment.

And, he says, it bodes well that state regulators are taking it seriously.

“Even people that I know who really think that marijuana legalization is a bad idea and will not work out well, are enthusiastic about the idea that Washington is going to try it in a sensible way because then we’ll know something.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – For decades, police officers in Washington have been able to obtain false driver licenses for undercover work. But this quasi-secret program inside the Department of Licensing only recently came to light. It turns out the confidential ID program was never approved by the legislature. Now two state lawmakers are calling for more oversight to prevent possible abuses.

As a street cop in the early 1980s, Mitch Barker went undercover to work drugs and vice. The Washington Department of Licensing helped him assume a fake identity.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

There are several hundred derelict and abandoned vessels dotting the waterways of Washington and Oregon. They can block navigation and pollute the environment. And they can also be very expensive to remove.

Bills to fund the clean up and prevention of derelict vessels have now been passed in the Washington house and senate, but Ashley Ahearn reports, no permanent sources of funding for large vessel removal have been identified.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New disclosure reports are out on money spent for lobbying in Olympia. Who tops the list? So far Washington’s teachers’ union is spending the most to influence state lawmakers this legislative session.

The Washington Education Association has five top priorities for the 2013 legislature. The list includes more money for schools as directed by the Washington Supreme Court. The union is also pushing for competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and support staff.

Inslee Stumps For Columbia River Crossing

Mar 25, 2013

Washington Governor Jay Inslee urged a group of regional business leaders today / yesterday (Friday)  to urge state legislators to support the Columbia River Crossing --the proposed new I-5 bridge.  April Baer reports.

Testimony On Wolf Bill Includes Story Of Attack

Mar 22, 2013

A public hearing Wednesday on a bill to allow people the right to protect livestock and pets from wolf attacks included the story of a very close wolf encounter near the town of Twisp.

President Obama is set to announce the creation of several new national monuments on Monday. One of them will be in Washington’s San Juan Islands. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Basketball Team Prompts Gonzaga's Growth Spurt

Mar 22, 2013

Gonzaga University’s name is seemingly everywhere this month – including the covers of magazines and newspapers, and mentions on NPR. Paige Browning explains that, while the basketball program gets more name recognition, the school is on a growth spurt.

BREWSTER, Wash. - There's one word that politicians almost always use when they talk about the U.S. immigration system. That word is “broken.” But what does that really mean? Residents of the small town of Brewster, Wash., know. For decades, immigrants have come from Mexico, often illegally, to work the surrounding apple and cherry orchards. Bewster, it turns out, is a microcosm of how the immigration debate is playing out.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Hopes for a rosier budget outlook in Washington are dimming. Expected savings in Medicaid haven’t materialized. And many state lawmakers expect this week’s quarterly revenue forecast to show a downward slide. Add to that, a Supreme Court ruling that requires more funding for schools.

In response, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee is expected to announce soon a list of tax “loopholes” – as he calls them – he wants to eliminate to fund schools. But closing tax exemptions is easier said than done.

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