Editorial boards criticize Democrats’ policies, processes

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The Seattle Times: State’s infrastructure failures require immediate attention | October 31, 2021

“Washington’s leaders are failing their constituents on transportation infrastructure. Though Congress is wrangling over a federal bill that could bring billions for our state’s roads and culverts, the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee have been disappointingly slow to fix the neglect that wastes time and fortune. That’s shocking, especially with legislative leaders shrugging about missing the opportunity to act this year.”

The Seattle Times: Washingtonians deserve a reliable, resilient ferry system | October 29, 2021

“Washington State Ferries, the nation’s largest ferry system, is in trouble. After months of delays and canceled sailings, staffing woes have forced the agency to cut back services indefinitely. While COVID-19 is a major cause, its effects exacerbated challenges for the underfunded and antiquated system.”

The Columbian: Inslee should suspend WA Cares program law | October 18, 2021

“Washington’s road to a payroll tax supporting long-term care has too many potholes for a smooth journey. Gov. Jay Inslee should suspend the program until legislators have an opportunity to level the path … Some fixes are required — particularly the expansion of benefits to people who paid into the fund but then moved out of the state – before workers start seeing a deduction in their paychecks.”

The Seattle Times: Gov. Inslee should extend deadline for long-term-care insurance | October 11, 2021

“The rush to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime exemption is likely fueled, in part, by known flaws in the program: People fewer than 10 years from retirement will pay the tax but won’t be eligible for benefits. People who live in other states, like Idaho or Oregon, but work in Washington will also pay the tax without reaping the reward. Other payees will lose out if they move out of Washington.”

The Seattle Times: Fix diversity issues in Washington State Patrol | October 10, 2021

“A spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee said his office is committed to diversifying the WSP. ‘We know there is still work to be done. We will continue to be involved in those discussions with State Patrol to make more progress.’ After years of identifying a problem, it is past time for WSP to resolve it. Reform the psychological exam process, and hire more psychologists.”

Tri-City Herald: ‘Who you gonna call?’ Thanks to WA state’s police reform bills, there is no easy answer | August 6, 2021

“The majority of lawmakers were irresponsible when they approved limiting what police officers can do without also ensuring that someone else can step in to fill that service gap, and now there is confusion statewide … Reform of this magnitude should have had clarity from the get-go. That it doesn’t puts communities and police in a no-win situation.”

The Columbian: WA Cares Fund comes with concerns | August 5, 2021

“Critics such as the Washington Policy Center have pointed out several shortcomings in the law. The vestment period means that money will be taken from soon-to-be retirees who will never qualify for benefits; the benefits are not portable for residents who retire out of state; and out-of-state employees of Washington companies will pay into the fund but not be eligible for benefits … Those items will require consideration from lawmakers. But the immediate concern for workers is whether or not to pursue private insurance under a deadline that is fast approaching.”

The Olympian: Washington state’s police reform is taking effect without alternatives in place | August 1, 2021

“The state police reform laws that took effect a week ago are creating new threats to public safety … So we can only hope for light at the end of the tunnel we have just entered, but it’s a long, dangerous tunnel.”

Walla Walla Union Bulletin: Capital gains tax obviously unconstitutional | July 30, 2021

“Our biggest concern is that this capital gains tax could morph into a full-blown income tax in the future that many, if not most, Washingtonians would have to pay. From where we stand, this newly approved legislation sets a precedent for just that to happen … If the Democratic majority truly believes an income tax (including taxing capital gains specifically) is necessary and would be embraced by the people, then have an honest debate on taxing income and attempt to change the state Constitution.”

Walla Walla Union Bulletin: New police reform bills need a rewrite | July 27, 2021

“It would be one thing if the new bills were written with precision and clarity. But throughout the process and the state, they have only broadened in application and caused more confusion — angst and anger, too — than understanding … Frankly, the present vague wording of the bills helps no one. Our people and our officers deserve better than this.”

Tri-City Herald: New WA tax law could upend retirement plans. The blame is on Dems and Gov. Inslee | July 18, 2021

“What was especially upsetting is that in addition to trying to get around the constitution, the majority party also twisted the intent of the legislative emergency clause that should be used only in true emergencies. The capital gains tax bill includes a provision designating the tax as “necessary for the support of the state government and its existing public institutions.” That language was put in place as a way to stop voters from trying to repeal the new tax through the referendum process.”

The News Tribune: Tacoma woman denied animal visit before she died. When will COVID’s toll on seniors end? | July 1, 2021

“Allowing Washington’s older, most vulnerable residents to languish isn’t acceptable. Restoring quality-of-life elements that were stolen by the pandemic is essential … Among the lessons of this past year is that time is precious, isolation exacts a heavy toll and nobody has borne the physical and social burden of this virus more than seniors.”

