Legislative Candidates on the Mid-Term Ballot

Because the President isn’t on the ballot, some voters consider the midterms to be less important. If the list of initiatives described in an earlier part of this series doesn’t argue convincingly that’s not the case, the number of legislative representatives on this November’s ballot just might.

The Griffin area is contained within a portion of the 35th Legislative District. This district covers parts of Kitsap and Thurston counties and all of Mason County. For this election, all three of our representatives in the state Legislature are being decided. These are our State Senator and two State Representatives.

As we have noted in the prior pieces of this series, a good starting place to familiarize yourself with the candidates is the online voter’s guide. There you will find biographical information and statements from each candidate. Among the links below are those to each candidate’s campaign website. The key votes of incumbents can be reviewed online at VoteSmart.org and elsewhere.

State Senator

State Senators serve 4-year terms of office.

The incumbent is Tim Sheldon who was first elected to this office in 1998. From 1991 to 1997 he was one of the District’s representatives in the House. These are only two of the several elected offices in which he’s served, sometimes simultaneously. He runs as “prefers Democratic Party,” but his top two contributors are the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. Click here to see his key votes. In his voter’s guide statement, his campaign wrote, “He is known as a legislator who works with members of all political parties to find common sense solutions without new taxes.”

The challenger is Irene Bowling, who unsuccessfully ran against Sheldon in 2014. Like Sheldon, she is also running as “prefers Democratic Party.” However, her top single contributor is the 35th Legislative District Democrats. In her official statement she writes, “I know how frustrating it is to see Washington State’s economy flourish while our own district has struggled.” “As a small business owner, I understand the struggles people face every day with red tape, paperwork, and government inefficiency.”

Read More

Here are the Initiatives Coming to Your Ballot this November

This November we’ll see four initiatives on our ballot. And one of those “Advisory Votes” required by law, but which do not carry the force of law. The requirement to hold advisory votes came about through an initiative (I-960) approved by voters in November, 2007.

The online voter’s guide contains a good deal of useful information about each of the initiatives. There you will find a link to the full text of the initiative, an explanatory statement, fiscal impacts, and official arguments for and against each initiative.

Initiative Measure No. 940 “concerns law enforcement.”

According to the explanatory statement, “This measure addresses three aspects of law enforcement. First, it addresses when law enforcement officers may use deadly force. Second, it requires de-escalation and mental health training for officers. Third, it requires officers to provide first aid in certain circumstances.”

It’s important that voters realize the importance of this this initiative removes de facto immunity enjoyed by law enforcement in Washington, when deadly force is used. That immunity from prosecution is replaced with a so-called “good faith” standard. It also requires independent investigations of police who use deadly force.

The website at https://www.deescalatewa.org/ provides information in favor of the initiative.

I have been unable to locate a comprehensive website representing arguments opposing the initiative. However, voters should know the Washington State Fraternal Order of Police agreed to restrictions on the use of deadly force, and some of the ideas contained within I-940. But the FOP ultimately announced it opposes I-940. The history for this is confusing. It has to do with steps taken by the Legislature.

The State Legislature passed a bill, HB 303, which was signed in to law this last Spring. You can read that law here and the FOP has said it supports HB 303. The Legislature had expected the passage of HB 303 would ensure I-940 would never make it to voters. A court challenge, however, put the initiative on the ballot, even after a compromise law was passed. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled the passage of HB 303 didn’t follow the law. In its ruling, the Court said lawmakers only have three options when an initiative is qualified for the ballot: approve a competing ballot initiative; reject the voter’s initiative; or amend it, in which case voters have to make the final decision between the original initiative and the amended version. In passing HB 303, the Legislature didn’t choose any of these options. So the Court voided HB 303 and cleared the way for I-940 to appear on the ballot.

Leslie Cushman, co-chair of De-Escalate Washington, was reported to have written, “We appreciate and honor the work we did with law enforcement and will work with law enforcement to make sure the policies in 3003 become law. And to do that, we need the solid policies of 940 in place.”

Read More

Labor Day Marks the Unofficial Start of Election Season; Here’s How Our Ballot is Shaping Up


“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world.”

This is the first of what may become a series of articles providing information in advance of the upcoming General Election. In this first article, we ask the question, “What candidates and measures will appear on November’s General Election ballot?” The easiest answer is provided by the Secretary of State’s website. This web page is the online voter’s guide for Thurston County.

