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WA initiative season underway ?>

WA initiative season underway

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As WA lawmakers prepare to open their session on Monday, the people’s process of writing laws by initiative got its start Friday.

By mid-afternoon, 24 proposals were filed with the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, including 13 from initiative activist Tim Eyman. His measures deal with making it tougher to raise taxes in Olympia, bringing back $30 car tabs, express lane tolls, and other issues.

Kurt Ludden of Seattle filed seven initiatives, dealing with medical marijuana, and the initiative process.  Other sponsors submitted measures dealing with a single-payer health insurance system for Washington, grandparents’ visitation rights, and faculty carrying handguns.

The process of filing is easy — pay a $5 filing fee and submit the proposed wording.  History shows, however, that usually only a few actually make the ballot. It takes 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters — and the Elections Division recommends bringing in at least 325k to cover duplicate and invalid signatures.  The deadline this year is July 8.

Initiatives are sent to the state code reviser for review as to form, and then on to the attorney general for a ballot title. Ballot titles can be challenges by sponsors or foes in court. After all that, it is up to sponsors whether to actually print up 20,000 or more actual petition sheets for signature collection. Many sponsors do not take that final step, and many do not gather enough signatures to qualify.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kim Wyman has provisionally certified two initiatives to the Legislature as the Elections Division begins the signature-verification process. They are I-732, dealing with carbon taxes, and I-735, petitioning for a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign fundraising.

 

WA 2015 General Election certified — now on to 2016! ?>

WA 2015 General Election certified — now on to 2016!

Gov. Inslee and Mark N certify election

Assistant Secretary of State Mark Neary (left) signs an election document as Gov. Inslee looks on.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Assistant Secretary of State Mark Neary made it official Wednesday, certifying the 2015 General Election returns.

Over 1.5 million ballots, including thousands from military and overseas voters, were submitted during the voting period. The odd-year election included two state initiatives, two state House races, over 3,000 local government races and 166 measures.

“This election put the limelight on local government and how important these offices and local ballot measures are to our daily lives,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer. “I am proud of the 1.5 million Washingtonians who stepped up and voted.”

Neary, state Elections Director Lori Augino, elections specialist Libby Nieland and others joined the governor in his inner office for the civic ceremony of signing documents on Initiative 1366 and I-1401, and the other election results. Last week, the 39 counties certified all of their races and measures that were wholly within their borders.

I-1366, Tim Eyman’s anti-tax measure, passed narrowly, 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent, and is being challenged in court.

I-1401, cracking down on trafficking of endangered species, passed by one of the largest margins in state history, 70.3 percent to 29.7 percent. Inslee joked that somebody should take a picture as he was signing I-1401 and send it to Paul Allen. Allen, the Seahawks and Trailblazers owner and co-founder of Microsoft, was the moving force and main donor to the initiative campaign.

Here are the unofficial results from our website: http://tinyurl.com/z6w3slp.

Now Augino and her Elections crew and the 39 county election offices will start preparing for spring local elections, the Presidential Primary, and, soon enough, the summer primary and the fall General Election.

Eyman and his nemesis file dueling initiatives ?>

Eyman and his nemesis file dueling initiatives

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Flanked by Mike and Jack Fagan, Tim Eyman files his latest anti-tax initiative. Andrew Villeneuve, an Eyman opponent who also filed an initiative Wednesday, stands in the background.

Initiative king Tim Eyman visited our Capitol office to file his statewide initiative to the 2016 Legislature that would limit the duration of tax increases to one year if not approved by either a supermajority of the Legislature, or by voters.

But minutes before Eyman’s arrival, his liberal nemesis, Northwest Progressive Institute’s Andrew Villeneuve, filed his own initiative that would require a majority of Washington’s registered voters to vote on an initiative or referendum or else the governor would have to declare the measure to have failed. Under Villeneuve’s measure, initiatives like Eyman’s that call for more than a simple majority of the Legislature on tax votes could pass only if approved by a likewise supermajority of the voters.

Under Eyman’s proposal, tax hikes approved by a simple majority of lawmakers would expire after one year and an annual renewal vote would be needed to keep them in effect. Only those taxes passed by a two-thirds majority or by the voters could remain active longer than a year. Eyman calls this a followup, or backup, to his I-1366, recently approved by the voters. That measure, which foes  intend to challenge in court, would reduce the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5% next April 15 unless lawmakers place a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot to require future tax hikes to have a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

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After filing his initiative, Eyman and the Fagans go to the Governor’s Office to “offer” a bowl of ice cream to Gov. Inslee, who, in recently talking about the Eyman-sponsored I-1366 on KCTS-TV,  said, “If we were all offered a bowl of ice cream for nothing, we’d take it.”

Signatures for initiatives to the 2016 Legislature are due Dec. 31, so Eyman plans to refile his measure as an initiative to the people early next year.  The first day to file 2016 initiatives to the people is Jan. 8 Signatures for those initiatives are due July 8.

