YAY: REGULATE COLLECTORS
With the number of citizen initiatives on the general election ballot year after year, it makes sense to introduce a modicum of regulation into the business of collecting signatures. Rep. Chris Reykdal is sponsoring a bill that would require signature gatherers to register with the secretary of state’s office, undergo a criminal background check and complete a short training program.
That’s not an unreasonable requirement considering the secretary of state’s office says “the problem of forged signatures and fabricated names” is increasing and occurs every year.
YAY: VEHICLE CHARGE STATIONS
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More people are driving all-electric or hybrid vehicles these days to save fuel costs and to release fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The city of Olympia has joined the movement by adding electric vehicles to its fleet and supporting citizens who drive their own EVs. The city recently added two level-two charging stations near the city building on Cherry Street. The popularity of electric vehicles is just in its infancy. We expect, and hope, this trend will continue.
BOO: PAY INEQUALITY
When economists and politicians talk about income equality these days, they generally refer to the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and the vanishing middle-income group. For example, JPMorgan boosted the pay of its CEO to $20 million for 2013 and Starbucks paid its chief executive $17.2 million.
But a gender pay gap still exists, especially in our state. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, a typical woman in Washington earns 76 percent of the income of a typical man. Only five other states had a worse ratio, such as Mississippi and West Virginia. The national ratio is 80.9 percent.
That’s a sad record for a generally progressive state.
YAY: VOTER REGISTRATION UP
The secretary of state’s office reports a positive trend in voter registration. Over the past seven years, the percentage of Washington’s population registered to vote has been gradually increasing.
It’s interesting to note that the seven Puget Sound counties (King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom) have consistently accounted for about two-thirds of the state’s registered voters in both presidential and nonpresidential years.
YAY: CONSISTENT RULES
The city of Olympia was put in a tough spot recently. It denied a request from a Vietnamese family to set off 15,000 firecrackers as part of a traditional dragon dance celebrating the Lunar New Year. The city prides itself on encouraging diversity, and prohibiting illegal behavior doesn’t diminish that effort. Firecrackers are illegal in Washington, except on tribal lands. The city made the right decision.
The Arizona Republican Party officially censured Sen. John McCain for his “insufficiently conservative” voting record. They’ve probably spied him associating with known liberals. Even scarier, McCain might support U.S. immigration reform. Eek!
In other news, a new national ABC News poll says 63 percent of Republicans support the Tea Party movement, depressing those who hope the 2014 elections would break the Congressional deadlock.
OUCH: ATTACKING PEACE
Pope Francis released two white doves from the Vatican. It was a symbolic gesture for peace in the Ukraine, at least until a large crow and a gull attacked the birds midflight. No word on whether the doves fought back.