Category Archives: Washington State Legislature

King County Democrats Endorsements 2016

Ballot Measures

  • Initiative 735: YES
  • Initiative 1515: NO/Decline to sign
  • Seattle Prop. 1 (Housing): YES

Candidates

Time for Automatic Voter Registration in Washington State

Washington State is now the laggard in automatic voter registration on the west coast. Oregon took the first step setting up automatic voter registration when voters apply for a driver’s license. And now California has followed suit.  Two east coast states have also passed automatic voter registration in 2016 – Vermont and West Virginia.

Just over a year ago on March 17, 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2177 making Oregon the first state in the nation to automatically register Oregon residents to also be voters when they either renew or first apply for an Oregon driver’s license or state identification card.

As the LA Times noted:

“Those who are registered through the new process will be notified by mail and will be given three weeks to take themselves off the voting rolls. If they do not opt out, the secretary of state’s office will mail them a ballot automatically 20 days before any election.”

NPR reported that Governor Gerry Brown in October 2015 signed their “New  Motor Voter Act” joining Oregon to register voters automatically when they either renew or get a new driver’s license or California state identification card.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a press release stated that:

“In a free society, the right to vote is fundamental. …

“Citizens should not be required to opt-in to their fundamental right to vote,” Padilla added. “We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process. The right to vote should be no different,” Padilla added.

“The New Motor Voter Act will make voter registration a seamless process and result in the largest sustained voter registration drive in our nation’s history. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act, Governor Brown has affirmed California’s commitment to strengthening voting rights. It is not lost on me that many states are restricting voting rights with the clear goal of preventing citizens from voting. I am proud that California is again demonstrating leadership and providing a shining example of how our nation can and should expand access to the polls,” Padilla added.”

Two legislative bills were introduced in Washington State in 2016.  As reported by the HeraldNet:

Two measures, SB 6379 and HB 2682, would automatically register people who aren’t on the voter rolls but already have or apply for an enhanced driver’s license or commercial driver’s licenses. Those who receive social services that verify citizenship or get health insurance through the state health exchange also would be automatically registered. The measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2017, and be retroactive so that unregistered voters who already have the specialized driver licenses or benefits would have their information sent to the Secretary of State’s Office, which would notify them that they can opt out. If the potential voter doesn’t respond, he or she will be automatically registered within 60 days.

Unfortunately the Washington State Legislature did not enact this legislation. HB 2682  passed in the House but died in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate is controlled by the Republicans who do not support legislation to make it easier for people to vote. SB 6379 did not get voted out of the Senate Committee it originated in.
Inaction on bills like this is a reason for people to vote Democratic. Republicans are not interested in increasing voter participation but have a nationwide track record of voter suppression making it difficult for many people to vote. It is unfortunately no different in Washington State.

Comparing Signature Gathering Costs on Initiatives 732 and 735

In Washington State in 2015, two different initiative campaigns are gathering signatures for initiatives to the legislature in 2016. The two campaigns are Initiative 732 by Carbon Washington for a carbon tax and Initiative 735 by WAmend to amend the US Constitution to overturn the corporate “Citizens United” decision by the US Supreme Court. Both campaigns started in 2015 collecting signatures in April and May.  The final deadline to file all signatures is December 31, 2015. This report details initial costs for getting signatures through Sept 30, 2015 and an update comparison as of Dec 1 for both campaigns. A final analysis will be done in Jan 2016. Continue reading

Press Release – Initiative 735 Passes 254,000 Signatures, Moves Closer to Qualifying

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Contact Gabe Meyer                                                                                              Campaign Director, WAmend
gabemeyer@wamend.org                                                                                                   or Steve Zemke
Field Director, WAmend
stevezemke@wamend.org

SEATTLE — WAmend, the sponsor of Initiative 735, announced today that supporters have now collected over 254,000 signatures to get on the 2016 ballot in Washington State. A minimum of 246,273 signatures are required by December 31st to file with the Secretary of State. WAmend is aiming to submit 320,000 signatures to cover duplicate and invalid signatures and assure success in qualifying. Continue reading