Initiative sponsors have to submit at least 246,372 valid signatures to our state Elections Division for the measure to qualify for the ballot. We recommend a buffer of at least 325,000 signatures in case there are duplicate or invalid signatures.

I-1366 survives court challenge, but high court appeal looms ?>

I-1366 survives court challenge, but high court appeal looms

2015Initiatives

King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum has declined to block Initiative 1366 from the fall statewide ballot.

Opponents of Tim Eyman’s anti-tax measure had tried to derail it from appearing on the ballot, asserting that it has an overarching purpose of amending the state constitutional, which cannot be done by initiative. Eyman’s plan would lower the state sales tax by one percentage point, from 6.5 to 5.5, unless lawmakers place a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot to require two-thirds supermajority for taxes passed in Olympia.

The judge said amending the constitution is sponsors’ “fundamental, stated and overriding purpose,” and thus exceeds the authority of citizens’ initiative power.  But he also declined to keep the measure off the ballot, saying the state Supreme Court “has not clearly and squarely ruled on whether the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and/or … the State Constitution provide additional protections against pre-election challenges even in circumstances where the initiative may itself be invalid. The Supreme Court may clarify this issue prior to the election, but this trial court cannot.”

The First Amendment reference is to whether initiatives have an element of protected political speech, even if they are later invalidated.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, was sued by the challengers who wanted her to pull the measure off the ballot. Wyman noted that no initiative has ever been removed from the ballot by the courts once the measure has been given a ballot title by the Attorney General, collected sufficient voters signatures and been certified by the Secretary to the ballot.

The Secretary said:

 “We are happy with Judge Lum’s decision that allows Initiative 1366 to maintain its place on the ballot. This is an important victory for the voters of Washington and for `direct democracy.’ We hope that it will stand as the Supreme Court considers an appeal motion that was quickly filed by the challengers.

“We take no position on this particular initiative or its eventual constitutionality, but we are pleased that the judge has not blocked a vote. We continue to believe that I-1366 does not exceed the initiative powers of the people and that the 339,000 voters who proposed the measure and other voters on both sides of the initiative deserve a voice at the ballot box.

“We will continue to affirm the constitutional right of citizens to propose and vote on initiatives and express their views. It has been a cherished right reserved by the people for over 100 years.”

The judge’s order: http://1.usa.gov/1HMiGp2

 

Secretary Wyman asks court to allow vote on I-1366 ?>

Secretary Wyman asks court to allow vote on I-1366

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Initiative checkers review I-1366 signatures earlier this summer.

Secretary Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, is urging King County Superior Court to allow a public vote this fall on Initiative 1366.

Wyman said she takes no position on the initiative nor on whether it would be constitutional if approved by the voters. She said her interest is in defending the public’s right to vote on a measure that was qualified for the ballot via petitions signed by over 339,000 people.

“The subject matter of I-1366 is not outside the scope of the people’s initiative power,” and the courts have made it a practice to avoid pre-election review except in “limited and rare circumstances” that do not apply here, Wyman said.

Her comments came as her attorneys filed a response Tuesday to a lawsuit that seeks an injunction against the Office of Secretary of State including the initiative on the fall statewide ballot. Secretary Wyman is represented by Deputy Solicitors General Rebecca Glasgow, Callie Castillo and Peter Gonick.

King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum will hear the case at 10 a.m. Friday. The courtroom is in E-713 of the county courthouse.

(more…)

I-1366, I-1401 certified, heading to fall ballot ?>

I-1366, I-1401 certified, heading to fall ballot

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Assistant Secretary of State Mark Neary certifies I-1366 and I-1401.

Two initiatives, one dealing with taxes and the other with endangered animals, officially have the green light to go onto the General Election ballot this fall. Assistant Secretary of State Mark Neary Thursday certified that Initiative 1366 and I-1401 both have enough valid signatures to be placed on the statewide ballot.

I-1366, sponsored by initiative activist Tim Eyman, would make it harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. I-1401, backed by Paul Allen, aims to crack down on trafficking of endangered species and parts.

State Elections Division crews completed scrutiny of voter signatures on a random sampling of the I-1366 petitions and showed that sponsors submitted more than enough names to qualify for a state vote.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman applauded the continuing citizen interest in “direct democracy” via the ballot box:

“About 700,000 people from all over the state with various political views took part in gaining ballot access for the two 2015 initiatives. Ballot measures always seem to generate voter turnout and this year, with no statewide or congressional races, this is an important factor in generating interest.”

To earn a ballot spot takes 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters – 8 percent of the total votes cast in the last governor’s election.  I-1366 sponsors turned in (more…)

Non-binding tax advisory votes headed to WA ballot ?>

Non-binding tax advisory votes headed to WA ballot

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Four tax advisory votes will be on the statewide ballot this fall, including the transportation funding package, marijuana tax changes and closure of several tax preferences, Secretary of State Kim Wyman says.

