Washington legislature

Inland Journal, August 10, 2017

Aug 10, 2017

This week on Inland Journal...
    ▪    We talk with a Chelan state legislator about regulating marijuana in Washington. With Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sparring over the state's pot law enforcement, Republican Representative Cary Condotta says the state is actually doing a good job regulating reefer.
    ▪    We’ll report on a dilemma for liquor retailers in Washington that want to create their own ‘private labels’. Some retailers, such as Costco and Fred Meyer, have been selling their brands, but they’re technically illegal. We’ll look into the situation.
    ▪    We'll learn how new sensors installed on power poles around Spokane are helping researchers learn about air pollution, including wildfire smoke, in the city.
    ▪    And Austin Jenkins from the Northwest News Network will tell us about an upcoming rape trial involving a former top official from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with allegations that the work culture in one part of the agency was toxic for women.


Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has released a letter sent by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In it, Sessions suggests Washington is not adequately regulating its legal marijuana market. He reiterates that Congress considers marijuana a dangerous drug and that it’s a federal crime to distribute it.

But at least one Washington legislator thinks Washington is defending how the state has regulated the drug.

Finding Stable Financial Help for Washington Counties

Jul 13, 2017

Rep. Cary Condotta (R-Chelan) joins us to talk about helping Washington counties find the steady revenue sources they need to provide services.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has been signing bills that were approved by the legislature during a flurry of action last week. The governor signed a new two-year operating budget just 45 minutes before the new fiscal year began. He has signed an education budget designed to satisfy the state Supreme Court, which has ruled the state has not fully funded basic education. And then yesterday he signed a version of a paid family leave bill that had only partially made its way through the legislative process before resurfacing in a different form last Friday.

Inland Journal, July 6, 2017

Jul 6, 2017

This week on Inland Journal, while last Friday’s budget drama in Olympia drew the most headlines, there was one other interesting debate on the last day of the session. It was about paid family leave, which is now coming to Washington. We’ll hear some of the debate. County officials in Washington are disappointed with the new budget. We’ll hear why. And we’ll go to Coeur d’Alene and talk with state representative Paul Amador. He’ll talk about his first session in Boise.

Washington Governor Signs Paid Family Leave Bill

Jul 5, 2017

Washington Governor Jay Inslee today signed into law a bill that creates a state-run paid family and medical leave insurance program.

The family leave program will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave during a 12-month period to take care of a newborn or a newly-adopted child. They can be granted leave to care for a sick child or parent or take care of their own health.


Washington’s new budget was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee about 45 minutes before the end of the fiscal year on Saturday morning. Many, including school districts, are happy about it. Schools will get nearly two billion dollars more next year.

But some local governments are unhappy because they didn’t get one of the things they sought most.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law a new two-year state budget that promises significantly more money for public schools. The governor’s action capped a remarkable final day of the 2015-17 biennium.

Legislative budget writers announced mid-week that they’d come to agreement on a state operating budget and an education budget. It didn’t leave them much time to move the budget through the required process before the end of the fiscal year at midnight Saturday.

And so Friday was a busy day.

The state tax incentive for film productions in Washington is set to expire at the end of the month, and it’s uncertain if it will be renewed.

There is concern that if the tax incentive is not renewed it could cost jobs in Spokane, where the Z Nation series is produced. The series airs on the Syfy network and features a post-apocalyptic world, complete with Zombies.

Democratic Representative, Marcus Riccelli has sponsored the bill to extend and expand the tax incentive that has been in effect since 2002:

Washington Governor Signs Forest Health Bill

May 9, 2017

Washington Governor Jay Inslee yesterday (Monday) signed into law two measures of interest to people in the northeastern part of the state. One deals with preventing wildfires, the other with preventing wolves from killing livestock.


Spokane County has one of Washington’s most well-established conservation futures programs. It’s a taxpayer-approved and funded program that allows the county to buy environmentally-sensitive lands to preserve them and allow the public to enjoy them.

There are about 7,800 acres set aside all over the county, including the recently-purchased Holy Names parcel along the Spokane River, just to the north of Spokane Falls Community College.


A pile of bills still remains on Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for his consideration.

Among the list that Inslee signed into law last week is one that will allow counties to spend more of their conservation futures tax money on maintenance and operations. That tax is authorized by taxpayers to allow counties to buy environmentally-sensitive parcels from private landowners.

Inland Journal, April 27, 2017

Apr 27, 2017

This week on the Inland Journal, thousands of boat owners in Washington and Idaho will have to take an extra step this year as they relicense their watercraft. For some it won’t be easy. Washington’s governor is in bill signing mode. We’ll tell you about a few of the state’s new laws. The head of the Public Broadcasting System stops in Spokane to talk about preserving federal funding for public broadcasting. And we’ll learn more about how so-called ‘adventure travel’ is changing to become more accessible to older travelers.

USA Today

Every piece of legislation considered by a body of elected officials has some kind of back story. Sometimes a bill is sparked by an idea from a constituent. That was the case with one bill (Senate Bill 5472) now waiting for Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s signature. It started with an innocuous question about election drop boxes.


A Washington House committee has approved — barely — a bill that would allow local governments to increase property taxes each year by more than the currently-allowed one percent.


Much of the focus in Olympia is on K-12 education and satisfying a state Supreme Court mandate that Washington spend more money on public schools. That would take some of the burden for funding schools away from local property taxes.

But marijuana has been on the agenda too. The state is still making adjustments to the system for regulating and taxing it.

Pot Bills Get Hearings in Washington Legislature

Jan 22, 2017

A Washington House committee approved two bills this week related to the state’s marijuana industry, which has steadily grown since the state’s voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

In the first, the House Commerce and Gaming Committee voted for legislation aimed at getting counties and cities to act one way or another on marijuana retail license applications. Many cities have licensed new marijuana retail shops that are now doing business. Many have banned those shops within their borders. Some municipalities have done neither.  

State Lawmakers Sometimes Aim Small

Dec 21, 2016

The Washington and ldaho legislatures will take up big systemic issues such as public school funding when they convene next month. But you might be surprised to learn that many individual legislators have modest goals when you ask them what they hope to accomplish.

Republican Shawn Keough from Sandpoint, in the northern panhandle of Idaho, is entering her 11th term as a state senator. She’s one of the senior members and as such she’s involved in high level work, such as writing state budgets. But it’s the problem solving that makes the job satisfying for her.

Legislators React to Governor's Mental Health Budget

Dec 14, 2016

Washington legislators have offered a mixed reaction to Governor Jay Inslee's proposal to spend an extra $300 million to add staff and new beds to the state’s mental health system.

One of the main thrusts of the governor’s plan is to move people who aren’t the most difficult cases, those who are committed on civil grounds, out of the state’s two main mental hospitals and into facilities within communities.