Thursday, December 29, 2011
Population growth entitles Washington to another seat in the US House of Representatives. Washington State is being redistricted.
The new redistricting map is the product of a bipartisan committee headed by Republican commissioner Slade Gorton and Democrat commissioner Tim Ceis, both of King County.
Under the plan, Thurston County is almost entirely in the new 10th District including the Cities of Olympia and Yelm. Bits of other counties include the Cities of Shelton (Mason County), Dupont and Puyallup (Pierce County). This seat is calculated to be very safe for the Democratic Party.
The new layout will leave the Democratic Party in control of 5 districts and the Republican Party in 4. Ironically, the First District goes from a safe Democratic party seat to more of a toss up.
Its not a done deal yet - the plan will be finalized January first.
The district maps
The current map from 2001
The new map
Update 1/5/12 - The plan is finalized and is being transmitted to the Legislature on 1/9/12
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Gregoire's political pals announced higher gas taxes and car tab taxes costing taxpayers $21 billion over the next 10 years. Gregoire has had a long running affair with raising fuel taxation. In November, the voters rejected a 2 cents per can of pop in taxes. Instead of taking the hint, Gregoire is pushing for $26 billion in higher taxes.
Washington State voters need to un-elect a politicians whose only skills are taking more of our money, mis-managing state government, and making a bad economy even worse. Gregoire and her tax and spend Demo-buddies need to go.
A couple of possible new fees/taxes you'll be seeing
HB 2166 - A new and additional tax on "solid fuel burning devices" (wood stoves). Buy a sweater.
SB 5981 - A seed dealer license fee, which will primarily impact "Grown in Washington" foods. The impact would be small, but the attitude is all wrong.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The governor has called a 30-day special session to begin Nov. 28 to address our state budget shortfall. When the Legislature convenes it is expected the shortfall will be close to $2 billion.
The Legislature continues to pass budgets that are unsustainable and not reflective of the economic situation in Washington state. It took 135 days before we could get a budget passed last May. Despite many of us claiming it was a short-term fix and felt it would not hold up given the sluggish recovery of our economy, the budget was passed into law.
In June, shortly after the governor signed the budget, the state revenue forecast showed our tax collections down significantly and the $700 million in reserves dropped to $163 million in about one month. Five months later we are being called back to address our budget situation.
We will have some difficult decisions. However, it is important to understand that while revenue projections are declining, we are still projected to bring in $2.1 billion more in this biennium.
Monday, November 7, 2011
This goes to the root of America's present political illness. Too many people believe that since we have elections, government will be responsive and we will be free. This is a self-deception. There is no guarantee of freedom, except to vigorously limit the power and realm of government.
Authoritarianism requires the individuals to submit to authority – specifically, individuals are required to submit to the social organization built by those in power. In a democracy, “those in power” is determined by a majority, even if the majority is only 51%.
You may find yourself in the majority -- so what? Do you think just being in the majority gives you the right to regulate the minority? It is precisely authoritarian to make everyone conform.
The clash is between freedom and authoritarianism. Authoritarianism requires force to compel obedience. The more decision latitude the leaders desire, the more often force will be applied. A more free society will not force conformity as often. Freedom and democracy are not the same.
What's at stake is personal freedom -- your right to choose where you can go, where you can stay, what you can do with your life. For a society to be free, the people have to decide to let each other be free. People have to trust each other. Automatic hate and distrust cannot be.
If majority is to rule, then it must do so with respect for the rights of the minority. A free society is a better society.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
These "experts" were persuaded by their political masters to resurrect tolls on several bridges and highways, then designate the new funds as general revenue.
In response, Voters Want More Choices filed Initiative 1125 to stop the charging of tolls, and re-require the legislature to enact new revenues according to the law.
Recently Governor Christine Gregoire decided to ambush the people. She and her "pals" have arranged to sell state debt, earmarking the new tolls as the source of funds to repay the debt. If the governor and her buddies manage to do this, they will effectively defeat I-1125 before election day. If the funds are already committed to pay back new bonds, the tolls have to go into effect.
Voters Want More Choices filed suit.
“Issuing bonds on a variable tolling scheme at the last minute, days before the election, is an obvious attempt by three State officials to bind the hands of the voters for the next 30 years. If their scheme is not challenged (immediately), this tactic will give the state an argument that the people's vote on Initiative 1125 came one week too late.
“On behalf of all Washington voters, this suit is a defense against this below-the-radar-screen attempt by state officials to undermine the people’s right to initiative and right to vote.”
