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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: A day in jail would motivate legislators to fund education

OLYMPIA – The Legislature sends its latest report to the state Supreme Court this week on how it’s stepping up to the plate on educating Washington’s children, an exercise that resembles a high school student cramming together an end-of-term project after frittering away much of the semester. The question is, will the court give legislators a passing grade, an incomplete or detention? We vote for Door No. 3, but more on that later.

Medical marijuana referendum won’t be on Washington ballot

OLYMPIA – Washington voters won’t be asked this fall if they want to keep changes made this spring to the state’s medical marijuana laws. Organizers of a petition drive to place a referendum of the new law on the ballot won’t be turning in signatures by this week’s deadline, the secretary of state’s office said Monday.

Medical marijuana law won’t be on ballot

OLYMPIA -- An effort to give voters a chance to reject changes to the state's medical marijuana laws has failed. Supporters of a referendum to put it on the November ballot have told state officials they won't be turning in signatures.

Spin Control: Governor’s actions seal legislative action

Although the Legislature left town July 9, the true end of the session came Wednesday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed the last three of the 363 bills lawmakers managed to pass in their record-setting, 176-day, triple-overtime stint. That’s an average of just over two bills a day, although averages are among the most misleading of numbers. Many days, particularly in the three overtime periods, went without a bill being passed, or even debated, because most legislators weren’t around. Parsed another way, it was about 15 percent of the 2,434 bills they introduced, many of which disappeared into the void without a vote, a hearing or, in some cases, a second thought.

Sunday Spin: 363 bills in 176 days, and other numbers from the 2015 session

OLYMPIA – Although the Legislature left town July 9, the true end of the session came Wednesday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed the last three of the 363 bills lawmakers managed to pass in their record-setting 176-day triple-overtime stint. We parse the numbers, and look at the final signing.

Shawn Vestal: Washington state gas tax a tale of two votes

Today we have a tale of two votes – a Republican yes and a Republican no for a state package that will bring $1 billion in new transportation investments to Spokane and raise the gas tax by almost 12 cents a gallon. On one hand, Sen. Michael Baumgartner – whom the conventional wisdom pegs as a blunt and sometimes pugilistic battler – emerged from this year’s legislative session having worked alongside local Democrats to pull a lot of money to the dry side of the state, including the final funding for the North Spokane Corridor. Baumgartner took perhaps the toughest vote a Republican can take these days, voting yes on a tax, but he says the benefits for his district carried the day.

Transportation package goes into effect

A package of transportation bills that includes an 11.9 cent gasoline tax increase and about $16 billion worth of projects around the state became law Wednesday. The first 7 cents of the new gasoline tax starts Aug. 1; the projects stretch into 2031.

Inslee signs bills delaying I-1351, biology test requirements

OLYMPIA -- Two issues that forced the Legislature into an extra week of overtime were signed into law today. Gov. Jay Inslee signed bills that delay class-size reductions from fourth grade through high school for four years, and give high school seniors a two-year reprieve on the biology assessment test.

Landowners face uncertainty as north-south freeway gets boost in funding

Stacey Jordan has been waiting two decades for an answer to when the state will take the property that holds his family-owned business. Industrial Welding, at 1203 N. Greene St., specializes in heavy equipment construction and repair and is in the path of the North Spokane Corridor. With the Legislature voting recently to increase the gasoline tax and spend $11 billion over the next 14 years on new transportation projects, he will get an answer. Included in that new spending is nearly $879 million to engineer, buy up real estate and build the southern portion of the corridor, also known as the north-south freeway.

Washington Legislature wraps up session

OLYMPIA – The Legislature’s final day of the 2015 session went smoothly, in contrast to many of the 175 days that preceded it. The House moved swiftly to pass three bills on its agenda: a two-year delay of a biology test high school seniors must pass to get diplomas; a long list of transportation projects to be built with the 11.9 cent increase in the gasoline tax motorists will see over the next year; and authority to sell bonds to pay for some of those projects.

Senate OKs delaying I-1351

OLYMPIA – With no votes to spare, the Senate on Thursday mustered the super-majority needed to suspend parts of the citizen initiative requiring smaller class sizes. With that vote and a pair of others, senators paved the way to end the longest session in state history sometime today. The bill needed 33 yes votes, and got them, but only after Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, switched his vote from no to yes, allowing the bill to be sent to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

Senate approves delays to I-1351

A week after failing to get a large enough majority to suspend parts of I-1351, the Senate took another run and barely passed a four-year delay.

Senate could vote on delaying class-size changes today

OLYMPIA – An agreement that would allow the Legislature to fill a potential $2 billion budget hole, finish work and adjourn for the year was announced Wednesday by Senate leaders. It would allow some high school students who failed a controversial science assessment test to receive their diplomas and approve a delay on Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction ballot measure approved in November.

State budget on hold as lawmakers debate suspending part of class-size initiative

OLYMPIA – Democrats and Republicans in the Senate remained at odds Monday over a key bill designed to keep the recently approved $38.2 billion operating budget balanced. But the dispute, which pushed the Legislature into its 172nd day, had no solution in sight. A measure to suspend parts of Initiative 1351, which requires smaller class sizes from kindergarten through high school, is necessary to make the state’s budgets balance over the next four years. It failed to get enough Democratic votes to pass the needed two-thirds supermajority after an all-night session in the Senate last week.