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Posts tagged: initiatives

Booze initiative turns in 354,000 signatures

Employees at the Secretary of State's Elections Division handle boxes of petitions submitted for I-1183.

OLYMPIA — Sponsors of Initiative 1183, a proposal to get the state out of the liquor business, may have achieved a modern-day record by collecting some 354,000 in just three weeks.

They turned in their petitions this morning, the first of three campaigns that definitely plan to turn in signatures on the last day allowed for petition drives. A fourth, to legalize marijuana for those 18 and older, has informed the Secretary of State's office they, too, may have enough to submit.

I-1183 would sell off the state's wholesale and retail liquor operations. Unlike last year's failed attempt to revamp the liquor system, it offers more money to the state, requires more training and tougher penalties for employees of stores that sell liquor and limits sales in most communities to stores with 10,000 square feet or larger — the size of most supermarkets — to avoid a complaint that liquor could be at every Mini Mart and gas station that currently sells beer or wine.

If every store that qualifies were to obtain a liquor license, the number of liquor outlets in the state — currently 340 — could triple.

Bruce Beckett of the Washington Restaurant Association, one of the sponsors of the initiative, also said it may help to have only one liquor-related initiative on this year's ballot. Last year there were two competing initiatives, and when voters didn't know much about the differences, they probably voted no, he said.

One unknown, he added was whether the the nation's beer industry, which came out strongly against the most similar initiative in 2010, will get into the campaign this year, Beckett said.

Egg-laying initiative won’t turn in signatures

OLYMPIA — Sponsors of an initiative that would have allowed voters to order larger cages and other changes for hens on egg-laying farms say they will not turn in signatures Friday.

Washingtonians for Humane Farms say they are suspending their campaign for Initiative 1130 because of progress on federal legislation that will set nationwide standards for the farms.

The group said it had gathered more than 355,000 signatures, but “in light of a promising new agreement reached between animal welfare groups and the United Egg Producers” they will not turn them in. Instead the two groups will support the national standard.

Friday afternoon is the deadline for submitting signatures for initiatives to the people, proposals that can bypass the Legislature to become law if they receive a simple majority in the general election. To qualify for the ballot, an initiative needs nearly 242,000 signatures from registered state voters; a cushion of 100,000 signatures, whicht I-1130 would have had, almost guarantees a spot on the ballot.

Expected to turn in signatures tomorrow are proposals to set new standards for training and background checks for long-term care workers, to privatize the state's retail and wholesale liquor sales, and to limit the use of transportation taxes and tolls to transportation projects. Another proposal to legalize marijuana use and possession for those 18 and older in Washington will be turning in petitions if it has enough signatures.

Today’s fun video: New state song?

OLYMPIA—Latest idea for a ballot measure: Let's change the state song.

Quick, what is the state song right now?

If you said “Louie, Louie” or “Roll On, Columbia” you're wrong. Those are the state's unofficial rock song, and the state's official folk song, respectively.

The official state song is” Washington My Home”. But an initiative has been filed by Kristopher Bannon of Tacoma that would let voters change it to “Not In Our House,” By Sir Mix A-Lot. This is in honor (or possibly in dishonor) of the Seattle Supersonics being spirited out of Seattle and plunked down in someplace like East Podunk, Oklahoma.

The initiative, if it should get at least 241,153 valid signatures from voters, and get a simple majority in the November election (admittedly a pair of substantial ifs) would turn the state song back to Washington My Home if an NBA franchise were to return to a city in Washington.

Not in Our House, (above) was remixed back when the Sonics made their playoff run in 92-93. It is much loved by true Sonics fans, among whom Bannon counts  himself.

So, let's get this straight. The desire to land an NBA team is so close to the tipping point that it requires a boost from folks who prefer sappy anthems over rap? And they'll be rewarded for joining the find an NBA team effort by getting their sappy anthem back when Washington gets a team? Does that make sense to anyone out there?

For a video of Washington My Home, or to comment on this post, click here to go inside the blog.