Press Release – Initiative 735 Passes 239,000 Signatures 12/1/2015

For immediate release:
For more information:
Gabe Meyer – Campaign Director
GabeMeyer@WAmend.org
Steve Zemke – State Field Director
 SteveZemke@WAmend.org
Campaign phone – 206-547-9961
Initiative 735 Passes 239,000 Signatures

 Supporters of Initiative 735 in Washington State have now collected over 239,000 signatures on Initiative 735. A minimum of 246,273 valid signatures is required to file with the Secretary of State by December 31, 2015. WAmend (Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution), the sponsor of Initiative 735, is targeting to get 320,000 signatures to cover duplicate and invalid signatures.

Continue reading

Initiative 735 to Amend the Constitution to Overturn the Corporate “Citizens United” Decision Builds Momentum

Supporters of Washington State  Initiative 735 have now gathered over 179,000 signatures as of October 20, 2015. The minimum number of valid signatures needed to be filed with the Washington Secretary of State by December 31st, 2015 is 246,372.

The campaign target goal is to gather 320,000 signatures to cover duplicate and invalid signatures, including those who signed who are not registered voters. Two measures which made it onto the Nov 2015 ballot had invalid rates of 10% (I-1366) and 14% (I-1401). There have been other initiatives that have had as high as 20% which is why I-735 is targeting getting a minimum of 320,000 signatures.

The official ballot title and summary of I-735 as written by the Washington State Attorney General is below:

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 735 concerns a proposed amendment to the federal constitution.

This measure would urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations, and constitutionally-protected free speech excludes the spending of money.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
The measure would urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment clarifying that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations; that spending money is not free speech under the First Amendment; that governments are fully empowered to regulate political contributions and expenditures to prevent undue influence; and that political contributions and expenditures must be promptly disclosed to the public. The measure would urge the legislature to ratify such an amendment.

View Complete Text PDF

Initiative 735 is an initiative to the Washington State Legislature. The Legislature according to the Secretary of State has 3 options:

“Initiatives to the Legislature, if certified, are submitted to the Legislature at its next regular session in January. Once submitted, the Legislature must take one of the following three actions:

    1. The Legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people;
    2. The Legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or
    3. The Legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the Legislature’s alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.”

Supporters of I-735 expect that I-735 will not be passed by the Legislature but will go onto the November 2016  ballot. The states of Montana and Colorado have both had similar measures on the ballot which passed by 74% of the voters. Fourteen other states have passed measures by their Legislatures.

Washington is trying to be the 17th State to urge Congress to put a constitutional amendment back to the states to vote on that would overturn the corporate Citizens United decision. It takes a 2/3 vote of Congress and a 3/4 vote by the states to pass a US Constitutional amendment. It is not  easy to pass a constitutional amendment but so far there have been 27 added to the Constitution.

You can read more about the campaign and volunteer to help get signatures or make a contribution to support I-735 by going to www.WAmend.org. The initiative is using volunteer signatures gatherers and needs more help. If you want to help overturn the corporate Citizens United decision this is how you can help.

 

Should 12% of our State Legislator’s Have Veto Power over the State Budget?

On July 2, 2015 Libertarian anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman snuck quietly into the Washington Secretary of State’s Election Office and filed petitions for Initiative 1366 that he claimed had some 334,000 signatures collected by paid signature gatherers. If validated I-1366 will be on the Nov 2015 ballot.

Eyman’s Initiative 1366 is a Senator Ted Cruz Style Extortion Measure to prevent any new revenue being adopted by the Washington State Legislature. It would cut $1 billion a year from the Washington State Budget unless Legislator’s do Eyman’s bidding.

