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Eye On Olympia

TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2008, 5:57 P.M.

Initiative 1029’s next stop: the ballot, or the state Supreme Court?

Due to a mistake made when drafting the measure, opponents of I-1029 want the state Supreme Court to keep it off the ballot in November.

The language of the petitions wrongly says that the measure's an initiative to the state legislature, instead of going straight to voters. So that's where it should go, the Community Care Coaliton argues in pleadings filed with the high court today. Going to the Legislature would take longer and be risky for the measure, seeing as how lawmakers considered -- and rejected -- a similar proposal this spring.

Secretary of State Sam Reed decided to accept the petitions despite the error, partly on the theory that few people actually read the lengthy text of a measure before signing an initiative petition. That decision, the coalition argues, was "arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law."

The union-backed measure would require more training and background checks for home health aides. Proponents say it would professionalize the workforce in a state where beauticians and animal masseurs need far more hours of training than home care workers caring for elderly and disabled people.

Reed says he and his elections officials

"stand by our decision to accept over 300,000 voter signatures on I-1029 petitions, and believe that the courts will hold that the Elections Division exercised its discretion properly. A similar case went to the state Supreme Court in 1991 and a unanimous court held that an error on the petition did not require the Secretary of State to reject the signatures.”

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