2014 Policy Journal

Taxing Marijuana: The Price is Right

David Gordon

ABSTRACT: Research for this paper began in November 2012 after Washington State citizens voted in favor of Initiative 502, which would legalize recreational marijuana; the initiative was passed by a solid margin. The central logic and selling point used by legalization proponents was the large amount of tax revenue that the state was going to accumulate beginning in 2014 when Washington would begin regulated and taxed sales of marijuana. Over 18 months following the vote, studies found large disparities in potential users and consumption rates, as well as inconsistencies in prenote calculations of tax revenue that Initiative 502 was based on. This paper proposes a different tax for recreational marijuana in Washington that would allow the state to collect the maximum amount of revenue while keeping other stakeholders satisfied.

Analysis of HRC’s “Americans for Marriage Equality” Campaign of 2012.

Janelle Davis

Written for a course in persuasion and social influence, this paper examines advertisements from the Human Rights Campaign’s “Americans for Marriage Equality” video series leading up to the 2012 election. Grounded through connections to existing work on marriage equality as well as other similar civil rights campaigns, this paper uses Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm and the American Values System pioneered by Edward Steele and W. Charles Redding to analyze the narrative and moral arguments constructed through HRC’s videos. Additional points of analysis include the extent to which the videos operate within existing moral paradigms pertaining to the marital tradition as well as the use of both social benefits and civil rights arguments.

Pick Your Poison: Who Should Pay More to Ride the Bus?

Mojan Ahmadi

As funding sources face depletion in Autumn 2014, King County Metro Transit will meet annual budget shortfalls of $75 million. In the next year, routes may be cut and further modified. To prevent losing Metro’s services entirely in the next three years, new funding sources must be created along with an identified population to bear the cost burden. King County ridership studies indicate that the majority of riders are full-time employed individuals. Based on the data, this paper argues that full-time employed riders bear the cost burden of a fare increase. Economic frameworks are used to explain riders’ behavior toward bearing cost burdens and how riders’ decision to use mass transit impacts Metro elasticity as a commodity. This paper encourages Metro budgetary policymakers to consider the proposed fare increase in conjunction with the suggested economic frameworks, rather than follow national transit agencies’ funding dispositions due to the severity of this financial situation.

Vulnerable Populations in Climate Crises: Preparedness and Protection Through Local Policies

Melissa Watkinson

Poor and marginalized communities are among the populations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Washington’s Department of Ecology produced a Climate Response Strategy to report how local governments and communities can prepare for and adapt to the effects of a changing climate. The Multiple-Streams Framework analyzes how Skagit County, a county in Washington State that is susceptible to impacts of climate change, has responded to the report, describing actions it has taken to ensure that vulnerable populations in their community are protected in climate-related crises. The county has partnered with agencies to disseminate information and prepare its community for severe flooding, but has not taken actions to address further climate change impacts or to specifically address the needs of vulnerable people. Because vulnerable populations have limited access to resources that would support them in recovery efforts, Skagit County should expand their preparedness and recovery resources to fulfill the strategies outlined in the Climate Response Strategy.

Human Rights Violations in the West Bank and the Appropriate United States Response. 

Ryan Jamieson

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. This conflict continues as a result of the Israeli settlements in Palestine. Since these settlements were created in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, the United Nations has called them illegal. Israel has committed multiple human rights violations; it has restricted Palestinian freedom of movement and denied Palestinians the right of self-determination. In contrast, the United States has called them illegitimate, and hasn’t been willing to call the situation a human rights violation. The United States is in a position to use its relationship with the Israeli state to encourage it to not expand its settlement policy, but instead to work towards a mutually agreed upon framework of land swaps between the two groups which would eliminate the main barrier to a larger peace agreement between them. The United States has a moral obligation to involve itself in mediating the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It has formed a unique relationship with both Israelis and Palestinians as a result of peace agreements the United States has mediated in the past. This unique credibility means the United States can have a stronger impact on the development of a peace treaty compared to other foreign governments. To not use this credibility in such a manner would represent a moral failing on the part of the United States.

Hybrid Forums: Constructing Better Regulatory Policy

Bogdana Manole

The Atlantic salmon farms introduced in British Columbia in the early 1980s are at the center of a hotly contested environmental conflict between the industry and a wide number of local groups that claim that the aquaculture industry is destroying the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. These groups are not speaking in a unified voice, but they are brought together by their struggle against the industry. Although each group centers its claims on specific local knowledge as the result of their historical lived-in experience, the regulatory scientific knowledge does not recognize their knowledge. This paper proposes the formation of a hybrid forum that would facilitate the incorporation of the local knowledge into the scientific knowledge regulating the aquaculture industry. The hybrid forum would also offer a democratic platform bringing together experts, politicians and the diverse local knowledge, possibly leading to the diminishment of the conflict between the involved groups.






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