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Spin Control

Posts tagged: initiatives

Super-majority initiative qualifies for the ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative reiterating that tax increase must pass the Legislature with a two-thirds majority will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Washington Secretary of State certified Initiative 1185 for the ballot this morning, giving voters a sixth shot at passing some sort of restriction on tax increases in the last 19 years. The petitions  had an error rate of 19.4 percent, which is higher than average, but sponsors had submitted about a third more signatures than the minimum required.

The state Elections Division  now  begins checking signatures for Initiative 1240, which would allow for establishing charter schools. Sponsors of that proposal submitted even more signatures, and it, too, is expected to qualify for the ballot.

That would mean six statewide ballot measures for voters to consider in November. Here are the other four:

Referendum 74, on same-sex marriage

Initiative 502, on legalizing marijuana for personal use

Resolution 8221, on changes to the state debt limit

Resolution 8223, on changes to investment policies for UW and WSU

For more information on the ballot measures, chedk out the state's Online Voters Guide by clicking here.

Charter school fans spent $2 million for signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure to put charter schools on the Washington ballot for the fourth time paid more than $2 million to an out-of-state firm to gather the signatures that virtually assure them of a vote.

Reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission show the campaign for Initiative 1240 paid about $2.1 million to PCI Consultants Inc. of Calabasas, Calif. A spokeswoman for the campaign had refused to reveal the amount spent on signature-gathering, or the company that received it, when supporters turned in signatures last Friday.

That expenditure allowed I-1240 to gather about 350,000 signatures, almost 110,000 more  than the minimum required to qualify for the ballot, in a little more than three weeks. That's far more than the cushion recommended by the Secretary of State's office, and makes certification all but certain.

PCI has a long track record of gathering signatures for ballot measures in Washington, receiving a total of more than $8.3 million over the last seven years, campaign disclosulre records show. It was paid to gather signatures last year for I-502, the marijuana legalization proposal on this year's ballot, as well as for an initiative that required more training for home health care workers and one that would require more humane treatment of farm animals. In 2010, it was paid to gather signatures for a proposal to impose an income tax on upper income residents and for one of two plans to end state control of liquor sales.

All but the farm animal initiative reached the ballot. But of the three that went before voters in the last two general elections, only I-1163, the home health care worker proposal, passed.

The $2.1 million may represent a record expense for signatures to get an initiative on the Washington ballot. PDC records show it far exceeds any previous payment to PCI from a client and also outstrips the reported costs of gathering signatures for last year's liquor sales initiative, about $1.12 million.

The signature campaign for the charter schools initiative was bankrolled by some of the big names in Washington's high tech industry, including $1 million from Bill Gates, $100,000 from Paul Allen and $450,000 from members of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's family.

I-1240 would allow the school districts or nonprofits to open as many as 40 charter schools over five years, which would be held to the same teacher certification and performance requirements as standard public schoos, but exempt from some laws and district policies. The per-pupil allotment from the state would bo to the charter school.

This is grass-roots democracy?

Friday’s deadline for turning in initiatives demonstrated clearly that letting voters approve legislation at the ballot box might still be an exercise of government of the people, but getting a measure on the ballot is all about money.
Of some 55 proposals that were filed this year and a half-dozen or so that made at some level of effort to gather signatures, only two reached the deadline with enough names to make the ballot. Both relied heavily on large infusions of cash from businesses or wealthy donors to pay people to collect those names. ..

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.
  

Compare the proposed Spokane marijuana initiatives

Attached to this post are the two proposed citizen intiatives filed recently with the city of Spokane clerk's office. The supporters of each initiative still need to gather signatures in order to force the issues onto the city ballot.

Here is the story about the proposals.

Finally, I apologize to anyone who tried to find them on Spin Control earlier today, as the print version of the story directs interested readers to do.


Documents:

Condon undecided on gay marriage resolution

Spokane Mayor David Condon said Monday that he still is considering what his position will be on the two hottest topics for next week's City Council meeting.

Those issues are Councilman Jon Snyder's resolution in support of the state's gay marriage law and Councilman Mike Fagan's proposal to change the city's initiative process.

Two Republican-leaning council members, Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori, have said they likely will support Snyder's resolution.

The state approved same-sex marriage this year, but opponents are expected to collect enough signatures to force the issue on the November ballot.

Although supportive of the law, Salvatori has questioned the purpose of the council weighing in on gay marriage since it's not an issue that will be decided at the city level. He doubts the City Council will change anyone's mind on such a passionate topic.

