About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Other Ideas for Legislature

Now that the voters’ pamphlet is out and my candidacy is attracting more interest I want to emphasize it’s not primarily an attempt to have the honor of representing the 48th district but to publicize my concerns about Sound Transit’s East Link light rail.  (My wife would probably suggest I demand a recount if I win)  However, as long as I’ve spent the filing fee, I thought I would use this post to detail some other ideas voters might consider. Bare in mind my engineering background has dealt with identifying and working with others to solve technical problems not political ones so I’m unclear how doable they are. 

My concept of tax “fairness” requires Indian casinos share their profits with the state treasury.  Whatever the process, most if not all the states share the Indian profits.   The other “fairness” issue concerns the regulation of utility rates, namely costs for gas heating.  Natural gas prices have dropped to ten-year lows recently yet my heating bills remain high.  The utilities commission should require PSE rates reflect the reduced price of natural gas.

I also have some ideas that require legislative action. The first is health insurance reform.  Health insurance companies from outside the state should be allowed to offer coverage to all Washington residents.  My wife and I can buy Medicare supplemental insurance from whomever we wish.  Younger residents should have the same opportunity.   The insurance companies should also have the ability to offer policies for those willing to accept mediation rather than litigation to resolve disputes.   Let the insurance companies decide what avoiding costly malpractice suits means in terms of reduced premiums and let those buying policies decide whether they want them.

            The second is reforming a legal system where 4.5 years after a family of 6 was brutally murdered, $4.9 million of our tax dollars has been spent by attorneys for their killers.  It’s expected more millions will be spent before trial begins next year.  Some would say it’s the price we pay for our “death penalty” prosecutions.   I consider it lawyers writing laws that benefit other lawyers, along with judges (also lawyers) who supposedly demand these expenditures in order to avoid being overturned.   The defense’s claim they need to spend these millions and years in order to “not get it wrong” or to “let the jury see the whole person in the context of the crime” is patently absurd.   Defense teams should be given 6-12 months and “reasonable” funds to prepare the defense.

The third idea for legislative action is to allow Washington farmers (and others) to initiate a “guest worker” program.   Those needing temporary help should be allowed to set up combines of some sort that would allow contracting migrant workers from Mexico and elsewhere to come here for a 6-9 month period.  Farmers and their communities would benefit from knowing they would have a reliable pool of workers when needed.  At the end of their contracted period the workers would be transported back to Mexico with promises for work the following year.

The legislature should also consider enacting financial legislation that allow those with mortgages that exceed their home’s value to refinance by reducing the balance owed to the homes current value with the proviso any subsequent appreciation of the home value above the new principal would be shared with the lender when the house is sold.  (California is considering something similar where outside investors buy the houses at “current value” from the lender leaving the current mortgage holders with a big loss)  This adjustment would only be allowed if the owner had the ability to finance this reduced payment.  Owners (and their neighbors) would benefit by not having the house foreclosed on along with reduced monthly payments.  Lenders would benefit from future appreciation and not having to go through foreclosure and then resell the home at its current value.

In conclusion, my last issue has to do with K-12 funding where two numbers stand out.  The first is that a typical classroom has something like 20 students.  The second is schools receive $12-14,000 (or more) per year to cover each student’s education    It seems logical (at least to this former engineer) that the $240,000 to $280,000 income for each classroom would provide plenty of funds to fairly compensate the teacher.   The legislature needs to be pay more attention to where the rest of the money goes.

1 comment:

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