Topic: State Legislature
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March 8, 2012 at 11:46 PM
The Associated Press
Gov. Gregoire has for special legislative session as Washington state Legislature prepares to adjourn.
Lawmakers failed to agree on a state budget tonight.
March 3, 2012 at 8:02 AM
The state Legislature has passed a bill that will toughen the sentence for DUI-related vehicular-homicide convictions.
On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 2216, which increases the penalties for drunk drivers charged with vehicular homicide. The measure passed the House unanimously on Feb. 13.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who has long been pushing for the change in law, said that defendants in these cases will go from serving a minimum of about 20 months in prison to nearly five years. The new sentencing range is on par with a first-degree manslaughter sentence, prosecutors said.
“The toughest part of my job as the Prosecuting Attorney is to meet with families and tell them that the drunk who killed their mother, sister or brother will be out in less than 20 years was a bitter pill to swallow,” Satterberg said. “The current state law is inadequate. The law is supposed to punish offenders and protect the rest of us.”
The change in law will only impact DUI-related vehicular-homicide cases, Satterberg said. The change will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, prosecutors said.
Lawmakers heard from Nabila Lacey, whose husband, Steven Lacey, was killed in July by a drunken driver whose blood alcohol content allegedly was 0.29 percent, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Patrick Rexroat, of Snohomish, who allegedly pounded his chest like a gorilla after slamming his SUV into Lacey’s BMW on Northeast 85th Street in Kirkland near Interstate 405, has pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Rexroat is slated to be sentenced next Friday.
The change in law will not impact his sentence.
March 2, 2012 at 5:58 PM
OLYMPIA – A bill to link abortion coverage to maternity care was defeated Friday in the Washington state Senate.
The bill was caught up in a late-afternoon Republican budget coup, in which the GOP peeled off the necessary three Democratic votes to introduce an austere budget plan.
The abortion measure, HB 2330, had passed the House, and Democrats expected it to have the votes necessary in the Senate. But two attempts to bring it to the floor were narrowly voted down in the aftermath of the budget coup.
Friday at 5 p.m. was the cutoff to introduce non-budgetary bills to the floor of either legislative chamber.
Among those professing support for the bill but voting against it coming to the floor was Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. Litzow said allowing debate and a vote on the bill would have unacceptably opened the floodgates for other bills.
“I am really disappointed that the Democrat leadership couldn’t get this bill to the floor,” said Litzow, asserting that it should have been introduced days or even weeks earlier.
Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, rejected this line of reasoning.
“The toughest bills are always at the last,” she said. “Always.”
The bill is likely dead for this session, but could be taken up again in a special session — and could be used as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.
Supporters say the bill would ensure continued access to abortion coverage once federal health care changes are enacted in 2014.
December 7, 2011 at 11:59 AM
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Washington State Patrol cannot bar trespassing protesters from the state Capitol campus, as the police force has been for the past couple of weeks.
The state patrol was using the “trespassing admonishment” to clear out protesters without arresting them, said State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins. Now that a temporary restraining order is in place, he said, the patrol will arrest any protesters who have to be forcibly removed from state buildings or property.
Hundreds of demonstrators have been in Olympia since Nov. 28 to protest state budget cuts. Since then, the patrol has kicked about three dozen off campus for 30 days, Calkins said. About 16 have been arrested, many for violating the order to stay off the Capitol, he said.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Jan. 5.
November 30, 2011 at 1:16 PM
Hundreds of students from Seattle’s Garfield High School walked out of classes this afternoon to protest state budget cuts to education.
The students began their walk to City Hall at 12:30 p.m. to “tell the world that we are fed up with the lack of funding for education,” according to a statement sent by protest organizer Mathis Watson before the march.
“For too long, this state’s budget has been balanced on the backs of its students,” Watson wrote. “We are the people who have been affected most by these cuts, and we are showing that we care.”
The protest is meant to rally opposition to more education cuts and insert a student voice into the discussion as state lawmakers meet in Olympia to close a $2 billion budget shortfall.
At City Hall today, the students plan to meet up with students from West Seattle and Nathan Hale high schools, who also walked out. They have a meeting scheduled with Mayor Mike McGinn, although they explained their problem is not with him, but with state lawmakers.
Amid chants of “no more cuts,” 16-year-old junior Jared Moore explained the point of the walkout.
“Our goal is to broadcast a message to Seattle and to Washington state that education is an inherent right and reducing the budget for education not only harms us but harms future generations.”
Jessica Markowitz, also a 16-year-old junior, talked about cuts already in place in summer and night school. This afternoon, she is missing Spanish IV, she said, explaining that the main point wasn’t to skip class but to make a greater point.
“They’re impacting our education and our future,” she said.
Seattle Public Schools has been forced to cut $80 million from its operating budget over the past three years because of state action, School Board member Michael DeBell said at a recent finance- committee meeting. Another $20 million is expected to be cut from next year’s budget.
The state Supreme Court is currently considering a lawsuit that alleges that state Legislature is failing to fulfill its constitutionally-obligated duty to fund basic education. A decision is expected soon.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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