2019 Legislative session | KNKX

2019 Legislative session

Democratic lawmakers and housing activists unveil a package of housing reforms at an Olympia news conference on Feb. 7.
Will James / KNKX

A series of changes to state housing laws are weeks away from going into effect July 28. They're the result of a push this year by state lawmakers to stem rising homelessness in Washington.

The policies include protections designed to shield tenants from sudden evictions or rent increases, as well as incentives and funding intended to spur cities and counties to increase the supply of housing. 

KNKX reporter Will James spoke with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about the policy changes and how different groups, including landlords and city officials, are preparing.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks, Friday, March 1, 2019, during a campaign event at A&R Solar in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington Legislature adjourned its regular session more than a week ago, but Gov. Jay Inslee has been busy signing bills passed by lawmakers. He’s also been out on the campaign trail in his bid for the presidency in 2020. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins shares the latest in his weekly chat with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Washington Superintendent Chris Reykdal
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Going into the legislative session, many Washington school district officials said one of their biggest priorities was to get more funding for special education.

Now that lawmakers passed a two-year budget and adjourned, some district leaders say they're disappointed in how much lawmakers approved for special education services.

A legislative page walks on a sidewalk near the Insurance Building and the Legislative Building, Monday, April 22, 2019, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Monday marked the start of the last week of the regular session of the Legislature.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

We’re in the final week of the regular legislative session. And state lawmakers have been busy, passing bills and continuing negotiations for the state’s two-year spending plan. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins provided the latest updates in his weekly chat with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

What was advertised as the nation’s strongest would-be data privacy law has dissolved in the Washington state Legislature after lawmakers failed to reach a consensus over some key provisions.  

capitol campus in Olympia
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

We’re less than two weeks away from the Legislature’s scheduled end date for the regular session. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about the action in recent days.

The Capitol dome is seen through cherry blossoms on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Olympia.
Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press

Washington’s legislative session is in its final three-week stretch. The House and Senate must negotiate a final budget, and a lot of bills remain in play. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked about the latest updates with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

People gather around the sundial near the Legislative Building at the Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, during lunch hour on a sunny day in what has been a mild winter in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

House Democrats in the state Legislature have proposed a nearly $53 million budget for the next two years, a plan that will rely on new revenue such as a capital gains tax. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about specifics of the proposal.

Environmental activists gather around structures erected on a grassy area in front of the Legislative building at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, the first day of the 2018 legislative session.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

One of the big, trending topics in Olympia this year is the environment. After years of divided control, Democrats now hold the majority in both chambers of the Legislature. And environmental activists see an opportunity to pass a number of new laws. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins shares what’s on the agenda in his weekly chat with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Many school districts are planning substantial budget cuts for the fall, including Seattle, Olympia and Tacoma. At the same time, they're urging state lawmakers to raise the limit on levies so they can collect more in local property taxes.

An inflatable orca is displayed during a rally to call attention to environmental issues on Monday, Jan. 14. The environment is one of many high-priority issues in the 2019 legislative session, which is just about halfway over.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

There is a lot of activity in the Legislature right now, as state lawmakers work against a Wednesday deadline to move bills out of their chamber of origin. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about what’s going on and what’s to come.

Washington House representatives listen to testimony, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, before they unanimously voted to approve a code of conduct for the Legislature in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

State lawmakers are approaching the halfway point of their 105-day session, and they’re closing in on the deadline to pass non-budget-related bills out of their house of origin. Democrats control both chambers this year, and they’re flexing their majority muscles. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins updated Morning Edition producer Ariel Van Cleave on the latest progress.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Lawmakers continue to wrestle with the new education-funding system they put in place in 2017, in which the Legislature increased the state property tax as a way to satisfy the long-running McCleary school-finance lawsuit. The approach limited how much districts can raise through local levies.

Port Angeles School District

Voters have until Tuesday, Feb. 12, to return their ballots in an election that's important to many Washington school districts. But some school districts are reckoning with the possibility of not winning enough voter approval for their bond measures, and they’ve turned to the state Legislature to try to lower the threshold required for passage.  

Elaine Thompson / file / AP Photo

A bill to shield endangered Puget Sound orca whales from noise and other disruptions caused by vessel traffic got a first hearing in Olympia on Tuesday. The most controversial piece of the proposed legislation would implement a temporary, de facto ban on Southern Resident whale watching. 

Washington State Patrol

A frequent complaint from parents is that their children don’t have enough time to finish their lunch at school. Now, one of the state’s newest lawmakers has introduced legislation to try to figure out the barriers to giving students sufficient time to eat.

The execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass in Walla Walla, Washington. The state Legislature is exploring repealing the death penalty, after the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

State lawmakers are considering a measure that would repeal Washington’s death penalty. The Senate Law and Justice Committee will discuss Senate Bill 5339 today in Olympia. The proposal follows a state Supreme Court decision that ruled the policy as unconstitutional, arbitrary and racially biased. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked about this repeal effort with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Seattle Public Schools

Navigating the public school system can be daunting for families with limited knowledge of English. Some state lawmakers have introduced legislation to help those families get the interpretation assistance they need.

Capitol campus
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins says it’s hard to tell what will become a lightning-rod issue during the “fire hose” phase of the legislative session. So far this week, the lightning rod centered on hair salons. Jenkins talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about some of the many issues being discussed in Olympia.

Sen. Joe Nguyen is sworn in at the Capitol.
Aaron Barna / Washington State Legislature

OLYMPIA — Joe Nguyen doesn’t look like your typical lawmaker. He’s the first Vietnamese member in the state Senate. And at 35, he’s one of the youngest.

“People are realizing that I’m a senator and not a staffer,” Nguyen said. But, he added, people do sometimes ask "who do you work for?" 

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at the Battle Born Progress Progressive Summit, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
John Locher / The Associated Press

Ahead of Gov. Jay Inslee’s State of the State address Tuesday afternoon, Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about what to expect. They discussed the two-year spending plan and other issues that should arise during the 2019 legislative session.

In this Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, photo, the afternoon sun illuminates the Legislative Building, left, and the Insurance Building, right, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington’s Legislature convenes for the 2019 session in less than a week. Lawmakers will come together starting Monday for a 105-day, budget-writing session. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins joined Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to talk budget and the many other issues on the docket.

state capitol
The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee announced his proposed budget Thursday, calling for an additional $10 billion in state spending over the next two years. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins breaks down the plan, and state Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Granger) reacted to it in an interview with All Things Considered host Ed Ronco.