Government and Politics

Political news

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It’s like Downton Abbey. A new season of the legislature begins with plenty of intrigue and tensions between powerful personalities.

Washington lawmakers convene Monday for the start of the 2013 session. They face a $2 billion budget problem, an unusual political dynamic in the state senate and hot button issues like gun control.

There are familiar faces and new ones. Chief among them Governor-elect Jay Inslee.

Jessica Paterson / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers return to Salem Monday for a legislative session that's expected to be full of debate over economic and public safety issues. Democrats will control both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office, but that doesn't mean there won't be disagreements.

Spokane Sues Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac

Jan 11, 2013

SPOKANE, Wash. - The city of Spokane, Washington is suing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The class-action suit claims the two mortgage giants should have to pay a real estate excise tax to Spokane and dozens of other cities across Washington.

When a piece of property is sold in Washington, the seller usually pays a real estate transfer fee. Cities use the tax to fix things like potholes and sewer lines. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac say don’t have to pay the tax because they're government-sponsored enterprises.

Oregon Legislature

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers are poised to make history Monday by electing the first ever openly lesbian Speaker of the House. Not just in Oregon, but in the country. Portland Democrat Tina Kotek will lead the chamber as lawmakers tackle the state budget, pension reform, and other issues. One issue not on her agenda: Same-sex marriage.

Kotek won't be the first openly gay person to lead a legislative chamber in the U.S. There have been at least four others. But she'll be the first woman. She calls that “humbling.”

Oregon Department of Transportation

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber wants permission to make a little extra cash on the side. The state's Ethics Commission is poised to sign off on the Democrat's request to earn money through out-of-state speaking engagements.

During the eight years between his second and third terms as governor, John Kitzhaber became a nationally sought-after speaker on health care policy. The governor recently asked the state's ethics panel it would be okay, now that he's in office, to continue to accept such invitations.

Shawn Murphy / Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A shipbuilding executive with no social work experience will head Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services. Governor-elect Jay Inslee announced that appointment and four other cabinet picks Thursday.

Inslee’s choice for DSHS Secretary is former Democratic State Senator Kevin Quigley. He’s far from an agency insider. In fact most recently he was a president with Vigor Industrial, a major shipbuilder. At one point Quigley ran the company’s Everett shipyard.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

PORTLAND - Washington and Oregon are getting serious about finding a replacement for the gas tax. Steadily improving fuel efficiency in cars is eroding the primary source of road funding in the Northwest. A new report to the 2013 Washington Legislature finds it "feasible" to have drivers pay by the mile instead. In Oregon, lawmakers have actually drafted legislation to do just that.

Suburban Portland SUV owner Mary Olson has possibly glimpsed the future of how we'll pay for roads, although it's tricky to spot.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has been on a roll. Halfway through his unprecedented third term, he's ushered in major changes to Oregon schools and the state’s health care system. Last month he won a special tax deal for Nike. But on the eve of the upcoming legislative session, Kitzhaber isn't saying whether he's preparing for his final act in Oregon politics, or setting the stage to run yet again.

Sen. Crapo Pleads Guilty To DUI, Apologizes

Jan 4, 2013
Alexandria Police Dept.

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo apologized profusely Friday after pleading guilty to drunken driving. A judge outside Washington, D.C. ordered the Republican from Idaho to pay a $250 fine and take an alcohol safety class. Crapo will also lose his driver's license for a year.

Crapo was arrested two days before Christmas in Alexandria, Va. In statement after his court appearance, Crapo said politicians should be held to a higher standard.

Oregon.gov

SALEM, Ore. – Four of Oregon's statewide elected officials jointly took the oath of office Friday. Secretary of State Kate Brown, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum were all re-elected in November.

Rosenblum noted that the event was a bit of déjà vu. That's because she first took the oath last June when she was appointed to fill out the remainder of John Kroger's term.

"Today, I am genuinely thrilled to be here, taking the oath for a second time, but for the first as your elected Attorney General."

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