2021 Legislative Session | KNKX

2021 Legislative Session

Native American advocate Carl Moore sits next to Native American imagery painted along a walkway which leads from the Bountiful High School parking lot up to the football field Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Bountiful, Utah.
Rick Bowmer / The Associated Press

The Washington Legislature has approved a measure to ban the use of Native American names, symbols and images as school mascots, logos and team names at most public schools in Washington.

A plastic recycling company worker sorts out plastic bottles collected for processing at Tokyo Petbottle Recycle Co. in Tokyo in June 2019.
Koji Sasahara / The Associated Press file

It looks increasingly likely that Washington will ban Styrofoam, reduce plastic waste and strengthen recycling markets. A bill to that effect is nearly through the Legislature.

State Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, became a lawyer after being incarcerated. She sponsored legislation to restore voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they're still on parole.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a bill automatically restoring voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they are still on parole — a measure sponsored by a lawmaker who was herself formerly incarcerated.

Billy Frank Jr. poses at Frank's Landing on the Nisqually River near Olympia on June 29, 2012.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

A measure to honor the late Billy Frank Jr. with a statue at the U.S. Capitol cleared the Legislature Monday.

In this April 15, 2020, photo a protester holds a sign she looks out from the sunroof of a car during a protest at the Northwest Detention Center a facility privately operated on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, in Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

The Washington state Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that bans private, for-profit prison companies that contract with local, state and federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, from operating in the state. 

 

State Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, became a lawyer after being incarcerated. She sponsored legislation to restore voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they're still on parole.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Washington state lawmakers have voted to automatically restore voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they’re still on parole.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with kindergartners in Chelsea Singh's class during a visit to Firgrove Elementary School in Puyallup on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times via AP

As the state prepares to move into Phase 3 of the pandemic reopening plan next week, Gov. Jay Inslee has signed an emergency proclamation requiring all school districts to provide in-person learning options by next month. This is happening as lawmakers continue the legislative session, mostly remotely.

The halls inside Bothell High School stand empty Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Bothell.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a measure that would waive some graduation requirements for individual students during a state of emergency, like the current coronavirus pandemic.

Bill to ban Native American mascots at WA schools advances in Legislature

Feb 24, 2021
Native American advocate Carl Moore sits next to Native American imagery painted along a walkway which leads from the Bountiful High School parking lot up to the football field Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Bountiful, Utah.
Rick Bowmer / The Associated Press file

The use of Native American names, symbols and images would be banned from being used as school mascots, logos and team names at most public schools in Washington under a bill passed Tuesday by the state House of Representatives.

Northwest Detention Center
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington House of Representatives voted Tuesday to ban for-profit, private detention facilities in the state, in a move aimed at shutting down the Northwest immigration detention center in Tacoma.

Police on motorcycles escort a protest march in Tacoma on June 1, 2020, against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington state Senate on Tuesday approved a measure requiring police to intervene if they see a fellow officer using excessive force — one of several measures in the Legislature prompted by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd and ensuing Black Lives Matter protests last year.

Sodas and other beverages fill a display cooler in a convenience store in Kent in October 2018.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

A tax proposal under debate by Washington state lawmakers could raise the price of soda, juice and sweetened coffee drinks.

Capitol dome in Olympia in January 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This is the first week that every region in Washington is in Phase 2 of the state's COVID recovery plan. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins joined KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick live Tuesday morning to talk about the latest in the state's pandemic response as well as what's happening in the Legislature this week.

courtesy of TVW

It can be difficult for anyone who’s been incarcerated to readjust to life after getting out. A bill working its way through the Legislature would allow some young people in juvenile rehabilitation to serve part of their sentences in the community with the aim of facilitating a better transition.

Washington Legislature approves $2.2 billion in COVID relief

Feb 10, 2021
The Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A bill that allocates $2.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding in areas ranging from vaccine administration to schools resuming in-person learning was approved by the Washington Legislature Wednesday and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

Democratic Rep. Laurie Dolan from Olympia has sponsored a bill to stabilize school district budgets.
screenshot courtesy of TVW

Public school enrollment is down almost 4 percent statewide compared with last year. Many families decided not to enroll their kindergartners because of remote learning, and others have switched to private schools or home schooling.

Because state education funding is calculated based on the number of students, many districts are now facing budget deficits. State lawmakers are considering a bill to send more money to school districts that have seen a drop in enrollment during the pandemic.