Federal offices that are up for election this year include one Senate seat. Incumbent Maria Cantwell faces off against Susan Hutchinson. The online voter’s guide includes a statement by each campaign and links to the candidate’s website. There are also links to the Federal Election Commission website. But you have to find the candidate there, to see campaign finance data.

The Griffin area is in Congressional District 10. In our Congressional District, Incumbent Denny Heck is being challenged by Joseph Brumbles.

The Griffin area is in Legislative District 35. The candidates for the State Senate are Tim Sheldon, the incumbent, and Irene Bowling. There are two State Representative seats. In Position 1, incumbent Dan Griffey is challenged by James Thomas. In Position 2, the incumbent is Drew MacEwen, whose challenger is David Daggett. The online voter’s guide includes links to information describing the principal donors to each campaign.

Three positions on the State Supreme Court appear on the ballot. Positions 2 and 9 are uncontested; there’s only one candidate for each. In Position 8, however, incumbent Steve Gonzalez is being challenged by Nathan Choi. As with the Legislative District candidates, in addition to campaign statements, there is a link to information describing the donors for each campaign. But in the case of Nathan Choi’s campaign, there is no campaign finance data reported, at all.

For the Court of Appeals, Division 2, District 2, Rebecca Glasgow is the single candidate in this uncontested race.

In Thurston County government there are three positions where there is a contest between two candidates. The other eight positions are uncontested. For the sake of brevity, what follows only describes the three races where there are two candidates.

For Thurston County Auditor, incumbent Mary Hall is being challenged by Stuart Holmes. The voter’s guide includes links to campaign finance data.

The race for Thurston County Commissioner for District 3, where the Griffin area is located, has incumbent Bud Blake facing off against Tye Menser.

For Thurston County Prosecutor, incumbent Jon Tunheim is challenged by Victor M. Minjares.

One seat on the Thurston Public Utility District is up for election. Incumbent Linda L. Oosterman is running against Andrew Saturn.

Read More

Here are the Candidates on August’s Primary Ballot

The Primary Election is Tuesday, August 7. If you are not yet registered to vote, or if you have had a change of address and haven’t informed elections officials, there is still time. The last day for new registrations is July 30, but you must register in-person at the Thurston County Auditor’s Office in order to be eligible to vote in the Primary.

Voter’s Pamphlets will be mailed on July 11 and the ballots will be mailed a week later, on July 18. As usual, ballots must either be dropped in a ballot box before 8 PM on election day or they must be postmarked by that day. There’s a ballot box conveniently located in front of the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters. Have questions about voting? The County’s elections officials have an online FAQ here. Contact the Thurston County Auditor’s Office directly, if you have other questions.

Under our state’s primary system, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party.

Here’s a rundown of the candidates you will see on your ballot. Where the candidate’s web site could be found, the candidate’s name is linked to the web site.

U.S. Senator

There are 30 candidates for this position (according to the Spokesman-Review, “The modern record for a U.S. Senate race in Washington is 33, set in 1983”). The entire list appears in the Voter’s Pamphlet.

Maria Cantwell is the Democratic incumbent. Her chief challenger is Susan Hutchison (Republican Party)

U.S. Representative – Congressional District No. 10

Denny Heck is the Democratic incumbent. His challengers are:

Nancy Dailey Slotnick (Indep. Centrist Party)

Tamborine Borrelli ( Ind. Progressive Party)

Joseph Brumbles (Republican Party)Read More

GNA and Cooper Point Neighborhood Association Sponsor Two Nights of Candidate Forums

The Griffin Neighborhood Association and Cooper Point Neighborhood Association have teamed up to bring westside residents two nights of candidate forums this next week.

Each forum will be moderated with moderators posing questions to the candidates.

Wednesday, September 19
7 to 9 PM
Jefferson Middle School
2200 Conger Ave. NW

Candidates in the following races have been invited to participate. However, not all candidates have yet confirmed they will attend. Click on the candidate names to browse to their campaign web sites.