The Columbian: Extending eviction moratorium wrong approach | June 28, 2021

“Gov. Jay Inslee’s extension of a statewide eviction moratorium expands an overly broad policy and ignores legislation passed this year to balance the needs of renters and landlords … Washington lawmakers took that into consideration in providing a detailed plan for addressing a difficult situation that reverberates throughout the economy. Inslee should have paid attention rather than unilaterally changing the deadline.”

The Seattle Times: Inslee’s double-signing stunt a wasteful abdication of duty | June 16, 2021

“Because the Legislature punted on choosing between them and sent both bills, the governor’s job was to figure out which was more important before signing them. Here is where Inslee fell down on his desk … He could have vetoed one, or in the manner of King Solomon, threatened to kill both to force the Legislature’s hand. Even signing one, then the other, could have constituted an official decision. The newest law on a topic takes precedence, generally … None of these paths was for Inslee.”

The Daily News: With veto, Inslee proves even his own party shouldn’t trust him | June 6, 2021

“His veto ended up selling the legislators down the river. How can Democratic leadership now work out compromises among their own members — to say nothing of negotiating with Republicans — when the governor has double-crossed them on such key and prominent legislation? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me … While we support efforts to combat climate change, we acknowledge we are not big fans of the cap-and-trade legislation, for a host of reasons.”

Tri-City Herald: WA Dems went too far. Their pursuit of another income tax took a wrong turn | June 2, 2021

“It’s bad enough Democrats pushed a capital gains tax through at the same time revenue is predicted to soar in Washington state. But what’s especially galling is that they also devised a way to stop voters from repealing the new tax through the referendum process.”

The Everett Herald: Inslee’s recent vetoes may prove costly to his goals | June 2, 2021

“The governor no longer need be concerned about how he’ll occupy the time remaining in his term. He can add two major infrastructure projects to his list: rebuilding the bridges he just burned.”

The Seattle Times: Legal or not, remember shady road to capital-gains tax | June 1, 2021

“Any new tax will generate some pushback, but Washingtonians have a right to be riled by this outrage. In their rush to cross this item off their wish list, state Democrats failed to make their case. The capital-gains tax doesn’t balance the tax code; it just adds another layer. With strong revenue projections and operating budgets already leaping — up to around $59 billion in 2021-23 from $32 billion just a decade ago — it’s difficult to justify a brand new tax.”

The Seattle Times: See you in court, governor, over infrastructure vetoes | May 19, 2021

“In undoing lawmakers’ careful bargain, Inslee signals he would rather have his climate legislation in hand than sow good legislative relations for the future. It isn’t just the state’s highway bridges that are in disrepair. Earnest, involved deal making is essential to good governance.”

The Columbian: Land-use laws causing high-tech stagnation | May 13, 2021

“Land-use laws help preserve the lifestyle of the Northwest and prevent sprawl that would despoil rural landscapes, but they come at a cost by limiting large manufacturing industries.”

The News Tribune: ‘I was pretty mad’: Tacoma’s Jinkins stunned by COVID phase pause, says plan must evolve | May 11, 2021

“Trying to find a just-right solution may be a fairy tale. But the governor ought to adjust his plan to emphasize more timely metrics, such as vaccination and death rates … It’s about providing a measure of predictability and not squandering the confidence of Washington’s second-most populous county.”

The Daily News: Emergency power is not absolute | May 2, 2021

“Inslee has wielded his power at times carelessly and disrespectfully, even referring to complaints as ‘carping from the cheap seats.’ He’s correct: Cowlitz County can’t afford a seat at the table where he holds his closed-door meetings. But our elected representatives should be seated there … Our battle against unchecked, concentrated power should be conducted on the same basis. The unaccountable power we’ve lived under for more than a year demands a bipartisan response.”

The Columbian: Legislature must end use of title-only bills | April 28, 2021

“Regardless of how one feels about the budget passed by this year’s Legislature, all Washington taxpayers should be appalled by the process. Lawmakers continue to embrace an opaque process that chips at the foundations of open government … The people of Washington deserve better. They deserve a Legislature that is willing to outlaw title-only bills or leadership in Olympia that refuses to consider bills that undermine transparency.”

The Columbian: Legislature should act to balance government | April 14, 2021

“Several bills were introduced in this year’s Legislature to address the governor’s power. They received little attention, with Democrats holding a majority in both chambers and unlikely to challenge the power of a Democratic governor. But the issue goes beyond the current Legislature and the sitting governor; it speaks to the balance between the branches of government and the question of how long a governor should be allowed to declare an emergency.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Latest state green bill needs more thought | April 6, 2021

“Beyond this, many Washingtonians are still hurting financially because of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Though we are now in Phase 3, there are still those whose jobs have been lost and hours have been cut. A boost in fuel costs will only add to their burden … While we agree the goals of this bill are all important, local taxpayers and businesses simply can’t afford to do it all – particularly in the midst of an economic slowdown created by a pandemic.”

