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No Eyman initiative this year

OLYMPIA — Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman will not have a measure on this fall's ballot.

Eyman informed supporters today that he and his associates, Spokanites Mike and Jack Fagan, will not be turning in signatures for Initiative 1325, an effort to force the Legislature into sending voters a constitutional amendment for a super-majority to raise taxes. Today is the deadline for signatures to go to the Secretary of State's office.

In an e-mail, Eyman said the campaign worked really hard, but fell short because qualifying for the ballot is "brutally difficult". It also promises to work harder next time. It also contends that just the threat of I-1325 "was incredibly effective in deterring the Legislature from raising taxes this year."

Well, that and the fact the Legislature's two chambers were controlled by different parties that agreed on almost nothing when it comes to taxes.

 The e-mail, like most Eyman missives to supporters, doubles as an appeal for money. The post script that says "Please don't forget about us. Jack, Mike and I only earn what our supporters decide to give" and offers a link to the website where contributions can by made by PayPal or credit card.

I-1325 was one of six versions of the the supermajority proposal that Eyman and company filed this year. Longtime Eyman critic Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute predicted they wouldn't make the ballot about a week ago, noting the signature effort for I-1325 seemed non-existent and the campaign was not spending money for paid signature-gatherers. 

Class-size initiative supporters say they have enough signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure that would reduce class sizes in public schools say they're confident the proposal will be on the November ballot after turning in more than 325,000 signatures this morning.

The Secretary of State's office will still have to check petitions before certifying Initiative 1351 for the ballot, but the cushion of signatures supporters collected means they will go through an expedited process unless major problems turn up.

I-1351 would require the Legislature to reduce class sizes across the state in Kindergarten through Grade 3, and other grades in "defined  high-poverty schools."  It tells the Legislature to pay for the reductions, phased in over the next four years, but does not specify if that would be by raising taxes or cutting other programs or both.

Sunday Spin: Initiative fights continue after elections end

OLYMPIA – For a political reporter, state initiatives have become gifts that just keep on giving.

There have always been plenty of unusual ideas for ballot measures that crop up every spring, sort of like dandelions in the political lawn, and knock-down campaign battles over the few that collect enough signatures to make the ballot.

Some measures manage to remain controversial long after voters approve or reject them. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

WA Lege: Gun initiatives getting hearing Wednesday

OLYMPIA — Two initiatives dealing with gun rights and gun control will get a hearing next Wednesday in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Both are initiatives to the Legislature. I-594, which would extend the current background checks for buyers required for sales from gun dealers to almost all other sales, was certified Wednesday by the Secretary of State's office after a check of signatures submitted late last year. I-591, which would ban stricter background checks in Washington until federal standards changed, is undergoing signature checks but is expected also to easily certify.

The Legislature is unlikely to pass either into law, bypassing the ballot. But Committee Chairman Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said a hearing will give legislators and the public a chance to get questions answered. "That helps us and it can only help to inform the voters," he said.

The 1:30 p.m. hearing will be moved out of the committee's regular room into a larger room to accommodate the expected crowd.

 

Gun initiatives headed for Lege

OLYMPIA — The Legislature almost certainly will have two chances to enact gun legislation in the upcoming session.

It will almost just as certainly ignore both, and pass the question on to voters.

Supporters of Initiative 594 turned in an estimated 95,000 additional signatures this week for their proposal the extend background checks to most private sales of firearms. Along with the 250,000 or so signatures turned in last fall, that would give them 345,000 signatures, and they only need 246,372.

Supporters of Initiative 591, which would keep the state from expanding background checks until a "uniform national standard" is developed expect to turn in about 5,000 signatures today to go with the 340,000 they submitted in late November.

There's no prize for having the most signatures, but we can expect a certain amount of bragging rights. In both cases, it seems likely the two proposals will be certified by the Secretary of State's elections office through the expedited process that ballot measures with well over the standard rejection rate have.

The initiatives would then be forwarded to the Legislature, which has several options:

— Ignore both, which would put them on the ballot in November.

— Reject both, which would also put them on the ballot in November.

— Pass one one but not the other. The passed initiative would become law, the other would go on the November ballot.

— Pass both into law. That could be a problem because in some respects they are conflicting, but legislators could leave that to the courts to sort out.

— Pass an alternative bill on gun control, which would put three proposals on the topic on the November ballot.

Based on the options, and the Legislature's track record with initiatives that are sent its way, smart money would be on "ignore both".   

Sunday Spin2: New definition of victory?

In elections, victory is usually well-defined. You got the most votes. Period.

So it was a bit odd Thursday to get a post-election email from initiative guru Tim Eyman describing the results of the election as “7 measures, 7 votes, 7 victories". . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

GMO labeling measure losing steam?

The onslaught of commercials castigating Initiative 522, the genetically engineered food labeling measure on the November ballot, may be taking their toll.