“If I wanted to be in state Legislature, I would have run for the state Legislature,” Salvatori said.

The council has taken up several non-binding resolutions this year, including ones focused on federal marijuana law, the proposed Spokane Tribe of Indian's casino on the West Plains and campaign finance.

City Council President Ben Stuckart said while some of the issues may not be considered City Council business, they are important topics that affect the citizenry. He added voting on a resolution provides a forum for local residents to debate high-profile issues.

“Being an elected official means you have a voice, and you should us that voice,” Stuckart said.

More chances to sign for marijuana

OLYMPIA — Two more initiatives to legalize private use of marijuana hit the streets this week, as proponents of what's being dubbed the Cannabis Child Protection Act employ a two-pronged strategy.

They've drafted identical bills, one as an initiative to the voters for this fall's ballot and another as an initiative to next year's Legislature. If they collect signatures on both for the next three months, but if they don't have enough signatures on the first by early July, they'll scrap it and keep collecting signatures on the legislative initiative, which has a January deadline.

The proposal allows people 21 and older to grow, possess and use marijuana, and buy it from any other adult of their choosing. But it has penalties for minors who buy, sell or possess the drug, and felony charges for adults who sell to minors. There are exceptions for parents, giving them “the ability to guide their children's exposure for spiritual and social use”, and for medical marijuana patients.

Text of I-1223, the version that's trying to get on the November ballot, can be found here.

Voters already will face one marijuana initiative in the general election. I-502, which is a different approach to legalizing marijuana for personal use, was an initiative to the Legislature which goes to the voters because legislators failed to act on it.

WA Lege Day 22: Another committee vote on same-sex marriage

OLYMPIA — The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the same-sex marriage bill this afternoon. Expect a repeat of last week's hearing in Senate Government Operations: some efforts by Republicans to modify it, but enough votes to send it to the full House.

That's  not the only thing happening today, however. House and Senate policy committees — that is, the ones that deal with bills other than the budget — are playing beat the clock on the piles of legislation introduced since before the session started.

Friday is the first cut off or “drop dead” day. Any policy bill that hasn't been passed out of its first committee in the chamber where the bill originated is technically dead.

Well, OK, it's not “really most sincerely dead” as the Munchkins would say, because there are parliamentary ways to revive a bill. But it's definitely need of someone with a pair of electro-shock paddles.

So at the same time the same-sex marriage bill is being run through executive session, a Senate committe has a hearing on several bills involving health care reform and a House committee  has a hearing on bills involving political advertising and the initiative process.

Worth a look: Initiatives that are paid for

Although the Legislature is on break, new legislation continues to pop up. Among ideas is a proposed constitutional amendment from Sen. Dan Swecker of Rochester and other Republicans like Mark Schoesler of Ritzville and Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla.

It requires any initiative that starts a new program or expands an existing one to identify a way to pay for it.

In the past, voters have approved initiatives to give public school teachers regular raises or shrink classroom sizes or, just last month, require more training for home care providers. But the initiatives didn’t come up with new sources of money to cover those changes. Legislators often suspend those directives in tough budget times.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said last week she hadn’t read the proposal, but might support it. The Legislature has to identify a money source when it comes up with a new program, she said. When voters pass legislation at the ballot box, maybe they should, too.
  

Union files suit to block liquor initiative

OLYMPIA — A union that represents some of the workers who will lose their jobs at state liquor stores is suing to block Initiative 1183, which will begin dismantling the state control of liquor sales next year.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 sued today in King County, saying I-1183 violates a state requirement that an initiative have only one subject. The ballot measure had more than that, the union contends: privatizing the state liquor system, changing laws for selling and distributing wine, changing the ability of the Liquor Control Board to regulate alcohol advertising; and creating new franchise protections for spirits distributors.

The union contends the initiative's sponsor, Costco, focused on the issue of privatizing the state system with its record advertising campaign and avoided the other points, which are designed to benefit the retail giant.

Costco may have spent the big bucks to get the initiative passed, but state taxpayers will pay the cost of defending it.

State law says the Attorney General's office defends an initiative the voters approve. Dan Sytman, a spokesman for Attorney General Rob McKenna, said the office “will vigorously defend this initiative” like other state laws.

Bell tolls for I-1125

OLYMPIA — Initiative 1125, which would have placed restrictions on how tolls can be levied and spent, is officially a loser.