The Seattle Times: Next Corrections leader must repair prison health care | April 5, 2021

“Regardless, Sinclair’s departure poses an opportunity for the governor to make fixing the state’s litany of prison clinic failures a top priority. The next secretary must do better by the health of the state’s imprisoned population.”

Tri-City Herald: Gov. Inslee’s emergency powers over COVID have gone unchecked long enough | April 2, 2021

“It would ease people’s minds to know their legislative representatives have some say in how the state re-opens. And it would make Washington state’s three branches of government work together as intended. No one leader is supposed to have so much power for so long over so many.”

The News Tribune: It’s time for Washington elected leaders to come out of bunker, meet in person again | March 31, 2021

“The Legislature, now in the homestretch of its 2021 session, sets the tone for the rest of Washington. But this year both chambers have been largely empty, except for a handful of staff members and a presiding lawmaker on the rostrum up front … ‘It’s not good to normalize doing things distantly,’ House minority leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, told us in a recent call. ‘That could become the default. I’m willing to put lines of tape on the floor or whatever’s necessary.”

The Seattle Times: Keep mom-and-pop landlords in business | March 28, 2021

“Washington’s policymakers should encourage these entrepreneurs instead of driving them away. Gov. Jay Inslee missed an opportunity to fine-tune the state eviction moratorium to help struggling renters without unnecessarily burdening small landlords … Lawmakers should continue to refine one-size-fits-all proposals to protect these small businesses in this time of need.”

The Daily News: Capital gains tax isn’t about fixing Washington’s state budget and should be scrapped | March 21, 2021

“While recovery from this deadly pandemic certainly will be a long and hard process, it appears Olympia has no shortage of cash to fuel the rebuilding. So naturally, Olympia Democrats have decided to attempt a tax increase … This bill is designed not to assist the many, but to salve the conscience of a few.”

The Seattle Times: State’s windfall another strike against capital-gains tax | March 18, 2021

“Supporters have thin justifications for imposing it, so the proposal ought to be tossed out. The revenue projections swamp any argument the state needs the money now. Further, the bill itself does a poor job of stating why it would be needed in the future. House finance Chair Noel Frame, D-Seattle, told the editorial board the bill is connected to funding House Bill 1213 to expand child care and early education, and House Bill 1297, which expands tax credits for a working families tax. But, clearly, Wednesday’s announcement shows the state has enough money already.”

The Seattle Times: Olympia’s forecast for transparency is partly cloudy | March 14, 2021

“One perennial issue is title-only bills, which are empty husks that the majority party has used to ram through policy goals at the end of the session with little chance for public oversight. At least for the 2021 mostly remote session, the state Senate hit the pause button on those when it adopted its emergency parliamentary rules. But the temporary rule change doesn’t preclude them in the future. Disappointingly, lawmakers killed two Republican proposals to reform title-only bills permanently.”

The News Tribune: Curbing Inslee’s emergency power all but dead. We should learn from Texas, New York | March 11, 2021

“The problem is that there’s little appetite among Democrats to challenge Inslee. That’s a shame. Power-sharing between the three branches of government shouldn’t be a partisan issue. In the long run, this isn’t about whether you agree or disagree with a particular governor. It’s about preserving a balanced, constitutionally sound government, where the public’s voice is carried by the 147 representatives and senators they elect.”

The Seattle Times: State Senate should hit brakes on capital-gains bill | March 4, 2021

“Confoundingly, the bill disingenuously alleges an ‘immediate’ need and uses an emergency clause to ratchet up the effective date. Clearly, that canard is a legislative ruse to block a potential citizens’ ballot referendum, not to rush tax dollars to the people. The capital-gains tax wouldn’t reap its first dollar until 2023 at best. That wait would almost certainly be longer if an expected court fight drags out. And the Supreme Court may well find that a capital-gains tax violates the state constitution’s ban on taxing income.”

The Columbian: Timing wrong for proposed statewide soda tax | March 4, 2021

“That is costly for public health. But it leads to questions about government’s role in influencing social behavior, and it leads to questions about whether such influence is the proper avenue for boosting state tax revenue … In addition, the tax would be particularly regressive. Studies have shown that low-income people drink more sugary beverages than those in other demographics.”

Tri-City Herald: Don’t keep us in the dark, Gov. Inslee. Where does your COVID roadmap lead? | March 3, 2021

“But Inslee also said that the details for Phase 3 and Phase 4 were still being worked out and he did not have a date for when those guidelines would be released. That announcement came as a shocking blow to people who have put their lives on hold for a year. People are anxious and they need something to cling to. They need to see that their governor has a strategy for getting us to the end, not just partway. And while we understand Inslee is concerned about how an emerging COVID variant could affect the state’s recovery plan, that is still no reason to delay setting out criteria for future phases.”