-- Dick Stephens
In a free country, no one is above the law. We need to remind to the legislators that they work for the People and they must follow the rules the People make for them. Or the legislators should find another line of work.
If only Gregoire and her political pals hadn't given the all state employees an average 14% raise in 2010, perhaps the state would not have to cut $2 billion from the current budget. Its should be noted Washington State employee already made about $19,500 more per year than a comparable private sector employee in 2010.
Gregoire and her buddies clearly timed the announcement to subvert the vote on I-1185. So everything is to be cut 10%. Such clumsiness happens because the Olympia is trying to take too much at a time when taking too much is not wise. We don't need the old bromide about having heart -- we need the governor and her batty colleagues to think.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Consider the autocrats in Olympia. The elected legislature is empowered by the state constitution to enact taxes and fees. Every state has similar provisions. But in Washington State, the legislature cannot enact rises without a 2/3rd majority. So the Democrats referred all fee rises to as gang of 7 unelected bureaucrats. Representation in taxation has been suppressed.
The Democrats got around the 2/3rds requirement in an undemocratic and unconstitutional way. In the process, they stripped the legislature of the power to raise taxes and fees.
We might all effectively be slaves soon -- unless you and I are willing to fight. Vote Yes on I-1125.
See current state ballot measures for 2012
Monday, September 19, 2011
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has imposed a ban on the use of traditional (lead) ammunition for all upland bird hunting on all WDFW pheasant release sites across the state. This restriction was adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission two years ago but its implementation was delayed until this hunting season. The Commission adopted the restriction during the course of its 2010-2012 hunting season-setting process.
With this in mind, it is critical that hunters and sportsmen participate in the 2012-2014 season-setting process. The WDFW is now in the initial public comment phase of the process, which will end this Tuesday, September 20. You can bet that the anti-hunting extremists are participating in the process, so the importance of hunters and sportsmen participating cannot be overstated!
Public input is solicited
Comments must be submitted by Tuesday, September 20. Please request that the ban on the use of traditional ammunition on pheasant release sites be lifted in 2012 and beyond, and demand that there be no further unsubstantiated restrictions imposed on the use of lead in ammunition in the future.
Send your remarks via e-mail, to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to put “2012-2014 Hunter Comment/Concern” in the subject line. You can also submit comments via regular mail, please address your letter as follows:
You can also submit comments via regular mail, please address your letter as follows:
ATTN: Wildlife Program
600 Capitol Way N.
Olympia, WA 98501-1091
Olympia is also conducting a poll on this matter. Click here to participate. The polling questions deserve a careful reading.
Isn't it interesting the Left, like those who control Olympia right now, always say the right to keep and bear arms is about sport hunting? If they really believed that, would they be micromanaging the kind(s) of ammunition sporting hunters can use?
Monday, August 29, 2011
The fee come in the form of the new "Discover Pass," which costs $30 for an annual pass and $10 for a day pass (additional processing fees apply). This excerpt from the Discover Pass website lists what areas the pass applies to:
There are some exemptions for this pass. For a complete list, download "Do I Need a Discover Pass?" (pdf).
The Discover Pass is not required for holders of certain hunting and fishing licenses on WDFW recreation lands and water-access sites. For those individuals, a "WDFW vehicle access pass" will be required for vehicle access to WDFW lands and boat launches.
The penalty for failing to display/possess a Discover Pass is $99. The fine will be reduced to $59 if proof-of-purchase of the pass is provided to the court within 15 days of the violation notice.
For more information about this pass, please see the FAQ page on the Discover Pass website.
Monday, August 15, 2011
In these tough economic times, the idea of government taking thousands of dollars per year out of working families’ already-stretched budgets shows a complete lack of compassion for the challenges they are facing right now. People are hurting, and yet state and local politicians are nonetheless sneaking forward with below-the-radar “anything goes” tolls that will cost families billions of dollars.
If there's going to be tolls, there must be accountability and transparency or the toll should never be accepted by the citizenry. A toll, by definition, is a specific charge that is used to pay for improvements to a specific project imposed on the specific people using that project. Struggling taxpayers might, and we emphasize might, accept that. But “anything goes” tolls? Not a chance.
Last year's voter-approved I-1053 required tolls to be set by the elected representatives of the people. Recession-weary taxpayers might, and we emphasize might, accept that. But automatic tolls imposed by unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats at state agencies? Not a chance.
Taxpayers should never accept handing over a blank check to a bunch of unelected bureaucrats.