Although the fate of the proposal seemed fairly likely when it ended Election Night behind, The Associated Press night called it for the No camp Wednesday evening after another day of ballot counting in some of the state's biggest counties.

Among them, a 71,000 vote margin on the side of the opposition in King County. Other counties voting No included Spokane, Snohomish, Thurston, Whitman, Garfield and Adams. Overall, I-1125 is down by about 40,000 votes out of nearly 1.3 million cast, or about 51.5 percent No and 48.5 percent Yes.

For a map of the county-by-county results on I-1125, click here.

I-1183: More stores, less variety?

One angle of Initiative 1183 that has not been the subject of millions of dollars worth of commercials for and against is choice – as in will my choice of liquor be better or worse if the measure passes?

With campaigns arguing over whether people will or won’t drink significantly more liquor, get into significantly more traffic accidents and have significantly more problems with alcohol abuse, it’s probably not surprising that neither side has the campaign equivalent of “Dos Equis Guy” saying “I don’t always drink single malt 20-year-old scotch, but when I do, I like shopping at Washington State liquor stores.”

But selection is likely to change, at least initially…

AWB: No on tolling init; yes on liquor init

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business, which is occupies the role of the state's chamber of commerce, likes the ballot measure to turn the state's liquor business over to private business.

It doesn't like the ballot measure to restrict tolling policies on roads and bridges. Nor does it like a measure to require extra training and background checks for long-term care workers.

At its “policy summit” meeting in Suncadia — that's a lodge on the eastern slope of the Cascades near Cle Elum — the AWB decided to come out in favor of I-1183, which would end the state monopoly on wholesale and retail liquor operations. Better than previous attempts, the group says, by keeping sales out of convenience stores in cities and bringing in more revenue for the state.”

It doesn't like I-1163, which applies to health workers. Too expensive at a time when the state's budget is “$2 billion in the hole” and can least afford it.(Technically, the budget isn't $2 billion in the hole. The gap between projected revenue and scheduled expenses is $1.4 billion, or $1.27 billion if the state were to blow through its reserves in an effort to head off red ink. Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking the Legislature to come back starting Nov. 28 to cut $2 billion because by then the revenue projections may be worse and the state really needs to have reserves. But $2 billion probably is easier to remember.)

And it's against I-1125, which would restrict the use of tolls to the roads or bridges where they are levied, ban variable tolls for different times or days, and require tolls be set by the Legislature.  It would jeopardize some big projects and cause “more delays and traffic headaches for Washington drivers,” the group said.

Poll: McKenna ahead of Inslee; Obama ahead of Perry, Romney

OLYMPIA — For those who are Jonesing for some campaign-style polling, a Seattle political consulting firm is trying to supply a fix.

It has a new poll of 500 voters that suggest if the election were held today,  Republican Rob McKenna would beat Democrat Jay Inslee for governor. And President Barack Obama would beat either of the two current GOP frontrunners, Rick Perry or Mitt Romney, for president in Washington state.

Two initiatives on this November's ballot would also pass, according to the Strategies 360 poll.

But there are some caveats and some details beneath the surface of the raw numbers, Kevin Ingham, the firm's vice president for polling, explained Monday morning in the big rollout of the numbers.

To read the rest of this item, click here to go inside the blog.

State GOP: Yes on I-1125

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Republican Party announced Wednesday it is endorsing Initiative 1125, the proposal to limit the use of money collected for road and bridge tolls.

The proposal is this year's offering by Tim Eyman and allies to rein in some aspect of state spending. The endorsement can't be considered that surprising, because it's hard to think of a time when the state GOP didn't back a measure by Eyman to limit state spending.

In other I-1125 news, the Washington Policy Center, a research group that supports “market solutions”, has issued a long report about the eight different questions the initative raises, and the way supporters and opponents answer them.

Studying the sale of the liquor warehouse

OLYMPIA — As retail giants pour money into an intiative campaign to get the state completely out of the liquor business, a special state committee meets today to discuss cutting loose just a part of it.

The Liquor Distribution Advisory Committee has an 11 a.m. hearing, which some members apparently will attend by phone, to work on coming up with bid specifications for the possible sale of the wholesale end of the booze biz.

One problem to wrestle with: by the time the committee gets the bids out and back, voters may have passed judgment on the state's control of the liquor wholesale and retail system, and decided to turn the whole thing over to private enterprise. That's what Initiative 1183 would do.

