The legislative session starts on the 14th. It’s a short session so that the legislators can campaign for re-election. No major budget decisions. Nothing that hasn’t already gained some traction. So you can limit your expectations. But I won’t; here is what I’d like to see from our legislators:
* A cap and trade system for global warming gases. With our state’s biggest city (and several of our smaller ones) meeting Kyoto already, we ought to be able to make a cap and trade system with some real teeth. It’s my understanding that states can get into the European system if we meet their standards. This should be our goal. We can lead the country and get set up with a new commodity. Good for the environment and good for the local economy if we can make it happen.
* Income tax. Yeah, I know, a state supreme court decision in the 30’s says we can’t have one. We can have up to a 1% income tax, so here’s my proposal: A 1/2% flat tax for incomes between $30,000 and $60,000 and 1% for incomes over $60,000. We take whatever income we get from that tax and reduce the regressive state sales tax by that much.
* The article Lee linked to the other day had a suggestion for a law that will be tough to get through even this legislature, but is worth a shot:
When mothers abandon their unwanted newborns—which happens with alarming frequency—they must decide whether to leave an infant in a Dumpster, where the child is likely to die, or in a public place, where the child’s likelihood of survival is higher but so are the chances that the mother will be seen by witnesses, arrested, and prosecuted. The pandemic of abandoned newborns in the 1990s spawned a popular movement to declare emergency rooms and other medical facilities “safe havens” where mothers could abandon newborns without risking arrest. In 2002, the Washington State Legislature passed such a law.
A law that encourages people to call 911 when someone is overdosing would be grounded in the same impulse: It’s better to save lives than to prosecute every crime. But saving the lives of newborn babies is an easy sell and saving the lives of drug users is not.
But a life is a life to Senator Kline, who introduced legislation that would provide amnesty to people who call 911 to report an overdose. The bill, first introduced in 2005 and reintroduced in 2007 (remaining active in the 2008 session), states, “A person shall not be charged, subject to civil forfeiture, or otherwise prosecuted for a [drug offense] if… the person reported the drug overdose to law enforcement or summoned medical assistance at the time it was witnessed….”
Even the far from perfect law by Senator Kline would be a step in the right direction.
* Marriage Equity. Actually passing it does two things: First it gives gay couples the same recognition as the rest of us. As I told my evangelical cousin at Christmas, “what, do you want them living in sin?” But it also does something nice politically. It gets the issue off the table. Gay people aren’t going to drop the issue until they get full marriage equity, and the evangelical community isn’t going to drop the issue until gay people are all stoned to death, but having the end point puts the issue out of the minds of the rest of voters. So yeah, in the short term there may be some political fall out, but in the longer term it lets us not engage the crazies on the state level.
Anyway, there are a few from me, but I’d love to know what you want.