Thurston County Commissioner, District No. 1

Cathy Wolfe (Prefers Democratic Party)
Karen Rogers (Prefers Democratic Party)

Thurston County Commissioner, District No. 2

Andrew Barkis (Prefers Republican Party)
Sandra Romero (Prefers Democratic Party)

Thurston County Public Utility District Commissioner

Linda Oosterman
Steve Fossum

Thurston Superior Court, Judge Position 2

Christine Schaller
Jim Johnson

Thurston Superior Court, Judge Position 4

Erik D. Price
Indu Thomas

Thursday, September 20
7 to 9 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters
3707 Steamboat Loop NW

Candidates in the following races have been invited to participate. However, not all candidates have yet confirmed they will attend. Click on the candidate names to browse to their campaign web sites.

US Congressional District 10

Denny Heck (Prefers Democratic Party)
Richard (Dick) Muri (Prefers Republican Party)

State Representative 35th, District Position 1

Kathy Haigh (Prefers Democratic Party)
Dan Griffey (Prefers Republican Party)

State Representative 35th, District Position 2

Drew C. MacEwen (Prefers Republican Party)
Lynda Ring-Erickson (Prefers Democratic Party)

State Court of Appeals, Division 2, District 2

Pamela (Pam) Loginsky
Thomas Bjorgen

We are pleased to join with our neighbors on Cooper Point to present this important election season event.
 
 

Once Again, Voters Asked to Confront a Fistful of Measures on General Election Ballot

This November’s General Election ballot will include eight ballot measures. As in the past, it’s a mix of citizen’s initiatives and measures arising from specific legislation. As has also been true in the past, there’s a mix of high-visibility measures, such as R-74 (marriage for same-sex couples) and I-502 (marijuana legalization) and far more obscure constitutional amendments.

The easiest way to both check your voter’s registration and access basic information regarding all the ballot measures and officials appearing on your ballot is to use the Washington Secretary of State’s “MyVote” web site. Click here to go there. Select “My Candidates & Ballot Measures” to find your online voter’s guide.

On the MyVote web site, it is possible for you to read further about each measure.  Details include an explanatory statement, fiscal impact statement, and arguments for and against each measure.

State Measures

Initiative Measure 1185

Initiative Measure No. 1185 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government. This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval.

Learn more about this Tim Eyman initiative at Yes on 1185.

Arguments against the initiative may be found at Permanent Defense.

Initiative Measure 1240
Initiative Measure No. 1240 concerns creation of a public charter school system. This measure would authorize up to forty publicly-funded charter schools open to all students, operated through approved, nonreligious, nonprofit organizations, with government oversight; and modify certain laws applicable to them as public schools.

Read arguments in favor of Measure 1240 at Yes on 1240.

Read arguments against Measure 1240 at No on 1240.

Referendum Measure 74

The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.

Read arguments in favor of Measure 74 at Washington United for Marriage.

Read arguments against Measure 74 at Preserve Marriage Washington.

Initiative to the Legislature 502

Initiative Measure No. 502 concerns marijuana. This measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.

Read arguments in favor of I-502 at New Approach Washington.

Read arguments against I-502 at No on I-502.

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221

The Legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on implementing the Commission on State Debt recommendations regarding Washington’s debt limit. This amendment would, starting July 1, 2014, phase-down the debt limit percentage in three steps from nine to eight percent and modify the calculation date, calculation period, and the term general state revenues.

We could not find authoritative web sites either for or against SJR 8221. Have you found any material online you would like to share? Leave a comment below.

Senate Joint Resolution 8223

The Legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on investments by the University of Washington and Washington State University. This amendment would create an exception to constitutional restrictions on investing public funds by allowing these universities to invest specified public funds as authorized by the legislature, including in private companies or stock.

Read arguments in favor of SJR 8223 at Yes for Students.

We could find no authoritative web site against SJR 8223. Have you found any material online you would like to share? Leave a comment below.

State Advisory Votes

Advisory Vote 1 (Engrossed Senate Bill 6635)

The legislature eliminated, without a vote of the people, a business and occupation tax deduction for certain financial institutions’ interest on residential loans, costing $170,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.

Voters will be asked whether the tax increase should be repealed or maintained.

We could not find authoritative web sites either for or against ESB 6635. Have you found any material online you would like to share? Leave a comment below.

Advisory Vote 2 (Substitute House Bill 2590)

The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, expiration of a tax on possession of petroleum products and reduced the tax rate, costing $24,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.

