Building a stronger, more just & transparent democracy

Articles written by Mary Murphy


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  • Hunt reflects on 24 years as a legislator

    Mary Murphy|Updated Apr 24, 2024

    He is 81 years old, a long-time Democrat and a 24-year veteran of the state Legislature. But this year is the last one in which Sen. Sam Hunt will wield a gavel. “It's time to step aside and, and let some younger folks come in,” Hunt said. “I would like to have a January morning where I could sleep in.” Hunt, who lives in Olympia, started in politics when he was just 12 years old, sticking campaign signs in yards around Yakima for former Gov. Albert Rosellini. Hunt’s dad was a...

  • Counties required to adopt security system

    Mary Murphy|Updated Mar 27, 2024

    All counties are required to install "Albert Systems," a technology that notifies counties when there is an attempted cybersecurity attack, under a bill Secretary of State Steve Hobbs endorsed. Even though ballot counting machines are not connected to the internet, election data is oftentimes circulated on internet communication channels. Technology like the Albert System can help protect the security of county records by monitoring any attempt to manipulate, intercept, or...

  • Zero-emission school bus plan moves ahead

    Mary Murphy|Updated Mar 27, 2024

    School districts are required to transition to zero emission school buses under a law recently approved by the state House and Senate. The bill received numerous amendments after districts voiced concerns over reliability, range and the time allowed to make the switch. Introduced by Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, HB 1368 is an effort to not only reduce emissions, but to prioritize the health of children. Six other states have zero-emission school bus transitions already written into law. “We as a student body are exposed t...

  • Parental authority initiative approved, but concerns linger

    Mary Murphy - Aspen Anderson|Updated Mar 18, 2024

    The "Parent's right to know," a citizen-led initiative regarding parental authority over kids in public schools, will become law in June. While the measure won wide bipartisan support, some legislators say they are keeping a close eye on the way it is implemented. Sen. Jamie Pederson, D-Seattle, who ended up voting in favor for the initiative, said he has some concerns its passage will have on student access to things like birth control or mental health services. He said he...

  • Property crimes can now be hate crimes

    Mary Murphy|Updated Mar 18, 2024

    Some property crimes now can be classed as hate crimes if they are racially motivated or if they target other marginalized communities. Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said he was motivated to press for changes in what can be classed as a hate crime when vandals attacked a gay pride display in Spokane that shocked the community. “The pride sidewalks in Spokane were defaced in a coordinated attack last October with paint poured on them,” Billig recalled. He said police began pursuing the incident as a hate crime but were shocked...

  • Same-day report required for stolen guns

    Mary Murphy|Updated Mar 6, 2024

    When a student at Seattle's Ingraham High School was shot and killed two years ago, an investigation revealed the gun used in the crime was stolen. Now, advocates from that community are speaking out and asking that more be done to curb the use of stolen firearms. "It was not safely stored, and its theft was reported three weeks late by the owner," said Carol Butterfield, former Parent Teacher Association President for Ingraham High School." Butterfield said authorities...

  • Police given more leeway to pursue suspects

    Mary Murphy|Updated Mar 6, 2024

    New rules that give police more leeway to engage in high-speed pursuits were approved by the Legislature and will become law June 5, 2024. “As you know, the people of the state are suffering, increasing rates of crime, property, crime, violent crime,” said Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen. “When I talked to cops and sheriff's deputies, they told me the one thing more than anything else that we need is the ability to chase bad people.” In 2021, the Legislature approved a measure that restricted police. Under that standard, vehicul...

  • Proposal gives Attorney General authority to oversee hospital consolidations

    Mary Murphy|Updated Mar 4, 2024

    Healthcare workers say the state should have the power to review hospital consolidations to make sure levels of care are not reduced when a hospital is purchased. Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, said she saw her own community hospital suffer after being acquired by a larger company. That’s why she introduced The Keep Our Care Act. “In my own community, Harrison Hospital was acquired by CHI,” Randall said. “And I first started learning about it not from the lens of reproductive healthcare, but from nurses and hospita...

  • New bill advances equal professional opportunities for immigrants

    Mary Murphy|Updated Mar 4, 2024

    Undocumented individuals are now a small step away from pursuing careers in nursing, dentistry, architecture, psychology, and much more under a bill now waiting for the governor's signature. Careers like these monitored by the Department of Licensing were previously denied on the basis of citizenship status. HB1889 allows undocumented individuals to apply for these licenses using their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, in place of a Social Security Number. The bill wa...

