Editorial — Legislature needs to reach transportation consensus

May 27, 2015

State legislators are closer than they’ve been in years to reaching a deal to fix the state’s aging transportation infrastructure. They must not get bogged down by ideology and let slip this opportunity to create jobs and make roads safer.

The Senate already passed a package, including a gas-tax increase, with bipartisan support. Last month, the House Transportation Committee passed two key Senate bills, ESSB 5987 and ESSB 5988. Negotiations are under way to reconcile differences between the Senate and the House’s Democratic leadership.

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Issaquah Teachers Protest Targets Legislature

May 26, 2015

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To the Editor — May 21, 2015

May 20, 2015

Teachers

Strike doesn’t set a good example for students

When teachers go on strike, they doing so against state law (RCW 41.56.120). (Nothing contained in this chapter shall permit any public employee the right to strike or refuse to preform his or her official duties.)

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Sen. Steve Litzow declines pay raise until education is fully funded

May 17, 2015

NEW — 6 a.m. May 17, 2015

Sen. Steve Litzow, a 41st District Republican, declined an 11 percent pay increase recommended and approved by an independent citizens’ commission that sets pay for elected officials until the Legislature addresses its paramount constitutional duty and fully funds public education.

“Washington state’s priority is to provide every child with a quality education,” Litzow, who serves as chairman of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, said in a news release. “Until lawmakers can get our job done and agree on a new budget that includes ample funding for important student programs, teachers and the actual cost of educating children, it’s irresponsible to accept a pay increase.

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Sen. Mark Mullet to donate pay raise to Issaquah Food Bank

May 16, 2015

NEW — 6 a.m. May 16, 2015

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, will donate his share of a pay increase recently approved for state lawmakers to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

“I learned (May 15) there is no easy way to decline this pay increase,” Mullet said in a news release. “We did not ask for it, and did not vote for it, so I figured donating the pay increase to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank would make sure this pay raise benefits our local community.”

Mullet will donate the first portion of the pay raise — $3,368 — when it kicks in this September. The following year, the amount of his donation will increase to $4,723 as the second portion of the pay raise takes effect.

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Governor calls legislative special session

April 28, 2015

Gov. Jay Inslee told state legislative leaders he intends to call them into a special session April 29.

The idea is to complete what Inslee’s office called “major work” left undone when the regular session ended April 24. Inslee was to have budget negotiators in his office April 27 to give them a head start prior to the opening of the special session.

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State superintendent releases plan to fully fund basic education

April 21, 2015

At an April 14 press conference, state Superintendent Randy Dorn released a plan to fully fund basic education costs, to help state legislators comply with a state Supreme Court mandate.

The state is under court order to produce a complete plan detailing how it intends to fully fund K-12 basic education without the use of local funding. Neither Gov. Jay Inslee nor the Legislature has introduced such a plan.

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Editorial — Raise smoking age to 21 to save lives

March 31, 2015

Tobacco addiction is the leading cause of preventable deaths in Washington, causing about 8,300 residents to die each year. Annual health costs now surpass $2.8 billion.

The best way to combat this crisis is to raise the legal smoking age to 21, as the Washington State Legislature is considering with SHB 1458. Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested the bill, and science supports his efforts.

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Education and roads key topics as state lawmakers visit area

March 17, 2015

State legislators descended on their Eastside jurisdictions March 14, holding open houses in Bellevue and Issaquah.

At Bellevue’s Somerset Elementary School, one main topic was education, with dozens of teachers outside, and later inside, carrying signs mostly declaring, “It’s time to fully fund education.”

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Christopher Chen serves as a Senate page

March 17, 2015

Christopher Chen, a student at The Overlake School, recently spent a week working as a page for the Washington State Senate at the Capitol in Olympia.

Sen. Steve Litzow with page Christopher Chen

Sen. Steve Litzow with page Christopher Chen

Chen was sponsored by 41st District Sen. Steve Litzow.

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