Many licensing rules exist only to block competition and raise prices

Long-overdue attention is finally being paid to work rules and occupational licensing schemes that serve little purpose beyond being a barrier. Here is a great example of those hard-to-justify rules from Lens: “Jerry Schmidt files horse teeth at his farm near Port Angeles, Washington for a fraction of a veterinarian’s cost. After a formal complaint […]

What we need in our next Commissioner of Public Lands

The political action in Washington this year is in our state races. Five of the nine state executive offices are open, with no incumbent running: Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Auditor, Commissioner of Public Lands, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. We’re going to have a very different executive lineup next year. One of those positions, the Commissioner […]

McKenna on KIRO: Criminal charges in Flint water scandal

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the latest in the Flint water scandal, with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filing charges against one local and two state employees for evidence tampering and other charges. Rob: “Sometimes people exercise really bad judgment. Why did employees at the state Department of Corrections in the I.T. department, you […]

On public’s right to know, first do no harm

It may be veto season, but one of the most controversial bills in Olympia this year didn’t make it that far. SSHB 2576, an update to the state’s public records law, is in the House “x-file,” meaning it’s dead for this year. That’s a good thing. The bill no doubt started from good intentions but […]

“Audacious” is right: executive orders have gone too far

Apparently President Obama plans to use his last year in office to issue a series of “audacious” executive orders, as his chief of staff described them in The Hill. Obama is frustrated that Congress doesn’t acquiesce to his agenda, so his solution is to go around Congress as much as possible. This executive order trend […]

McKenna on KTTH: State inmates accidentally released early

Rob told KTTH’s Todd Herman: “They need to figure out who made the decision not to fix the software glitch when it was discovered. Why they didn’t do it at the next scheduled software update, much less ever since then … when we figure out who made that decision, that person should lose their job.” Listen […]

Kelley returns with legal authority, not moral authority

On Monday, a bipartisan group of legislators released an impeachment resolution against indicted State Auditor Troy Kelley. Today, Kelley announced he was returning from his self-imposed leave of absence and resuming his duties as state auditor. Kelley is under indictment for 17 counts of money-laundering and theft related to his former business, a firm that […]

How obscure Olympia committees make sweeping changes

If you’ve never heard of the State Building Code Council (SBCC), you’d be far from the only one. State government often relies on appointed technical committees to deal with specialty areas, such as updating the state building code every three years. These committees can have a big impact on our daily lives without attracting much […]

Controlled burn debate: smoke complaints vs. out-of-control wildfires

There’s a growing consensus that we need more controlled burns in our state to help manage wildfires. Fire officials, foresters, the Forest Service, and environmentalists increasingly agree that controlled burning is a tool that can help reduce the intensity of wildfires, improve the health of forests, and give fire fighters defensive space when wildfires spread. […]

Seattle is failing minority kids, despite progressive reputation

Quick, which Washington city is the most racially diverse? If you said Seattle, well, good guess, but no. It’s Bellevue – a formerly surprising fact that’s getting less surprising as the area realigns its expectations about our region. But here’s a fact that may surprise you. “White kids in Seattle are almost ten times as […]