Features

America’s Half-Century of Polarization, in One GIF

by Philip Bump | Washington Post

By far the most interesting thing about this animation is how the density of the colors increases. In the late 1980s, most counties were fairly bipartisan. By 2000, there are a lot of very strong red counties — a trend that increases.

Environmentalists Vow to Continue Fight in Whatcom after Oregon Coal Terminal Is Rejected

by RALPH SCHWARTZ | Bellingham Herald

Environmentalists in Whatcom County and Seattle declared a victory in their regional fight against coal terminals, after the state of Oregon on Monday, Aug. 18, rejected a permit for construction of the Coyote Island Terminal at the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River. On the other hand, the nonprofit Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports said the decision “hurts all trade-related industries and workers in our region.”

Primary Tallies Spell Trouble for Democrats

by Chris Vance | Crosscut

We have watched the State Senate races all year, and all the Republicans save Hill received 56 percent or 57 percent of the primary vote. At 54 percent, Hill’s race is the only one that seems somewhat competitive. Republicans have a chance to gain at least two seats and lower the margin in the state House of Representatives to less than 10 seats.

One Budget-Buster down: Pension Lawsuits; Another Around the Corner: Initiative 1351

by Seattle Times Editorial

The state Supreme Court removed a costly threat to an already-strained state budget with rulings in two pension cases, but a new state analysis shows this fall’s Initiative 1351 would cost billions — at least a $3.8 billion expense every two years when fully implemented in 2019-2021.

State Supreme Court to Decide if Charter Schools Are Constitutional

by AP | Seattle Times

The Washington Supreme Court announced Friday it would consider whether a voter-approved charter school law violates the state constitution. Oral arguments concerning the lawsuit brought by charter-school opponents have been scheduled for Oct. 28. The arguments will focus on the part of the lawsuit concerning whether charter schools meet the state definition of a “common school” and whether they are eligible for dollars set aside for those schools.

State Plans 50 Mental-Health Beds to Start Addressing Court Mandate

by JORDAN SCHRADER | Olympian

Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration plans to add 50 beds in the next two weeks for mentally ill patients who the State Supreme Court said can no longer be detained in emergency rooms while waiting for treatment at overcrowded state facilities.

Court Says State Can Ax Pension Perks

by Bill Lucia | Crosscut

In a pair of rulings that will save Washington billions of dollars in public worker pension payments, the state Supreme Court on Thursday said the Legislature has the right to repeal retirement benefit increases granted during an economic surge in the mid-1990s. The rulings pointed to language in state law that said the Legislature was entitled to eliminate the benefit. “The repeal of gain sharing did not impair any contract rights of employees because the statute enacting gain sharing made provision for its eventual repeal,” Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in one opinion for the court.

Tentative Deal Reached to End Grain Lockout

by WSLC Stand (Union)

The withdrawal of taxpayer-funded escorts for grain inspectors was criticized by some conservative officials and newspapers, but it “rightfully put the state in a neutral position regarding this management dispute,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.