Voters will be asked whether the tax increase should be repealed or maintained.

We could not find authoritative web sites either for or against SHB 2590. Have you found any material online you would like to share? Leave a comment below.

The 2012 General Election Voter’s Guide is now available online. Click here for the Voter’s Guide.

Project VoteSmart is another online resource many have found a useful reference, both in making decisions regarding ballot measures and in assessing various candidates which appear on the ballot.
  
  

Citizens’ group to begin initiative process to move electrical service to Thurston PUD

An interesting development is now underway with the formation of a citizen’s group to advocate for Public Power – the distribution and generation of electricity by our county’s own public utility, Thurston PUD No. 1. Currently a water utility, Thurston PUD has grown a great deal over the last seven years. We have a staff of 11 to 12 people and operate water systems in Thurston and four neighboring counties.

Going electric requires a county-wide vote in the general election. The citizen’s group, Thurston Public Power Initiative, was established by Thurston County residents to accomplish this goal by petitioning our county’s registered voters to place the issue on this November’s ballot and to campaign for its passage. Their first task is to submit the petition language to our county auditor for approval and collect nearly 12,000 valid Thurston County signatures to place the issue on the ballot this fall. Their deadline to accomplish this is early July.

In 2008, a similar citizen’s group in Jefferson County (Port Townsend area) succeeded in passing a county-wide vote and the Jefferson PUD will soon be entering a three year transition to take control of its electrical service at the end of March 2013. Similar ballot measures that same year failed in Island and Skagit Counties.

This proposal is not new to Thurston County. It first came about with the formation of our own public utility district (PUD) in 1938. The long period of court battles that ensued failed to bring the PUD into the electrical business. Several more attempts were made up to the early 1960’s when one of two supportive commissioners died suddenly, leaving the other hopelessly deadlocked with the third commissioner. Future elected commissioners later overturned the entire effort.

During our PUD’s first 23 years the issue went before the Federal Court and involved several other county PUDs’ attempt to take over Puget Power as well as another private utility. The last eruption 50 years ago even sparked a highly polarized dramatic debate in the state Capitol and led to the removal of the pro-public power and long time Speaker of the House, John L. O’Brien by defections from within his own Democratic Party.

Why the current interest in publicly controlled power?

Our current Investor Owned Utility (IOU) Puget Sound Energy is no longer a publicly traded company with US shareholders. It “went private” three years ago and is now entirely foreign-owned and -operated (though nominally registered in the state of Delaware as a US company). Its new owners are an Australian Investment Bank and Canadian Pension Funds. Their mutual interest in owning our state’s largest private utility comes as no surprise, since Puget Sound Energy is one of the largest consumers of the Canadian Natural Gas Fields located in Western Canada. The resulting match-up along with the existing pipelines could be characterized best as a vertically integrated conglomerate (single ownership of the gas fields, pipelines and the consuming utility). That is where we are today.

I ran for office over three years ago on a platform that including having our PUD commission a feasibility study on whether we should enter the electrical business and how best to pursue this option. I was elected with over 60% of the vote. It is now time to act on this issue and give our citizens a clear appraisal of its prospects.

At our January 10 meeting, I will ask our PUD to commission an independent feasibility study to determine whether we should enter into the electrical business and via what process taking into account our current economic climate. One of the subjects the study will consider is the finite resources of federally-controlled hydropower and our ability to access it before its capacity is all spoken for.

In the future, electric utilities will be more and more involved in our citizens’ transportation choices. Most car manufacturers are fully aware of and working toward this. As demand and cost of generation rises, so will electric rates. Public power provides the opportunity for greater citizen oversight and local control of this resource that is so vital to the overall economic health of our community.

Future electrical rates by a publicly owned utility could be moderated by:

1) Direct access to Bonneville’s (BPA’s) cheaper Tier One federally sourced hydro-power through a hundred year-old federal policy known as “Preference,”

2) Lower interest rates on debt for municipal bonds which are tax-free for PUD’s,

3) Removal of the over 10% return (profit) paid to private utility shareholders as regulated by the Utilities and Transportation Commission, the regulator of all private utilities in our state.

