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Pierce County Democrats call out inconsistency of Inslee's 2-week pause

9 hours ago
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, talks with workers at a drive-up mass vaccination site on March 4, 2021, in Puyallup.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is receiving criticism from lawmakers in his own party over his shifting economic reopening plan, with a group of Pierce County Democrats threatening the possibility of a special legislative session following the governor’s recent implementation of a pause that left their county stuck in a phase with tighter COVID-19 restrictions.

Daffodils bloom outside the Legislative Building on April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

With the legislative session now over, Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about what's next for some of the key legislation that was passed.

WA Legislature approves ban on open carry at Capitol

Apr 20, 2021
An attendee at a gun-rights rally open carries a gun next to a bumper sticker that reads "I'm a Gun Owner & I Vote," Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

People would be prohibited from openly carrying guns and other weapons at the Capitol and surrounding grounds and at or near permitted public demonstrations across the state under a measure approved Tuesday by the Washington Legislature.

Washington State Patrol vehicles lineup at graduation on Dec. 13, 2018.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

The Washington Legislature on Tuesday approved a measure requiring police to intervene if they see a fellow officer using, or attempting to use, excessive force.

The dome of the Legislative Building is shown next to cherry blossoms, Monday, April 6, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

State lawmakers are in the final week of their legislative session, and there is still a lot to address: budget, capital gains, climate issues, drug possession laws and more.

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, left, leader of the minority Republicans in the Washington state House.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Starting Friday, three Washington counties will be back in Phase 2 of the state’s pandemic reopening plan.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s office announced this week that Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties had case counts or hospitalization rates that warranted things like lower restaurant capacity, tighter limits on indoor gatherings, and other steps.

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.

Seattle City Council incumbent Kshama Sawant speaks Tuesday at an election night party with her supporters.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Washington state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a recall effort against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant can go forward.

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. 


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.

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.

Pierce County election workers sort through ballots at the election center in Tacoma last month.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s Election Day 2020, arguably one of the most anticipated elections in recent memory. 

Early voting numbers indicate Washington state is likely to shatter records for turnout, young voters appear to be more engaged than ever, and election officials have been working relentlessly to assure voters that their ballots will be safely tallied

There’s a lot to cover. KNKX Public Radio has been talking with representatives from political parties, grassroots organizers, current and former candidates, and more to bring you comprehensive coverage of key races across the region. 

And now, we’re bringing you results from those races.

A worker processes vote-by-mail ballots from August's primary election.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

We've seen birtherism in national campaigns — the practice of questioning a candidate’s qualifications for office by raising doubts about where they were born, or their citizenship. Then-citizen Donald Trump famously raised questions about Barack Obama's qualifications for the White House. As president, Trump is amplifying unfounded rumors about vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris.

But now birtherism has appeared at the local level. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins spoke to KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco about a story he reported about a candidate in Thurston County defending herself against a birther attack.

President Donald Trump points to supporters on stage with Vice President Mike Pence and first Lady Melania Trump on the third day of the Republican National Convention at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore on Wednesday.
Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press

President Trump is accepting the Republican nomination for president on Thursday. NPR reporters are providing analysis of his remarks live.


Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., stands on stage with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden after she spoke during the third day of the Democratic National Convention, Wednesday, Aug. 19.
Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press

Joe Biden is formally accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for president on Thursday. NPR reporters are providing live analysis of his remarks.


Caroline Amenabar / NPR

Follow live updates and analysis of the Democratic National Convention. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is speaking Thursday night.


An election worker sorts ballots at the Pierce County Election Center in Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It's primary election day, and KNKX Public Radio has a roundup of some key local, state and federal races. Catch up on past coverage and view the latest results. (Last updated Aug. 7, 4:50 p.m.)  

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest across the country in mail-in voting — which is how Washington state voters have cast ballots universally for nearly a decade.

Washington's Secretary of State Kim Wyman often is called upon by those elsewhere to explain how the process works. She's also a Republican, and leaders of her party — including President Donald Trump — have expressed skepticism about the idea of voting by mail. (She says she'd like to convince him otherwise.)

Mailed-in ballots await counting at the Pierce County election office in Tacoma, ahead of Washington state's March 2020 presidential primary.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during an election year has renewed a nationwide conversation about mail-in voting.

The streets of downtown Tacoma are empty amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Photo by Tom Collins

A new coronavirus relief bill passed the House last week, but appears dead in the Senate. 

Still, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, hopes some of the provisions aren't lost. The original measure included more support for Medicare and Medicaid and hazard pay to health care workers dealing with the pandemic. 

Kilmer talked to KNKX about the bill, and the larger response to COVID-19.

In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib presides over the Senate at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

In state politics, it’s the season when candidates file paperwork announcing their campaigns. Challengers line up against incumbents, who dig in and tout their accomplishments.

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib will not be joining them. He announced in March that he’s leaving elected office for the Catholic church. The move shocked everyone from constituents to fellow elected officials. 

Voters in the March 10th presidential primary must check one party, leave the text unaltered, and sign their name in order for the ballot to be counted.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

Election officials in Western Washington say they’re hearing a lot of concern from voters about the state’s upcoming presidential primary.

That’s because in order to cast a ballot, you must check a box on the outside of the ballot return envelope, indicating whether you’re voting Democratic or Republican.

Oregon state Senate President Peter Courtney pauses after declaring in the state Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, that amid a boycott by Republican senators, not enough lawmakers were present to reach a quorum.
Andrew Selsky / KNKX

Republican lawmakers in Oregon’s capital have walked off the job, to protest a controversial cap-and-trade bill aimed at addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

And this isn’t the first time.

Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray
Cliff Owen / AP File Photo

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray spoke to KNKX about a variety of topics during an interview at her Tacoma office. She’s represented Washington state in the Senate since 1993. We asked her about Boeing, the aftermath of impeachment, the White House spending priorities, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the influence of money on politics.

People gather at the sundial in front of the Legislative Building, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., during a blue-sky day.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Tomorrow is the deadline for bills to pass out of their chamber of origin in the Legislature. There are several measures that have generated a lot of interest, but have yet to move through the chamber in which they originated. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins has the details in his weekly conversation with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

A pedestrian walks past a sign for the Iowa Caucuses on a downtown skywalk, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall / The Associated Press

We may not yet know the results of the Iowa caucuses, due to problems with an app used to report the results. But the first contest of the 2020 presidential election season may have a lot of people thinking about what's going to happen here in Washington.

Our presidential primary takes place on March 10. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talks more about what to expect with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Gun-rights supporters rally on the steps of the Washington Capitol, in Olympia, Wash., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020.
Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press

The issue of gun control will once again be front and center in Olympia today. More hearings on proposed legislation are scheduled. Yesterday, people on both sides of the gun control debate packed a Senate hearing room to testify on some gun control measures. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins was there and talked more about it with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

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

The 2020 legislative session is in full swing in Olympia, after a historic first day yesterday. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins was there and talked with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about what happened and what's on tap for the rest of this week. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

We are less than a week from the start of the 2020 legislative session in Washington state. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about the issues lawmakers are expected to tackle this year.