This editorial was originally published in the Vancouver (Wash.) Columbian:
While it’s unclear how much further Gov. Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign will advance, his time in the race — particularly his two appearances on the nationally televised debate stage — have shone a flattering spotlight on Washington.
Climate change has been the focal point of Inslee’s campaign, and he can point with pride to steps the state has taken to address the issue. These include a measure the governor signed in May that makes Washington the fourth state to establish a mandate to provide carbon-free electricity by a targeted date.
The fact is Washington has been ahead of the game because we heavily rely on clean, renewable hydropower. The state already generates more than 75 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources. The new law requires utilities to eliminate coal as an energy source by 2025 as the first step toward carbon-free electricity by 2045.
Health care is another area where Washington has carved out a respectable niche. Inslee noted during the July 31 Democratic debate that the state is the first to provide a public option for its residents. The measure allows for people to purchase individual coverage as a state-sponsored plan that is different from Medicare and Medicaid, which have age and income thresholds.
Washington’s public option will cap total provider and facility reimbursement rates at 160 percent of Medicare in an effort to keep premium and deductible costs down.
As Inslee noted in the July 31 debate, Washington is addressing mental health, too. In May, he signed several measures, including a bill aimed at expanding the state’s mental health care capacity by creating a network of new and expanded community facilities.
The governor also noted Washington is a welcoming state. While Inslee was specifically addressing Washington’s battles with the Trump administration over its immigration policies, the state has shown a compassionate and sensible approach to those who are often marginalized, including migrant workers, same-sex couples and recreational marijuana users and businesses.
Inslee also touted criminal justice reform. Earlier this year, he signed a bill aimed at erasing old misdemeanor marijuana convictions. Under the new law, judges are required to grant requests to vacate misdemeanor possession charges that occurred before the drug was legalized, provided the defendant was 21 at the time.
And in a major step, Inslee declared a moratorium on the death penalty, which was followed by the state Supreme Court’s decision that Washington’s death penalty is unconstitutional.
Washington has managed to be a place desirable not just to live, but for businesses as well. While the state is inextricably linked with Boeing, the technology sector has more than made its mark. Our state is home to Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia and T-Mobile, to name a few, while Google has a major presence as well. Then there’s Costco, Starbucks and Nordstrom, as well as world-class wines and craft brews galore.
Our state also boasts astounding natural beauty, from the Columbia River Gorge to Mount St. Helens to Puget Sound to the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse.
It’s too soon to say how Inslee’s presidential quest will end, and some have raised questions about how much time the governor has spent outside of the state while on the campaign trail. But we do appreciate that Inslee’s quest has highlighted that Washington has more of what America needs, and his campaign has turned a well-deserved and positive spotlight on our beautiful state.