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November 16, 2013 at 8:29 PM
By The Associated Press
A ballot measure that seeks to establish a $15-an-hour minimum wage for many workers in SeaTac is leading by 46 votes.
After Saturday’s ballot drop, Proposition 1 was passing with 2,936 “yes” votes compared to 2,890 “no” votes.
On election night, it was leading by a 261-vote margin — a decent gap in a race that’s likely to draw maybe 6,000 total votes.
Washington has the nation’s highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour; the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
October 6, 2013 at 4:24 PM
By Phuong Le
The Associated Press
Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday that the impacts from a partial federal government shutdown are already being felt across the state.
Inslee, a Democrat, squarely blamed House Republicans and told reporters at a news conference Sunday that the problems could be easily fixed if House Speaker John Boehner would bring a clean temporary spending bill up for a vote without conditions.
“We cannot allow this inexplicable hatred of giving people health insurance to lead us into economic crisis,” Inslee said. “That’s where we’re headed.”
Boehner has insisted that President Barack Obama must negotiate if the president wants to end the shutdown and avert the first-ever default on the government’s debt, which could trigger a financial crisis and recession.
The government shutdown entered its sixth day Sunday with hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed, national parks closed and an array of government services on hold.
Inslee said he is worried that the continued shutdown is slowing the state’s aerospace industry, hurting veterans’ programs and affecting services such as unemployment payments that depend on federal money.
Washington is using state money to continue services in the near term, but Inslee worried about how long the state could do that.
“There’s significant potential for this to get much worse very soon,” he said.
The governor was joined in Seattle by a business owner and several people who work with veterans who described the consequences that the shutdown was having for veterans and others.
Casey Ingels of Lakewood-based Tactical Tailor, which makes gear for military and law enforcement, said he has had to lay off 75 employees because of the shutdown.
“We owe our federal employees and contracting employers some predictability,” he said, adding that it was having a devastating impact on the company.
June 28, 2013 at 3:42 PM
By Staff Reporter Colin Campbell
The parking lot of the Bellevue Burgermaster was filled Friday morning with people hungry, not for burgers, but for state transportation funding.
A coalition of local elected officials and businesspeople gathered at the fast food joint near I-520 to again urge the state Senate to pass a $10 billion transportation tax package that would fund local roads, bridges and transit services.
After a drawn-out process, state legislators Thursday reached a tentative $33.6 billion two-year budget to avert a government shutdown. One likely point of argument in the transportation bill will be the inclusion of a light rail in the Columbia River crossing. Senate Republicans oppose funding the light-rail line, which they say is a waste of potential road space.
The theme of the Friday news conference — “moving ahead together” — was clear, and the handful of speakers who took the podium didn’t miss the opportunity to directly compare the state economy to a road, requiring investing and upkeep.
King County Executive Dow Constantine, thanked the Democrat-controlled state House of Representatives for approving the package, which includes a 10-cent gas tax increase, a $20 vehicle fee increase and a 1.5 percent MVET renewal fee. He called on the Senate, which has a Republican majority, to do the same, asking them to “join us and get on the bus and pave the way to prosperity.”
Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis cited his credentials as a fiscal conservative and said the bill isn’t so much about spending money as it is about investing it. He said the coalition of groups was encouraging and sending a clear message.
“It is good fiscal sense,” Lewis said. “We need to have the partnership we see here before us. I’ve talked to labor; I’ve talked to businesses; I’ve talked to the cities. Cities from the east side to the west. The farmers in Yakima need this to happen just as much as the people in downtown Seattle.”
“We call on that one more step of bold leadership from our senators to represent us and to move our state forward,” he added.
Bob Donegan, president and CEO of Ivar’s restaurants, put the need in more concrete terms. He said one of his truck drivers used to be able to make three trips to and from the company’s Mukilteo facility in Snohomish County, where its chowder is made, but because of worsening traffic, he now can only make two.
Put simply, Donegan said, “If we want chowder, we have to have a transportation bill.”
Organizers said they chose Burgermaster for the 20-minute event because the backdrop, a loud bridge construction site, perfectly illustrated the importance of transportation investment. Maud Daudon, president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, who emcee’d the conference, thanked the various groups represented, as well as the burger restaurant for hosting it.
But one Burgermaster waitress, looking on from inside, wasn’t amused at the choice of location.
“It’s frustrating,” she said, gesturing to the group through one of the restaurant’s windows. “It’s a business, not a banquet hall.”