  • Crowd demands hearing on citizen initiatives

    Aspen Anderson-Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 28, 2024

    A sea of red, white and blue covered the Capitol steps as hundreds of Washingtonians proudly waved American flags and demanded hearings on six initiatives that would roll back taxes, give parents more rights and police more authority. The initiatives funded by the political action group Let's Go Washington all received the requisite number of signatures to be approved for consideration but have yet to receive a hearing from the Legislature. In all, 2.6 million citizens signed...

  • Paraeducators rally for fair wages

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 24, 2024

    Bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers stood outside of the capitol with signs that read: “Living wages for ESP’S!” and “I’m a paraprofessional, my heart is full, but my wallet is empty.” Education Support Professionals (ESPs) mainly in the classroom with kids, supporting teachers. Two bills that would have increased wages and distributed paraeducators throughout school districts have already died in this year’s legislative session. Now, paraeducators are looking t...

  • Palestinian organizers rally for cease fire

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 24, 2024

    Hundreds of organizers sporting green, red, and keffiyeh scarves gathered on the capitol steps to read poetry, sing traditional Palestinian songs and call for a cease fire in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The Washington Coalition for Peace and Justice was the prime organizer of the event, but 37 other organizations showed support. The groups came to ask lawmakers to call for a ceasefire, an effort that has already been pushed across the world, country and state. "We know...

  • Holocaust education bill dies

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 21, 2024

    An effort to make Holocaust and genocide education mandatory in Washington public schools has failed to win enough support to pass in this year's Legislature. "We've been trying diligently to reach out to stakeholders to get agreed upon wording that would make this workable and fundable," said Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, Chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. "This bill just needs more time to be worked through." Sponsored by Rep. Travis Couture,...

  • Three of the six citizen initiatives will be granted hearings

    Aspen Anderson-Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 21, 2024

    Three citizen-led initiatives will receive hearings in this session of the Legislature, said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, and Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. The Legislature will debate I-2113 on reasonable police pursuit, I-2081 on restoring parent’s “right to know,” and I-2111, on prohibiting a state income tax. “Washington voters will hear a lot between now and November on any initiatives that end up on the ballot,” Billig and Jinkins said in a press release. “It will be up to them to dec...

  • Clergy members could become mandatory reporters of child abuse

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 21, 2024

    When Sen. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, learned how Jehovah’s Witness elders in Spokane had covered up child sexual abuse for years, she looked to the law for answers. Frame found that, under Washington State law, clergy members have no responsibility to report what they suspect to be child abuse. Washington is one of five states that has yet to change this rule. Frame says she experienced abuse as a child, and it was only once after her teacher, a “mandatory reporter,” said somethin...

  • Lawmakers push for phone restrictions in schools

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 16, 2024

    Schools across Washington state are developing new cellphone policies to stop under-the-desk texting for teens and game playing while at school. Some of these policies are already in use at Eastern Washington's Reardan-Edwall School District. Superintendent Eric Sobotta gave the screen time change rave reviews. "Middle school students actually have to talk to each other at lunch rather than be on their phones playing games," Sobotta said. Despite individual schools taking the initiative on these efforts, lawmakers want to...

  • Genocide education bill sparks high emotions in hearing

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 16, 2024

    People held hands between armrests as they waited to tell the stories of loved ones lost to genocide. Almost every seat in the hearing room was filled, and 67 people were scheduled to speak. Prime sponsor Sen. John Braun R-Centralia, and co-sponsor Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, approached the podium to introduce the bill. “For me and many in the Jewish community this is not just an academic matter. This is an intimate and deeply personal matter that has affected our families,” Salomon said, pausing to gather his emotions....

  • Legislature to decide on high-speed pursuits

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 12, 2024

    A citizen initiative aimed at giving police wider discretion on when they engage in high-speed pursuits was forwarded to the Legislature on Jan. 11. Secretary of State Steve Hobbs notified the Legislature petitions for Initiative 2113 meet all legal requirements. Initiative 2113 backers want to amend a law on police pursuit that passed in 2021, which requires officers to have "probable cause" instead of "reasonable suspicion" to engage in pursuits. Critics say that measure...

  • Condom use requires partner consent, proposal says

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 12, 2024

    Testifying before lawmakers, Mina Hashemi recounted how three years ago she was shocked to see that the condom she had explicitly asked for during sex had been removed. "I felt deeply violated," Hashemi said. "While I was lucky not to get an STI or pregnant, there are many stories of women who did. Stealthing is a very specific type of sexual violence that does not neatly fit within existing definitions of sexual assault in Washington. We must close the loophole on assault." "Stealthing" refers to tampering with or removing...