Liquor initiatives could take us into the known unknown

Getting the state out of the liquor business is such a popular idea that voters have two chances to do it in the Nov. 2 election.
Based on their ballot titles, Initiatives 1100 and 1105 may seem close enough that anyone in favor of state-operated liquor stores could reasonably vote no on both.
One can make an argument for voting yes on one but not the other. Costco card holders, for example, might be more fond of I-1100, on the theory that if their favorite discount house spent millions pushing the intitiative, they may see some great deals on a case of booze.
But anyone who thinks the state should stick to core services – things like schools, prisons, roads and drawing numbers for the Lottery – may decide to fill in the “yes” ovals on both to double their chances of buying their liquor from someone not on the state payroll.
Then what happens? Suddenly, after decades of talking about getting the state out of the liquor business, we have not one but two laws ordering it out.
The short answer is – and we reporters love this because it’s like the political writers’ full employment act – no one knows.
Seriously. No. One. Knows…

Signature fraud case filed against I-1098 worker

OLYMPIA — King County will prosecute a state worker for signature fraud in a case involving at least 19 phony signatures on Initiative 1098, the income tax proposal.

Claudia McKinney, a member of Service Employees International Union who was paid by the union for the time she took off work to gather signatures, is  being charged with forging other people’s signatures on some of the petitions she turned in.

Elections workers doing random checks of petitions found several signatures that didn’t match and others for people who weren’t registered votes on petitions McKinney submitted. All the petitions she turned in were then pulled from the piles, and about 300 of the 349 signatures she submitted were questioned. A Washington State Patrol investigation contacted 19 of the people who said the signatures on the petitions weren’t theirs.

An attorney for SEIU told the patrol that McKinney was not paid by the signature but was among union members who were paid out of a union fund for the time they took off work to gather signatures. McKinney declined to talk to patrol investigators and referred them to her attorney.

McKinney, who lives in Burien, is being charged in King County with signature fraud, a Class C felony with a maximum penalities of five years in prison and $10,000 fine.

Elway Poll: Tax initiatives ahead, but not winning

Three initiatives that would change the state’s tax policies — instituting an income tax, dropping a series of consumer taxes or requiring supermajorities to pass new taxes — have more support than opposition among voters, a new poll by Elway Research Inc. indicates.

But none of the three has a majority of voters saying they’d vote yes if they were casting ballots right now.

One of the proposals, which would require any new tax imposed by the state to get a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature, seems to have lost support over the summer, pollster H. Stuart Elway said.

Three other initiative to change the way the state handles liquor sales or the compensation system for injured workers also have less than half the voters polled saying they will definitely or probably vote yes.

“I think the initiatives are in trouble,” Elway said. “You bette be well over 50 percent before the heavy campaign season starts, because support tends to erode” when the opposition starts its advertising push.

I-1053, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to pass any tax increase, has lost support from a similar survey in June. The current poll has 48 percent of voters saying they would definitely or probably vote yes on that measure; in June, 65 percent said they would probably or definitely vote yes. The opposition stayed relatively the same in both polls, with about a fourth of voters in both surveys saying they’d probably or definitely vote no. The real shift was in undecided voters, which jumpted to about one in four voters now, up from about one in 10 voters in June.

Also of note: Many of the initiatives have significant numbers of voters who are undecided on those initiatives. That could be because some are confusing — for example, there are two separate proposals to end the state monopoly on liquor store sales, although in slightly different ways.

“One old adage is that confused voters tend to vote  no on ballot measures,” Elway said.

For details on the Elway Poll for initiatives, click here to go inside the blog.

What’s missing from this commercial?

Labor Day weekend is often the point when campaigns kick into high gear with television commercials, and seveal initiative campaigns did so this year.

Among them was a television spot in favor of Initiative 1098, which would make some significant changes in state tax law. That is to say it would impose an income tax on people making more than $200,000 a year, or couples making more than $400,000 a year.

Missing from the commercial, however, is any use of the phrase “income tax.” It talks about removing the business and occupation tax for some operations and lowering overall taxes for many people. But the I-T phrase doesn’t come up.

Opponents say that’s a significant omission. They have a new radio ad, which uses the phrase “income tax” at least six times.

So are the Yes on 1098 folks trying to hide the fact that? No, says spokesman Sandeep Kaushik. “We think that’s one of the things people know about 1098. What a lot of people don’t know about 1098 is the benefits. The point of the ad is to inform the people about the benefits.”

How one gets those benefits, however, is by placing an income tax on the so-called “high earners.”

To see the commercial and judge for yourself, go inside the blog.

