Washington State Legislature

News Roundup
8:22 am
Thu April 7, 2011

Thursday morning's headlines

Did you get snow? Some areas of western Washington did. Today's forecast calls for morning rain with some sun breaks today, highs near 50, and cool temperatures again tonight. 

In headlines this morning:

  • Avalanches Hit Snoqualmie Pass, I-90
  • Protesters Camp Out at State Capitol
  • House Rejects Republican Budget Plan

 

Avalanches Injure Skiers, Temporarily Close I-90

Nine people were rescued Wednesday after being caught in two separate avalanches near Snoqualmie Pass. In one incident, an avalanche hit a group of skiers who were in a backcountry area just below the summit of the pass.

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State Budget Crisis
3:07 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Confidential memo outlines details of state proposal to lease liquor distribution

Washington House Democrats are considering a plan to lease the state's liquor distribution system for $300 million cash up front. But it wouldn't come cheap.

Initially, the deal could cost the state 80 percent of what it currently collects from the wholesale distribution of booze. That's according to a memo marked "highly confidential." It comes from a newly formed company called Washington Beverage and outlines a proposal to take over from the state the distribution of hard liquor throughout Washington.

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Law & Justice
8:37 am
Wed April 6, 2011

Higher court fines imposed on Latino drug offenders in Washington state

Court fines issued to felons in Washington vary according to the criminal’s ethnicity and location. That’s the conclusion of a University of Washington study published online in American Sociological Review.

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News Roundup
7:50 am
Tue April 5, 2011

Tuesday morning's headlines

Some of the top news stories around the Northwest this morning:

  • New Plan to Target Sea Lions
  • State House Lays Out a Budget Plan
  • Bellevue Tackles Steep Rise in Burglaries

 

Legislators Driving Toward Budget Showdown

Democrats in the state House of Representatives presented their budget plan for the next two years, slashing nearly $5 billion in spending. Cuts come from many areas, including K-4 education spending, and care for the developmentally disabled. Spared? Enrollment for 25,000 slots in children's health insurance program, Apple Health for Kids.

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Washington State Legislature
3:15 pm
Mon April 4, 2011

State House Democrats roll out their budget

Washington House Democrats have unveiled a plan to close a $5 billion shortfall over the next two years. The plan released Monday would close a $5 billion shortfall and yet still manage to save several programs the governor proposed to eliminate.

It would privatize the state’s liquor distribution center and impose a $10 state park fee. It would also allow for the early release of some prison inmates. House Budget Chair Ross Hunter (D-Medina) calls it a responsible and sustainable budget.

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Domestic Partnership
2:26 pm
Thu March 31, 2011

Washington to recognize same-sex marriages from other states

Same-sex marriages performed in other states will be recognized as domestic partnerships in Washington State under a bill now awaiting Gov. Chris Gregoire's signature. 

House Bill 1649 passed the state senate Wednesday 28-19. It was already approved by the House of Representatives.

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Debtor’s prison
6:07 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

Debtor’s proposal: no get out of jail free card

A follow up now to a story we brought you last fall on people who are sent to jail for failing to pay their debts, like a medical bill. A proposal moving through the legislature would toughen standards for debt collection agencies. It wouldn’t ban the practice of jailing people who owe money.

Last September, we introduced you to Janelle Leslie of Newport near Spokane. She described the night she called the police for help and ended up getting arrested for a warrant she didn’t know about.

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Washington State Legislature
3:05 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

State representative from SW Washington abruptly resigns

A member of the state House has suddenly resigned his seat. Democrat Jim Jacks of Hazel Dell in Southwest Washington departed the legislature Friday without any public announcement.

The Chief Clerk of the House says there were no formal complaints pending against Jacks. 

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Washington State Legislature
1:00 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

School buses could get traffic-ticket cameras

Automated traffic ticket cameras could soon show up in a new place. They’d be attached to school buses. Opponents of photo traffic enforcement are mounting a late effort to stop the idea in the sate Legislature.

Brenner Beck is a school bus driver in Gig Harbor. He says motorists go around his bus when the flashing stop sign paddle is out.

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Transportation
4:15 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Ferry riders face fare hikes under budget plans

Riders on the nation’s biggest ferry system, Washington State Ferries, should brace themselves for another round of fare increases. The only remaining question is how much. 

The state House and Senate have come out with competing spending blueprints for roads and ferries. One thing the budgets have in common is higher ferry fares. The  increase this fall ranges between 2.5% and 5% and another 2.5% coming next fall.

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Environment
3:25 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Group pushes for Northwest to ban bottled water

At events in Olympia and Salem Tuesday, an activist group called on Washington and Oregon's governors to stop spending taxpayer dollars on bottled water.

Organizer Sriram Madhusoodanan, with the group Corporate Accountability International, says those little plastic bottles, sometimes available at public meetings and events, create unnecessary waste and undermine confidence in the quality of public water supplies.

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Washington State Legislature
1:22 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

House transportation budget proposes leaner service cuts, smaller rate hikes for ferry riders

House lawmakers have released their proposed 2011-2013 transportation budget, and it includes less service cuts and a smaller rate hike to Washington's ferry system than Gov. Chris Gregoire's earlier bid.

The House proposal cuts ferry services by $3.1 million, compared to Gregoire's $20 million reduction in her December budget. Gregoire also had proposed a rate hike of 10%. The House proposal puts it at 7.5% in 2011 and 2.5% in 2012.

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State Budget Crisis
8:12 am
Fri March 18, 2011

Partisan divide flares as state budget worsens

Washington's budget shortfall has grown to more than $5 billion. That's after Thursday's state revenue forecast. Advocates on the left immediately intensified their calls for lawmakers to end corporate tax exemptions. The Governor warned the legislature to avoid budget gimmicks.

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State Budget Crisis
3:33 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Forecast: State revenue projections take another big hit

Washington’s budget shortfall has now grown to $5.1 billion over the next two years. That’s the estimate from the Governor’s office after Thursday’s state revenue forecast. 

The state's chief economist, Arun Raha, predicts the state will collect nearly $800 million dollars less than previously forecast for a variety of reasons.

“First we had the volatility in oil prices, because of the political unrest in the Middle East. Now we have the tragedy in Japan the world’s third largest economy and one of the state’s leading trade partners," says Raha.

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Washington State Legislature
11:01 am
Thu March 17, 2011

Marijuana legalization debate produces unusual alliances

The debate over legalizing marijuana in Washington is producing some unusual alliances. At a legislative hearing Wednesday, lawmakers heard from the wife of Canada's so-called "Prince of Pot." And from the former federal prosecutor who indicted him.

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