Workers seek outside options to end tax breaks

Since Democrat legislators (almost certainly) can’t wrangle the two-thirds majority vote to change tax preferences or cut tax exemptions, labor groups have introduced their own initiatives to direct the resulting tax revenue toward education and social services. Power to the people.

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To ease budget cuts, Dems seeking to end tax breaks

Thank Tim Eyman and the passage of I-1053 last fall for imposing the two-thirds majority vote requirement on any measure to change or raise tax preferences. With I-1053 in place, it will be virtually impossible for Democrats to close tax exemptions and generate revenue for social services and education, which will be hardest hit by the budget cuts. But they’re trying; some of the bills may be introduced as referendums so that the people can decide if they want to end tax loopholes.

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WA lawmakers have less than 2 weeks left

Another Where Things Stand, looking at what measures have lived or died at this second legislative cutoff deadline. For non-budget bills to continue on, they had to be heard in the floor of the house opposite where they started by 5 p.m. Tuesday night.

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State Senate OKs bill tying teacher evaluations to layoffs

Under current statute, when budget cuts necessitate reductions in force (RIFs), it’s the newest-hired teachers who get cut loose. Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, amended a broad education reform bill to propose that teachers who score lowest on performance evaluations be first in line for layoffs instead.

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Wash. bill regulating medical marijuana advances

Washington voters made medical marijuana legal in the state in 1998, but because federal law still finds marijuana for any use to be illegal, the methods by which patients accessed the drug have existed in a legal gray area for the past decade or so. This bill seeks to regulate and license medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as provide some arrest protection for prescribing doctors and their patients.

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Higher ed takes a beating in upcoming budget

Weekender: Higher education has come out the loser in the past few budget cycles, with state universities and colleges losing about half of their state support since the beginning of the 2009-2011 biennium if the current budget proposals pass. This means higher tuition for students, fewer support services, and more out-of-state students to collect greater tuition revenue than in-state students provide. Bottom line: Get out fast.

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Think tank sues Wash. gov. in public records case

There are over 300 exemptions to Washington’s broad-sweeping public disclosure act, but conservative think tank The Freedom Foundation says the governor’s office is citing one that doesn’t exist when it withholds documents: executive privilege. The foundation is suing Gov. Chris Gregoire for release of the documents and any penalties incurred by withholding them originally.

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