All users – residential, industrial, commercial, and government – would benefit from the historically lower rates of publicly-supplied electricity. One of the greatest benefits of rate relief would go to the commercial and industrial business owners who provide jobs in our county. They are currently unable to take advantage of the small farm/residential exchange subsidy from BPA, so their rates will be most favorably impacted in a transition to public power. Cheaper rates to all forms of government could also lead to additional savings for all our citizens, helping to retain spending on government employment, which is an important sector of our local economy.

Improved system maintenance and operation of our electric utility could provide better overall service without the prolonged seven to ten day long storm-related power outages that leave our most vulnerable citizens helpless – often in the coldest and wettest months of the year. Expansion of locally-based union linemen would bring jobs to our county, assure greater system reliability and shorter down time, and be better able to maintain the grid. Our insistence on using quality (instead of second-hand) components will also drastically reduce the number of currently all-too-common power outages due to equipment failure or blown transformers.

Finally, there are great changes underway as to how electrical energy will be delivered in our future. A decentralized electrical grid composed of local renewable energy generation as part of people’s homes, clustered development, and community-based initiatives could lead us closer to a sustainable future. I believe strongly in a more sustainable future and I have been involved directly in our County’s Sustainability Initiative as the chair of the water panel. More and more, the issues of how our energy is produced, and how far away it is produced, will determine what rates we will pay and what kind of future we will share. Isn’t it time that we, citizens, as electric consumers, have a voice in those decisions being made on our behalf? The decision is in your hands.

– CHRIS STEARNS

Chris Stearns, a resident of Thurston County since 1976, is a Thurston PUD. Commissioner and was elected to his first term in 2008.

Public Disclaimer by Chris Stearns: The views contained in this article reflect my own personal opinions and are not necessarily those of my fellow PUD Commissioners, nor do they reflect the official position of Thurston PUD No. 1, which is a water utility at this time.


This article reprinted without permission from Works In Progress, January 2012.

 

November’s General Election is Just Around the Corner – Here Come the Initiatives!

It’s that time again, when the minds of engaged citizens turn to the upcoming General Election. “But,” you say, “it’s an off-year election! What could there possibly be on the ballot that I could find engaging?” The answer is, “Just enough.” As has been the case in nearly every election in recent years, the measures – three initiatives and two amendments to the state constitution – give us reason to spend time doing a little extra study.

Click here for the Statewide Online Voters Guide. There you will find the official titles, descriptions, financial impact statements, and official statements for and against the Statewide Measures.

Initiative Measure No. 1125 concerns state expenditures on transportation. This initiative is another by Tim Eyman. Love him or hate him (and there seems to be practically no middle ground), his is a force for change in Washington state. It is notable that, right at the top of the financial impact statement, we encounter this foreboding statement:

The State Treasurer states that bonds secured solely by toll revenue will become prohibitively expensive if the Legislature sets tolls, thus eliminating this financing tool for transportation projects.

Among the intents of this initiative is to remove the setting of tolls from local commissions and place it in the hands of the state legislature. The Treasurer is of the opinion that this will reduce the reliability of toll-setting – tolls set by the legislature may be changed by the legislature – and that instability in income will cause bond issuers to charge prohibitively high interest rates. “Because investors in toll revenue bonds see the independence of toll-setting bodies as a critical credit characteristic, no other toll revenue bond issuer in the nation sets tolls subject to legislative approval,” according to an analysis by the Public Resource Advisory Group.

“OFM: Tim Eyman’s I-1125 would imperil key transportation projects, raise borrowing costs”

However, supporters argue there’s no difference between a toll and a tax. Initiative 1053, passed last year with a 64% vote, requires a super-majority of the legislature in order to enact increases in taxes and many kinds of fees. Supporters see this new initiative I-1125 as just a way of closing a loophole.

“Initiative 1125 assures accountability and transparency”

Find out more about I-1125. Start your research with these two web sites:
No on I-1125
Yes on I-1125

Initiative Measure No. 1163 concerns long-term care workers and services for elderly and disabled people.

Didn’t we already vote on this? Pretty much, yes. In 2008, voters passed Initiative 1029, which required federal criminal background checks and increased training for the long-term workers who assist seniors and people with disabilities. However, in response to budget pressures, the legislature reduced training requirements and delayed criminal background checks. I-1163 seeks to restore the background checks and training.