The News Tribune: How to raise Washington taxes during COVID-19 pandemic: very cautiously or not at all | Feb. 27, 2021

“No matter how constructed, a capital gains tax is arguably an unconstitutional income tax in disguise and may not survive the inevitable court challenge. We’re also concerned that the bill has an emergency clause that would block a citizen referendum. Why shouldn’t Washington voters, who’ve rejected income tax proposals 10 times previously, have a direct voice in a major course correction in tax policy?”

“The proposed 1.75-cent-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax had a public hearing last week and received more criticism than support … Sure, the tax might deter unhealthy choices and chip away at obesity and diabetes rates. But we can’t muster much excitement for another regressive tax in a state that already tops the list.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: State wrong to use tax on sugary drinks as way to improve health | Feb. 26, 2021

“The state Legislature is looking at imposing a tax on sugary drinks — soda, juice and sweetened coffee — in an effort to reduce consumption of sugar and improve the health of Washingtonians. While we agree it’s best that people limit their sugar intake for the sake of their overall health, it’s not the state’s place to impose a tax as a de facto way to dictate what people drink or eat.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Capital gains tax is wrong for many reasons | Feb. 26, 2021 

“Historically, Democrats in Olympia who have favored a capital gains tax have been held in check not just by Republicans but by more moderate Democrats. It’s time again for moderate Democratic lawmakers to see reason, make their objections heard and stop unneeded SB 5096 in its tracks.”

The Seattle Times: Legislators must drop hasty, flawed capital-gains tax push | Feb. 22, 2021

“A capital-gains tax bill moving toward a state Senate vote is too flawed and should be abandoned. The Democratic leadership’s rush to create this tax even as the state’s revenue picture is expected to continue improving, coupled with its disingenuous use of the legislature’s emergency power, further signals a need for voter skepticism.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Latest capital gains tax plan is still an income tax | Feb. 22, 2021

“Again, while that’s just political pandering, it doesn’t change the fact it is still an income tax, and it’s still unconstitutional. If the Democratic majority truly believes an income tax (including taxing capital gains specifically) is necessary and would be embraced by the people, then have an honest debate on taxing income and attempt to change the state Constitution.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Phase 2 delay could have been avoided | Feb. 21, 2021

“No more surprises, governor. If you are unwilling to give local health districts more of a say in how to handle the pandemic in their own counties, at least give them a heads-up before you make your decisions final and reveal them to all. It could save unnecessary anger and embarrassment.”

The Columbian: Legislature must beef up aid for restaurants | Feb. 18, 2021

“Lawmakers also should be included in devising guidelines for reopening the state. A bill that would have moved all regions into Phase 2 is now moot, but legislative involvement will be important for providing input from regions of the state that often are unrepresented at the executive level … In addition, the state’s Employment Security Department requires oversight as it continues to struggle with getting unemployment assistance where it is most needed.”

Tri-City Herald: Tri-Cities can’t risk COVID data errors. Counties need access to regional numbers | Feb. 17, 2021

“That a significant reporting error from one hospital could keep six Washington counties from moving forward in the state reopening plan shows a flaw in the system, despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s affirmation of the Roadmap to Recovery process. If it hadn’t been for gut feelings, keen eyes and pressure from public officials in Washington state’s South Central region, the Tri-Cities might still be stuck in Phase 1 … But the debacle highlights the need for a course correction in how COVID statistics are being dispersed and checked.”

The Seattle Times: Probe Employment Security Department’s missteps | Feb. 12, 2021

“But state lawmakers have more to do to hold the Employment Security Department and the governor accountable for last year’s delays and missteps. Among them were efforts to obfuscate a state Auditor’s probe and journalist’s questions … The Legislature has a duty to provide a check on the state’s executive branch, especially considering Democrats control both houses and governor’s mansion. And particularly so, considering LeVine’s role as a highly successful fundraiser for Democratic politicians. The ruling party must ensure Washington public interest is served before party loyalty and push hard for answers to tough questions and accountability where it’s due.”

The Columbian: LeVine pick begs question of her qualifications | Feb. 12, 2021

“LeVine had a tumultuous tenure in state government. The department was overwhelmed by unemployment claims as the coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy, with thousands of Washingtonians unable to receive much-needed payments. At the same time, the department paid out about $600 million in fraudulent claims that originated overseas … The Employment and Training Administration, which has about 1,000 employees, is more consequential. It should have leaders with a proven record of effective management, not a stormy reign as the head of a state agency.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Free market, not states, must drive electric car sales | Feb. 11, 2021

Some in the Washington state Legislature want to impose a ban on the registration of new gasoline-powered cars by 2030. This proposal seems to put government mandates over the free market … The Washington state Legislature does not need to get involved at this point.

