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Editorial: Amy Biviano best choice for voters in 4th District

If there were a political version of the TV show “Fear Factor,” Republican Rep. Matt Shea would make an excellent host.

Fear of U.S. currency. Fear of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Fear of “FEMA camps” where, according to a conspiracy theory, citizens will be held once invading federal troops round them up. No wonder he keeps a gun stashed in his car.

We would’ve liked to discuss these views and more, but he was alone among local candidates in declining to return our calls. So we’re left with lines like this from a speech to the Constitution Party, “How long will we continue to beg like dogs only to be satisfied with a few scraps from the king’s table?”

Shea has not endorsed Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the 5th District congressional primary. His desire for states to unilaterally nullify federal laws shows he’s a fringe thinker. To borrow a phrase, he’s a Republican in name only.

This is a race for the state Legislature in the 4th District. Shea has used the position as a platform for espousing conspiracy theories instead of doing the more mundane work of legislating. The citizens of this district deserve a serious representative. Shea is not that candidate. His paranoid views position him far outside the mainstream. His temperament prevents him from being productive.

The only level-headed candidate in this race is Amy Biviano, a Democrat. She is a certified public accountant with moderate views on fiscal matters. She has correctly identified the problem with the business and occupation tax (it collects whether a business is successful or not) and wants to do something about it. Her knowledge of the tax code would be a plus in Olympia. She is not calling for an income tax.

Biviano advocates a balanced approach on coal transport by trains, noting that strict regulation could cost jobs. She correctly notes that the current gas tax isn’t enough to cover vital transportation projects, so a bump in that and alternative funding might be needed. We think she could be stronger on some business issues, such as reforming unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation.

She is far more likely than Shea to work across the aisle on issues important to the district. Prominent businessman Michael A. Senske, a Republican, is supporting her. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich isn’t making an endorsement, but he opposed a Shea bill that would’ve forced federal agents to get his permission for arrests.

Biviano supports Referendum 74 (gay marriage) and Initiative 502 (marijuana legalization), but opposes Initiative 1185 (supermajorities for tax increases). The late-breaking revelation about her appearance in Playboy at age 20 is a triviality. What’s more relevant is the recent poor judgment shown by Shea in posting a Facebook photograph of himself in his opponent’s driveway. Given his troubling personal history, that’s a pose that’s far more worrisome.

Biviano is more liberal than typical representatives from the 4th District, but she’s much closer to the center than her opponent. She’s the sensible choice in this race.

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Editorial: Washington state lawmakers scramble to keep public in the dark

State lawmakers want to create a legislative loophole in Washington’s Public Records Act. While it’s nice to see Democrats and Republicans working together for once, it’s just too bad that their agreement is that the public is the enemy. As The Spokesman-Review’s Olympia reporter Jim Camden explained Feb. 22, lawmakers could vote on a bill today responding to a court order that the people of Washington are entitled to review legislative records.