Government and Politics

Political news

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."

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says he wants to make it easier to put an initiative on the ballot. Eyman submitted nearly 350,000 signatures Thursday for his latest ballot measure. But critics are suspicious.

Eyman’s so-called "Protect the Initiative Act" would give signature-gatherers new protections from harassment. It would also stretch the time initiative backers have to gather signatures in Washington from six months to one year. By comparison Oregon allows up to two years.

Wikimedia

It’s not just the so-called "fiscal cliff" that Congress is trying to resolve Monday. A tentative agreement on what’s been dubbed the "dairy cliff" is aimed at avoiding a government-induced spike in the price of milk.

Northwest dairy farmers are paying close attention to those negotiations. Without an extension of the farm bill, a 1949 law will kick in, forcing the government to buy dairy products at hugely inflated prices by today's standards. That would create an artificial dairy shortage.

US Census Bureau

Centenarians are still a rare breed, but their ranks are swelling. The most recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau found more people than you might expect over 100 years old in the Northwest. There are more than 1,000 centenarians in Washington state, nearly 700 in Oregon and 220 in Idaho.

"Oh, my goodness. People live to be old these days, huh?" says 100-year-old Justine Ackerman of Newport, Washington. She says she credits her longevity in part to clean living.

"I never drank or smoked, or anything like that," she says.

Pages