Money pours into initiative campaigns

Soda pop sellers, liquor distributors and discount retailers are pouring millions of dollars into Washington to convince you how to vote on a slew of statewide ballot measures.
Some $30 million so far – the majority from out of state – has flooded the coffers of campaigns for or against a wide array of initiatives to the people, a process in Washington that lets voters enact laws they feel their legislators won’t.
While that right was initially given to the public in 1914 as a way to counterbalance the influence of powerful interests on the Legislature, this year’s campaign contributions illustrate how it has increasingly become the province of special interests, big business and unions.
“The old purpose of the (initiative) process is being subverted,” Blaine Gavin, professor of political science at Gonzaga University, said. “Interest groups recognize there’s another way to make law, and big powerful interests know how to conduct good advertising campaigns.”
To read more, go inside the blog…
Or check the list of the Top 25 contributors to all initiative campaigns, and the Top 10 Spokane area donors in the post below.

6th initiative makes ballot, would cut taxes

OLYMPIA — The sixth initiative to the people qualified for the Nov. 2 ballot this afternoon. Initiative 1107 asks voters to repeal taxes the Legislature levied earlier this year on soda, candy, bottled water and some processed foods.

That means voters will have two chances to undo things the Legislature did: repeal some of the taxes the Democrats passed as a temporary measure to ease the state’s budget problems, and reinstate a two-thirds majority for any tax increase (I-1053).

And they’ll have four chances to do things the Legislature has been asked to do several times, but  has never had the votes to accomplish: end state-run liquor stores (I-1100 and I-1105); add private insurance to the workers compensation system (I-1082); and pass a state income tax for the upper income levels (1-1098).

There will also be three referenda on the ballot: R-52 to approve bonds for energy efficiency projects at schools and colleges; HJR 4220, to amend the state constitution to expand bail requirements and HJR 8225, to change the constitution’s rules on debt limits for the state.

And then there were 3…initiatives for sure on the ballot.

OLYMPIA — Initiative 1098, which would place an income tax on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year, and couples who make more than $400,000, has enough valid signatures to make the ballot.

This despite having about 350 signatures pulled out because the person who gathered them is suspected of fraud.

The state Elections Office said it checked 11,876 signatures and 10,090 were good. The rest were people who weren’t registered, or the signature on the sheet didn’t match the one on file, or they were duplicates. That’s a validation rate that’s fairly normal for petition drives.

The campaign turned in about 385,000 signatures, and needed less than 242,000 good ones.

So I-1098 becomes the third of six initiatives that to go from  almost certain to for sure. I-1100, the first of two proposals to get the state out of the liquor business, qualified first. I-1082, which would add private insurance to the mix for workers compensation coverage in Washington, qualified on Tuesday.

I-1100 officially on Nov. 2 ballot

OLYMPIA — Initiative 1100, the first of two proposals to knock the state out of the liquor business, is for sure on the general election ballot.

Not that there was really muhc doubt after they turned in an estimated 396,000 signatures on their petitions.

Elections workers doing a spot check of signatures last week said it had more than enough valid signatures, and Secretary of State Sam Reed gave I-1100 the official greenlight this afternoon. Staff began checking signatures for I-1082, which would allow private insurance companies access to the workers comp system.

I-1100 is the state out of the booze-biz proposal backed by retailers because it allows them to deal directly with distilleries for their supplies. I-1105, which requires retailers to deal with wholesalers or distributors, will have its signatures checked in a week or so.

In all, six initiatives are thought to be in line to join the three referenda already on the ballot.

I-1053 turn-in: 333,000-plus signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of the initiative to restore the two-thirds majority required for any tax increase are the latest to do a signature drop.

This morning they turned in what sponsor Tim Eyman estimated was more than 333,000 signatures. Like the other petitions turned in so far, that all but guarantees them a spot on the ballot because the threshold is just over 241,000, and a margin like that allows the Secretary of State’s office to do the simpler “spot-check” for validation.

They followed on the heels of I-1107, a plan to repeal most of the temporary consumer taxes (soda, candy, bottled water, but not beer) enacted by the Legislature this spring, which turned in an estimated 395,000 signatures.

That makes five for the ballot: One to privatize liquor sales, one to add private insurance to the mix on workers compensation, one to institute an income tax on people who make more than $200,000, one to repeal taxes that have gone into effect in the last month, and the two-thirds majority.

Another proposal to privatize liquor sales is due in around lunchtime. The proposal to legalize marijuana use didn’t get enough signatures and has cancelled its 4:20 appointment.

