July 3, 2010 in City

Signatures portend long November ballot

Six initiatives may join three referenda for vote
By The Spokesman-Review
 

OLYMPIA – Washington voters will likely have six initiatives on the November ballot dealing with taxes, booze and workers’ comp.

They could repeal some of the recent consumer taxes on soda, bottled water and candy; levy an income tax on people who make more than $200,000 a year; and restore a supermajority requirement for the Legislature to raise taxes.

They could expand the state’s workers’ compensation system to allow private insurance companies in.

They could get the state out of the liquor business one of two ways. Or both ways, which would set up some interesting legal battles.

Those six initiatives turned in so many signatures by Friday afternoon’s deadline that they are all but assured of making the ballot. The state currently requires 241,143 valid signatures from registered Washington voters to be on an initiative’s petitions; all six turned in more than 300,000 names, which allows the secretary of state’s office to do a quicker spot check of signatures.

All six used paid signature gatherers to collect at least some of their signatures. Another initiative, to legalize marijuana use and possession by adults, was relying on volunteers. Supporters said earlier this week it was close to the threshold, but they failed to reach that mark.

The six initiatives expected to join three referenda placed on the ballot by the Legislature are:

I-1053, which reinstates the two-thirds majority requirement for the Legislature to raise taxes. This spring, Democrats in the Legislature suspended it through 2013 and raised taxes to close a projected budget deficit.

I-1082, which would allow private insurance companies to offer plans for workers’ compensation; the state plan covers most workers, but some large employers self-insure.

I-1098, which would institute a “high earners” income tax on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year or couples who make more than $400,000. It would roll back some state property tax and business taxes.

I-1100 and I-1105, which both end state control of liquor stores, but in different ways. I-1100 is favored by retailers, because it would allow them to deal directly with producers; I-1105 sets up a system that requires licensed retailers to buy from licensed distributors or wholesalers. If both pass, the one that receives the most votes is enacted on points where they conflict, but the one that gets fewer votes would become law in areas it covers and the other doesn’t address.

I-1107, which would roll back some consumer taxes the Legislature passed after it suspended the two-thirds supermajority rule. It would do away with a two-cent per can tax on soda that took effect Thursday, and sales tax levied on candy, gum and bottled water on June 1. It wouldn’t drop the $1 per pack tax on cigarettes or the 28-cent per six-pack tax on some beers.

Validation of signatures starts next week, the secretary of state’s office said. All initiatives require a simple majority to become law.


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