Editor’s note: Today’s editorials originally appeared in The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and The Columbian. Editorial content from other publications and authors 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.

In order to legally drive a car or truck in Washington state a person must have liability insurance. It’s a reasonable mandate that protects us all in the event of an unfortunate traffic accident.

Yet, as astonishing as this might sound, motorcycle riders were not required to carry liability insurance.

That’s going to change in a little over three months as the Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed into law legislation sponsored by Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser (who represents Walla Walla and Columbia counties).

“People are surprised to learn that motorcycle operators are not required to have liability insurance,” Jenkin said. “My bill (HB 1014) simply requires those operating a motorcycle to meet the insurance requirements, or equivalent for registered motor vehicles under current law. When someone gets property damage, or in an accident, with an uninsured motorcyclist, they are stuck filing a claim and potentially paying a higher premium. Having motorcycles insured, just like other vehicles, makes sense.”

It does indeed.

Frankly, it borders on irresponsible that motorcycles were not included with the liability mandate along with cars and trucks. Motorcycles are involved in accidents just like every other vehicle with an engine and the damage caused, as well as injuries, is just as severe.

Good for Jenkin for coming across this glaring omission of common sense and then taking action to fix the law.

The legislation, which will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for the year, will protect all Washington motorists from getting stuck with paying for an accident that wasn’t their fault.

Sports brings community together

It was one of those moments that make Clark County residents happy to embrace our ties to Portland.

Tuesday night, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers made a 37-foot shot as the final buzzer sounded to lift his team into the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs. That capped a 50-point evening for Lillard (a franchise playoff record) as the Blazers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, four games to one, in their best-of-seven series.

It was one of the great moments in the 49-year history of the Trail Blazers — which probably says a lot about that history. Portland is perpetually stuck in the “good but not really good” purgatory of the NBA, and making it to the second round of the playoffs is cause for celebration among the faithful.

It also was one of the great sports moments in Northwest sports history, and it arrived with a bit of schadenfreude. The Thunder used to be the Seattle SuperSonics, until the franchise unceremoniously left the Northwest in 2008. Many a Seattle basketball fan became a Portland fan this week if it meant misery for Oklahoma City.

But the larger point involves the meaning of sports to a community. At a time when American society is increasingly polarized, a common rooting interest in the Trail Blazers is something that can unite the region and even create some affection for Portland from this side of the Columbia River.

At their best, sports provide a common ground that is a great unifier around the water cooler or at the local coffee shop. Mention Damian Lillard in these parts and you are likely to find yourself in a friendly conversation with somebody who a moment before was a stranger. Let’s just say that mentioning politics, for example, would not generate the same unanimity.

Sports franchises long have recognized this, and they have used it to their advantage. For generations, professional teams have coerced taxpayers into funding new arenas and stadiums under the threat of moving to another city.

The common argument is that building an arena will provide economic benefits, even though numerous studies have disputed that notion; in one example, Stanford University economist Roger Noll found, “NFL stadiums do not generate significant local economic growth, and the incremental tax revenue is not sufficient to cover any significant financial contribution by the city.”

The Moda Center, home of the Trail Blazers, was built in 1995 with relatively minimal input from taxpayers.

All of this is pertinent as the Portland Diamond Project moves forward with an effort to bring Major League Baseball to the region. Plans have been unveiled for a stadium along the Willamette River in the industrial area north of downtown Portland. Investors say they are not seeking financing from the City of Portland or the state, but logic dictates that public costs for items such as roads and public safety would be inevitable.

For Clark County residents, that project represents the best of both worlds. We would have Major League Baseball in our backyard — an 8-mile drive from downtown Vancouver — without directly paying any of the costs. It also would intensify discussions on a new Interstate 5 Bridge — for better or worse; the details are a discussion for another time.

But while the economics of big-time sports can be endlessly debated, there is no questioning the social benefits they can bring to a community. Because today, we all are Damian Lillard fans.

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