Supreme Court set to take up all-or-nothing abortion fight

Both sides are telling the Supreme Court there’s no middle ground in Wednesday’s showdown over abortion. The justices can either reaffirm the constitutional right to an abortion or wipe it away altogether. The 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is facing its most serious challenge in 30 years in front of a court with a 6-3 conservative majority that's been remade by three appointees of President Donald Trump. A ruling that overturned Roe would lead to outright bans or severe restrictions on abortion in 26 states. That assessment comes from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. The case being argued comes from Mississippi, where a 2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks. 

Lawsuit filed over WA House's COVID-19 session plan

A handful of Republican state lawmakers and others are suing Democratic leaders and a House official over a plan that allows a limited number of lawmakers vaccinated for COVID-19 on the chamber floor during the upcoming legislative session. The new plan released by House officials last week also requires representatives who don’t verify their vaccination status to undergo COVID-19 testing three times a week in order to work in their on-campus offices. It also requires members of the public to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken with 72 hours in order to sit in the House gallery that overlooks the lawmakers as they work.

COVID-19: Oregon drops outdoor mask requirement

As COVID-19 cases in Oregon continue to decrease, health officials announced they are immediately lifting statewide mask wearing requirements in crowded settings. Oregon was the first state in the U.S. to reimplement an outdoor mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents in August as the delta variant spread. At the time, Oregon was in the midst of its worst surge during the pandemic. Record daily COVID-19 cases were set day after day and hospitalizations overwhelmed the health system — a majority of people hospitalized were unvaccinated — with less than 40 intensive care unit beds available statewide.

Steve Hobbs sworn in as Washington's 16th secretary of state

Steve Hobbs has been sworn in as Washington’s 16th secretary of state. He's the first person of color to head the office and the first Democrat to hold the position in 56 years. Hobbs, who is of Japanese descent, is leaving his Senate seat representing the 44th legislative district to replace Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Wyman was the fifth consecutive GOP secretary of state in Washington dating back to 1965. She is leaving the state this week to take a key election security job in the Biden administration. The last Democrat to hold the office was Vic Meyers, who was elected as the 10th secretary of state in 1956 and served two terms. Meyers was denied a third term in 1964, when he was defeated by Republican Lud Kramer.

Inslee won't add to Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate

 Gov. Jay Inslee says he won’t pursue additional sweeping mandates to strengthen a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers at large employers. President Joe Biden has ordered that companies with 100 or more workers require COVID shots starting in January. Instead of getting vaccinated, those workers could be tested weekly. Inslee has said he was considering additional state orders to make the Biden mandate more strict. The Seattle Times reports the governor’s announcement Thursday in a news conference signaled those additions to the federal mandate would not be pursued. Biden’s mandate is on hold after a stay was issued following multiple legal challenges after the rules were released.

Justices say Gov. Jay Inslee overstepped veto authority

The Washington Supreme Court says Gov. Jay Inslee overstepped his veto authority when he cut a sentence that appeared seven times in the 2019 transportation budget. The sentence would have prevented the Department of Transportation from considering vehicle fuel type when it decided how to hand out grants for transit services. Lawmakers said the sentence would ensure transit agencies unable to make an immediate transition to zero-emission vehicles were not disqualified from getting grants. The Legislature sued over the veto, and in a 7-2 decision Wednesday, the court said that while the governor has the authority to veto whole appropriation items, he generally cannot excise parts of an appropriation item.

Gov. Inslee names Steve Hobbs as Washington’s new Secretary of State

Credit: Governor Jay Inslee’s OfficeOLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee has named Steve Hobbs as Washington’s new Secretary of State.  Hobbs, a Democrat, will be the first person of color to hold the role in Washington. He replaces Kim Wyman, the only Republican to hold a state-level position, who is leaving for a new role within the Biden Administration.  Hobbs…

2 Democrats seeks to unseat McMorris Rodgers in WA-05

SPOKANE, Wash. — An attorney and a marketing professional have announced their candidacies to represent Washington’s fifth Congressional district.  Natasha Hill and Ann Marie Danimus, both democrats, are seeking to replace incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has held the seat for 16 years.  Hill is a fourth-generation Spokanite who owns her law firm. She is a Rogers High School grad…