Washington Policy Blog

Greater Use of Over-the-Counter Drugs for Consumer-Driven Health Care

July 15, 2014 in Blog

One issue that is often overlooked in the discussion of patient-driven health care is access to therapeutic drugs. Specifically, should patients, as consumers, have greater choices in over-the-counter (OTC) drugs?

As recently as thirty years ago patients only had access to very basic OTC drugs such as aspirin, Tylenol and anti-acids. Now people can freely obtain a wide variety of drugs to treat ulcers, colds, the flu, as well as a much broader choice of pain medication.

State and local pension payments could increase by $1.2 billion for 2015-17

July 15, 2014 in Blog

Members of the state Select Committee on Pension Policy met today to approve one of three options concerning assumptions for government pensions in Washington.

Governor Inslee's Proposal on Toxics: Will We Be "Duped" Again?

July 15, 2014 in Blog

Here’s a simple question: does science say eating salt is too risky?

Is King County Wastewater's $113,000 PR Campaign Effective or Just More Symbolism?

July 15, 2014 in Blog

King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) has a problem. People are flushing things they shouldn't, costing King County taxpayers $120,000 a year to fish out (yuk) and transfer the trash to a landfill.

Seattle City Council switches gears on rideshares; consumers win big

July 14, 2014 in Blog

Last week, the Seattle City Council reversed course and repealed its earlier decision to artificially cap the number of rideshare drivers in the city. Today, the City Council cleared the next hurdle by legalizing rideshares by an eight to one council vote. The decision, based on an agreement spearheaded by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, gives consumers more choices in how they travel around Seattle’s congested streets.

State asks if Court will fine taxpayers for McCleary response

July 14, 2014 in Blog

Circle your calendars for September 3. That is the date we'll start to get a feel for if the state is on a crash course for a full-fledged constitutional crisis or if the respective branches of government will respect the separations of power. The first attempt to back off the current dangerous path was filed last Friday when the state submitted its brief arguing against several proposals to hold the state in contempt concerning its response to the McCleary school funding lawsuit.

The Governor's "Trust Me" Approach to Clean Water

July 11, 2014 in Blog

This week Governor Inslee announced the much anticipated fish consumption rules and allowable cancer rate used to set clean water standards. By estimating how much fish people eat and the cancer risk from eating fish exposed to water pollution, the state determines how clean the water in the Puget Sound and elsewhere must be.

The rule itself won’t be available until the end of September, so it is impossible to make a specific critique, but there are a number of considerations after listening to his press conference. Here they are, in no particular order.

The Truth Behind the Obamacare Sign-up Numbers

July 11, 2014 in Blog

The Commonwealth Fund recently reported that as of May 1, 2014, 20 million people now have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. A follow-up paper by the Heritage Foundation puts that number in perspective, however.

“No Court Case is Going to Stop Us”

July 9, 2014 in Blog

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Illinois home health care workers cannot be forced to participate in a union or pay “agency fees” or union dues. In Harris v. Quinn, SCOTUS ruled those workers are “partial public employees” and are not subject to a law that allows public sector unions to collect mandatory union dues, or agency fees, as a condition of employment.   

Seattle Times Editorial Board says raising federal gas tax "probably a bad idea" for Washington state

July 7, 2014 in Blog

The Seattle Times Editorial Board says Congress needs to act to fix the soon-to-be-broke Highway Trust Fund, but they say raising the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax is not the way to do it. Lately, Congress has been spending money out of the Highway Trust Fund faster than gas tax money comes in to support it.  The solution, Times editors say, needs to come quickly because Congress only has about 30 days to solve the problem.

State Prepares to Adopt Water Quality Standards So High They Can’t Be Met

July 7, 2014 in Blog

Today Fox News aired a story discussing the dramatically increased fish consumption rate that will soon be adopted by the Washington state Department of Ecology (DOE).  The story included comments from the Washington Policy Center, which began researching and commenting on the fish consumption issue in 2012.

Congressional Budget Office Undermines Key Assumption of Governor's Low-Carbon Fuel Standard

July 7, 2014 in Blog

Famed physicist Neils Bohr once noted, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." If you compound that difficulty by betting major public policy on your ability to predict correctly, the result is likely to be a costly failure.

Take, for example, Governor Inslee's predictions about low-carbon fuel, which he now wants to make the basis of his policy to reduce carbon emissions. At issue is the emergence of a new, purportedly less-costly and more efficient, type of biofuel called "cellulosic" ethanol.

Does separation of powers still matter?

July 2, 2014 in Blog

As we kick off our 4th of July festivities it's a good time to reflect on the founding of our country. What better way to do that than to dust off the farewell speech of the first U.S. President George Washington.

AP reports on Dorn effort to stop children from attending better schools or receiving free tutoring

July 1, 2014 in Blog

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn’s announcement yesterday that he wants to exempt Washington schools from the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The 2002 education reform law gives families assigned to schools that fall short the ability to select a better school for their children, receive free transportation and get free outside tutoring.