In the entire history of our state, tolls have always expired after the project is paid for. Olympia recently repealed that protection so that tolls will now continue forever -- once a toll is imposed, it will never go away.
There's no way the people of Washington will be OK with never-ending tolls. I-1125 reinstates our state's longstanding guarantee that once the project is paid for, the toll will go away.
As Kemper Freeman said: “Citizens are rightly suspicious of tolls because of a valid concern that Olympia will raid such revenues during 'emergencies.' That's why I-1125's policies requiring accountability and transparency are so necessary. Tolls aren't taxes and I-1125 keeps it that way.”
He’s exactly right.
Advocates for "anything goes" tolls are seriously out-of-touch if they think citizens will accept sky-high, automatic, never-ending tolls imposed by unelected bureaucrats without accountability and transparency.
Please help us continue the fight on behalf of taxpayers. Olympia's appetite for our money is insatiable.
-- Tim Eyman
You'll hear many rants against I-1125, but they all revolve around the idea that government should control our money, lives and resources.
What makes bureaucratic judgment superior to our own? The bureaucrats don't care. Neither do the entrenched politicians. They just want to run our lives.
Voters Want More Choices. Legitimate government requires consent of the governed.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Although everyone in the state will be paying for the tunnel, only Seattle will vote on it. A limited voice is better than no vote at all, except...
Even if the voters reject the tunnel by voting no on Referendum 1, it looks like the politicians are going to ignore the people's vote -- claiming voters just didn't understand -- and build the tunnel anyway.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Why do Washington State voters keep sending authoritarian politicians to Olympia to sneer at us and waste our state's resources?
As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Can you believe there are politicians who still wonder why our initiatives receive so much support from the electorate?
Can you believe there are politicians who still don't understand why citizens are furious with Olympia's arrogance and audacity?
See also Cascade Bicycle Club & Protect Seattle Now (the vote no organization).
Referendum 1 passed with 58% of the vote. Apparently the voters like the tunnel idea.
Official King County election results for the August 16 primary link
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about Senate Bill 5297 and House Bill 1668 concerning the rules and regulations around signature gathering. I always appreciate hearing from my constituents about these important issues.
I actually signed onto this legislation in the house as a co-sponsor and believe that it is vital to take a look at this process routinely as well as to make it fair to all parties involved. The primary goal of the legislation is to ensure the integrity of the initiative process, by regulating paid signature gatherers and signature gathering businesses. When the state constitution was amended to create the initiative process, I don't believe the drafters would have imagined what big business the initiative process has become.
This last summer, paid gatherers were being paid as much as $3 per signature because of the high volume of initiatives. When an initiative requires 400,000 signatures, which could be over a million dollars in business from just one. So, HB 1668 asks paid gatherers and signature gathering businesses to register with the state, and provide similar information to what paid lobbyists are required to provide.
The other thing the initiative does is raise the filing fee for initiatives to $500. Every year, dozens of initiatives are filed and only a handful makes it to the ballot. But for each one that is filed, the Secretary of State and Attorney General's office spend hours analyzing and preparing documentation, even those that never make it to the ballot. Raising the filing fee would help reimburse more of these costs. This bill imposes some common sense protections that are reasonable and help ensure the efficiency and transparency of the initiative process.
Unfortunately, this bill has not met the requirements to continue through the legislative process this year. However, it can certainly be considered again next legislative session. You can keep an eye on the bills at www.leg.wa.gov. Again, thanks for your message and feel free to contact us again should you have any more questions or concerns.
All my best,
Rep. Marko Liias (D-21) (Edmonds area)
Vice Chair, House Transportation Committee
Although Liias' tone is genial, legislative attempts to limit citizen involvement in the law making process are despicable. Plain citizens would be under 1668 regulation, even though they may be volunteering their time.
The remark about money being used in politics is vacuous scare tactics. If a petition can cost the sponsors $3 per signature, only rich sponsors will have the resources to deal with the regulations of 1668.
The real problem in Liias' previous proposals is they would limit non-unionized, plain citizen participation in the democratic process. Heavily funded issues which can afford to spend $3 per signature will remain untouched.
Incidentally, unions were specifically exempted from regulation in signature gathering under 1668.
Rep Liias assures us he will continue to support anti-democracy legislation. If you live in District 21, you should consider sending Rep Liias an email about this. And you should vote for someone else next election.
