Broadband is a public good
There is a cognitive dissonance regarding broadband access for all Washingtonians. On the one hand we understand its importance and almost anyone in an urban or suburban area would admit that it is nearly impossible to live their day-to-day life without the internet. On the other hand, it has been on the legislative back-burner for many years.
This is the year that the state steps up and (hopefully) says: Broadband is a necessity and it is a public good. The internet has changed the way we live and work. It offers us a connection to the rest of the world and allows us to access a wealth of information.
We need to recognize that broadband is a door that everyone should be able to open. A door to better education, better health care, and improved public safety. It is door to through which our Washington communities can pursue economic opportunities that are currently out of reach.
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Why are many of our communities stuck without this door? Well, we can’t expect them to open a door when the door doesn’t exist yet. Neither the state nor private industry has the incentives to build a door frame or provide hinges. It is time for the state to step in and step up. Broadband is a public good and the state should help build this infrastructure, door frame, hinges, and all!
Keep pets and families together
Washington is the only state in the US that doesn’t allow non-profit animal shelters to provide low-cost veterinary care. State law currently restricts non-profits to offering 3 services to low income households: micro-chipping, sterilization, and vaccinations. These are basic, important services. But when we consider that seniors on fixed incomes and everyone else who is struggling to pay their rent or mortgage are giving up their beloved pets for adoption because they can’t afford to pay for treatment needed by their pets, it’s heartbreaking. Under current state law, the Humane Society and other non-profit shelters may only provide veterinary care to animals in their custody. Pet owners must give up their pets so that the pet may get needed treatment. Adoption or worse awaits the treated animal.
The Humane Society in Vancouver noticed this tragic trend several years ago. They were receiving an average of 20 pets a week, surrendered for adoption. Looking closer, they found that 70 percent of those pets had been surrendered because the owner couldn’t afford to provide veterinary care for their animal. A statewide survey confirmed that the problem was not isolated to Vancouver.
SB 5004 amends the current RCW to allow non-profit shelters the ability to provide full services for households earning less than 80 percent of the median area income. In Thurston County, that’s $43,550 for one person and $62,150 for a family of four. Thanks to collaboration from the state’s veterinary association and bipartisan sponsorship, this bill has a chance.