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. […]

An honest study on transpo increases reveals a big problem

From time to time, we all need to take a step back and evaluate the picture. That’s true of our personal lives, but it’s just as true of government and its efforts, too. That’s why a new report from former state Transportation secretary Doug MacDonald is so valuable. MacDonald started with a seemingly simple question: […]

Congress coddles, hamstrings money-losing Postal Service

In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service lost $5.5 billion. It was the eighth year in a row the Postal Service lost money, for a total of $51.7 billion over that stretch. More than anything, the Postal Service’s money woes are driven by the more than 60% decline in first-class letters that Americans send. While the […]

L&I expert at ducking job-creating reforms

Some things in Olympia never change. Summer is always a little hotter there than in Seattle or Tacoma, and it’s a smidge rainier in the winter. There are always plenty of patchouli oil products for  sale at the Farmers Market. The sandwiches at Meconi’s are always good. And our government-monopoly workers compensation system, run out […]

How to stop Olympia’s “government shutdown” game

In the last six years, state legislators needed overtime special sessions to complete their budget work five times. Only in 2014 did they finish on time. It’s not merely a matter of Republican vs. Democrat wrangling over the budget, either. In 2010-12 Democrats controlled both the House and Senate by comfortable margins, yet legislators still […]

Voters want Leg. to end on time. Could these ideas help?

When the Legislature needed overtime sessions to complete its work this year and in 2013, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Special sessions were commonplace after the last recession started. When partisan control of the chambers split in 2013, it just seemed all the more likely legislators would go into special session. As Jason Mercier […]

When consultants guide gov’t, their records are public

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber resigned from office earlier this year amid allegations that his First Lady, Cylvia Hayes, concealed large sources of her income from the public. Hayes received well-paid contracts from environmental groups while at the same time Kitzhaber was allowing Hayes to help direct state environmental policy. Kitzhaber thought he could weather the […]

Passing transpo package the smart, conservative choice

With the operating budget finally in the books, a potential transportation package is the Legislature’s only remaining big issue. This economy-boosting package passed overwhelmingly in the Senate last night on a 39-9 vote. Its fate now rests in the House. This is the right package at the right time. It makes positive reforms that conservatives […]

Pierce prosecutor’s public records case important to all citizens

The state Supreme Court heard a critical case last week that could set an important precedent regarding the ability of public officials to conceal public records by using private devices. Pierce County’s prosecutor, Mark Lindquist, received a records request for text messages sent and received on his personal cell phone regarding a county investigation. He […]

Open negotiations: What’s the big secret?

When Senate Republicans unveiled their budget earlier this spring (as this second special session drags on, that feels like ages ago), they proposed a new approach to state employee pay raises. Their budget gave employees a flat $2,000 raise instead of the percentage increases negotiated between the Governor’s Office and public employee unions. The flat […]