The Gang of Too Many
The forces aligned against free democracy in Washington State are Representatives Reykdal, Hunt, Appleton, Kenney, Goodman, McCoy, Dunshee, Carlyle, Pettigrew, Hasegawa, Ryu, Liias, Darneille, Fitzgibbon, Eddy, Dickerson, Ormsby, and Jinkins.
From the state Senate, they are Senators Nelson, Conway, Harper, Chase, White, Kohl-Welles, Kline, Keiser, Prentice, and Shin.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Washington State is not very free, according to the libertarian oriented Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
"Washington was among the states that improved the most in overall freedom and consequently moved up five spots in the rankings. Unfortunately for denizens of that state, it had—and still has—a long way to go. Washington is still among the 10 least-free states. Indeed, it only barely cracks the top half of states in personal freedom.
[Government] spending is a bit higher than average, but taxes are slightly lower—a recipe for government debt, which Washington has in abundance. Government employment is also too high. Land-use planning is somewhat centralized."
The Center made these policy suggestions
- Reduce spending consistent with the state’s relatively decent tax-burden levels, starting with reducing government employment and spending on natural resources (mostly at the state government level) and sewerage (at the local government level), which is particularly far above national norms.
- Enact further-reaching eminent-domain reform.
- Reduce centralized land-use planning by repealing or amending the Growth Management Act and Shoreline Management Act.
What certainly classifies as an abuse is what merchants have to do to make an in state retail sale. The merchant gets to add the item's sales tax according to the shipment's destination. This sounds innocuous enough until you realize the state has a crazy quilt of retail sales tax rates.
You can tell the state's tax scheme is too complicated when you look at the Department of Revenue webpage and see they want to know the street address before they tell you the tax rate.
At least the information is available in 6 languages other than English.
The sales tax slurping sound is audible if you need to transfer a firearm from out of state. All such transfers have to go through a federally licensed firearms dealer. Washington State now compels those dealers to estimate the value of the firearm they are transferring and tax you accordingly.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
But the legislative session is over for now, and Legislature has gone home. Like a bowl of rotten oatmeal, the Legislature left a bad taste and a likely intestinal problem. Why does this Legislature think they can spend our money better than we can spend our money?
by Tim Eyman
Last year's 64% vote for Initiative 1053 was extraordinary. Not only did it receive a supermajority level of public support, it was the 4th time voters approved its taxpayer protection policies. Voters clearly said they'd had it with Olympia's insatiable appetite for taking more of the people's money. Even so, before this year's session started, Gregoire signaled her obstruction: "I'm not gonna let 1053 stand in the way of me moving forward for what I think is right."
That's exactly what she/they did. In direct conflict with what the voters said, the Legislature fundamentally undermined and sidestepped I-1053 in various ways during this year's session. It's shocking how brazen and disrespectful they were of the people's decision. We would need several initiatives to reverse everything they did to I-1053 -- we simply can't do that. Instead, we are focusing on their worst violations.
Totally contrary to I-1053's policies, the Legislature re-empowered Gregoire's Transportation Commission -- a bunch of unelected bureaucrats -- to unilaterally impose tolls on our state's streets, roads, highways, and bridges.
With our state's slow-growing economy and high unemployment rates, families and businesses are struggling just handling their existing burdens -- they're hard pressed to take on any more. Despite the fact that Washington has the highest gas tax in the nation, they're planning on forcing us to pay twice with sky-high tolls. It shows a complete lack of compassion for the taxpayers' plight and totally ignores what the voters said in November.
The Governor's and the Legislature's arrogance and disrespect for the voters has spurred this year's initiative. I-1125 does the following:
- Resurrects I-1053's policy that the Legislature, and not Gregoire's Transportation Commission, set tolls so we can hold toll-crazy politicians accountable;
- Requires that transportation taxes and tolls only go toward transportation, prohibiting raids and diversions to non-transportation purposes;
- Reinforces current law that requires that tolls be project-specific, preventing tolls from becoming de facto taxes;
- Requires that tolls GO AWAY/STOP/EXPIRE after the project is paid for (that's the way it's always been, but Olympia recently changed it so tolls will now go on FOREVER -- I-1125 says NO to never-ending tolls).
- Prohibits gas-tax-funded lanes on state highways from being transferred or used for non-highway purposes (our state Constitution -- the 18th Amendment -- already prohibits this, but politicians are still trying to weasel out of this constitutional prohibition); and
- Ensures that tolls are uniform and consistent.
