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Yesterday was the deadline to turn in signatures to qualify initiatives for the November ballot, and Boise State Public Radio reports that neither measure that was being circulated made the mark, or even came close. The backers of the initiative to legalize medical marijuana turned in only 559 signatures after a year of trying, BSPR reports, while those pushing for an increased minimum wage in Idaho had 8,301 qualified signatures at the deadline. Each needed 53,751 to qualify for the November ballot; you can read BSPR’s full report here.
Meanwhile, at the Secretary of State’s office, someone filed an initiative to rename the fallen and resurrected Skagit River Bridge for initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman. . .
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Religious, education and community activists gathered over the weekend in Coeur d’Alene to kick off a voter initiative drive to raise Idaho’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour; a Catholic priest told the group the issue transcends politics. The initiative was filed in time to fall under Idaho’s current initiative laws – not the new law passed by lawmakers this year that makes it tougher to qualify an initiative measure for the ballot. That law takes effect July 1. You can read the full story here from S-R reporter Kip Hill.
A nonpartisan group is kicking off an initiative drive to raise Idaho's minimum wage to $8.10 by Jan. 1, 2015, to $8.95 by Jan. 1, 2016, and more afterward. Idaho's current minimum wage is $7.25. Five speakers will launch the initiative drive during a rally from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, June 8, at Riverstone Park. Speakers will be Father Roger LaChance, Anne Nesse, Patrick Lippert, Liz Moore, and Dr. Rolf Nesse. You can read the proposed initiative here.
Question: Would you sign a petition supporting an initiative like this?
This is apparently the year of the referendum across the nation - the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that there are more popular referenda on the ballot this year than any year since 1920. (There are also 42 initiatives, which are laws proposed by citizens and are much more common; referenda are laws passed by the Legislature that the citizens challenge at the ballot box.) Nationwide, 12 referenda are on state ballots, including the three in Idaho, Propositions 1, 2 and 3 regarding the “Students Come First” school reform laws.
The referenda in other states include two testing laws that legalize gay marriage (Washington and Maryland); two challenging redistricting plans (California and Maryland); one (Montana) challenging legislative limits on a voter-passed medical marijuana initiative; and one (South Dakota) that, like Idaho's, tests a new law changing teacher contract laws and imposing merit pay. The 12 referenda on the ballot this year compare to just one two years ago; two in 2008; four in 2006 and two in 2004. “This year's number stands out,” writes NCSL analyst Jennie Drage Bowser.
The measures also are extremely rare in Idaho. Idaho has had just four previous referendum measures on its ballot since statehood. They included one challenging the Legislature's repeal of a term limits initiative in 2002; one testing the right-to-work law in 1986; one testing the new 3 percent sales tax in 1966; and one challenging a new 2 percent sales tax in 1935. Only the 1935 measure succeeded in overturning the legislatively passed law. If some or all of this year's Idaho referendum measures succeed in overturning the school reform laws, it'd make history in a big way.
Bowser writes that this year's big spate of referenda across the country is related to the current political polarization in American government and its electorate - and that if this year's measures are successful, more could follow. “Whatever the future holds for this often-neglected process,” she writes, “its heavy use this year certainly provides an engaging case study of direct democracy in action.”
Envision Spokane on Thursday filed its Community Bill of Rights initiative with the Spokane City Clerk's office.
This is the third time the group has filed a Community Bill of Rights. It succeeded the previous two times in collecting the needed signatures to place the item on the ballot. Its 2009 proposal was easily defeated by voters, but its 2011 scaled-back version nearly passed. The initiative filed on Thursday mirrors the 2011 version (the petition filed on Thursday is linked to this post).
By filing now, the initiative is locked into initiative rules that currently are on the books. On Monday, the Spokane City Council will consider changing the initiative process to eliminate the filing method preferred by Envision Spokane. That method allows groups to place a question before voters without input from the City Attorney's Office.
The question could be put before voters this year or next, but if they want it on the ballot this year, they'll need to collect substantially more signatures.
OLYMPIA — Proposed changes to the state's initiative laws were blasted as unconstitutional, arrogant and un-American by a Republican senator who tried to block them Thursday.