A new survey by The Elway Poll shows support for I-522 has dropped precipitously in the last month. In September, about two-thirds of voters surveyed said they supported the measure, which requires many foods bought at the store to carry labels if they have genetically modified ingredients. Only about one voter in five opposed it.

In the latest poll, that support is down to 46 percent, and opposition up to 42 percent. With the poll's margin of error at 5 percent, that's a statistical tie. More concerning for supporters could be that it has dipped below 50 percent support, because undecided voters tend to vote No if they remain undecided at the point they must cast their ballots.

The Seattle Times broke down the Elway Poll numbers this week. King TV had similar results from a separate poll.

The latest Public Disclosure Commission reports show the No campaign, funded in large part by Monsanto, DuPont and large food and beverage companies contributing to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have spent about $13.5 million. The Yes campaign, which has collected large amounts from some natural food and cosmetic product companies, but also has hundreds of small donations from Washington and around the country, has spent about $5.4 million.

  
  

Sunday spin: Initiative predictions usually wrong

Opponents of two proposed charter changes for Spokane won their fight to keep the initiatives away from voters when Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno on Friday barred them from the November ballot.

Cue the huge sighs of relief from the home builders and various nice-sounding organizations fronting for local businesses. The groups insisted the two proposals were illegal and “if enacted they would have cause serious harm to Spokane and our economy,” Michael Cathcart, government affairs director for the home builders said shortly after Moreno ruled.

An appeal is possible, so this might be hashed out for months. But if anything is certain about initiatives it is their very uncertainty. Dire predictions by opponents of what a particular ballot measure will do are almost always off target. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: Initiative sponsors go 0 for 84

OLYMPIA – Friday was a rare day in Washington state politics, although it went mostly unnoticed because it was rare for what didn’t happen rather than what did.

It was the deadline to turn in signatures for an initiative to the people to put on the November ballot an idea some would deem brilliant and others ridiculous. No one turned any in. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: When they try to buy our votes, shouldn’t they buy other local things too?

OLYMPIAWashington is developing into THE PLACE for interest groups of every political stripe to try out their ballot initiative.

From gun control to same-sex marriage to legalized marijuana, national organizations have decided they love a state big enough to test out their legislation on a diverse population, but small enough to have relatively few media markets (the term campaign types use for cities) and relatively affordable ad rates.

Thus we see corporate agriculture and the organic food industry preparing to spend millions on a food labeling initiative. They’ll likely subscribe to the Costco theory of ballot politics, which says that if you spend enough money, and try enough times, you can convince Washington voters to pass almost anything.

It’s not a terrible thing have outside interests using their money trying to tell Washington voters what to do…

 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to back I-522

One of the founders of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream said today his Vermont-based company will back a Washington initiative to require all foods to be labeled if they contain genetically modified ingredients.

Jerry Greenfield said Wednesday the company would give away "tons" of ice cream, send its "Scoop Truck" to Seattle and put up billboards in support of Initiative 522. The company's web site said the truck was scheduled to be in Seattle from mid August to mid September promoting its Greek frozen yogurt.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Most money for I-522 from outside WA

OLYMPIA – Out-of-state money pouring into the campaign coffers of this fall’s initiative to require labeling of genetically modified food products make clear that Washington will once again be a battleground state for progressive causes.

Supporters of Initiative 522, which would require any product sold in Washington stores to say if it contains genetically altered substances, have raised nearly $2 million for various campaign organizations. Three-fourths of it came from businesses or people outside Washington who won’t be voting on the measure this fall.

“It’s part of a national movement,” Liz Larter, a spokeswoman for the Yes on I-522 campaign, said of efforts to require consumers be told if their products contain modified ingredients. But Washington is likely to be the only state where the battle will be joined at the ballot box this fall after a similar measure failed last year in California. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Eyman, Fagans try new route to 2/3 tax votes

 

Mike Fagan, Tim Eyman and Jack Fagan, left to right,  to file an electronic copy of their new initiative at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday. After several attempts, they wound up submitting a paper copy and paying the $5 filing fee.

OLYMPIA – Unable to ask voters again to approve an initiative requiring supermajority approval of tax increases, a trio of self-described tax fighters will try to prod the Legislature into putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Perennial initiative sponsors Tim Eyman of Mukilteo and Mike Fagan and Jack Fagan of Spokane filed an initiative Wednesday that would require a public vote on any tax increase, a one-year limit on any new tax, and an advisory vote on whether voters should get to vote on a constitutional amendment that requires the Legislature pass any tax increase with a two-thirds majority.

The initiative comes with an “escape clause” which says if the Legislature puts that constitutional amendment up to a public vote, other provisions go away. . . 

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

1 year for initiatives to get signatures? How about 2 years?

OLYMPIA – As state law enforcement officials began investigating more than 8,000 allegedly forged signatures for a pair of ballot measures, a legislative panel looked at changes to the century-old avenue for grass-roots democracy, the initiative process.

