Government and Politics

Political news

OLYMPIA, Wash. − A bill to require insurance companies to offer plans that cover maternity services and abortions passed the Washington House Friday. It is unclear, however, whether the legislation will make it through the Senate’s Republican-majority caucus. Majority Leader Rodney Tom has said he doesn’t want to vote on divisive social issues.

In the House debate, Rep. Laurie Jinkins said this bill would provide options for abortion coverage after the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Idaho is now hemmed in by four states where marijuana is legal in some form, and a panel of state lawmakers fears Idaho could be next. A state Senate committee approved a pair of measures against marijuana, including one asking the federal government to crack down on Idaho’s neighbors.

Oregon, Montana and Nevada allow medical marijuana, while Washington legalized it for recreational use.

Bill Regulating Private Gun Sales Passes Committee

Feb 19, 2013
glasgows / Flickr - tinyurl.com/h5s37yu

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A bill to require background checks for private gun sales is one step closer to a final vote. Tuesday, members of a Washington House committee voted seven to six.

Republican Rep. Jay Rodne opposed the bill, saying it would not be enforceable.

“We’re going to drain precious law enforcement resources to policing this measure,” he says.

But, Republican Rep. Mike Hope, a police officer, said this measure could help prevent shootings like what happened in Newtown, Conn.

Department of Energy

OLYMPIA, Wash. – There are renewed concerns about the condition of buried waste tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. The US Department of Energy says one of those mammoth World War II era containers -- thought to have been stabilized -- is losing highly radioactive waste at a rate of 150 to 300 gallons a year.

Keith Phillips is energy policy advisor to Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He says the question now is whether other tanks are also possibly leaking.

Northwest Lawmakers Target Drones For Regulation

Feb 15, 2013
Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Rapidly changing drone technology has some Northwest lawmakers uncomfortable. Legislators in Oregon, Washington and Idaho have introduced measures to regulate and limit the way law enforcement can use the devices. But people who fly these unmanned aircraft for fun are afraid well-intentioned regulations will criminalize their hobby.

Patrick Sherman straps on a pair of goggles and fires up a strange looking aircraft sitting in front of him.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state has a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to radioactive leaks from the Hanford reservation in southeast Washington. The Democrat made his comments Friday in response to news of an apparent leak of high level nuclear waste from an underground tank.

This would be the first leak of its kind since 2005. That’s when the US Department of Energy completed efforts to stabilize dozens of tanks that had released more than a million gallons of waste into the ground.

Oregon Gathers Signature For Same-Sex Marriage

Feb 14, 2013
Virginia Alvino / Northwest News Network

Gay rights supporters in Oregon have begun the early work to put same-sex marriage on the 2014 ballot. Their petition was filed with the Secretary of State on Monday.

Now, 1,000 signatures are needed to initiate the ballot title process. Among the first to sign the petition Thursday were Governor John Kitzhaber and former Governor Barbara Roberts.

Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Debated In Olympia

Feb 14, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – People seeking welfare assistance could face a drug test before they receive any benefits, under a bill in Olympia. Thursday, Washington lawmakers heard debate over a drug test requirement that would kick in early in the application process, if caseworkers feel it’s necessary.

Republican Rep. Jan Angel said this measure would encourage addicts to get help before receiving benefits.

“We can get someone into rehab or into treatment, and we can still feed the family.”

Washington Governor Unveils Job Creation Plan

Feb 13, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a series of proposals Wednesday in Olympia he’s hoping will create more jobs. The Democratic governor’s plan focuses on training for tech-savvy workers and funding transportation projects. He also says expanding Medicaid next year will lead to more than 10,000 new jobs within two years.

“Expansion of Medicaid is a system that will not only reach over 250,000 Washingtonians with health care, but will help job creation all across the state.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Calls to 911 for underage drinkers suffering from alcohol poisoning would not prompt police charges if a bill in Olympia passes. Tuesday, Washington lawmakers heard testimony on a measure that would allow young partiers to get help without penalty.

Currently, teens sent to the hospital after a hard night of drinking could find themselves in trouble with the law. Democratic Rep. Marko Liias said his bill would help young people avoid death by alcohol poisoning.

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