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Cost is too high for Washington state low carbon fuel standards | Feb. 7, 2021

“This plan would likely cause shock at the gasoline pumps for those who drive cars. A study conducted for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency found that low carbon fuel standards could add up to 57 cents to a gallon of gas and up to 63 cents to a gallon diesel by 2030. Keep in mind that Washington state currently has one of the highest gas taxes in America. If a gas tax hike is warranted, we would prefer it be targeted for upgrading roads and infrastructure. But, again, after we have moved past the COVID-19 crisis. This is simply not a good time to take on an ambitious low carbon fuel standard plan. The economic cost is too high when so many are already struggling.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Tax on billionaires might cost state a heavy price | Feb. 4, 2021

“In the long run it might hurt Washington state more than it helps it even if it is ruled constitutional. Bezos, Gates, Ballmer and Scott are, let’s say, golden geese for this state. Do we really want to force them to fly south or east?”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Data breach prompts conflicting information | Feb. 4, 2021

“However this latest pandemic-related black eye unfolds, it is paramount that the state agencies involved be completely transparent with investigators, each other and the residents of Washington — including thousands in the Yakima Valley — as to facts, dates, numbers and any other details that shed light on this incident. What did they know and when did they know it?”

Tri-City Herald: WA Gov. Jay Inslee has too much power over COVID. Lawmakers must fix the law | Feb. 3, 2021

“There are bills waiting to move in the House and in the Senate that would limit the governor’s powers in an emergency to 30 days before getting legislators involved, but despite support from several lawmakers — including those from our region – these bills don’t appear to be going anywhere. They haven’t even been scheduled for a public hearing. Not one of them. The holdup is disgraceful.”

The Seattle Times: A legislative check on the governor | Jan. 31, 2021

“In the early days of COVID-19, Gov. Jay Inslee provided the rapid response the state needed through executive action. However, as the pandemic wore on, his ongoing power gate-keeping, cutting the Legislature out of decision-making, became increasingly difficult to justify. A bipartisan group of lawmakers are supporting a Senate bill that would ensure that future lawmakers can better serve as a check on such executive overreach.”

The News Tribune: It’s time for Washington Legislature to check Gov. Inslee’s pandemic superpowers | Jan. 30, 2021

“They owe it to voters and the constitution to uphold the separation of powers. Both chambers are controlled by Inslee’s fellow Democrats, however, so it’s unclear how far they’re willing to go — and how much backbone they’re willing to show … The Republican-sponsored bills, while far from perfect, reflect a growing impatience among pandemic-weary Washingtonians who elected legislators to represent them, not just a governor. Democratic leaders should pick one or two of these bills and schedule them for public hearings.”

The Seattle Times: The rainy day is here — lawmakers should bolster economy | Jan. 29, 2021

“However, the Democratic majorities should earnestly address needs their Republican counterparts see in their districts. Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, has proposed a more ambitious $4 billion relief package that would spend down almost all of the rainy-day fund, along with using the federal money, and send relief checks to low-income residents and parents.”

Tri-City Herald: WA lawmakers should talk to farmers before pushing a low carbon fuel plan | Jan. 29, 2021

“For the fourth year, Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing a low carbon fuel plan for Washington state, and for the fourth year in a row the proposal still promises too little benefit to justify the extra cost at the gas pump. While the arguments for and against the plan haven’t changed much, this year proponents are emphasizing that adopting a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) will help the state agriculture industry. The problem is the farmers aren’t buying it.”

Tri-City Herald: Those hoping to reopen WA restaurants were mistreated at failed public hearing | Jan. 22, 2021

“So it is extremely distressing that when over 400 people signed up to testify Wednesday on a proposal to reopen restaurants and other businesses during the COVID pandemic, only a fraction of them were allowed to speak. And many of those who did talk ended up abruptly muted mid-sentence and cut off as soon as they hit the one-minute mark. That wasn’t right.”

The Seattle Times: Corporate and federal help on vaccinations sorely needed | Jan. 21, 2021

“This state’s failure to build an efficient vaccine-delivery system encompasses multiple shortcomings, from slow delivery of received doses to the bungled tracking of vaccinations. An investigation by the Times’ Mike Reicher showed how the state Department of Health and a software nonprofit mishandled statewide logistics, leaving data burdens on hundreds of vaccine providers that should have been more efficiently managed. It remains mind-boggling that, this far into the pandemic, a state so focused on the tech sector fumbled this long-known challenge.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Timing is wrong for enormous hike in state gas tax | Jan. 21, 2021

“Making gasoline more than 30 cents a gallon more expensive could undercut efforts to get the state’s economy headed in a positive direction. It will also add further pain to those who have had their work hours reduced or have been laid off in the midst of the pandemic … This is not a good time to add such a huge tax burden.”

