Editor’s note: Today’s editorial originally appeared in The Yakima Herald-Republic. Editorial content from other publications is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
State Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton — an attorney by trade — has wisely joined the effort to persuade state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, to mount a legal challenge against the city of Seattle’s recently enacted income tax.
It’s not the fact that citizens of Seattle will have to pay tax that bothers Nealey, it’s that imposing an income tax in Washington state is illegal in theory. In reality, it’s not illegal until a court rules.
“It’s a dangerous, slippery slope that would lead to a confusing hodgepodge of local income taxes at varying rates with differing administrative rules,” Nealey said.
Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan, free-market, state-based think tank,” contends if Seattle is allowed to enact an income tax, then that tax will eventually spread throughout the state.
“The state constitution says that property must be taxed at a uniform rate, and the state Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that income is property,” Mercier wrote in July on the Policy Center’s blog. “In addition, state voters have five times rejected constitutional amendments to impose a graduated income tax, and four times they have rejected proposals to call an income tax an ‘excise tax.’”
In a letter to Ferguson, Nealey and the other legislators are asking the attorney general to defend the current state law that prohibits local governments from imposing income taxes on net income.
“That statute is very specific,” Nealey told the Union-Bulletin. “No city or county may level an income tax.”
Earlier this year, Ferguson declined a request to get involved in the lawsuit.
But Nealey said he and the other Republican lawmakers feel the attorney general must now act because the Seattle-based Economic Opportunity Institute has filed a motion to intervene.
Mercier, who is based in the Tri-Cities, said he sees three key legal barriers to Seattle imposing its own income tax. Those are: the state constitution says taxes must be uniform within a class of property; a 1984 state law bars cities from taxing net income; and cities must have state authority to enact taxes.
Ultimately, it’s about making sure Seattle (or any local government) can’t circumvent the state constitution. As such, the place to take a stand is when the law is ignored.
The attorney general should fight this attempt by Seattle to impose taxes that are not allowed by state law.
Winter preparation includes flu shot
With summer having ended less than two weeks ago, it seems too soon to think about one of the rituals of winter preparation. But the cooler temperatures signal the coming onset of flu season — and a necessary preventive step that protects individuals from getting sick, or eases their symptoms if they do. That, of course, is the simple act of getting a flu shot.
Local health officials say the flu season usually starts in September and peaks in late January or early February. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in an individual’s body after a flu shot, so fall is as good a time as any. The CDC says benefits can occur even if the vaccination comes as late as January, but the agency emphasizes that October is the best month for the shot.
The most vulnerable are children, pregnant women and the elderly. The CDC says a person who has the flu may infect other people starting one to four days before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming ill.
At best, the flu is disruptive, even debilitating, and at its worst is deadly. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue; some people, especially children, may endure vomiting and diarrhea. Last season, 207 deaths were attributed to the flu statewide, with a handful in Yakima County.
The CDC says the flu can spread when the afflicted individuals cough, sneeze or talk; a person also can pick up the virus by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose. The CDC says those who get sick can try antiviral drugs, which are different from antibiotics and are available by prescription; they can make the illness milder and shorten its duration. Those who get sick should limit contact with others, cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, then throw away the tissue after use. Ailing patients should wash hands frequently with soap and water — or if that’s not available, with alcohol-based hand rub. They also should stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone unless seeking medical care. Any fever should have eased without the use of fever-reducing medicine before one ventures out.
Local officials and the CDC also recommend against the nasal spray version of the vaccines; protection against the virus was deemed very poor over the past three flu seasons. Flu shots are available at most local pharmacies. In addition, many employers offer immunizations at their workplaces. And, it’s worth repeating that medical evidence has thoroughly debunked claims that vaccines cause autism; the evidence is also overwhelming that the flu shot is one necessary item on the pre-winter checklist.