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Eye On Olympia

Under the radar — and on to a landslide…

Quick: who or what got the most votes on Washington's November ballot? Was it:

a) Barack Obama
b) Gov. Chris Gregoire
c) Initiative 1029, requiring more paid training for home health aides,
d) or Initiative 1000's assisted-suicide measure.

Yup, C. In a year of fierce election battles, I-1029 got little attention and carried a ballot title that simply sounded like common sense: "This measure would require long-term care workers to be certified as home care aides based on an examination, with exceptions; increase training and criminal background check requirements; and establish disciplinary standards and procedures."

Training and tighter background checks? Who could object to that?

Few people, apparently. The measure passed by a landslide, 72 percent to 28 percent. It was the only thing on the ballot to get more than 2 million votes. (Runner-up: Supreme Court Justice Charles Johnson, who ran unopposed and got 1,970,337 votes.)

Critics argued that I-1029 will cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year more for training that's largely unnecessary. But they were far outspent and out-organized by proponents, including the Service Employees International Union.

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