One suggestion the Senate Governmental Operations Committee aired out Thursday: Give initiative campaigns more time to circulate petitions.

“If we give citizens more time to get involved, you wouldn’t need paid signature gatherers,” Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said. . .

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

Initiative on initiatives clears signature hurdle

OLYMPIA — An initiative designed to make changes in the state's initiative law has enough signatures to be sent to the Legislature.

As expected, the Secretary of State's office cleared Initiative 517 for the next step, which is a decision by the Legislature whether to pass it or let it go to the voters in November, either by itself or with an alternative.

I-517 comes from Tim Eyman and his allies, and would set up penalties for harassing signature gatherers, require that all ballot measures that have enough signatures appear on the ballot, and extend the time for gathering signatures from six months to a year.

Under current law, initiatives to the people are filed no earlier than January of the year in which they will appear on the ballot, giving supporters until the end of June, or about six months, to gather signatures. I-517 would allow proposed initiatives to be filed in June of the year prior to the election, and give them through June of the election  year to gather signatures.  

Latest Eyman initiative topic: Initiatives

OLYMPIA – Almost every year for more than a decade, Washington’s premier proponent of initiatives, Tim Eyman, has had a ballot measure to promote, and 2013 is no exception. This year’s initiative topic: initiatives.

Eyman and other supporters of Initiative 517 filed petitions with more than 345,000 signatures Thursday for a proposal that would make changes to the state’s initiative law. It would set penalties for anyone harassing a signature gatherer, allow signatures to be gathered at the entrance to any store or inside or outside any public building, and add an extra six months to the signature-gathering process.

Initiatives to the people can now be as early as January for a general election in November, but the petitions must be turned in by early July for signatures to be checked and counted for validation. Processing the proposal before it’s ready to print petitions so signatures can be gathered can take weeks, so the practical time for gathering signatures is often five months or less. I-517 would allow initiatives to be filed as early as July of the year before the election, essentially giving a campaign up to a year to gather signatures.

I-517 has about 100,000 more signatures than the minimum requirement, which makes it all but certain of being validated. It would go first to the Legislature, where it could be passed into law. The Legislature could also reject it, which would put it on the general election ballot, or pass an alternative, which would put both proposals before voters in November. 

GMO food labeling initiative likely headed to ballot

Supporters of I-522 wheel signed petitions into the Secretary of State's offfice on Thursday.

OLYMPIA — The state's voters are likely to be asked next ffice.all whether food that contains genetically modified organisms must say so on its label to be sold in Washington.

Supporters of a ballot measure to require such labels filed petitions with an estimated 350,000 signatures Thursday, more than 100,000 more than required to qualify an initiative to the Legislature. If the signatures pass inspection, it will be sent to the Legislature during the upcoming session.

Supporters like Chris McManus of University Place, who managed the signature drive, said the proposal is simply about informing the public. . .

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

More signatures needed for initiatives

OLYMPIA — The turnout was down slightly in Washington state compared to the 2008 presidential election, but the number of ballots cast was up.

That means the number of signatures needed for initiatives and referenda goes up next year.

Huh? We explain inside the blog. Click here to read more, or to comment.

I-1183 boosts liquor sales — in Idaho

Washington voters probably didn’t intend it, but they gave at least a temporary economic boost to Idaho liquor stores when taking their state out the booze business last year by passing Initiative 1183.
In June, the first month that I-1183 closed Washington’s state-owned liquor stores and raised the overall price of distilled spirits in the private outlets that took their place, Idaho state liquor stores just across the border saw more Evergreen State license plates in their parking lots and a jump in business.
The two Post Falls liquor stores saw a 58 percent increase in sales for June 2012 compared to the previous June, said Jeff Anderson, director of the Idaho State Liquor Division. Between Lewiston and Oldtown, the eight Idaho liquor stores just across the border are up 33 percent overall, or a total of $560,000.
“The numbers are a bit skewed,” Anderson said . . .

To read the rest of this story, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Charter school measure makes November ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative which will be the fourth attempt to get voter approval for charter schools will be on the November ballot.

Initiative 1240 has enough valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 election, the Secretary of State's office said this afternoon.

Although supporters had a mere 21 days to collect signatures, they turned in about 115,000 more than the 241,000 needed to put an initiative on the ballot. They accomplished that largely with paid signature gatherers, paying almost $2.1 million to a California company, PCI Consultants.

The state Elections Division said a random sampling of the petitions showed a rejection rate of about 16 percent, resulting in I-1240 qualifying as the sixth ballot measure for this fall.

Under the initiative, a charter school would be a public school governed by a special board and operated under a special contract that outlines powers, responsibilities and performance expectations. As many as 40 such schools could be set up in the state over the next five years, either by public school districts or nonprofit organizations. The per-pupil allotment that a public school would get would go to the charter school for its students.

Voters have turned down charter school proposals in 1996, 2000 and 2004.  

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.