 Eyman’s I-1366 wants Legislators to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to allow a super minority of only 12 % of our elected State Legislators ( 17 Senators out of 147 Legislators) to have the power to prevent any new revenue being raised for any reason. It would also allow those same 12% of elected State Legislators to prevent any tax reform, even if revenue neutral if it raised revenue from a new source, like a capital gains tax, a pollution tax on carbon or closed any tax loopholes.

Signature gatherers were paid with funds collected by Eyman from a few wealthy taxpayers that like their current low taxes while the rest of our state taxpayers pay a much higher proportion of their income in taxes.

Washington State has been ranked as the most regressive tax system in the country for many years now.  As Jon Talton noted this year in the Seattle Times:

“In the latest Who Pays? report by the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Washington state has “by far” the most regressive tax system in the nation. Poor residents here pay 16.8 percent of family income in state and local taxes while the wealthiest 1 percent pay only 2.4 percent.”

Tim Eyman’s latest initiative I-1366 is a quagmire of problems for Washington State.

I-1366 Problems:

  1. Is this proposal constitutional? Voters are not empowered to pass a Constitutional amendment unless first Legislators by a 2//3 vote place it on the ballot. Voters cannot force Legislators by initiative to vote a certain way.
  2. Are extortion tactics legal? Removing $1 billion/year from the state budget unless the Legislature votes a certain way is not the normal way representative government work. Extortion and bullying should be rejected. Essential state services like educating our kids would be directly impacted next year and  into the future as the Legislature resists Eyman’s Ted Cruz shut down the government tactics  to try to get his way..

The problems with passing a 2/3 Constitutional amendment.

  1. A 2/3 vote requirement in both Houses would  empower a super minority of 12% of  our State Legislators to overrule a majority of legislators. It would only take 17 Senators out of 147 Legislators to prevent any revenue increase or repeal any tax loophole. That means that 12% of all the Legislators could over rule a majority up to 65% of all the  legislators in both the House and Senate and prevent action. This is not what the founders of our State and our Constitution envisioned and should be rejected. It would give special powers to a minority of Legislators by allowing them to trump any action by a majority of legislators voting in both Houses.
  2. It would require a 2/3 vote of both Houses of the Legislature to repeal tax exemptions and loopholes even if they are no longer working or no longer a priority of state government. Only a majority vote is required to pass a tax exemption. Currently according to the Washington State Department of Revenue in their latest 2012 Tax Exemption Study, Washington state exempts as much in tax revenue as it collects. For example In that report it noted that in the previous biennium the state  collected some $6.5 billion in B&O taxes but exempted some $7.6 billion from collection.
  3. It would lock in our existing regressive tax system from any reform by the Legislature. A 2/3 vote in both Houses would be required to pass any new revenue source, even if the overall result was revenue neutral.

Vote NO on I-1366. Extortion style tactics that will take critical funding away from schools and educating our children have no place in our state. Pushing an absurd constitutional amendment through extortion tactics to give 12% of our state legislators veto power over majority votes for raising revenue for needed public services, repealing tax exemptions that are not working and preventing reform of our regressive tax system needs a resounding NO vote.

see also www.No1366.org

Volunteer Signature Gatherers are Collecting Signature for Initiative 735

A grassroots volunteer signature gathering effort is underway in Washington State for Initiative 735. Initiative 735 is sponsored by WAmend – a coalition of citizen groups working for a US constitutional to overturn Citizens United and other US Supreme Court decisions that have unleashed a flood of money by large donors and special interest groups and corporations.

WAmend is pushing tor an amendment that would declare that corporations are not people and money is not free speech under the US constitution. It wants all political donors to be disclosed and not kept secret and wants the US and states to have the power to regulate money donated in political campaigns.

Volunteers are collecting signatures in 2015 to place Initiative 735 before the Washington State Legislature next year. Valid voter signatures from  8% of those who voted in the last Governor’s race are required to qualify an initiative. That is 246,372 for this cycle.  I-735 is targeting to collect 330,000 signatures by the end of the year to cover invalid signatures, including those who sign more than once or who are not registered voters.