“NORTHWEST VIEW: Proponent says I-1163 will restore protections for seniors, disabled”

From the financial impact statement:

Current law requires increased mandatory training, background checks and certification for long-term care workers, depending on worker classification, beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Initiative 1163 would require the training, background checks and certification for long-term care workers to begin Jan. 7, 2012, but delay these requirements for community residential providers until Jan 1, 2016. For the long-term in-home care program, administrative costs are capped and performance audits with additional fraud investigators are required. Over six fiscal years, costs are estimated to increase $31.3 million and revenue from the federal government and fees is estimated to increase $18.4 million.

Opponents argue that the cost of these background checks and training will require the state to either raise revenues or, more likely, to cut services to the very people I-1163 intends to benefit.

Initiative 1163: Why no funding source, SEIU?

No on I-1163
Yes on I-1163

Initiative Measure No. 1183 concerns liquor:  beer, wine, and spirits (hard liquor).

This is Costco’s effort to take a do-over after I-1100 failed to win voter support last year. Readers will recall that was one of two related initiatives – the other was I-1105 – which failed to pass.

If approved by voters in November, the measure would require the state to close its 300-plus stores and sell off its liquor distribution center, while making Washington grocery stores with over 10,000 square feet (or approximately 1,500 stores) eligible to sell hard liquor.

Proponents argue that I-1183 gets our state government out of the business of distributing and selling liquor. They also say the campaign against 1183 “is funded by big national liquor distributors that profit from Washington’s outdated liquor monopoly.”

Opponents say I-1183 will benefit big-box stores over smaller outlets, will increase liquor consumption and will drive up the cost of liquor, through increased taxes.

No on I-1183
Yes on I-1183

Senate Joint Resolution 8205 would remove an inoperative provision from the state constitution regarding the length of time a voter must reside in Washington to vote for president and vice-president.

One portion of the Washington Constitution allows a citizen to vote in all elections after they have resided in the state for 30 days. But, another section in the Constitution requires 60 days residency before they can vote for President. SJR 8205 fixes this conflict to allow the shorter 30 day voter residency requirement is the constitutional standard for all elections in the state, including the presidential election.

There is no official statement against this measure, on the Online Voters’ Guide.

Senate Joint Resolution 8206 is a constitutional amendment which “would require the legislature to transfer additional moneys to the budget stabilization account in each fiscal biennium in which the state has received ‘extraordinary revenue growth,’ as defined, with certain limitations.”

From the statement in favor of SJR 8206, we read:

In 2007, voters approved the creation of a constitutionally-protected rainy day fund that requires state government to set aside 1% of revenues annually for hard times. SJR 8206, a bipartisan measure, strengthens this fund by requiring a portion of “extraordinary” revenue – that which exceeds 133% of historical average growth – be saved, rather than spent.

However, the statement against this constitutional amendment points out that:

8206 requires more than the 1% that voters approved – it would also require that “extraordinary revenues” go into savings. While it sounds like a good idea to save more – the result is people paying taxes and getting nothing for it, except a bigger savings account.

“ELECTION 2011: Constitutional amendments”

So, there they are. Your 2011 statewide measures. What arguments are you finding particularly compelling? What resources are you finding to help you to come to an educated opinion regarding how you will vote? Leave your comments here, join us on our Facebook Page or on the GriffinNeighbors online discussion group.

 

Griffin School District Levy Renews a Levy Approved by Voters in 2008

Some local voters were surprised to find, when their ballots arrived in the mail last week, that a Technology & Capital Projects Renewal Levy, for the Griffin School District, appears on the ballot. The campaign signs went up, around the peninsula, this last weekend. And now we have a copy of GriffinLink, the district’s community newsletter, to help explain what’s up.

Click here to download a copy of the portions of GriffinLink which describe the Technology & Capital Projects Renewal Levy.

Perhaps the most important point to make, right up front, is that this is a renewal of an existing levy, and not a new levy. In November 2008, local voters approved a Special/Capital Projects Levy. The Renewal levy on this latest ballot is a $550,000 dollar a year levy for four years. The Technology & Capital Projects Renewal Levy was approved by the School Board this last July.

Of nine other local school districts compared, Griffin’s levy and bond collection rate is lower than seven districts.

Funds from the levy will go to technology and technology infrastructure replacement and improvements at Griffin School. Also, these funds will help our school district to pay their portion of the Capital High Technology Program.

