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Eye On Olympia

Archive for December 2003

Tim Eyman on the march…

Backing away from an earlier proposal to cut millions of dollars from the state’s public-school system, anti-tax activist Tim Eyman is instead launching an initiative to cut $550 million from local property taxes.
“It’s a bigger tax reduction than the original proposal,” Eyman said. “People are really struggling out there.”
Local officials, meanshile, are struggling to come up with adjectives to describe just how bad they think Eyman’s idea is. In a brief interview Tuesday, Pend Oreille County Assessor Janet Walker called the proposal “devastating” five times.
Eyman critic Steve Zemke decried what he called Eyman’s “deception and shoddy reasoning as usual.”
Stay tuned. If Eyman collects the necessary quarter-million signatures to put the measure on the fall ballot, we’ll be talking about this one for the next 11 months.

When real words just won’t do…

New Olympia words, none of which exist, according to our copy of the American Heritage Dictionary:
-“Defund,” which recently appeared in a press release from Citizens for Parks and Recreation. The group gets extra points, however, for managing to use the word as both a verb (“to defund”) and a noun (“a defunding”).
-“Disinvest,” used by a WSU official unhappy with the amount of money the state is putting into higher education.
-and “externships”, which the state Attorney General’s office offers, apparently in lieu of internships.

Water is food, but we’re not so sure about ice…

Starting Jan. 1, state tax officials will consider bottled water to be food, and will therefore stop taxing it.
The change is among several tax revisions as Washington and 40 other states try to streamline and simplify their sales tax rules.
Simplicity, however, ain’t so simple. Among the other changes:
-Sparkling water and club soda, both currently taxed because they’re carbonated, will no longer be taxed — unless they contain sweeteners.
-If takeout food is heated or served with utensils, it’s taxable.
-If the seller combines two or more ingredients, it’s taxable.
-And our favorite: crushed, shaved, or cubed ice: no tax. But if it’s a block of ice, you pay tax.

Show me the money…

State Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Samammish, announced Friday that he’s quitting his Senate seat in order to focus on his run for governor. But it’s not just a matter of having more time to prep for debates.
By quitting, Rossi avoids a state campaign-finance law that bans state office-holders from fundraising during the 60-day legislative session and for 30 days afterward.
Rossi’s leading opponent, Democratic Attorney General Christine Gregoire, will abide by the fundraising freeze. Her staff says she has no intention of stepping down in order to raise more money.
Still, Rossi will have to do a lot of plate-passing to match Gregoire’s war chest. Her most recent reports say she’s raised $743,000 to Rossi’s $132,000.

On Jim West’s departure…

“I for one am pretty happy to see him go, because when he’s gone, we’re going to get a new junior senator and I will no longer be the rookie.”
Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham

What presidential primary?

State lawmakers have killed next March’s presidential primary, but what was expected to be a quick, mild-mannered vote turned into an 11th-hour fight in the state Senate.
Most lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans both — voted to cancel the primary, since the national Democratic Party doesn’t count it when they choose their nominee. And for Republicans, well, it’s probably a very, very safe bet that George W. Bush will be the GOP candidate.
Senate Republicans, however, balked at cancelling the primary. It brings candidates and advertising cash to Washington, they said, and woe to lawmakers who take away a public election.
Senate Democrats, who said the primary’s largely a meaningless beauty contest, won the battle. Taxpayers save the cost of running the election: $6 million.

Border skirmishes…

Spokane’s not alone in its worries about cross-border competition for business. Oregon retailers are advertising in Olympia, urging Washingtonians to make the two-hour drive to Portland, where there is no sales tax. “Shop Portland: tax-free, every day,” read the ads.
Washington’s firing back, touting its multi-state, big-jackpot lottery, Mega Millions.
“Drive three miles and cross nine tax brackets,” reads a large billboard just across the border in Oregon.


Four running for AG

Two more candidates for attorney general threw their hats in the ring this week. King County Councilman Rob McKenna and Issaquah “Super Lawyer” Mike Vaska, both Republicans, announced their candidacies this week. They face two well-known Democrats: former state insurance commissioner Deborah Senn and former Seattle mayoral candidate Mark Sidran.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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