If the Washington State Legislature does not enact I-735 it will be placed on the Nov 2016 General Election Ballot. The Legislature can place an alternative on the ballot and voters would vote first to pass an initiative and then pick one of the two versions.

If you would like to sign the initiative you can go to the I-735 website at www.WAmend.org and request a petition be sent to you if there is not a location nearby where you can sign. You can also volunteer to join the campaign and help collect signatures. Volunteers are critical to the success of this effort and are greatly appreciated.

The official ballot title, summary and a link to the actual initiative is below:

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 735 concerns a proposed amendment to the federal constitution.

This measure would urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations, and constitutionally-protected free speech excludes the spending of money.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
The measure would urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment clarifying that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations; that spending money is not free speech under the First Amendment; that governments are fully empowered to regulate political contributions and expenditures to prevent undue influence; and that political contributions and expenditures must be promptly disclosed to the public. The measure would urge the legislature to ratify such an amendment.

View Complete Text PDF

Initiative 735 is in response to the big money in our election process. Big corporations, wealthy individuals and other special interest groups through the sheer impact of possessing lots of money have the ability to dominate the electoral process in our country . Initiative 735 asks that Congress help end this dominance of the electoral process by big money by passing a resolution to the states for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and other court decisions. Three quarters of the States would need to ratify a constitutional amendment for it to be valid.

Washington State Democrats Oppose Eyman’s Initiative 1366

The Washington State Democrats at their April 18, 2015 quarterly meeting in Pasco, Washington passed a resolution opposing Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366. Initiative 1366 is expected to be on the Nov 2015 ballot.

Initiative 1366 is a Senator Ted Cruz Tea Party style measure, trying extortion tactics to impose minority rule over Washington State’s budget and revenue policy. In what is probably an unconstitutional move, it intends to slash a billion dollars a year from the Washington State budget unless Legislators put a constitutional amendment for 2/3 votes to raise revenue or repeal tax exemptions on the ballot.

The Washington State Constitution says only Legislators have the power to place a constitutional measure on the ballot by a 2/3 vote of both houses. Eyman is ironically unable to convince legislators to do what he wants them to do and so is resorting to extortion tactics. He could just as easy have said Legislators would not be paid unless they vote for a constitutional amendment, or they would lose their driver’s license or they would be sent to jail until they vote for what he wants. That is extortion and not legal.

Here is the official ballot title and summary from the Washington State Secretary of State’s website:

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 1366 concerns state taxes and fees.

This measure would decrease the sales tax rate unless the legislature refers to voters a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and legislative approval for fee increases.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would decrease the state retail sales tax rate on April 15, 2016, from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent. The sales tax rate would not be decreased if, by April 15, 2016, two-thirds of both legislative houses refer to the ballot a vote on a constitutional amendment that requires two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and majority legislative approval to set the amount of a fee increase.

View Complete Text PDF

 

Below is the text of the resolution passed by the Washington State Democrats:

Resolution Opposing Initiative Measure 1366

WHEREAS Tim Eyman, Mike Fagan, and Jack Fagan have sponsored and are circulating petitions for Initiative 1366, filed on January 5th, 2015 as an initiative to the people for 2015; 

WHEREAS I-1366 would reduce the sales tax, and therefore approximately $1 billion in state revenue every year, thereby preventing the increased spending on K-12 education  required by the McCleary decision, while jeopardizing higher education, transportation  and the social safety net, unless the State Legislature follows the dictates of the initiative  and sends to the voters a constitutional amendment undemocratically requiring a two- thirds vote in each House of the Legislature to raise revenue or repeal any tax loophole; 

WHEREAS the Washington State Supreme Court in February 2013, in League of  Education Voters v. State of Washington, struck down as unconstitutional a  requirement of a supermajority vote to raise revenue, and Eyman’s I-1366 comprises a  devious attempt to evade that ruling by coercing lawmakers into colluding in his  underhanded scheme to overturn it by holding all state funding hostage; 

