What will the KRCC ask for this year?

Rather than having the public react once enough people realize what our elected representatives have in mind to do to us, it might be better to tip us off beforehand.

In a republic, ordinary folks are accustomed to letting their representatives consider the facts and the options, then determine a course of action.

It works well most of the time. Few of us have the inclination to shadow our representatives, and usually they don’t stir us up with unpopular ideas.

Sometimes, as has happened at the national level with bailouts, stimulus spending, “cap-and-trade” limits on carbon dioxide emissions, and health insurance reform, there is a groundswell of opposition when it appears our representatives aren’t even reading bills before voting on them.

At the local level, failure to read what is proposed isn’t usually a problem.

Instead, it’s the lack of notice that any such thing is under consideration that causes discontent.

And, of course, finding out that elected officials have chosen to raise taxes without voter approval when putting it on the ballot is an option can cause lingering distrust.

While it is often difficult to know what the majority of citizens want, it should be fairly clear that tax increases without voter approval aren’t in favor.

Public opinion on other things may not be known with reasonable certainty, but this is as it should be.

We have a republican form of government mainly because few of us have formed a definite opinion on things we haven’t studied. We leave the studying and deciding to those we elect.

But since virtually everyone has carefully considered on many occasions the idea of increasing taxes, any proposal along those lines surely should be brought to the public’s attention before it becomes a part of a legislative agenda.

So, how would someone learn what our representatives are thinking of doing?

One place to look is the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. Its members are the county commissioners and representatives from the cities and the Port of Bremerton.

Between now and November, KRCC members will be putting together their legislative agenda — that is, the list of things they will ask our legislators to do.

Some interesting items can appear on this agenda. For example, the one adopted in November 2008 proposed amending state law to authorize counties to impose taxes that would increase utility bills.

That one enjoyed quite a bit of support in the Legislature — so much that it made it out of committee before being stricken by an amendment on the floor of the House in April.

Maybe some of you knew it was headed our way, but it was news to most of us when first reported in late March.

Had we looked at the legislative agenda on KRCC’s Web site in the last few days of December, it was there: “Allow counties to impose utility taxes in unincorporated areas,” right above the names of the points of contact — County Commissioner Josh Brown and Port Commissioner Bill Mahan.

This year, wouldn’t it be nice to have a better idea of what our elected representatives are considering before they put it on their agenda and begin advocating its enactment in the Legislature?

There might even be some things most of us would support, but more important would be a realistic opportunity to weigh in before items we oppose are adopted by KRCC members.

A public discussion might do some good.

Brown reportedly said in April that the utilities tax was not something the county commissioners had talked about as a board at all.

Apparently, it got on the KRCC legislative agenda without being discussed by the county commissioners who are members of the KRCC.

Adequate notice to the public before such an item is approved for the legislative agenda might ensure that both the public and the county commissioners know what they are considering.

Bob Meadows is a Port Orchard resident.

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