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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

December 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Thanks for the sales tax deduction, but what about fixing the tax code?

In another example of Congress kicking the can down the road, lawmakers approved a one-year extension of a sales-tax deduction on federal income-tax returns. The extension gives some relief to about 28 percent of Washington taxpayers who itemize their tax return and claim an average deduction of $600, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The certainty is…

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Comments | Topics: maria cantwell, sales tax deduction, taxes

December 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

A glimpse inside Washington’s gun culture after Initiative 594

On Saturday morning, I found myself surrounded by knives, guns and ammo. Lots and lots of it.

Photo by Thanh Tan

Photo by Thanh Tan

I went with some friends to check out the first gun and knife show in Centralia since the roll-out of Initiative 594 on Dec. 4. The new law, passed overwhelmingly by a majority of voters, closes the “gun show loophole.” Under current federal law, background checks are required only for sales by licensed firearms dealers. I-594 expands those background checks to private transfers or sales, common to gun shows.

“Remember to dress Lewis County and not Seattle-USC,” my friend text messaged me beforehand. I think I blended in just fine, other than the fact I was one of only two people of color there. At the entrance of the venue, a huge sign read “NO LOADED GUNS.” Security guards at the entrance provided zip ties to help people lock guns they wanted to bring inside to trade.

Once inside, the whole thing felt like an indoor swap meet. The place had the festive mood of a holiday bazaar with a whole lot of camo colors. For about an hour, we perused aisles and aisles of rifles, shotguns, bullets, stun guns, handcrafted knives, holsters, jackets, war paraphernalia, National Rifle Association pamphlets on Second Amendment rights, and even dehydrated food for hunters. I could purchase an AR-15 assault-style rifle for $600. Or perhaps three gun cleaning kits for $90, as advertised in a sign that enticed buyers with this friendly reminder: “X-mas is coming! Best present ever! Will fit in man’s stocking!”

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Comments | Topics: gun control, gun shows, gun violence

December 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Inslee promises $2.3B more for schools, but does he go far enough?

Corrected version.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday night presented a $2.3 billion proposal on education spending for the next two years.

The announcement is part of the governor’s multi-day rollout this week of his budget priorities. His decision to announce different parts of his plan on separate days and wait until Thursday to provide funding details makes it harder to put his numbers into context.

Inslee said his education plan would fulfill the McCleary obligation — a state Supreme Court decision mandating the state to fully fund basic education — a year early. It also would provide more funding for early education and higher education. The governor’s plan calls for $1.3 billion toward McCleary in 2015-17 and $2.4 billion more to be spent in 2017-19.

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Comments | Topics: Education, Jay Inslee, McCleary decision

December 15, 2014 at 6:20 AM

As Gov. Inslee asks for $1 billion more, where are the promised efficiencies?

UPDATE: A state human resources report cited below, showing a 13 percent jump in overtime for state workers, has been updated to fix an inaccuracy. In fact, overtime dropped three percent from 2013, according to the new report. Ralph Thomas, spokesman for the Office of Financial Management, writes: The overtime pay figures come from an annual…

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Comments | Topics: Andy Hill, Gov. Jay Inslee, lean management

December 12, 2014 at 6:01 AM

With mistrust running rampant, careful screening of potential cops is crucial

As daily protests prompt the nation to have uncomfortable conversations about police use of force, it’s important to also reflect on a powerful and persistent cop stereotype – namely that too many are hyper-aggressive, infatuated by weaponry, and so psychologically damaged that they’d be rejected by the military.

Ferguson protesters sit down outside Seattle Police Headquarters at conclusion of peaceful march, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Seattle. (The Seattle Times / Ken Lambert)

Ferguson protesters sit down outside Seattle Police Headquarters at conclusion of peaceful march, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Seattle. (The Seattle Times / Ken Lambert)

Those are big assumptions. However, some versions of them are probably shared by poor and minority communities disproportionately at the wrong end of night sticks and service pistols.

But I know most officers don’t fit that ominous caricature. Most are brave public servants who surpassed highly selective and costly recruiting standards that weed out far more applicants than are accepted.

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Comments | Topics: Ferguson, police reform

December 10, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Participate in a video chat on the recreational and medical marijuana markets

Readers learned last Sunday in a Times editorial how easy it is to get medical marijuana in Washington — without medical authorization. Is this what voters thought the market would look like when they legalized marijuana?

Join panelists in a live video discussion in this post Thursday at noon about the competing medical and recreational markets. Panelists include:

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Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: David Mendoza, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, John Schochet

December 10, 2014 at 12:17 PM

The arrogance of Uber elsewhere hits home in Seattle

Corrected version Timing changes everything. When Uber started illegally operating  its taxi-like network in Seattle in 2013, I applauded the company’s disruptive business model because it filled a basic demand for transportation alternatives. Over the next year, the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray worked in good faith to establish a regulatory framework that allowed taxis to co-exist…

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Comments | Topics: apps, rideservice, ridesharing

December 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Why do small police departments need 18-ton armor-plated assault vehicles?

The U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033 program was a mostly obscure surplus military equipment program until the Ferguson, Mo., riots, when America suddenly alerted to the creeping militarization of local police. Details of the decades-old program, which has given away about $5 billion in weapons and equipment since 1990, were opaque until last month, when the…

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