Tim Eyman's website
Friday, June 3, 2011
Washington State Constitution, Declaration of Rights
"All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights." - Article 1, Section 1~~~~~~~~
Initiative -1125 -- This measure would prohibit the use of motor vehicle fund revenue and vehicle toll revenue for non-transportation purposes, and require that road and bridge tolls be set by the legislature and be project-specific.
I-1125 restores I-1053's policies that Gregoire and the Legislature reversed this year. The governor and legislature imposed new tolls on bridge and highway use through a committee of bureaucrats appointed for the purpose -- in effect bypassing the legally required 2/3 super-majority to enact new tolls, fees, etc. Those increased revenues are being used principally to pay for the unsustainable increased levels of state spending. The state constitution requires revenues gathered from motor vehicle sources be devoted to motor vehicle purposes - highway construction, maintenance and the like.
The current, unlawful, practice in Olympia directs tolls to the general fund. Weirdly, there is an ad opposing 1125 which seems to claim road construction will be reduced by $500 million if 1125 is enacted. Not so. What will be reduced is $500 million from roads going into the general fund.
Impolite recommends you sign I-1125 and vote yes in November. The People have the right to control their government.
The following measure has been withdrawn from the ballot. The Humane Society of the United States made an agreement with the egg industry. The agreement will effectively implement 1130 by 2029.
Initiative 1130 by the Humane Society of WA DC and the Farm Sanctuary of Watkins Glen, New York -- Initiative Measure No. 1130 concerns confinement of egg-laying hens. This measure would prohibit, with certain exceptions, confining hens in stacked cages or cages that limit the hens’ movement, and would prohibit the sale of eggs in the shell from hens so confined.
The well funded I-1130 is the only initiative who got their signature drive out of the gate on day one.
Through the end of April, they've raised a total of $372,011 with $207,035 from the Humane Society, 2100 L St NW, Washington DC 20037 and $150,000 from Farm Sanctuary Inc, PO Box 150, Watkins Glen, New York, 14891. They hired PCI Consultants Inc, 26500 Agoura Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302-1952 as their paid signature gathering firm and have paid them $260,224.30 so far.
I-1130 would allow chickens to "stretch their wings" and not live in production cages. If you know chickens, you know this is a pointless initiative. When the people of the state decided not to hunt cougars, we started seeing news reports of children mauled and killed by cougars. Although this initiative is similarly 'feel-good', at least chickens aren't as dangerous as cougars.
Some vegans say I-1130 doesn't go far enough and recommend a no vote.
Initiative 1163 by the SIEU (Government employees union, Service Employees International Union Local 775) -- Initiative Measure No. 1163 concerns long-term care workers and services for elderly and disabled people. This measure would reinstate background checks, training, and entangling requirements for long-term care workers and providers. It also creates new financial accountability and administrative expenses for the long-term in-home care program.
Although caring for the elderly has the appearance of sweetness and light, the initiative will make long term care more costly without any real improvement. The metrics in the background check are subject to abuse.
Long term elder care is difficult for the care givers. Its tough to become friends with people and then have them die. That makes a turnover problem for the facilities. Adding in background checks will only alienate potential care givers.
Finally no amount of government imposed regulation can actually make one person care about another. The "feel good" aspect of the initiative is bankrupt from the start.
On April 25, the SEIU transferred $500,000 into a new initiative PAC. They hired PCI Consultants, Inc, 26500 Agoura Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302-1952 as their paid signature gathering firm to collect signatures from both I-1163 and I-1167. They recently abandoned the I-1167 signature drive and are now focusing their efforts on I-1163. The SEIU will certainly get I-1163 on the November ballot.
The SIEU government union has the most treasure to spend on a measure which will fatten their bank account, if enacted.
Big government treasure is being used to force I-1163 onto the ballot. Its a clear abuse of power. Impolite recommends you vote no on I-1163.
Initiative 1183 by Costco, Washington Restaurant Association, NW Grocers Association, et al -- Initiative Measure No. 1183 would privatize the sale and distribution of liquor. The initiative is not as sweeping as I-1100 was.
Washington State imposed controls on liquor after prohibition was lifted in the 1930's At that time, liquor control was presented as promotion of public virtue. The state government makes 52% margin on liquor. Clearly, the state's actual reason is monopolistic pricing.
The state's principle use of liquor profits is to keep the public employees unions available to incumbent legislators. Government corrupts public virtue more effectively than private liquor sales ever could.
Impolite recommends you vote yes on I-1183.
See the Washington Wire discussion for another perspective.
Legislative referenda will also appear on this Autumn's ballot.