  • Hogtying ban unanimously passes Senate

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 7, 2024

    Nearly four years after Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man from Tacoma, died during arrest while being hogtied, the practice that killed him is one step closer to being illegal in Washington. Hogtying refers to the tactic where handcuffed wrists are tied to a suspect's ankles. This practice can contort bodies into a position where they are at risk for suffocation. A medical examiner on Ellis' case ruled his cause of death as lack of oxygen. In 2021, defense attorneys argued...

  • Hundreds rally for rent caps, affordable housing

    Mary Murphy|Updated Feb 5, 2024

    As budget negotiations begin in the state Legislature, calls for action on affordable housing and rent caps from the annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day are expected to ring in the ears of lawmakers. Hundreds of unhoused individuals, members of non-profit organizations and advocacy groups gathered late last month to urge lawmakers to do something about the high cost of housing. Cheyonna Lewis, a single mother of three, sat on the steps of the Capitol with her...

  • Protection for abortion doctors proposed

    Mary Murphy|Updated Jan 30, 2024

    When she treated an out-of-state patient from Idaho with pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Jennifer Chin of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) knew her pregnant patient was at risk if she carried the pregnancy to term. She believes her patient could have died without the care she received in Washington. But increasingly, Chin said, she sees doctors becoming hesitant to give abortion care because of the threat it poses to their safety. To protect doctors,...

  • Mandatory voting proposed by Democrats

    Mary Murphy|Updated Jan 26, 2024

    A proposal to make voting mandatory drew criticisms from two thousand people in a Legislative hearing Jan. 25. "We are already in a moment of extreme distrust in elections, so you should not be doing anything to further that perception," said Sharon Damoff. Lawmakers mainly dismissed the large number of people signing on to testify, as they believe one organization was responsible. "The election deniers have ramped up this year," Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, said. "Conservative Ladies...

  • Proposal allows deadly force cases to be handled by Attorney General's office

    Mary Murphy|Updated Jan 24, 2024

    Following the concerns over police brutality in 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee directed the Attorney General’s office to form an Office of Independent Investigations to take on cases of death by law enforcement officers. Now Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, is building on that effort with HB 1579, which gives the Attorney General’s Office authority to handle the prosecution of police officers in addition to ordering investigations. The primary goal is to avoid conflicts of interest at the county prosecutor level. Local pro...

  • Demand for affordable homes near transit hubs faces hurdles, critics say

    Mary Murphy|Updated Jan 22, 2024

    Washington cities could soon be required to block off zones near public transit for multifamily housing, if new regulations are approved by the state Legislature. Some regulation is necessary, backers say, if cities want to provide affordable housing and make it easy for people to get to work. "I ran for office because of the enormous challenges that people of my generation, people in their 30s and 40s, face in finding a home in this state," Rep. Julia Reed, D-Seattle, said....

  • Trump to stay on primary ballot

    Mary Murphy-Aspen Anderson|Updated Jan 22, 2024

    By Mary Murphy and Aspen Anderson Washington State Journal It was still dark outside when people with MAGA hats and anti-Trump signs gathered outside the entrance of the Thurston County Courthouse Jan. 18. A court filing that would push former President Donald Trump off the primary ballot in Washington State was the issue that drew them. Alexis Wallace showed up early displaying a cardboard sign that read, "What happened to: "Our democracy?" Ha Ha Ha." Wallace is a precinct...

  • AG Ferguson files lawsuit to stop Kroger-Albertson merger worth $24.6 billion

    Mary Murphy-Aspen Anderson|Updated Jan 17, 2024

    Kroger and Albertsons claim a proposed merger worth 24.6 billion will result in better prices for grocery shoppers, but many fear food prices will go up and jobs could be lost as the stores eliminate competition. Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit to stop the merger, which was announced in a Seattle press conference Jan. 15. "Our job is to make sure there is a level playing field for Washington consumers and that means pushing back against the consolidation of...

  • Victims push for legislation against police deception in interrogations

    Mary Murphy - Aspen Anderson|Updated Jan 11, 2024

    Amanda Knox, the Seattle resident who spent nearly four years in an Italian prison for a murder she did not commit, offered heartfelt testimony Jan. 8 in favor of a bill that would prevent law enforcement officers from using deception during interrogations. "I was interrogated overnight by police officers who claimed to have evidence against me, who claimed that there were witnesses who could place me at the crime scene," Knox said. "They lied to me. I did not know they could...

  • Governor calls for action on homelessness, climate and abortion rights

    Mary Murphy|Updated Jan 11, 2024

    Defending his record and pressing for more action, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee urged a joint session of the Legislature to stay on a path that protects a woman's right to choose, improves public safety, reduces pollution, and curbs homelessness. Referencing his father's days of coaching track, Inslee declared to his audience that in this last term he has no plans to let up by "running through the tape." Inslee made his remarks in his annual State of the State address at the...

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