Legislature passes bills panned by growth-management watchdogs

Three bills that “substantially weaken” Washington state’s Growth Management Act were passed this year. Democrats largely went along with the concerns that traditionally have been embodied in Republican critiques of the law, in an attempt to close an extremely lenient loophole for developers. But Republicans refused to reciprocate.

Will Washington State be first in taxing greenhouse gases?

OLYMPIA – Could 2017 be the year Washington emerges as the first state to tax emissions of a greenhouse gas? Barring some unusual turn of events as legislators finalize the state budget here, don’t count on it. But that assessment comes with an asterisk. There are signs that business opposition to the idea is softening. Meanwhile, environmentalists and their allies have made it clear that if the Legislature doesn’t act this spring, they’ll bring to issue to voters next year.

New report highlights foster care’s failings as legislators debate funding

A recent report by the Children’s Administration shows how many of the highest-needs foster children in its custody are falling through the cracks. This “placement crisis,” as agency leaders and lawmakers have taken to calling it, has largely been the result of insufficient and unpredictable state budgets. A bill that would have improved funding for the state’s foster care system has died in the Senate.

House committee votes on extending tug escorts to oil barges

An expected expansion of Canada’s Kinder-Morgan pipeline could increase the number of oil-carrying vessels in the Salish Sea seven-fold. In preparation for that, Washington Democrats are trying to pass legislation that would improve oil transportation safety, particularly on the water. But it’s an uphill battle and the clock is ticking.

Trump is not the only one cutting Puget Sound funding

President Trump’s proposed $28 million cut of Puget Sound restoration funding has provoked an outcry. But loss of federal funding is not the only cause for concern. State funding, which pays for a much larger share of those restoration costs, also is facing cuts, leaving the fate of Puget Sound restoration funding up in the air.