Income tax initiative petitions in, others to come

OLYMPIA—Supporters of Initiative 1098, which would place an income tax on so-called “high earners” turned in signatures Thursday morning, making them the third statewide ballot measure to haul bozes of petitions into the Secretary of State’s office.

Four other campaigns say they’ll be there before 5 p.m. Friday, which is the drop-dead date for any statewide initiative to come up with 241,153 valid signatures from registered Washington voters.

Among those scheduling a petition drop on Friday are supporters of Initiative 1068, which would legalize adult use of marijuana. It’s tentative, because they told the Secretary of State’s office earlier this week they had about 200,000 signatures, but were getting more every day. They have a tentative appointment for 4:20 p.m. 

Get it? 4:20? If you do, you’ll probably vote yes on I-1068 if it makes the ballot.

To review the status of what’s in, and what’s coming in, go inside the blog.

Let’s get real and just sell space on the ballot

Washington voters are on track to have at least nine statewide measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, which would be a state record. While some applaud this as a triumph of direct democracy, it is, more accurately, a triumph of electoral capitalism.
Along with three referenda placed on the ballot by the Legislature, the six initiatives seemingly destined for the ballot are beneficiaries of substantial corporate sponsorship, which provided money to pay people who gather signatures on their petitions.
Relying on volunteers to gather signatures has become so 20th Century, although a seventh initiative, to legalize marijuana, might succeed if its supporters can stay motivated through July 2. Meanwhile the paid campaigns are booking dates to turn in petitions with a hundred thousand or more extra signatures.
Early contributions to some successful petition drives are so substantial it only makes sense to dispense with the alpha-numeric designations to initiatives and award naming rights…

Income tax may be ballot-bound

OLYMPIA — Supporters of an initiative to put an income tax on people who make more than $200,000 may have the signatures to make the Nov. 2 ballot.

The Initiative 1098 folks have informed the Secretary of State’s office they’ll be bringing in an estimated 325,000 signatures on July 1, the day before the deadline for turning in petitions.

I-1098 is the latest attempt to put an income tax in Washington state. It calls for a tax on a person making more than $200,000 per year or a couple earning more than $400,000. In exchange, it lowers some of the existing state taxes, such as the sales tax.

An initiative proposal needs about 242,000 valid signatures from registered voters to make the ballot, and elections officials suggest having at least 300,000 to get the cushion needed for rejected signatures.

Income tax proposals on the ballot have generally failed, the exception being the first such proposal during the Great Depression, which was overturned by the state Supreme Court. There’s a debate among lawyers whether an  income tax by initiative is even possible without a change in the state constitution, but that’s a discussion for Nov. 3, if the initiative passes.

U.S. Supremes: Releasing initiative names not barred by First Amendment

OLYMPIA — Round One in the fight over names on initiative petitions goes to the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning in Doe v. Reed that the First Amendment is not a barrier to the state releasing the names of people who sign initiatives or referendums. The state’s concerns about honesty and transparency in the election process in general trump federal privacy concerns, in general.

We say in general because this was the broad challenge of the signature release by attorneys for Referendum 71 and Protect Washington Marriage, who wanted to overturn new rules involving same sex unions and others that are short of marriage but more liberal than before the law changed in 2009. Ruling 8-1, the Supremes said that they weren’t going to give a blanket ban on releasing names, which the R-71 sponsors said was warranted under the First Amendment.

But a case-specific ban would be possible, the high court said. The case now goes back to the U.S. District Court of Western Washington for Round Two, where R-71 proponents will get a chance to make the case that releasing the names on these particular petitions would subject some signers to harassment.

Beyond that, there will be a Round Three in the Washington State Courts, where initiative sponsors are arguing that stricter Washington State Constitution rights of privacy would bar the release of names.

Seems possible this won’t be settled for several years. Which brings up the question of how many of those names and addresses won’t be any good, anyway, from people passing on or moving on.

The big wallets in the initiative campaigns

OLYMPIA — The first ballot initiative turned in its petitions today, which may be the first of about a half dozen that will be rolling in to the Secretary of State’s office between now and July 2.