WHEREAS either the loss of a billion dollars per annum to our common wealth or the  undemocratic modification of our Constitution to require two-thirds votes to raise and  recover revenue would result in serious long-term damage to the communities of  Washington State; 

WHEREAS our state’s founders understood that democracy requires majority rules  with minority rights, and, after much debate and deliberation, they wrote a  Constitution for Washington specifying that bills in the Legislature are passed by a  majority vote, defined as greater than fifty percent – no more, and no less; 

WHEREAS any higher threshold for the passage of legislation would result in power  being concentrated in the hands of a few (rather than the many), such as one-third of  one house of the Legislature – as when I-601 and its clones I-960, I-1053, and I-1185 were  illegitimately in effect; 

WHEREAS allowing tax exemptions to be created by a majority vote, but repealed only  with a vote of two-thirds or greater, represents an unfair double standard that would  make it nearly impossible to reform our outdated and regressive tax system; and 

WHEREAS I-1366 would further violate Article IX of the Washington State Constitution  by making it impossible for the state to fulfill its paramount duty of educating  Washington’s youth; 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Washington State Democrats urge all  Washingtonians to refuse to sign Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366 and, if it is placed on the  ballot, to oppose the measure; 

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we encourage every activist and  citizen who supports the values that Washington was founded upon to join the  coalition opposing I-1366.

 

Eyman’s I-1366 is a Con Job on Most Washington State Taxpayers

Washington State has a tax problem but it is not one Eyman’s Initiative 1366 will help. Requiring a 2/3 vote by Legislators to raise taxes would make Washington’s tax situation worse and would put special interests, the wealthy and corporations in charge of  running Washington State by giving them the ability to dictate our tax structure by having to only control the votes from 1/3 of the members of either the House or the Senate.

No longer would a majority or even up to 66% of Washington Legislators be able to decide how we would fund state services like educating our children. Seventeen State Senators out of 49 or 33 House Member out of 98 would  be able to overrule a majority in both Houses.

The problem is that requiring a 2/3 vote to raise taxes is a con job by those benefiting most – corporations and the very wealthy. Those less well off are paying the greatest proportion of their income in taxes – the rich pay much less -that’s why we are labeled the most regressive tax state in the nation.

From Mother Jones

“The nation’s most regressive tax code belongs to Washington, a state that was ranked by The Hill last year as the bluest in the country based on its voting patterns and Democratic dominance. The poorest 20 percent of Washingtonians pay an effective state tax rate of 16.8 percent, while the wealthiest 1 percent effectively pay just 2.4 percent of their income in taxes.

There’s a clear explanation for that: Washington has no income tax and thus heavily relies on a sales tax that disproportionately affects the poor. What’s harder to grasp is why Washington’s liberals put up with it.”

The 2/3 vote prevents repealing tax loopholes that are giveaways to special interests like oil companies. It prevents even revenue neutral tax reform to make our taxes less regressive because any increase in a tax, even if revenue neutral, requires a 2/3 vote.

And ever since I-601 in 1993 the Legislature has, except for a few years, had the 2/3 requirement as state law. When it was ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by the Washington State Supreme Court, Republicans controlled the Senate preventing even a majority vote to make changes.

Big oil companies like BP and Conoco Phillips gave Eyman money to support the 2/3 vote in the past – not to help low income folks with their taxes but to prevent the legislature increasing a tax on cleaning up toxic substances like oil spills. The 2/3 vote requirement would allow 1/3 of the Legislators in one House to block any tax increase. That is why it is a con game. It would transfer the cleanup costs to taxpayers.

Do not sign I-1366.  If it gets on the ballot because Eyman is using paid signature gathers paid for by a few wealthy contributors like developer Clyde Holland and Kemper Freeman who owns Bellevue Square, vote NO!