Opinion

Vaccine opt-outs need to be curbed

YAY: VACCINATION BILL

In the aftermath of the measles outbreak at Disneyland that is now linked to at least 107 cases in 14 states, lawmakers in California and Washington are coming back to the land of reality. Legislative proposals in both states would end waivers or exemptions letting parents opt out of vaccinations solely due to philosophical or personal objections. House Bill 2009, which retains a religious exemption, is sponsored by Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett.

BOO: BRIAN WILLIAMS

What a come-down for NBC news anchor Brian Williams, a respected journalist caught last week in a repeated embellishment of his 2003 experience in Iraq during the U.S. occupation. Williams earned public rebuke with his false claim that he rode in a helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, though witnesses say small arms fire did hit three aircraft in his formation and one was touched by a grenade.

YAY: CLIMATE-CHANGE AFFIRMERS

Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a long way from action in the Legislature. But we have noticed welcome signs that the scientific consensus – which says humans are driving global warming – may be subsiding a bit among Republican lawmakers. We’ll weigh in at another time on the merits of the GOP’s largely voluntary proposals to reduce emissions. But it was encouraging to see last week that key Senate Majority Coalition Caucus members appeared finally to be accepting that humans have a role to play to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which in our state are fueled more by motor vehicles than power plants.

BOO: OUR THIRD PARTY

David and Charles Koch, the mega-rich and mega-conservative oil billionaires, announced recently that they are committed to raising and spending nearly $900 million on the 2016 national election – an amount that outstrips both the Republican and Democratic parties’ past outlays in presidential cycles. If money is speech, as the Supreme Court has ruled, these guys’ voices are getting too loud. Better disclosure is needed to show where the money goes.

YAY: REMOTE TESTIMONY TEST

Residents of the Tri-Cities area get a chance to testify remotely from Pasco at a legislative hearing in Olympia on Wednesday morning. This limited use of remote testimony is a practical way to test drive the concept, which may have broader potential in the Senate and House for select topics or issues.

In this case, those wishing to testify from the Columbia Basin College campus must sign up at least 48 hours in advance for the hearing that begins at 8 a.m. in the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee.

BOO: HEALTH PLAN DEFECTIONS

The enrollment deadline falls Sunday for buying health-insurance coverage through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange this year. Enrollments for private plans are running well below the level seen in 2014 and are a whopping 81,000 below projections for 2015. That’s a huge disappointment. Some of the drop is explained by larger numbers of people qualifying for taxpayer-paid Medicaid, which now insures more than 500,000 people who became newly eligible due to federal health reform’s higher income limits.

This is a good time to encourage uninsured friends to go to wahealthplanfinder.org to find coverage options.

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