Good ideas from ‘Finding Common Ground’ forum | In Our Opinion

Some ideas that should be pursued emerged out of the community discussion, “Finding Common Ground,” featuring state representatives Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, and Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, and presented by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap.

The forum took place Sept. 26 at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton. It’s fitting that these ideas came out of a discussion about the efforts of legislators like Appleton and Caldier to rise above partisan politics to find common ground on issues so they can accomplish legislation.

Here are some ideas that should be pursued:

1. At the beginning of each session, legislators should identify issues of mutual concern. This follows the thinking of the Bipartisan Working Group in the U.S. House of Representatives, of which U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, is a member. Kilmer once said that legislators aren’t always going to agree on everything, so they should at least identify those issues they do agree on and work on those.

2. Mix up seating arrangements in the Legislature. Legislators sit according to their political party: Democrats on one side, Republicans on the other. “If you’re always sitting next to people you agree with, you can’t see the other perspective,” Caldier said.

3. Cap campaign spending. Caldier talked of the influence political action committees have in campaign spending — spending that, in our view, can’t help but influence legislation. Caldier supports setting a limit on the cost of campaigns.

4. Compromise on water rights. Speaking of issues in which all sides have a stake, the Capital Budget is being held in suspension by legislators who first want a permanent legislative fix to a state Supreme Court ruling that restricts the drilling of water wells for new-home construction. Without approval of the Capital Budget, funding for schools, Morrow Manor (homes for domestic violence survivors who are rebuilding their lives), and North Kitsap Fishline’s comprehensive serivces center are being held in abeyance. That’s just Kitsap County. And it’s not fair. Appleton’s proposal: Pass the Capital Budget, and give the Legislature two years to develop a fix, with water-drilling permits allowed during that period. That makes sense. A permanent fix developed over two years would be more perfect than an agreement hashed out in the 11th hour.

Talk about an opportunity to rise above partisan politics for the common good. The Legislature should approve the Capital Budget and work on the permanent fix.