The Seattle Times: State must come clean about delayed COVID-19 vaccine rollout | January 14, 2021

“There is no good reason for Washington to rank 36th among U.S. states in initial COVID-19 vaccine shots administered per capita. There is an appalling one: Washington ranks 26th in the percentage of received vaccines that have been delivered to patients … Washington deserves a full accounting for why the statewide rollout is taking so much painful time.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Less spending, not more taxes, is recipe for state budget | January 12, 2021

“As the state Legislature convened in Olympia (and on Zoom) Monday — with the critical task of approving a two-year state budget topping the agenda — too many lawmakers, as well as the governor, are pondering more taxes. That’s the wrong mindset.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature’s remote session must be fully transparent | January 10, 2021

“And the Legislature must not engage in the odious practice of introducing “title-only” bills the public cannot scrutinize until significant proposals are dropped late in the legislative process.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Plenty to hope for as Legislature convenes | January 10, 2021

“Inslee has yet to run afoul of state law, however, as courts routinely turn away challenges to his authority. Because of this, several local lawmakers have expressed support for rewriting state law. And while our expectations are limited — Inslee’s party controls both chambers of the Legislature, while every Valley lawmaker is Republican — we agree that this is a conversation worth having. Inslee’s decisions on closures and timetables, his one-size-fits-all system of metrics from county to county, and his refusal to call a special session are causes for deep concern.” 

The Seattle Times: Any new state taxes or fees must meet a high bar | January 8, 2021

“Nevertheless, many Democratic leaders, who control the governor’s mansion and both legislative houses, are enthusiastic about raising even more money. Lawmakers should measure any such proposals of any new taxes or fees against a high bar. In this fragile recovery, increasing the burden on households and employers, many of which still are struggling, could be detrimental. Lawmakers should be especially skeptical of Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal …  Pain endures for many households, and recovery is uncertain for most employers. Yet the overall strength of Washington’s economy is providing ample tax dollars to balance the state budget and more. This precarious situation should make legislators wary of any new tax or fee proposal.”

The Columbian: Shake up Employment Security Department | January 3, 2021

“The bottom line now is what are Washington’s elected officials going to do about the Employment Security Department? Gov. Jay Inslee has made clear he’s loath to dismiss LeVine, whom he appointed to the job. But someone must be held responsible for the agency’s continuing problems … The state Employment Security Department is due for a shake-up. The top might be a good place to start.”

The Seattle Times: Restore faith in Employment Security | December 27, 2020

“The theft and delays have led some to call for LeVine’s replacement. But Gov. Jay Inslee seems bent on forgiving and forgetting the agency’s fumbles, saying in a recent meeting with editorial board members that he feels the beleaguered department is on an “arc of improvement.” In a follow-up, a spokeswoman stressed that the governor will “continue to demand accountability and improved performance from ESD, as he does for all state agencies. The public needs more than pat assurances. It needs results.”

The Seattle Times: Taxing employers will prolong Seattle’s economic pain | December 22, 2020

“Seattle desperately needs more common sense and reasonable voices to be heard. Now is the time for City Hall to support employers so the city can recover and again be a great place to start careers and companies. Pay heed, Legislature.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Inslee’s capital gains tax plan should be quickly rejected | December 21, 2020

“We believe this proposal, like previous efforts to impose an income tax in Washington state, should be quickly rejected by the Legislature.”

The Seattle Times: Prisons must rectify pandemic mistakes | December 3, 2020

“Washington’s Department of Corrections’ history of poor management, medical and otherwise, hobbled its pandemic response from the outset. Missteps and inaction, including not enforcing that guards wear masks, endangered prisoners with nowhere to go to protect themselves.”

The Columbian: Special session of state Legislature crucial | November 24, 2020

“With a spike in coronavirus infections, such orders may be necessary. But they fail to address the economic pressure that will be placed on business owners and employees. State Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver, said: ‘He can’t possibly understand what the effect is on these small businesses. He’s continuing to get paid. These businesses are shut down and scratching to survive.’ That is why the Legislature must be called into session. Emergency relief is required, and input from lawmakers is needed.”

Inslee should expand his bubble, call special session of Washington Legislature | The News Tribune | November 18, 2020

“Inslee, for his part, has made a few overtures about possibly, maybe, but probably not calling a special session. Washington Republicans asked for one after the newly reelected governor announced he’s again shutting down major parts of the economy, this time until at least mid-December, to stem the fast-rising viral tide. In our view, Inslee should acquiesce to the request and expand his bubble of decision-making input. He should call lawmakers to Olympia to tackle a narrowly defined agenda on a short timeline.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Governor’s new restrictions could have benefited from Republican input | November 18, 2020

“Democrats in Washington state hold all the power, but if they want all of Washington to pull together they would be wise to make a stronger effort to include Republicans in discussing solutions.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature must fix inflated car-tab fees definitively | October 20, 2020

“The Legislature finally should answer the voters’ widespread discontent with Sound Transit’s car valuation schedule, which calculates registration fees on a basis far higher than a car’s market value.”

Tri-City Herald: A gas tax won’t fix climate change. State lawmakers must oppose this low-carbon plan. (February 28, 2020)

“If ESSHB 1110 — the low-carbon fuel standard bill — gets through this year’s legislative session, then the price at the pump will shoot up and disposable income will go down. For those on a fixed income, this is a horrible scenario.”