SJR 8205 is a proposed constitutional amendment which would repeal a non-functioning part of the State's Constitution. The specific part is Article 6, Section 1A, which is a residency requirement for citizens who wish to vote in the federal election. The section was rendered inoperable by federal court order in 1976. Finally (or suddenly - depending on your perspective) the matter came to the legislature's attention.
Impolite will vote for SJR 8205, just to tidy up the constitution.
SJR 8206 strengthens the set-aside requirement for the state's budget stabilization account, or "rainy day" fund, by specifying a portion of "extraordinary" revenue of good years be set aside in the fund. The fund is used to offset some types of shortfalls in years when state revenue is not so good, so that important spending (like school) can proceed.
Opponents of SJR 8206 make a funny argument that voters have not approved SJR 8206 yet, so they shouldn't vote for it. The opponents also view fat and lean years as no impediment to state spending.
Impolite recommends you vote Yes on SJR 8206.
Note: Normally, Impolite would link the initiative petition number to the sponsors website. But some initiative's campaigns don't have working websites yet, so those initiative numbers are linked to the official text of the initiative petition.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
We're getting a batch of new fees imposed on use the stuff we already paid for. People in the Puget Sound area are gonna get screwed via the imposition of new fees (tolls on 520, for example) to use the roads they already own.
Freedom Foundation issued a couple of press releases.
The Tax Loopholes are Rigged
Legislative session is finally over. This year labor unions led the fight to close tax "loopholes" in lieu of budget cuts, but their framing of the issue has a few loopholes of its own. Earlier this month the Freedom Foundation sent out a press release exposing the fact that unions themselves are the primary beneficiaries of select tax breaks.
Labor unions--which have been fighting so hard to paint beneficiaries of tax exemptions as greedy fat cats who enjoy watching small children starve--have conveniently failed to mention their special tax treatment in the myriad press releases, statements and public testimony on the state budget. We at the Freedom Foundation are not the only ones sitting up and taking notice of the issue. Following our release, Washington State Wire's Erik Smith wrote an excellent, in-depth, story covering the murky issue of union tax breaks. Smith expands on the matter, revealing union tax breaks well in excess of many enjoyed by the labor-maligned business community:
"Federal stats say Washington's unionized workers earn an average of $1,068 a week. Union dues typically run one to two percent of gross income. If you figure it at 1.5 percent, that means Washington-state unions collect $503 million a year in dues.
"So at the current services B&O rate of 1.8 percent, the tax break is worth $9 million annually. It might be off a million or so either way, but that's about as close as anyone can come."
To read Erik Smith's full story, visit the Washington State Wire webpage here.
Unions are big business
Unions are clearly big business in Washington state, bringing in half-a-billion in dues each year. We can only hope the exposure of hefty union tax breaks and the concomitant hypocrisy of union rhetoric rebalances the tax break discussion in the Legislature. And speaking of hypocrisy, when asked to comment on labor's special tax treatment, Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson responded:
"We're calling for a moratorium on a wide swath of business tax exemptions," he said. "We've never said all tax exemptions are bad or do not have a valid purpose--many of them do--but in a time of severe budget deficits, there is a need for greater shared sacrifice out there. That's been our argument--it's not just been an attack on business tax exemptions."
Right. Shared sacrifice is only a good idea when others are forced to do the sacrificing.
What's that, Mr. Labor Council President? You want to close tax loopholes? I'm sorry. We can't hear you through the hypocrisy.
They ought to be ashamed. And we ought to take action. Read the blog that exposed this hypocrisy here.
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
Everyone wants government to pay for lots of goodies, but no one wants to pay the taxes for those extra goodies. The Democrat politicians insist there are the "rich" who don't pay their fair share.
For some reason the Democrat politicians can't seem to tax the "rich" effectively. Either the "rich" are rich because they honestly earned it, or because the rich are the Democrat politicians' buddies.
We have both types in Washington State. The Unions Bosses are buddies with the "Democratic" Party; they are corrupt. We also have rich people like Bill Gates, whose Microsoft Corporation is losing market share because innovation eludes them.
Washington State must stop listening to the soothing words of the Democrat politicians and start voting for responsible leadership. We need equality of taxation, not this phoney stick-it-to-the-rich attitude.
Washington State also needs to have realistic expectation of what government should provide -- basic public services which cannot be privately consumed. A lot of the current budget is being directed to the Democrats long-standing buddies. Hacking that off would be a start, but only a start.
Some revenue increase particulars for policy wonks. More as the details get published.