Supporting I-1183 are Costco, Trader Joe's, Safeway and some other large retailers. Opposing it are the national wine and liquor distributors, some of the smaller grocery chains, and some unions. 

Not much of a grading curve

Washington state got an F in initiatives last week.
Not that the state enrolled in Ballot Measures 101 or anything. We graduated with a degree in initiatives and referendums in 1914, when state residents added that power to the constitution.
But the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a Washington, D.C., group which bills itself as a place that “strengthens democracy by building a national progressive strategy for ballot issues”, annually grades states for the kinds of changes it thinks the states should make to “ensure the integrity of their initiative process.” It has looked at our laws and determined that we don’t rate. For the third year in a row.
Don’t be smirking over there, Idaho. You got an F, too.
In its 25-point test, Washington got graded down for not having 14 of the things the center thought a good state should have. Things like keeping folks from re-running the same initiative for at least three years or requiring notarized affidavits that all signatures are gathered within the law or banning companies for paying people based on the number of signatures they gather. They have some interesting and even debatable ideas, which could be why the Legislature has debated many of them, but never approved them.
Chances are good some Washington progressive groups will propose legislation along those lines again next year.
But those groups might want to think twice about citing Washington’s failing grade from the Center as a reason to change state law. In grading all 24 states that have the initiative process, the Center flunked half, gave out one B, one C, and the rest Ds. That’s not a curve, it’s a slope like a ski jump.
Most teachers who turned in a grade book like that would be answering questions about what was wrong with their methods, not with their class.
Seems like a more honest way to grade initiatives might be to give states that don’t allow them an F, and work up from there. Just sayin.
  

OFM looks at the initatives

OLYMPIA – Washington would collect more revenue if an initiative to privatize liquor sales passes, but could pay more for road projects if another ballot measure on toll roads succeeds.
That's the best estimate of the Office of Financial Management, which recently released its analyses of the three measures headed for the Nov. 8 ballot…

To read more about the analyses, and for links to the reports, click here to go inside the blog.

No surprise: Liquor initiative makes the ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative to turn wholesale and retail liquor sales over to the private sector qualified for the ballot, state elections officials said Wednesday.

Initiative 1183, sometimes called the Costco initiative because the discount retailer is among its most ardent supporters, passed a random check of its petitions, David Ammons, a spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed said.

It joins I-1125, which would limit tolls and fees on roads, bridges and ferries. Elections officials begin a spot check of petitions Thursday on a third initiative, I-1163 which would require training and background checks for home health care workers.

All three initiatives submitted enough signatures that they were likely to qualify for the ballot.

Long-term care initiative turns in signatures

OLYMPIA — Sponsors of the last of three initatives likely headed for the November ballot turned in signatures Friday afternoon.

The Service Employees International Union and other supporters of Initiative 1163 turned in what they estimated were more than 320,000 for the ballot measure that would require training and background checks for long-term care workers.

Earlier in the day, Tim Eyman and other sponsors of I-1125 turned in what they estimated were 327,000 signatures and sponsors of I-1183, which would privatize state liquor retail and wholesal operations, turned in 354,000 signatures.

Supporters of an initative to legalize marijuana notified the Elections Division that they would not be turning in signatures, Director Katie Blinn said.

Road taxes initiative turns in 327,000 names

Initiative sponsors Tim Eyman (right) and Mike Fagan hold a press conference Friday while elections workers begin counting their petitions.

OLYMPIA — Supporters of an initiative to limit the use of road taxes and tolls dropped off their petitions Friday morning with a comfortable cushion that suggests they'll be on the November ballot.

Sponsors Tim Eyman and Mike Fagan wheeled in boxes of petitions they said held some 327,000 signatures for Initiative 1125, an effort to rein in tolls, taxes and fares and force any increases to be approved by the Legislature.

“These kinds of decisions need to be made by elected officials,” Eyman said. Tolls would also come off of different projects when the bonds sold to build them are paid off.

Waiting for Eyman and company were members of a forming coalition against the plan. Former State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald called the proposal “a mish mash” of ideas that doesn't understand modern systems of tolling. It could cause problems for plans to enlarge the 520 bridge across Lake Washington by restricting the use of funds from tolls on the I-90 bridge, he said.

Assuming that the cost of a road or bridge stops when the bonds are paid off is like assuming the cost of owning a house stops when the mortgage is paid off, he said; tolls need to continue to pay for ongoing maintenance.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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