OLYMPIA — Washington residents will have two advisory votes on taxes to cast in the November election. One on a change to agricultural tax preferences affecting marijuana growers, the other involving excise tax on leasehold property on tribal land.
You say that sounds like something we pay the Legislature to take care of?
It is. This year the Legislature said the tax preferences that farmers get for other crops shouldn't apply to pot. With SB 6505 it exempted marijuana producers even if they are licensed by the state for the legal recreational market. It also decided with HB 1287 that while a private leasehold interest in tax-exempt property owned by a tribe is exempt from property tax it is subject to an excise tax, and some tax-exempt property tribes own can be subject to payment in lieu of taxes to the county it's in.
But Initiative 960, which passed in 2007, requires any increase in taxes be submitted to voters as an advisory measure. These will be the eighth and ninth such measures placed on the ballot since 960 passed. Some got voter approval, others didn't.
None of those rejections caused the Legislature — where some members regularly wax eloquent about the “will of the voters” — to come back the next year and change the law.