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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Primary matters; Brown off-base

The Columbian
Published: February 22, 2020, 6:03am

Cheers: To a meaningful primary. Ballots for the presidential primary are in the mail to Washington residents, due back by March 10. That is an improvement over previous quadrennials, when the state’s primary typically fell too late in the cycle to make any difference in choosing the nominees — or was simply canceled. Voters will find 13 Democrats on the ballot, including five who already have dropped out of the race, along with President Donald Trump on the Republican side.

You can only vote for one, but because Washington voters do not register by party, that choice may come from either party. That is problematic for some voters, as they are required to mark one party or the other on their ballot envelopes. We hope that issue can be eliminated in the future, but for now it is encouraging to see Washington voters have a say in the presidential primary process.

Jeers: To Oregon’s governor. Kate Brown reportedly sent a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee this week offering her state’s support in the removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in this state. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, and Washington’s two other Republicans in Congress responded with a statement of their own: “Gov. Brown’s position is not only misguided, it is shocking and extreme.”

Hydroelectric dams provide electricity, irrigation and flood control — all of which add up to economic stability for much of Eastern Washington. Critics say removing the dams will help ensure salmon survival and advocate for breaching the dams. Elected officials should wait at least until the release of a federal environmental study in the coming weeks before drawing conclusions about the best course of action.

Cheers: To much-needed legislative action. Media reports in recent months have detailed shortcomings in the state’s hotline for reporting suspected child abuse. Those who work with children are required to report suspicions, but many of them have experienced difficulties in filing those reports.

State Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, has taken the lead in fixing the problem with Senate Bill 6556, which would direct state officials to create a web-based reporting portal and a call-back mechanism. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous vote and now is being considered by the House. For the good of Washington children, it should be met with little opposition.

Jeers: To the “Hamburglar.” Barry Trennel Sanders of Portland has earned an ignominious nickname from police during a 20-year “career” as a shoplifter. Sanders admits to stealing merchandise from Portland stores on more than 1,000 occasions.

Now, he has been sentenced to less than two years in prison following the theft last year of $600 worth of shrimp — along with other items — during visits to WinCo stores. “I know the law. I know the rules. I know what I can and can’t do,” he told police in a 2016 interview. “Every time I get out of prison, I steal.” Perhaps a longer stay might make him rethink that philosophy.

Cheers: To healthier habits. Sales of sugar-sweetened beverages in Seattle stores dropped about 30 percent following the adoption of a city tax on such beverages. Researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago found that sales in Portland, which does not have a tax, dropped about 10 percent over the same period.

“From a public health perspective, this is good,” said Jay Krieger, a University of Washington professor. “We know that sugary drinks are associated with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes.”