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September 20, 2013 at 6:29 AM
Good story, bad leadership
Congratulations to Andrew Garber for your article on state earmarks. [“Olympia earmarks make comeback,” page one, Sept. 8.]
It was disappointing to learn of the reappearance of spending in our state that skirts the regular capital budgeting process, regardless of whether legislators believe them to be “worthy causes.”
A word of advice for Sen. Jim Honeyford: Washingtonians, including voters in your district, expect leadership from leaders in Olympia, especially in these times when legitimate state needs, particularly educational funding, are not being met.
If leadership translates to just saying “no” to uncooperative legislators who wish to skirt the process, then do so. You didn’t become a committee chairman without knowing how to respond properly in these situations, and I’m certain you can trust voters throughout the state to note those who won’t follow the process.
Thomas Franklin, Seattle
September 12, 2013 at 6:29 PM
Plastic is better than alternatives
So now The Seattle Times falls for the cause-du-jour, the brave fight against plastic grocery bags. [“Editorial: Plastic bags should be on Legislature’s agenda,” Opinion, Sept. 11.]
Alas, there is no evidence that Seattle’s plastic bags are winding up in the ocean. But there is evidence presented by a study by the British government’s Environment Agency, that the alternatives to plastic bags do far more harm. This includes paper, cloth and biodegradable plastic, the latter made with cornstarch. All of them are much bigger contributors to environmental degradation than plastic, according to this study.
In the end, the urge to ban plastic bags winds up being one more bit of faux-environmentalist vanity from a city that loves to talk the talk but only rarely walks the walk.
Charles Pluckhahn, Seattle
July 25, 2013 at 7:06 AM
Investigate campaign contributions
The state ethics panel is barking up the wrong tree. [“Ethics probe may revamp rules on gifts to legislators,” page one, July 23.]
Why are they investigating the influence of a few thousand dollars’ worth of lunches on our legislators, and at the same time ignoring millions of dollars in campaign contributions and their effect on legislation?
George Hoke, Bellevue
July 25, 2013 at 6:34 AM
Punishments and prevention must be intensified
The Legislature didn’t pass tighter rule changes because of presumed cost increases. [“Guest column: Legislature must do more to end the mayhem caused by drunken drivers,” Opinion, July 21.]
It should have also looked at changes that would cover or reduce these costs. Tickets issued during emphasis patrols should be at least double. People get warned and speed anyway? The public shouldn’t have to pay for stupidity.
If a driver can’t walk the line to the police car, he is drunk, and should go directly to jail on a week’s stay that he or his friends pay for. The costs of the court are mostly avoided.
There should be no time off for celebrities, judges, police, or college athletes. There is really no excuse for repeat offenders: What part of “don’t drink and drive” isn’t understood?
Penalties should be significantly harsher: jail for first offenses, felony status for a second one, deportation for the third. We need a ”zero tolerance” policy for DUI offenders.
If the offender wants an ignition-interlock device, he can pay for it, not the public. We pay for too many peoples’ ignorance already.
Terry Slaton, Federal Way
July 23, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Sen. Rodney Tom is at fault
Thank you for the story on the public’s frustration with our Legislature this session. [“Poll: Voters give state legislators grade of D+,” NW Thursday, July 18.]
As a constituent and former supporter of Sen. Rodney Tom — I even once hosted a meet-and-greet for him — I am livid with the results of this session. Thanks to Sen. Tom and his Republican colleagues, the Washington Legislature became a place where good bills went to die this year.
For example, mass-transit solutions that were desperately needed to provide funding for bus riders in King County died, as did funding for a badly-needed new Columbia River bridge. The Reproductive Parity Act, a simple bill to ensure women, not their insurance plans or employers, make their own pregnancy decisions, also failed to pass.
What about education? It’s still not fully funded, and we still have the most regressive tax structure in the country while corporate cheaters profit from tax loopholes Sen. Tom refused to close.
With Sen. Tom and his cronies in charge of the Senate, citizens were left with few solutions to our state’s problems. Ideology won out over problem-solving in the interest of Washington residents.
Voters like me will not forget Sen. Tom’s “leadership” anytime soon.
Darrell Johnson, Bellevue
July 20, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Majority rules should apply everywhere
The Seattle Times editorializes that Senate filibuster reform is past due. [“End filibuster abuse,” Opinion, July 17.]
It argues that, inside the Beltway, majority rule is considered the “nuclear option,” while in the rest of the country this is known as an election.
Where is this sensible argument when it comes to Tim Eyman’s continuing, selfishly ratified attempts to impose a two-thirds rule for revenue bills in the Washington state Legislature?
What you suggest would be good inside the Beltway should also apply outside it.
David Madsen, Seattle
July 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Political move is either irony or hypocrisy
The Legislature had special sessions because Democrats control the House and Republicans control, narrowly, the Senate. [“Time to fine dawdling lawmakers? Sen. Tom thinks so,” NW Wednesday, July 10.]
