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Power to the People 

by THE INLANDER & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ashington has three ballot initiatives to sort through this fall.

I-985 - Reducing Congestion

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & N & lt;/span & O -- Tim Eyman is at it again, and this time he wants to micromanage the state's transportation budget in the name of improving commute times in the Puget Sound region. Eyman's plan is to reallocate transportation dollars to efforts like eliminating high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Not only is that a dumb idea from the standpoint that those lanes encourage carpooling, but it's not even an issue in Spokane and the rest of Eastern Washington.

It gets better: One of the pots of money Eyman has his eye on is the red-light photo enforcement program that just started in Spokane this month. The money raised by punishing those who run red lights -- a figure expected to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year -- was supposed to stay with the cash-strapped Spokane Police Department. Under I-985, however, that money would be shipped to the state's transportation budget, newly micromanaged by the initiative to address Puget Sound traffic problems. (Additionally, money from the Art in Public Spaces program would be diverted, too.)

Puget Sound has traffic problems, and we all help with them via the state budget, but this plan crosses the centerline of what's fair between our state's two sides.

I-1000 - Physician-Assisted Suicide

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & N & lt;/span & O -- There's not really a right or wrong answer to the core of this initiative -- end-of-life issues are among the most difficult, both ethically and emotionally, that we face. How you choose to deal with end-of-life issues, for yourself or a loved one, is profoundly personal. And that's why this is not an appropriate question to be settled by regulation.

It's also true that there's not really a crisis here. Our medical and legal systems have found ways to address end-of-life questions better than ever before, from living wills to palliative and hospice care. If I-1000 passes, doctors will be able to prescribe deadly doses of medicine. But what if the required six-months-to-live diagnosis is shaky? Or what if family dynamics are complicating matters? Putting our medical professionals in the middle of all that, to a greater degree than ever before and by state law, is not fair -- especially in light of their traditional role as healers.

It's impossible not to sympathize with people in pain who choose to hasten their death. But it's also not fair to impose a one-size-fits-all reform on a system that is already about as humane as we can make it.

I-1029 Long-Term Care

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & Y & lt;/span & ES -- After a serious study of the level of expertise that our state's long-term care workers bring to their jobs, the findings were shocking. The people who take care of our oldest citizens often have less training than dog groomers. Calling for more training is obvious, yet the legislature in Olympia could not move on the matter. That makes this issue a good candidate for passage by initiative.

While there are worries that new rules about licensing requirements would drive up the cost of health care, there's no doubt that we are risking lives if we do nothing. Many senior living facilities already have high standards for their workers -- this measure would simply create a level playing field, so all such facilities would be delivering the level of care any Washington resident should expect.

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