Review the details behind the Levy and the questions and answers provided in the lastest issue of GriffinLink.

Don’t forget to fill out your ballot and get it mailed – or, better, just out it in the ballot dropbox, in the parking lot of the main Griffin Fire District fire station – by Election Day, November 2nd.

A Rundown – As Brief as We Can Make It – of Measures on the Ballot

We start our review with the Secretary of State’s 2010 General Election Online Voters’ Guide. Click on “State Measures” to see the entire listing of initiatives and referenda on this year’s ballot. Select any specific title to read the title, description, to see how it’ll actually appear on the ballot, financial analysis (where appropriate) from the state Office of Financial Management, and official statements for and against each measure.

Initiative Measure 1053

This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval.

Let’s state right up front, this measure was created by Tim Eyman. It follows on the state legislature’s suspension, during this last legislative session, of the voter-approved I-960. Interestingly, nearly $600,000 has been contributed to I-1053 by oil companies and big banks. Tim Eyman has also taken out $250,000 in loans to fund Initiative 1053. Corporations account for more than three-quarters of the financial support for this initiative. The top donors are BP, Tesoro, Conoco/Phillips, Shell and the Washington Farm Bureau.

Yes on I-1053: http://www.yeson1053.com/
No on I-1053: http://www.no1053.org/

Initiative Measure 1082

This measure would authorize employers to purchase private industrial insurance beginning July 1, 2012; direct the legislature to enact conforming legislation by March 1, 2012; and eliminate the worker-paid share of medical-benefit premiums.

The initiative was created by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and is intended to allow employers to purchase worker’s compensation insurance from private insurance companies, rather than from the state Department of Labor & Indsutries.

Top donors are the BIAW, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford Financial, and Zurich (Farmers Services, LLC) insurance companies.

Yes on I-1082: http://saveourjobswa.com/
No on I-1082: http://www.voteno1082.com/

Initiative Measure 1100
This measure would close state liquor stores; authorize sale, distribution, and importation of spirits by private parties; and repeal certain requirements that govern the business operations of beer and wine distributers and producers.
 
I-1100 is heavily supported – and largely funded – by Costco. The other top corporate donors are Safeway and Walmart.
 
Yes on I-1100: http://www.yesto1100.com/
No on I-1100: http://noto1100.com/
 
Initiative Measure 1105
 
This measure would close all state liquor stores and license private parties to sell or distribute spirits. It would revise laws concerning regulation, taxation and government revenues from distribution and sale of spirits.
 
Odom Southern Holdings and Young’s Market Company, two privately-held distributors who would benefit from the passage of I-1105, are virtually the only donors to I-1105.
 
Yes on I-1105: http://liquorreform.org/
No on I-1105: http://www.protectourcommunities.com/
 
What are the differences between I-1100 and I-1105?
 
Tax Revenues: I-1100 preserves existing liquor taxes, I -1105 repeals all existing liquor taxes. According to the state Office of Financial Management,, if I-1105 were to pass, “Using a range of assumptions, total state revenues decrease an estimated $486 million – $520 million and total local revenues decrease an estimated $205 million – $210 million, both over five fiscal years.” If those numbers prove to be accurate, this could translate into big budget cuts in education, health, and social-services funding.
 
If I-1100 were to pass, “total state revenues decrease an estimated $76 million – $85 million and total local revenues decrease an estimated $180 million – $192 million, both over five fiscal years.”
 
Changes to the way liquor, wine and beer are distributed and/or sold to the public: I-1100 would privatize sales and allow any business to become a distributor, for a fee.
 
I-1105 is backed by the middlemen, the distributors, and preserves the state’s three-tiered buying system, whereby distributors buy liquor, beer, and wine from wholesalers; retailers then buy from distributors. And, I-1105 privatizes retail sales.
 
What happens if both these initiatives pass? “There is no rule in the state to dictate what happens when two [similar] initiatives pass at the exact same time,” says Dave Ammons, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. “The legislature or the courts must figure out what to do,” according to Ammons. “They could conceivably adopt an approach to say that the most popular of the two would prevail, or the legislature could try to harmonize the two.” The legislature would need a supermajority – or two-thirds approval in both houses – to work out the differences between the two initiatives, according to the state constitution.
 