“And gas prices won’t be the only concern. The cost of food and other goods shipped by truck will rise because businesses will have to pass on the extra shipping expenses to their customers.”

“We are not deniers of climate change, but we believe ESSHB 1110 is regressive, and delivers too little environmental bang for the buck.”

The Seattle Times: The Legislature clings to its old tricks (February 17, 2020)

“Meanwhile, Republicans, now in the minority, have found religion on the issue. They introduced three bills (HB 2190, SB 2042 and SJR 8214) to reform or prohibit title-only bills. Those bills had some bipartisan support, but none received a committee hearing, dooming them for the session.”

“Title-only bills remain unseemly and duplicitous — yes, perhaps they bend the rules just short of the constitutional breaking point. That’s why a legislative fix is preferable, but Democrats killed that idea.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Lawmakers continue legislative trick to skirt constitution (February 12, 2020)

“And so the shenanigans in the state Legislature will continue.”

“That became clear last week when the effort to end the practice of ‘title-only’ bills — offering only a vague description of the proposed legislation such as ‘fiscal matters’ but containing no actual text of the proposed law — died without a committee hearing.”

“That means lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature can continue circumventing the state constitution in pushing through legislation without the glare of public scrutiny in the final days of the legislative session.”

The Seattle Times: Legislators, keep prioritizing congestion relief (February 7, 2020)

“Washington lawmakers must scrutinize a bevy of Seattle-spawned land-use, head-tax and transportation proposals. They are heavy on emotional arguments and platitudes and light on details about who really benefits.”

“One of the most insidious proposals would radically alter the way state transportation projects are funded, potentially undermining jobs and the economy. Legislators should reject this scheme, in House Bill 2688 and Senate Bill 6398.”

“Unbelievably, the bills seek to remove “congestion” and “freight mobility” from the list of criteria used to allocate transportation funding.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Legislature shouldn’t curb voters’ initiative power (January 19, 2020)

“Still, it’s very troubling that 11 state representatives have signed on to legislation (House Bill 2529) that aims to restrict the people’s right to put an initiative or referendum on the ballot.”

“The legislation, which was introduced last week as lawmakers began their 60-day session, limits what can be considered during odd-year elections. Specifically, it prohibits initiatives and amendments to the state constitution in years ending with odd numbers such as 2019.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Pragmatism needed in setting carbon-emissions rules (January 17, 2020)

“Imposing unreasonable fees in the state would hurt consumers and put businesses in the state at a competitive disadvantage with those in neighboring states. It could also drive businesses from Washington.”

Tri-City Herald: Gov. Inslee’s Snake River dam study wasted money telling us what we already know (December 22, 2019)

“Considering the state has no authority over whether the dams are breached — only Congress has that — spending money on a state study was a waste.”

“But a majority of state legislators insisted we need to have a state dialogue on the issue, so the plan went forward.”

The Columbian: Legislature should end use of ‘title-only’ bills | June 21, 2019

“When the Legislature reconvenes in January, one of those priorities should be the elimination of ‘title-only’ bills. Such legislation, in which a blank bill is filed with the text to be filled in later, is an affront to the notion of transparency and an offensive attempt to avoid the state constitution.”

Columbia Basin Herald: Title-only bills need to go | June 19, 2019

“The state legislature is no place for games. The democratic process allows citizens to be active participants in the legislative process and we believe it is time for lawmakers to adhere to democratic principles and ban title-only bills outright.”

Walla Wall Union-Bulletin: Effort to approve capital-gains tax should be ended | June 5, 2019

“A capital-gains tax is an income tax, which is simply not allowed under the state constitution.”

“Our biggest concern is that a narrow capital-gains tax passed next year could morph into a full-blown income tax in the future that many, if not most, Washingtonians would have to pay. If this were to succeed it would be circumventing the state constitution.”

Tri-City Herald: On taxes and transparency, the 2019 Legislature gets a D- | May 19, 2019

“All in all, we think a course correction is in order. Banning title-only bills would be a great start, and that’s a realistic change we would like to see introduced next session.”

“More transparency could improve the legislative process, and perhaps clean up some of the mess created this session. Judging by what happened this year, improvement is desperately needed.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Washington’s Legislature must be more transparent | May 13, 2019

“Take, for example, the way the Democratic-majority in the Legislature used a parliamentary trick to get around the state constitution at the end of the just completed legislative session.”

“It’s time for the Legislature to put an end to this title-only scam.”

The Spokesman-Review: Title-only bills are an insult to democracy | May 12, 2019

“Democrats in the state Capitol weren’t about to let a little thing like the Washington Constitution stop them from raising taxes. As the legislative session wound down last weekend, they used a constitutional loophole to cut the public out of debate and pass the surprise tax increases. Closing that loophole should be the first order of business when lawmakers return to Olympia next year.”

“Even some Democrats opposed the increases and the underhanded way their colleagues passed them.”