No, they're an attempt to bring modernize the system and protect it, said the Democrat who sponsored the changes.
In a series of 4-3 votes, the Senate Government Operations Committee rejected most attempts by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, to change the proposal and sent it to the next step of the legislative process. Senate Bill 5297 would raise the fee for filing an initiative from the current $5 to $500, require businesses that pay people to gather signatures to register with the state and require paid signature gatherers to present photo identification whenever asked.
“Last time I checked, we live in America,” said Benton in explaining an amendment to strip out provisions for paid-signature collectors to have identification. “We don't have to carry papers. You shouldn't have to provide a photo ID to anybody other than law enforcement.”
OLYMPIA — City of Spokane officials might be watching one election result from across the state pretty closely on Nov. 2. Or if not, they should.
The City of Mukilteo has an initiative that severely limits the use of red-light cameras and speeding cameras which issue tickets to motorists they catch running lights or driving too fast. It would require a two-thirds majority of that city council AND a simple majority of voters to approve the devices, and reduce the cost of a fine to the amount of the lowest parking ticket.
The ballot measure, sponsored by Tim Eyman, had huge numbers of signatures at its turn it, and qualified for the ballot. When one combines the universe of voters unhappy with their government with the universe of voters who don’t like to make it easier for police to issue them speeding and traffic tickets, it’s would seem this proposal has at least a decent chance of passage. (Note deliberate understatement as an literary device.)
A successful campaign in Mukilteo could spread across the state like BP oil in the Gulf. It’s also important to note that Eyman’s two chief lieutenants, Jack and Mike Fagan, are Spokane residents.
Advocates of a property tax that would raise money for early-child learning, abuse prevention, treatment and other programs have submitted more than 12,600 signatures in support of placing the levy on the November ballot.
Supporters of the initiative, which is called the Spokane Children’s Investment Fund Levy for Families and Youth, collected 771 sheets of signatures that they turned in to the city clerk’s office on Thursday.
The issue needs 8,334 valid signatures to earn a public vote.
The Spokane City Council will vote on July 12 if it will place the idea on the ballot, ask the county election’s office to validate signatures first or declare it illegal.
The council usually orders a review by the election’s office when asked to consider an initiative.
The tax, which would raise $5 million annually, would cost the owner of a $100,000 property $35 a year.
Tim Eyman’s latest effort, Initiative 1033, appears headed for the November ballot.
Eyman reports a few minutes ago that they have turned in more than 314,000 signatures, which is far more than the requirement of about 249,000 or the cushion of 292,000 they were shooting for.
Wondering what I-1033 would do? Click here to read the text.
A woman in Blaine is proposing Initiative 1040, which would “prohibit state use of public money or lands for anything that denies or attempts to refute the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe, including textbooks, instruction or research.”
Initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who says he still owes $175,000 on a second mortgage he took out on his home to pay for last fall’s unsuccessful Initiative 985, is borrowing more.
In an email to supporters, Eyman says he’s borrowing another $50k against his home’s value to launch his latest ballot measure, which would cap growth in most state and local taxes at the rate of inflation.
The new money will pay for a fundraising letter and for the legal work drafting the measure.
Homeowners unhappy with property taxes have filed a second citizen’s intiative Monday, trying to virtually freeze tax valuations.
Linda Courtney Cox of Chelan and Kenneth Sinibaldi, a doctor from Lopez Island, filed a measure today on behalf of Washington Voters for Fair Property Tax.
For property bought in 2004 and earlier, their plan would freeze the taxable value at 2005 levels. For newer purchases, the value would be the purchase price plus any renovations. Taxable values could rise only 1 percent a year unless the property’s sold, at which point the value would be the actual sale price.
Washington’s property tax “is driving people out of their homes,” Cox said in a phone interview. Under their plan, she said, people staying in their home would have a predictable, fair tax.
“You’re not taxed based on what your neighbor bought his home for,” she said. “You’re taxed on what you agreed to pay and what you felt you could afford.”
Getting any measure on the ballot this year will not be easy. Proponents need to come up with more than 241,000 voter signatures by July.