Inslee signs bill to help unemployed workers, struggling businesses

Feb 8, 2021
Gov. Jay Inslee signs the first bill to become law during the 2021 legislative session on Monday. The measure increases the minimum weekly benefit for unemployed workers during the coronavirus pandemic and prevents a dramatic increase in businesses’ unemp
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A bill that increases the minimum weekly benefit for unemployed workers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and prevents a dramatic increase in unemployment taxes paid by businesses was signed into law Monday by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Bill seeks to ban Native American mascots in WA schools

Feb 5, 2021
The Banks High School mascot is visible on the side of the football stands at the school in Banks, Ore., Thursday, March 23, 2017.
Gillian Flaccus / The Associated Press file

Ivy Pete is a student at North Central High School in Spokane and a member of the Pyramid Lake-Paiute Tribe of northern Nevada.

Pete, 16 and a junior, is working to pass a bill to ban Native American mascots from public schools in Washington. She says such mascots do not actually honor individual tribes. Rather, they dehumanize Native Americans, erase the history of genocide and parody what indigenous people look like, Pete said this week.

Travis / Flickr

School district leaders, the statewide teachers union and other groups are urging lawmakers to address housing affordability for school employees.

Right now, state law allows school districts with fewer than 2,000 students to build teacher cottages and other employee housing. Sen. Jesse Salomon, a Democrat whose district includes Shoreline, Edmonds and northwest Seattle, has sponsored a bill that would expand that to all school districts. It advanced out of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education on Wednesday.

The Space Needle is seen in view of still standing but now defunct stacks at the Nucor Steel plant in Seattle, seen in 2016. Rates of heart disease and asthma are higher near big polluters such as this plant.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

The pressure is on to pass climate bills in Olympia. Attempts to get policies through that limit carbon pollution by putting a price on it have often failed here – including two statewide voter initiatives with broad or bipartisan support.

A State Patrol vehicle drives through the Capitol campus in Olympia on Jan. 10, 2021.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington Senate has passed a measure that would increase the minimum weekly benefit for unemployed workers starting in July and would prevent a dramatic increase in unemployment taxes paid by businesses.

courtesy of Sen. Brad Hawkins

Acknowledging the degree to which education has been disrupted during the pandemic, state lawmakers are discussing ways to help students catch up academically.

Bill would ban open carry of weapons at Capitol campus, public demonstrations

Jan 26, 2021
An attendee at a gun-rights rally open carries his gun in a holster that reads "We the People" from the Preamble to the United States Constitution, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the Capitol in Olympia. A new bill would ban open carry on the Capitol grounds.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

The open carry of guns and other weapons would be banned on the Capitol campus and at or near any public demonstration across Washington under a measure that received a remote public hearing Tuesday, with proponents calling it a common-sense measure amid heightened political divisions and opponents arguing it would infringe on constitutional gun rights.

The Washington State Capitol before the start of the 2021 legislative session. Security surrounds the building. Legislators are filing in through a secure entrance guarded by National Guard and State Patrol.
Shauna Sowersby / For KNKX

A Bremerton man filed a lawsuit demanding the restoration of public access to the state Capitol and surrounding grounds.

People enjoy a sunny day outside the Washington state Capitol.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

House and Senate Democrats on Friday released a plan that looks to spend $2.2 billion in federal aid money on COVID-19 relief efforts in Washington state.

Capitol dome in Olympia in January 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Lawmakers in Washington state have introduced legislation that could increase the state gas tax, making it the highest in the country at 67.4 cents a gallon.

Capitol dome in Olympia in January 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Washington Legislature approved rules to allow lawmakers to meet remotely because of the pandemic. The in-person votes Monday in Olympia happened under tight security with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

The State Patrol and the Washington National Guard line the perimeter of the state Capitol in Olympia on Monday.
Casey Martin / KUOW

Updated at 4:10 p.m.: We are keeping an eye on the Capitol in Olympia today as lawmakers convene for the 2021 legislative session. While the focus inside will be on voting whether to meet virtually for this session, the focus outside will be on safety.

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2014, file photo, waves break on the remains of a structure as a house that toppled over the eroding Pacific Ocean shoreline of North Cove, Wash., shown in the background. This erosion may be climate-change-driven sea level rise.
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo / file

As state lawmakers gear up for the new legislative session, advocates for environmental justice are urging them to pass the HEAL Act of 2021. The acronym stands for “Healthy Environment for All.” It aims to target state investments into areas that have suffered the worst effects of pollution.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, bangs the gavel as she presides over the Washington Senate, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Washington state's Employment Security Department has been hit hard during the pandemic. There was a dramatic increase in jobless claims when businesses were forced to shut down in the spring. And a crime ring used stolen identities to take hundreds of millions of dollars from the unemployment insurance program.