Initiative 1100 collected about 390,000 signatures in 27 days, which is pretty remarkable by historic standards. Not a record, to be sure, but remarkable, considering the averaged more than 14,400 per day or 600 per hour or 10 per minute (and that’s only if they were gathering round the clock, and obviously they weren’t because Costco, a key location for their collection, has to close some time.)

Other campaigns may have similar numbers, proving that sponsors will be able to wait until late into the spring before starting a petition drive if…

…if they have enough money to pay people to gather signatures. Some people will argue that’s not what the Progressives intended when they added the initiative to the state Constitution, but that’s an argument for another day.

The point is, money is flowing into the initiative campaigns, mainly from corporations, industry association and unions who stand to gain or lose if voters pass these initiatives. Already there is one seven-figure donor and 10 six figure donors to the initiative campaigns.

For a list of the top donors, go inside the blog

I-1100 turns in petitions to change liquor rules

Glenn Avery of Modernize Washington wheels boxes of signed petitions into the Secretary of State’s office. Staff photo by Jim Camden

OLYMPIA — Supporters of Initiative 1100 turned in what they estimate are 390,000 signatures on their petitions for a ballot measure to privatize liquor sales. It’s a number that all but guarantees them a spot on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“I think it would be amazing if we didn’t” make the ballot, said Glenn Avery, treasurer of the Modernize Washington campaign after wheeling in a hand cart stacked with boxes of signed petitions. 

Staff from the Secretary of State’s office began sorting the petitions for an official count of signatures.

About 40 percent of the signatures were gathered at Costco, Avery said. The rest were collected in stores and by paid signature gatherers.

Costco has provided $842,000, the vast majority of cash and in-kind contributions for the initiative, which has more support from retailers. Another initiative which would also privatize liquor sales, I-1105, has support from distributors and has a total of $864,000 from two distribution and wholesaling companies.

The manager of the I-1105 campaign said Tuesday it will also turn in signatures before the July 2 deadline, raising the prospect of two different ballot measures with key differences before voters this fall. Avery said that will likely result in some confusion for voters, but he expects to draw clear distinctions between the two during the campaign if both make the ballot.


New initiatives would privatize liquor sales, outlaw martial arts weapons

OLYMPIA — Another initiative to privatize the state’s liquor business is being proposed. A group calling itself Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform filed a measure to get the state out of the liquor business but to continue to raise money from it through a percentage of the booze sold.

Also looking to give voters a chance to pass a new law is the North American Self-defense Association, which has one proposal to outlaw all martial arts weapons at schools and colleges, and another that would mandate “abduction prevention training” as part of physical education courses at public schools.

Both groups face rather daunting math for getting their proposals on the ballot.

There are less than 60 days left before the July 2 deadline for turning in signatures, and while the state requires about 242,000 valid signatures, most drives shoot for 300,000 to allow for a certain number of invalidated signers.

Even if sponsors can get the language of the initiatives checked and petitions printed by the middle of the month, they’ll have, at best, 45 days for a signature drive.That means they’ll need to collect about 6,700 signatures a day. That’s 277 an hour or 5 a minute.

“It’s a heavy lift,” said Charla Neuman, a spokeswoman for the liquor sales initiative. They’ll have paid signature gatherers because “in that amount of time, there’s no other way to do it.”

One complicating factor on liquor sales is there are two other initiatives aimed at getting the state out of the liquor stor business. The biggest difference, Neuman said, is that this proposal  ties the fee for the license to a store’s sales, rather than charging a flat rate for a license. So the more a store sells, the more the state makes.

Jim Curtis of the self-defense association, said they will rely strictly on volunteers for what he concedes is “a big push.” He has contacts with veterans groups, the self-defense and martial arts groups, and hopes to enlist some civic groups. Curtis said he has tried to interest legislators in bills that would do the same thing, but has received “the cold shoulder.”

To see all the initiatives to the people proposed thus for this year, click here to go to the Secretary of State’s website.

Early morning trek for history

After nearly four months in Washington, D.C., on an American studies program, Michelle Creek had a chance at something special Wednesday – but it meant getting up at 5:45 a.m., walking some 10 blocks through the city and waiting in line in the early morning chill.

“I could not miss it,” the Whitworth University political science major and pre-law student said.

Concert tickets? The latest hot electronic gadget? No. A chance to see history being made. She wanted a seat in the U.S. Supreme Court for the arguments of Roe v. Reed, a potentially landmark case to decide whether the names of people who sign petitions for ballot measures are public.

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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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