“If Democrats had run the bill through the banking committee, they might have slowed down because there’s a good chance it violates the U.S. Constitution by treating in-state and out-of-state banks differently.”

The Columbian: State budget process in need of transparency | May 9, 2019

“In the end, lawmakers passed a dizzying array of tax increases in putting together the largest budget in state history. Despite a surge in state revenue created by a strong economy, the Legislature was unable to live within its means. The two-year budget, which goes into effect later this year, represents an 18 percent increase in spending over the current biennium.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Rescinding Oregon sales tax exemption hurts locally | May 7, 2019

“The bottom line is that repealing this tax exemption at the point of purchase might hurt the state’s economy worse than anticipated.”

The Everett Herald: A troubling short cut for state tax increase on banks | May 7, 2019

“The problem lies not so much with the tax increase itself, although it doesn’t require even Sutton-like logic skills to wonder how difficult it will be for the nation’s largest banks to pass on the costs to consumers because, well, ‘that’s where the money is.’ No, the larger issue is with the process that was used to propose and pass tax increase legislation in the session’s final three days.”

The Seattle Times: Washington lawmakers dodge the constitution with title-only bills | May 6, 2019

“In the final hours before the end of the 2019 legislative session, Democrats in Olympia rammed through a tax increase on big banks. They used a parliamentary gimmick called a “title-only bill” to bypass the state constitution and cut the public out of the process.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature 2019: Some gains at high cost | May 3, 2019

“Though state revenue surged last year, the Legislature still couldn’t live within its means and passed a dizzying array of tax increases. As has become lawmakers’ secretive norm, some were passed in the wee hours with last-minute bills, precluding public engagement and analysis of how much they’ll cost residents.”

Yakima Herald: The good, bad and perplexing of the legislative session | May 3, 2019

“Thumbs-down. New taxes: Why were new taxes needed, given state revenue projections? Certainly, many measures needed funding — special ed, mental health — but not beyond existing state revenue. School levy lift: We believe the Legislature’s action to ease a local school levy cap after one year, to placate districts in more affluent areas, will result in inequality in school funding — and perhaps another lawsuit that the McCleary ruling was supposed to settle. Bad move.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Boosting local school levy collections is wrong approach | April 30, 2019

“The Democrat-controlled House and Senate opted to raise the levy lid to essentially fix their own blunders. The structure of the K-12 funding plan approved last year allowed some school districts (Walla Walla was not one of them)   to raise teacher salaries to a level so high that they could not be sustained beyond this year.”

The News Tribune: New tax hard to swallow; Washington Democrats pull fast one in Legislature’s last weekend | April 30, 2019

“Not out of sympathy for big banks, but out of recognition that a slapdash tax plan makes for bad public policy, accountability and transparency. To rush it through the Legislature in 48 hours is indefensible — and indigestible.”

The Columbian: Legislature hits deadline, gets mixed report card | April 30, 2019

Yakima Herald: Legislature’s late ‘big reveal’ budget hinders transparency | April 29, 2019

The Columbian: Tighter DUI law will keep roads safer | April 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: No to Seattle congestion pricing | April 17, 2019

The Columbian: Lifting levy lid violates spirit of McCleary deal | April 11, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Don’t put school-funding burden back on local taxpayers | March 31, 2019 

The Spokesman-Review: Washington needs doctors; funding delays are senseless | March 15, 2019

The Columbian: Plea for no tax increases fiscally responsible | March 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: Lawmakers eye local taxpayers, again, for schools | March 22, 2019

Tri-City Herald: If you don’t want gas prices to go up, let Olympia know this bill isn’t the answer | March 23, 2019

Tri-City Herald: Republican or Democrat? Washington’s voters shouldn’t have to tell | March 20, 2019

The Seattle Times: Climate proposals need better cost analysis | March 15, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: State DOC must do better tracking inmates’ sentences | March 5, 2019

Yakima Herald: Time to stall climate bills that would raise gas prices | March 1, 2019

The Seattle Times: Washington’s struggles to track prison sentences are unacceptable | February 27, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Scuttle the effort to raise state gas tax | February 25, 2019

Tri-City Herald: Inslee’s proposed Snake River dam task force will be a waste of money | February 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: Stop the local tax grab and increase state dollars for education | February 22, 2019

The Spokesman-Review: A statewide plastic bag ban doesn’t make sense | February 10, 2019

Yakima Herald: Don’t lift the levy cap on school funding | January 25, 2019

The Columbian: Keep a lid on it | January 10, 2019

Yakima Herald: Gov. Inslee’s capital gains tax won’t fly in this state | December 22, 2018

“Here’s the thing: Many learned people in the state, as well as such federal arbiters of fiscal matters as the Internal Revenue Service, have stated that a capital gains tax, no matter how it’s configured, counts as an income tax. As such, that would make the governor’s proposal to generate a billion dollars a year with this method to help fund a $54.5 billion state operating budget unconstitutional.”