The votes, which are nonbinding, are an opportunity for voters to express support or opposition to revenue provisions in bills that passed in the recent legislative sessions. Legislators are not required to do anything with the results.

The advisory votes are mandated under Tim Eyman’s voter-approved I-960. This is the four year the votes have been on the statewide ballot.

The Attorney General determined that four measures triggered such a vote:

In addition, we’re expecting two initiatives to appear on this year’s General Election Ballot. I-1401 has already been certified as receiving enough signatures. State Elections Division crews on Thursday began checking signatures on I-1366.

 

`Direct democracy’ sponsors eye ballot spot ?>

`Direct democracy’ sponsors eye ballot spot

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Two citizen initiative campaign submitted boxloads of petitions by the Friday deadline, and both appear to have an excellent shot at making the statewide ballot this fall.

Tim Eyman, the state’s most prominent use of the initiative process, turned in what he and co-sponsors Jack and Mike Fagan estimated at at least 334,000 signatures for their Initiative 1366. That measure would direct the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot for ratification — or face a 1-cent reduction in the state’s 6.5-cent sales tax.

The State Supreme Court previously overturned an earlier Eyman initiative to require a two-thirds vote  in both houses to approve tax hikes in Olympia. The only way to overcome that ruling would be to amend the state Constitution. Voters can’t amend by initiative; it must originate in the Legislature, with two-thirds votes in both chambers.  I-1366 would provide an incentive — a potential $1 billion annual revenue loss — for lawmakers to place it on the ballot.

The other measure, Initiative 1401, is backed by billionaire Microsoft co-founder and Seahawks owner Paul Allen. It would expand state authority over combatting trafficking of endangered species and their parts. It would make selling, purchasing, trading, or distributing endangered animals and products containing such species, a gross misdemeanor or class-C felony, with exemptions for certain types of transfers.

Their backers brought in an estimated 349,000 signatures on Wednesday.

If history is a guide, both measures are likely to make the fall ballot. The bare minimum is 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters. To cover duplicates or invalid signatures, the state Elections Division always recommends submitting about 325,000 to be on the safe side.

Both sets of petitions will undergo a page-by-page inspection, including a preliminary fraud check, and then go to the State Archives for imaging. When images return, the Elections work crew will compile them into volumes and prepare for random-sampling of 3 percent of the signatures to see if they match those on file for registered voters. Actual scrutiny of the sample will begin about July 13 and should be complete by the week of the 20th.

Initiative filing season under way ?>

Initiative filing season under way

2015Initiatives

Around here, January’s arrival doesn’t mean just a new year, it also means the start of another initiative filing season.

Filing for Initiatives to the People opened Jan. 3. Registered voters can file initiatives here through July 2.

Thirty-seven initiatives have been filed as of Friday morning, 17 of them by initiative king Tim Eyman. Of the 37, 29 have been assigned numbers. Go here to see the initiatives filed so far.

In Washington State, any registered voter may propose new laws through the initiative process. Laws may also be amended or repealed (except the state constitution).

To file an Initiative to the People, an initiative sponsor must:
• Be a registered voter
• Create an online account (to file online)
• Provide the complete text of the initiative in Word or RTF format
• Pay a $5 filing fee (Visa or MasterCard)
• Present a signed affidavit from each sponsor

After filing an initiative, the sponsor needs to gather signatures from at least 246,372 registered voters in order for the measure to be placed on the General Election ballot in the fall. Signature petition sheets are due at the Elections Division by July 2. We suggest sponsors submit at least 325,000 to cover invalid or duplicate signatures. If the initiative is approved by a simple majority of voters, it becomes state law.

Any registered voter interested in filing an initiative is encouraged to read the handbook called “Filing Initiatives and Referenda in Washington State.”

Wyman: Zero-tolerance for petition fraud ?>

Wyman: Zero-tolerance for petition fraud

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Secretary Wyman, whose office oversees “direct democracy” through ballot measures, says she’s gratified that a jail term has been ordered for a Snohomish County woman who was convicted of initiative fraud.

The jail term, believed to be the first such sentence for this type of fraud, underscores that Washington has “zero tolerance” for petition fraud, Secretary Wyman said.

The six-month jail/work-release sentence was imposed by Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris on Julie Klein, 54, Marysville, The Herald of Everett reported.

Wyman was pleased that the Class C Felony matter was taken seriously by law enforcement and the criminal justice system:

“The initiative process is a constitutional right of the people, and for the past 100 years, sponsors from across the political spectrum have been using this `direct democracy’ to write laws or vote on policies the Legislature has just passed. We are absolutely committed to keeping the process clean and reliable. Public trust and confidence must be maintained by those who use this process.

“Petition fraud is rare when compared with the millions of signatures that are submitted over the years, but we can and will remain vigilant. We have a zero-tolerance policy for fraud.”

The latest case originated with the Secretary of State’s Elections Divisions during signature-verification checks two years ago. Petition checkers noticed that petitions sheets submitted by the same paid-solicitor, Klein, had many signatures (more…)