Cheers: To delays in tolling. Oregon’s plan to toll the northern section of Interstate 5 — a proposal that would inequitably touch drivers from Washington — will not take effect in the near future. An Oregon transportation manager recently told the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, “We’re years away from this.” At the earliest, it appears, tolls would not be put in place until the end of 2023.
While the plan is meeting with bureaucratic congestion, it is important for Southwest Washington residents to remain alert. As The Columbian has argued editorially, it is essential that any tolls collected from Washington drivers be used on projects that will benefit commuters from this state. Until specific plans are put forth that ensure our money is used for projects that benefit them, Washington drivers should continue to oppose Oregon’s questionable plan.
Jeers: To the weather. We can’t alter Mother Nature in the short-term, but a spate of flooding throughout the Northwest is a reminder of a changing climate. Recent headlines in The Columbian include, “Rains continue to cause flooding in Western Washington”; “Major E. Oregon flooding prompts evacuations, strands truckers, closes schools”; and “Gov. Inslee issues emergency declaration for 19 counties.”
Every Northwest winter includes extreme weather events, but climate change is increasing the severity of those events in ways big and small. Lawmakers are considering several bills to further reduce carbon emissions in Washington and must focus on those that would be effective and enforceable. We ignore climate change at our own peril.
Cheers: To reusable plastics. A recent article detailed how several food vendors in Vancouver are moving away from single-use plastics in favor of biodegradable packaging. In one case, The Mighty Bowl restaurant in downtown has switched its packaging at the cost of about $500 a month, which the owner sees as an investment in the environment.
Real change will come when consumers begin to demand it. All citizens should recognize the environmental damage caused by single-use plastics and the growing global concern over the issue. It is an ideal opportunity to think globally and act locally.
Jeers: To scammers. Vancouver police have issued a warning about a phone scam in which a caller identifies himself as local law-enforcement official and asks for a return call to discuss “an urgent legal matter.”
Officers remind us that police do not call to solicit funds, including to resolve a legal matter, nor do they request financial information. The best defense against scammers is to be aware and skeptical. If citizens have doubts about a call, they can contact the department at 360-487-7355 or 360-487-7500.
Cheers: To The Tiffany Hill Act. A bill in the Legislature — sponsored by Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, and named for a Vancouver woman who was murdered by her estranged husband — has unanimously passed the state Senate. It now is under consideration in the House of Representatives. The legislation would provide electronic monitoring and real-time victim notification in cases of domestic violence.
Wilson has promoted such legislation in previous years, but the November murder of Hill — who was shot in a school parking lot while in a vehicle with her three children — highlights the need for the law. Wilson noted that if the killer had been wearing a court-ordered electronic monitor, Hill could have been notified of his proximity. Hill’s death was tragic; Wilson is working to ensure it was not in vain.