For more on these two related initiatives, you may wish to read The Stranger’s piece entitled “Shut Up and Swallow; How We Ended Up with Two Flawed Liquor Initiatives and Why They’re Our Only Hope”.
 
Initiative Measure 1107
 
This measure would end sales tax on candy; end temporary sales tax on some bottled water; end temporary excise taxes on carbonated beverages; and reduce tax rates for certain food processors.
 
The American Beverage Association has contributed almost all of the funding for I-1107.
 
Yes on I-1107: http://stopgrocerytaxes.com/
No on I-1107: http://www.voteno1107.com/
 
Voices Opposing Initiatives 1053, 1082, 1107, 1100, and 1105
 
Is there a common theme behind several of the initiatives on this year’s ballot? The folks at StopGreed.org would have you think so. “Initiatives 1053, 1082, 1107, 1100, and 1105,” according to the progressives behind this site, were created by “corporate fronts trying to make a quick buck by conning the people of Washington State into voting for ill-conceived initiatives that would weaken or privatize public services.” StopGreed.org is the brainchild of the Northwest Progressive Institute.
 
Full disclosure: Much of the funding information included in this piece is from StopGreed.org, which provides a good visual depiction of the source of funds for these initiatives.

Initiative Measure 1098

This measure would tax “adjusted gross income” above $200,000 (individuals) and $400,000 (joint-filers), reduce state property tax levies, reduce certain business and occupation taxes, and direct any increased revenues to education and health.

Top donors are William H. Gates, Sr., the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Washington Federation of State Employees.

Yes on I-1098: http://www.yeson1098.com/
No on I-1098: http://www.defeat1098.com/

Referendum Bill 52

The legislature has passed Engrossed House Bill No. 2561, concerning authorizing and funding bonds for energy efficiency projects in schools.

This bill would authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013.

Some 45% of school space in Washington was built or remodeled prior to 1969. R-52 requires that only projects with energy cost savings greater than the cost of the project can receive funding. All spending will be subject to audits, and must be fully publicly disclosed. Schools will use less energy and save money and children will have healthier learning environments. The legislature also passed this as a jobs bill; around 30,000 new construction jobs will be created to provide these retrofits.

Yes on R-52: http://www.healthyschoolsforwa.org/
No specific web site was found which opposes R-52. However, statements in opposition are on the Secretary of State’s description of the measure.

Senate Joint Resolution 8225

The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment concerning the limitation on state debt.

This amendment would require the state to reduce the interest accounted for in calculating the constitutional debt limit, by the amount of federal payments scheduled to be received to offset that interest.

 According to the official Explanatory Statement of this measure:

The proposed amendment would not change the constitutional debt limit. It would modify the annual calculation used to determine whether the state’s debt is within the constitutional limit. The amendment would require the state, in annually calculating the amount required for payment of interest on its general obligation debt, to subtract scheduled federal payments to be received each year in respect of bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness. Under the constitution, the debt the state may issue is based in part on the total amount of the state’s annual principal and interest payments. Therefore, subtraction of federal payments to be credited against interest on the debt could affect the amount of aggregate debt that the state may incur.

No web sites were found which specifically intend to support or oppose passage of SJR 8225. However, voters may be interested in the statements for and against the Resolution, which appear on the Secretary of State’s elections web site.

Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 4220

The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on denying bail for persons charged with certain criminal offenses.

This amendment would authorize courts to deny bail for offenses punishable by the possibility of life in prison, on clear and convincing evidence of a propensity for violence that would likely endanger persons.

This measure, also known as the Remember Lakewood Constitutional Amendment, intends to give judges more leeway than they presently have to deny bail. Currently, there are limits on denying bail generally to those cases which might result in indictment on a capital offense. “The broader criteria in ESHJR 4220,” say supporters, “would only apply where a life sentence is possible and there is a clear showing that the defendant has a propensity for violence.”

Here again, voters may find the statements for and against, on the Online Voter’s Guide, to be useful.

Yes on ES HJR 4220: http://www.rememberlakewood.com/
No web site was found which specifically intends to oppose passage of ES HJR 4220.

What resources have you found, to help you to make heads or tails of this year’s thicket of measures on the ballot? Click here to leave your suggestions and comments.