That day trip across the Sound is going up even more than the Summer fare increase. $41,016,808 from increased fares for ferry rides. 2ESSB 5742
Water system operating permit fees. Take that big gulp now. $15,670,000 in water system permit fees. SSB 5364
Court is going to cost more. You may get justice, but it will cost you. $8,850,000 in increased court fees - final passage. SB 5941
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The controversy surrounding traffic enforcement cameras has been a big draw for people who post comments to Heraldnet.com. Some folks seem compelled to weigh in with opinions on nearly every story. Apparently that includes at least one vice president at an Arizona-based camera company.
Meet reader 'W Howard,' undercover traffic cam exec
A poster using the screen name "W Howard" has commented 43 times on our site since June. The unifying themes in these posts are that the cameras ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifre good, that they are making the world safer and that anyone who says otherwise -- particularly Mukilteo initiative activist Tim Eyman -- needs their head examined.
Some readers have suggested "W Howard" has been posting comments as part of a marketing campaign run by American Traffic Solutions, Inc. The Scottsdale-based company contracts to provide enforcement camera services in Lynnwood and Seattle. It had inked a similar deal in Mukilteo last year, then Eyman pushed for a public vote. Upshot: no cameras in Mukilteo, and a spreading movement around Washington that has growing numbers of people asking questions about enforcement camera technology.
More at HeraldNet
Monday, May 16, 2011
First, a little history....
The Legislature's decision in 1995 to override the voters' decision not to pay higher taxes for a sports stadium was the worst example of Olympia's arrogance, audacity, and shamelessness in our state's history. The voters said no, but just weeks later, Democrats called an emergency special session of the Legislature and said it was a threat to the public health and safety if a sports stadium was not paid for by taxpayers.
The bill passed. That declaration of emergency -- that emergency clause -- was challenged in court. In one of the most embarrassing rulings of the state supreme court's history, a 6-3 majority decided that the imposition of taxes for a sports stadium was a legitimate exercise of the state's emergency power.
Over and over again during legislative debate on the bill, politicians repeatedly, explicitly, and publicly promised that the stadium's taxes were temporary -- that once their miscarriage of justice was paid for, the taxes would go away. Over and over again, the People knew that the politicians were lying, that they'd later try to extend the stadium taxes forever. But politicians responded emphatically: "No, the bill was written to ensure that all the stadium taxes would automatically expire once the stadium in paid for."
They knew they were lying, we knew they were lying, and this Tuesday, the Senate Gov Ops Committee will prove they were lying.
At their 1:30 pm hearing, today, in the Cherberg Building in Olympia, we have the opportunity to testify against Seattle Democrat Scott Smith's Senate Bill 5958 appropriately called "The Latest Example That Politicians Can't Be Trusted On Taxes Act".
This despicable bill demands a vocal, contemptuous repudiation. Join us and let Olympia's politicians know how you feel about their latest betrayal.
Can you believe some politicians wonder why voters don't trust them when it comes to taxes?
Sunday, May 15, 2011
We are now 15 days into the special session and very little has been decided. The Legislature was supposed to adjourn on April 24, but we adjourned two days earlier (only to return). It would have been great if we had completed the work we were sent to Olympia to do, but plenty of work went unfinished and there is already talk of a second special session.
Going into extra time is inexcusable and taxpayers should be upset. The Democrat majority party is dragging its feet on the state operating budget.
We all knew in November the financial situation our state was in and drafting a budget would be difficult. However, 105 days is plenty of time. The House Democrats waited until after the March 17 revenue forecast before writing a budget that came out April 4.
That budget passed the House on April 9, but the Senate took no action until April 19 – less than a week from adjournment. There seemed to be no incentive for the majority party to finish on time, as we didn’t work late or much on the weekend during the last month. It was a frustrating situation.
It is important to know that House Republicans did not stand on the sidelines and say “no” to Democrat proposals. In fact, it was the first time ever the minority party offered its own budget proposal.
Many of our budget ideas were incorporated into the House Democrat budget, but when it came down to it, there were still too many differences with Republicans prioritizing education and the Democrats pushing for more in social services. You can find our Republican budgeting principles and alternative budget solution here.
A special session costs nearly $16,000 for every day that lawmakers are at the Capitol. At a time when the Legislature is struggling to write a balanced two-year budget, it seems ludicrous we are spending more money for a special session.
