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 […]

Dino Rossi returns to Olympia with a really smart idea

Sometimes a proposal in Olympia has such a force of logic behind it, and is so clearly the right thing to do, that you know it’s probably doomed. Sen. Dino Rossi is prime-sponsoring one such brilliant and necessary bill. The Legislature suffered a terrible loss when Sen. Andy Hill died, but Rossi has stepped into […]

Secret state negotiations: Good for employee unions, bad for taxpayers

State employees rallied in Olympia today for pay raises as union leaders negotiate a new contract. How much of a raise are they asking for? You’re not allowed to know. In fact, the state employees themselves don’t really know – not specifically, anyway. They’re rallying for a cause, but the specifics are withheld even from […]

New WSU pres calls for spending sanity

You hear terms like “fiscal sanity” and “responsible budgeting” bandied about in government. Unfortunately you’re a lot more likely to hear it from critics and candidates than agency heads and bureaucrats. The focus from those spending the money tends to be on growing their budget, getting a bigger share of the revenue pie, and expanding […]

Homelessness numbers not as definitive as advocates say

Political leaders, especially in Seattle, are grappling with a growing homelessness problem. With greater visibility, an uptick in property crimes, and shocking headlines such as the Jungle murders, the public is increasingly keyed in to the issue. As our elected leaders contemplate what they can do to confront the problem, they need good data and […]

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 […]

Protect performance audits – the people support them

Bipartisanship is spoken of as an undisputed good, but it’s not always true. When both parties agree to sweep funding for a good program without so much as an argument, the people lose out doubly. They lose the positive benefits of a useful program, and they miss out on a useful debate over whether or […]

Legislature should have its own fiscal office

The budget of any entity as large as Washington’s state government is necessarily complex. It often takes new legislators a while to grasp the scope of it – the agencies large and small, how the money flows in and out, and how the various pots of money are allowed to be spent. It’s complicated enough […]

Lawless California a bad example of criminal justice reform

Momentum is building across the country for various reforms in our state and federal criminal justice systems. Voices from the left and right are re-thinking minimum sentences, drug laws, and asset forfeiture rules, among others. America’s incarceration rate is being compared unfavorably to other countries. Most agree that we need to make some recalibrations to […]

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 […]