Daily News editorial

Coast Guard’s newest rescue swimmer: Woodland’s Andrew Bishop became a rescue swimmer last week at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak in Alaska, with the help of the Make-A-Wish foundation. He reached his dream and we couldn’t be more proud.

The 8-year-old grew to love the idea from a trip to Florida where he befriended a rescue swimmer from Air Station Miami. It’s clear that Andrew made many more friends during his trip to Kodiak. Petty Officer 1st Class Keola Marfil said, “I feel lucky to be a part of it, because it’s something he will remember for the rest of his life and it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Capt. Mark Morin, commanding officer of Air Station Kodiak said, “Words cannot express the look on Andrew’s face during his time spent with us and we are proud to have such a wonderful additional to the Air Station family.”

Honorary rescue swimmer Bishop joined the ranks of the U.S Coast Guard and is now on the board at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Kodiak. He was even given an official number, no. 958.5.

Congratulations, Andrew on becoming the Coast Guard’s newest rescue swimmer!

Graduation requirements: High school seniors can breathe a sigh of relief. Passing the dreaded statewide biology test is no longer a graduation requirement, at least until 2021. Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2224 into law on July 7 after being unanimously approved by the Legislature on June 30. We are glad to see more flexibility for students to succeed. Can you imagine excelling in all your classes only to miss graduation from not passing one test?

Some view this bill as “loosening the strings,” making it too easy for students to graduate or not being prepared to enter the workforce. We believe this bill will provide greater opportunities for all students to gain their hard-earned diploma. As of May, approximately 5,900 students had not passed at least one of the required assessments. According to the state superintendent’s office, 3,300 seniors were in limbo needing to pass the biology portion.

Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, vice chairman of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, said this bill will “maintain academic rigor and objective educational standards, while giving teachers more flexibility and students more paths to learn and show what they know.”

Lawmakers have for years been split on state assessments being used as graduation requirements. It’s great to see bipartisan legislation that improves student achievement.

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Oregon in for a tax hike: It looks like more taxes are on the horizon for Oregon residents as lawmakers passed a $5.3 billion plan to upgrade transportation and public transit systems. We have written at length about the negative impacts of tax increases and can’t help but think of senior citizens and low-income residents.

House Bill 2017 attends to five areas of concern throughout the state, including plans to reduce traffic congestion, expanding bike paths and repairing roads and bridges. Funding these projects will come at a price. The bill increases gas taxes by 10 percent beginning next year. Vehicles, including recreational and sport utility, will also be subject to a new 0.5 percent hike on purchases, not to mention added registration fees. Even bicycle sales will be subject to a surcharge to fund bike paths.

A rebate program is being created for those that purchase eco-friendly vehicles and is set to generate $12 million annually. This seems like smoke and mirrors. Fuel efficient cars may see higher fees because they generate less gas tax revenue. How many eco-friendly cars have you seen driving around?

District 6 state Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), co-chair of the Transportation Committee, said, “For too long our system has been falling into disrepair. The investments in House Bill 2017 will move freight more efficiently, reduce congestion in our cities, make our roads and bridges safer and expand mass transit options from border to border.” Under the bill, sections of Highway 217 will be expanded to alleviate congestion.

We agree that roads and bridges need to improve, but why was maintenance put off for so long?

To sweeten the pot, a statewide 0.1 percent payroll tax will hit the workforce. The payroll hike is marketed as “only” $20 annually for the average minimum wage earner, but when you partner all the other fees and additional taxes, much more money is swiped from residents’ pockets.

TriMet is expected to create a low-income fare discount program with the help of the payroll tax. The measure is expected to generate close to $1 billion annually, of which $40 million will be used to fund the TriMet program. Riders who earn 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level will see their fares reduced by 50 percent.

Tax hikes have unintended consequences that are often overlooked. How do you think the homeless population will fare with these additional taxes and fees?

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