April 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A bipartisan group of state senators released a transportation budget proposal Wednesday that both sides call “bare bones.”
The $8.7 billion proposal, released Wednesday, puts $4.1 billion into maintaining and improving roads, banks $200 million in projected toll revenue toward the Alaskan Way Viaduct project and puts $1.2 billion toward servicing bonding debt.
The plan doesn’t include funding for the Columbia River Crossing necessary to trigger federal matching funds and doesn’t pay for linking state Route 167 and state Route 509 to Interstate 5.
Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, and Sen. Curtis King, R- of Yakima are the co-chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee. King and Eide agreed that more money could be put into transportation this year, though King said any new taxes should have the support of voters.
April 2, 2013 at 12:10 PM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is recovering after heart surgery.
Kreidler, 69, underwent the scheduled bypass and heart valve-replacement surgery Monday at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. Doctors had detected a heart murmur several months ago.
Acting Chief Deputy Deb McCurley will fill in for Kreidler while he’s out. Staff says that Kreidler is doing well and is likely to be back in the office within the next few weeks.
March 29, 2013 at 1:05 PM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A key Washington state lawmaker says state funds are too scarce to extend college aid to illegal immigrants. The statements by Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey dim the prospects of the measure supporters call the Washington Dream Act.
Writing Friday in Washington Focus, Bailey said the state makes too many promises it can’t afford to keep. Bailey is chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, which held a hearing on the measure Thursday. Also on the committee is Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom of Medina. Tom, a Democrat, supports the measure, giving it a likely majority on the committee. But he said that Bailey will determine if it gets a vote.
The measure passed the state House earlier this month with bipartisan support.
Bailey did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
March 28, 2013 at 10:05 AM
Gov. Jay Inslee will meet with reporters at 11 a.m. Thursday to discuss how he intends to close the state’s budget shortfall — projected at up to $1.3 billion — and boost education spending as ordered by the state Supreme Court.
Watch the governor’s presentation live on TVW, and come back to seattletimes.com for details and anaylsis from Olympia reporter Andrew Garber as the event gets started.
The GOP-led majority in the Senate will issue its budget in the coming days, followed by House Democrats. The legislative session is to run through the end of April.
March 25, 2013 at 4:26 PM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Republican State Sen. Mike Carrell, who is fighting a blood condition, was recently released from the hospital and is expected to receive a bone-marrow transplant in the coming weeks.
Earlier this year, Carrell was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, also known as pre-leukemia. The chronic disease affects blood-forming stem cells. Carrell had been in the hospital receiving treatment last week after contracting a complicating illness while serving in Olympia.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said Monday that Carrell, of Lakewood, will continue to recuperate at home and will only be called back to the Legislature if his presence is needed for a crucial vote.
Schoesler said that doctors have identified a potential bone-marrow match, and will be aggressively treating the condition with a transplant.
March 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM
OLYMPIA — A House committee held a public hearing on a bill Friday that would tax marijuana brand names and trademarks that could be registered in the state when sale of state-taxed recreational marijuana starts at the end of this year.
The bill, which had a public hearing before the House Finance Committee Friday, would tax “all trademarks, trade names, brand names, patents and copyrights that are related to marijuana.” The tax would be set at $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Democratic Rep. Jeff Morris of Mount Vernon says the money would go toward agricultural research tied to health benefits. During Friday’s hearing he specifically cited research being done at Washington State University on creating plasma from wheat, and making gluten-free wheat.
March 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM
This post was updated at 12:12 p.m.
By Mike Baker
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A group of Washington state senators vowed Tuesday to increase funding for higher education by $300 million but declined to say how they would get the money at a time when lawmakers are already struggling to balance the budget.
Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who developed the plan supported by a GOP-dominated coalition, said it is possible to write a budget that balances state spending while increasing funding for state colleges and universities. He said it will be a matter of prioritizing where government dollars go.
“We’re going to make higher education a priority,” Baumgartner said.
Senate leaders declined to explain how they would pay for the proposal. Lawmakers already face more than a $1 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle and are separately under court order to expand funding for K-12 education.
The senators also propose to require a 3 percent reduction in tuition for in-state students. They also say this will help manage the long-term financial concerns in the state’s prepaid tuition program.
Under the plan, $50 million of the new higher education money would be awarded to schools based on metrics, such as the number of undergraduates in degrees such as science or engineering, the retention rate of first-year students and the average time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree.
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