Guest commentary


Voters to decide on tax increase

Voters living in the city of Omak will notice Proposition No. 1 on their general election ballots. The measure asks voters about imposing an additional 1/10th of 1 percent on taxable sales in the city. During the 2013 budget process, we came to the harsh realization that we need to reduce our general fund expenditures significantly.

Initiative upholds right to decide

I support Initiative 517 because I am a strong believer in our initiative rights, which our state has had for over a century. Our right to initiative and petition our government is the most important tool we have to push back when government does things we don’t like.

Grow the economy through trade

With one in three jobs in our home state of Washington dependent on trade, there is no question that there is a strong demand across the globe for the top-quality products generated by our farmers, manufacturers and service providers. It also means that our economy is especially reliant on holding our trading partners accountable for fair policies that place U.S. businesses on a level playing field.

Taxpayers are not willing buyers

Why are American taxpayers funding federal, state and private organizations’ land and conservation easement purchases while defunding programs intended for our veterans, children and grandparents?

Constitution stands over centuries

On Sept. 17, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the United States Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This month marks the 226th anniversary of this landmark moment in American history when our founding fathers gathered together to form “a more perfect Union.”

Railroads move America safely

For activists intent on stopping all use of fossil fuel, train safety has become their cause du jour. After all, if you can block transport of fossil fuels, you can choke off their use.

In school, one size doesn’t fit all

It’s that time of year, again. The fun-filled days of summer vacation are drawing to a close and teachers and students across Central Washington are heading back to the classroom for the school year.

Guest Commentary - Wolf rule could break agreement by Aaron Golladay

Washington residents have differing opinions on whether reintroducing wolves to our state is a good idea. But farmers and ranchers being directly affected by wolves chasing and killing livestock are looking for a remedy. If the wolves are going to remain, then real and effective management tools must be made available to landowners allowing them to protect their animals.

Is carbon-dioxide really the target?

Environmental activists claim they want to reduce production of greenhouse gases such as carbon-dioxide. If so, they’re going about it in a very strange way.

Economy needs immigration reform

It’s a rare issue that brings together Washington’s agricultural industry, immigration rights groups, business associations, faith organizations and politicians from both sides of the aisle.

Answering your questions

In addition to receiving thousands of emails, phone calls, letters, and messages from social media on a variety of topics, I recently conducted a round of telephone town halls to all eight counties that make up the 4th Congressional District. I wanted to share a few questions that your neighbors recently asked me:

Don’t let forests burn, work them

There are more than 9 million acres of federal forests in our state alone. Many of our communities are in close proximity to federal forests, and we are all too aware of the wildfire risks. Ensuring proper management of forests is critical to preventing wildfires and important to the long-term health of our forests and communities. The federal government made a commitment more than 100 years ago to actively manage forests and provide a percentage of revenue from management to counties containing national forest land. However, as we are seeing in Wenatchee and Goldendale, the failed attempts by bureaucratic Washington, D.C. agencies to actively manage our forests have real and dire consequences. Rural communities no longer have stable funding to pay for vital services. Thirteen years ago, the Secure Rural Schools Act was intended to be a short-term solution to continue to provide funding as timber sales declined. With a national debt measuring in the tens of trillions of dollars, the program is becoming increasingly difficult to finance, especially when it fails to address declining forest management. These communities cannot afford the status quo. Police units don’t have the resources to respond to emergency calls, school districts are laying teachers off and communities are being left to crumble. A new approach is needed. The government’s lack of forest management has cost tens of thousands of American jobs. In the last 10 to 15 years, it has not been uncommon to pick up a newspaper in the Pacific Northwest and read of yet another timber mill shutting its doors. Instead of people going to work managing our forests, they are heading to unemployment lines. The lack of active forest management has caused significant forest overgrowth and degradation and made them increasingly susceptible to bug infestations and wildfires. Our national forests can and must be managed more effectively. We can’t continue to sit idly by. This week, the House Natural Resources Committee, of which I am chairman, approved House Resolution 1526, Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, a bill I introduced to address these problems. My bill, which has bipartisan support, renews the federal government’s commitment to manage forest resources. This is a long-term solution to put hard-working Americans back to work and to restore the economies of rural communities. This common sense approach will help our forests remain healthy, turn forest timber into economic opportunity, produce revenue, reduce the risk of fires and increase local and state management of our forests. I’m hopeful the full House will soon consider this vital legislation to restore active forest management. Our communities, our families, and our businesses deserve better than the status quo and the current failure of federal forest management. Rep. Doc Hastings represents Washington’s 4th Congressional District, including part of Okanogan County.

Weighing the high cost of business

Gov. Jay Inslee was in New York for the world rollout of BMW’s new electric car, the BMW i3, which is partially built in Washington. We are all justifiably proud of our state’s role and see the car as a harbinger of Washington’s economic future.

Students deserve better loan rates

Making a college education more affordable for all those who wish to pursue it is in the best interest of our country. America depends on an educated population in order to remain successful and prosperous.

Military news mixed for economy

Military installations and defense contractors are taking the brunt of the automatic budgets cuts mandated by sequestration. Why should we care?