The seemingly impossible task of reducing government red tape

Like kudzu – or, around here, Himalayan blackberry – it is the nature of the Regulatory State to expand, rapidly. It justifies itself by proliferating new regulations, and by expanding into new areas. One of the top concerns cited by businesses seeking to grow is the ever-rising number of rules and regulations to follow, and […]

People, small businesses under gov’t glare deserve to know their rights

Most of our interactions with government are like stopping by the local DOL office to renew your license: pretty mundane, and it’ll probably take longer than you’d like. If you or a business of yours has ever been the subject of an investigation or enforcement action, however, you know how stressful it can be to […]

“After-the-fact” fix emblematic of collective bargaining problems

Lobbyists for state employee unions testified in Olympia recently in favor of HB 1521 and HB 1434, two innocuous-sounding bills regarding employee benefits. But with some ambiguous hem-and-haw language in their testimony, the labor lobbyists glossed over a key fact: the benefits the two bills would grant were already bargained into being by their unions […]

State, SEIU dragged kicking and screaming toward change

One way to gauge how seriously a gubernatorial administration takes an issue is to observe how many meetings it devotes to the topic. By that measure, the Inslee administration took the Service Employees International Union’s worries about 2014’s famous Harris case very seriously. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Harris – that state-reimbursed homecare workers […]

Important case strikes a blow against government secrecy

The people have a right to know what government is doing in their name and how it spends their money. Like other rights, it’s one that must frequently be asserted or it begins to erode. Your right to view government records is inconvenient for public officials when they would prefer to keep their work in […]

Typical EPA overreach will mean higher water bills for you

The Environmental Protection Agency has decreed that Washington’s new stringent water quality standards aren’t stringent enough. The federal agency rejected significant portions of our state’s rule, calling instead for levels of water purity that can’t be achieved currently. It’s yet another example of federal regulatory overreach into the states. The EPA is rejecting valid state-driven […]

Temptation to evade public disclosure is always there

As a taxpayer and a citizen, you have a right to know what public officials and government employees are doing with their work time and your money. Our public records laws help ensure that right. But what is to prevent officials from evading those laws? Unfortunately the answer is, not much. It’s not exactly an […]

Billions added to Washington water bills, but what did we buy for it?

The state Dept. of Ecology is moving ahead with new water quality standards, based in part on the convoluted “fish consumption rate” that we’ve discussed on SGW before. It’s a complicated topic, so first, a compliment. The Skagit Valley Herald’s recent coverage of this issue was highly readable, organized, and fact-based. It’s the opposite of […]

Records law is about your right to know how officials use your money and authority

Open government isn’t an exciting topic, but it’s a vital one. It comes down to this: Do you have the right to know how government officials spend their time, who they meet with, what information they base their decisions on, who they communicate with, and how they spend your money? Or does government get to […]

EPA may be trying to avoid pointing out the downsides of corn ethanol

One of the problems with the regulatory state – one of the myriad reasons so many are worried about its growth – is the many opportunities for chicanery. An executive branch, or just agency employees with their own agenda, can tip the scales in favor of a preferred outcome, with little debate or accountability. To many, […]