The Legislature split when Sen. Rodney Tom won the election as a Democrat, but then joined the Republican caucus.
Sen. Tom now wants to fine members of the Legislature for having special sessions. Irony, or hypocrisy?
David Nash, Seattle
July 10, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Citizens’ response is underwhelming
I haven’t seen any significant signs of upset caused by the change of party allegiance by Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. [“Time to fine dawdling lawmakers? Sen. Tom thinks so,” NW Wednesday, July 10.]
Imagine if you will, a ballgame between the Mariners and the Red Sox that included the following action: It’s the ninth inning, and the score is 1-0 in favor of the Mariners. In the middle of his windup, Felix Hernandez stops and strips off his Mariners jersey, revealing a Boston uniform. He proceeds to throw a 50-mph home-run ball to the at-bat Sox slugger, who hits a grand slam. The fans just sit there calmly and say to themselves, “how interesting.”
That seems to be the level of interest our local populace has in the things that really are important to their lives.
I sure wish the process of governance was as exciting as a ballgame.
Mike Anderson, Burien
July 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Story not told properly
Your headline on the story in Sunday’s paper was a bit off. [“Schools grateful for $1B in new funding,” NW Sunday, June 30.]
“Schools Grateful for $1B in New Funding.” That sounds too much like, “please sir, may I have some more?” from Oliver Twist.
I have some suggestions.
“Schools Told to Be Grateful for $1B by Legislature That Refused to Adequately Fund Schools for the Last 20 Years.”
Or “$1B Down and $4B To Go.”
Or “Legislators Get Paid for Not Doing Their Job; Education Suffers.”
Or “Legislature Plays Politics while Schools Remain Underfunded.”
These would be a bit more accurate, if edgy.
Richard Reuther, Richland
June 17, 2013 at 4:12 PM
Legislature should fund smaller classes
Two important things are happening this week. Most of Washington’s school children begin the first full week of their summer vacations, and the Washington Legislature enters the first full week of yet another special session without fulfilling its paramount duty. [“Special session: 30 days, 0 bills, $77,000 in costs,” NW Saturday, June 15.]
Many kids with working parents will spend part of the summer in child care, where they will get something fewer and fewer kids have during the school year: reasonable class sizes.
Washington state law caps the number of kids in child care at 15 children per adult. It is a ratio that guarantees one-on-one time for each child, allows instructors to focus on curriculum, and ensures that students are safe.
So why won’t our leaders in Olympia give our kids the same smaller classes in school that they get all summer?
Washington has the fourth-most crowded classrooms in America.
Smaller classes are clearly right for Washington kids, and our legislators should do their paramount duty before the summer is over and fund smaller classes now.
Matt Loschen, Redmond
Health care should not be cut
I agree that it is critical for the Washington Legislature to finalize the budget by the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown. [“Editorial: Time to compromise on state budget,” Opinion, June 12.]
As a community health-care provider, I know that not meeting the July 1 budget deadline would have real impacts on our patients and clinics. People’s needs for lifesaving care cannot be put on hold until the Legislature gets its work done. Not only would many people who rely on these programs not have access to coverage, but our clinics would also lose desperately needed resources.
I hope that any compromise to reach a budget agreement does not sacrifice the state’s reasonable investments in health-care services or the commitment to expand Medicaid. These have been prioritized so far in the budgeting process and should remain secure.
Marcus Rempel, MD, medical director, Neighborcare Health, Seattle
Legislators are not serving constituents
I am appalled that our legislators have the nerve to collect per diems at $90 per day during extended sessions of the Legislature.
If they cannot do their job during the session it seems to me that they should not be rewarded by being paid for additional sessions. Meanwhile, their constituents are being laid off, losing money for schools, etc. They are causing all kinds of hardships on the individuals who elected them.
I certainly hope the voters will remember the individuals who are causing these problems. They are not passing legislation for their constituents. They are passing self-serving issues and raising their own pay. We need legislation passed to prevent this; however, I doubt they will have the backbone to support it.
Barbara Dunton, Renton
Legislators should not be paid to do nothing
If someone in the private sector is hired to do a job and they do nothing, they are fired.
Until the next election, our legislators can’t be “fired,” but in the meantime, they should not get paid or receive per diem allowances. They have not done what they were elected to do, which might result in budget cuts and layoffs. They should not be rewarded while the public pays a price for their inaction.
Anne Corley, Mercer Island
Don’t pay for special sessions
Compared with the overall budget for the state, the $77,000 cost of the special session for the Legislature is not very much money, but it sure is irritating to pay our elected officials for accomplishing nothing.
Here is an idea: Tim Eyman should fund an initiative that would ban pay for the state representatives and senators during special sessions. This would probably be the first time that Eyman ever did something reasonable.
Gary Maxwell, Lynnwood
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