Workers’ compensation reform
The fact that we were unable to get meaningful workers’ compensation reform passed during the regular session is just as big a disappointment than not passing a budget. This is another instance in which we knew how badly something needed to be done because of the dire financial situation of the workers’ compensation system, yet nothing that would provide long-term reform has been passed. The workers’ compensation fund is in a poor state.
In fact, last year, State Auditor Brian Sonntag sent a letter to Labor and Industries Director Judy Schurke addressing the $360 million deficit in the workers' compensation accident fund that read in part, “Our report is a warning that if this condition continues, the future liabilities may exceed assets within a few years, creating a financial hole difficult to recover from.” He also pointed out the fund has a greater than 70 percent chance of insolvency and the Medical Aid Account could also be facing insolvency within the next few years. The Wenatchee World recently published an editorial Condotta wrote on the issue. You can read it here.
Capital budget and debt reduction
Washington state legislators are considering a measure that would reduce the state’s long-term debt to put our state budgets on more stable and sustainable footing.
The Debt Reduction Act of 2011, Senate Joint Resolution SJR 8215 would accomplish both of those goals. My colleague in the Senate, Linda Evans Parlette, actually co-sponsored the measure in the Senate. The Senate passed the bill unanimously during the regular session and have already passed it again in the special session. The Senate had to pass the measure again, because the House failed to take any action on the bill.
Keep in mind, the capital budget is our budget that funds construction of schools and colleges, develops community infrastructure, maintains parks and recreation areas, and is funded in part by state bonds. Payment on those bonds is made from the state operating budget, which also funds other priorities such as education and health care.
This debt is one of the fastest-growing parts of the budget, climbing from $970 million 10 years ago to $1.8 billion in the current biennial budget. The operating budget has doubled its level of debt payment in the past decade. The Debt Reduction Act addresses this problem by phasing down our constitutional debt limit from 9 to 7 percent. This will reduce the debt payments we make in the operating budget over the next 20 years by more than $3 billion.
Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, is our ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee. You can read her column on this issue in The Seattle Times here.
The status of The Debt Reduction Act and capital budget are still up in the air. Chair of the Capital Budget Committee, Rep. Hans Dunshee, is holding up SJR 8215, which in turn is delaying passage of the capital budget. He says he feels the legislation will cost us jobs, which is not the case.
Rep. Warnick pointed out in her editorial, thousands of people would be put to work by the capital budget even if SJR 8215 is in place.
SJR 8215 is a common-sense measure to put our state on more solid financial footing and benefit our state into the future by avoiding a senseless buildup of debt.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The impact of the bill is the farms and orchards with ancient water rights will have to pay protection money to the politicians in Olympia to keep on using water. This sounds much like the tax Olympia used to collect for rain which fell on your house or land. The courts found that tax stupid and indefensible. Why do we have to go to court to spank the legislature for being stupid thugs?
Friday, April 22, 2011
By now you've heard we're giving medical marijuana fuller legal status in Washington State. What you may not hear about is the taxes which come with your "medicine." Cannabis taxes are projected to average $5,529,902 per year. E2SSB 5073 AMH ENGR H2509.E allows the state to muscle in on your regular weed pusher.
HB 1382 (Short version)- Ordinary drivers will lose a lane to HOV; for this bonus, you'll be charged tolls for certain highway and bridge use. This will sit well with liberals around the Sound and Lake Washington. The poor will have to stay home.
Some other abuses
SB 5945 Modifying excise tax laws to provide funding for essential government services (e.g. gold plated doorknobs). The legislature will probably pass this to the voters for their approval.
The bill is a list of Democrats micromanagement ideas designed to use or abuse private enterprise. Another stupid idea for more taxes, I'll review this more closely if the legislature passes it. The primary impact is we would get higher retail taxes and more complicated regulation for making a living.
HB 2094 Tax preferences (usually reserved for food taxes) - HB 2094's windy language would impose new taxes on laundry list of stuff. Boeing airplanes to electronic newspapers will get taxed. Section 501(4) will impose a tax on home generation of electricity. VOIP will get new taxes. So will your membership fees for the club. 2094 is another labyrinth of taxation to feed a bloated legislature.
SB 5487 will add more taxes on eggs. The bill also requires reports form egg producers that the chickens are treated properly, better than citizens in fact.
HB 1494 adds compulsory fingerprinting to elder placement referrals. The legislation as passed bears the title, "Concerning vulnerable adult referral agencies."
SB 5502 Limousine services will get another new tax.
HB 2079 / SB 5742
would raise ferry fares another 25 cents. Also, ferries will be required to run on unicorn dust. (I made that part up.)
SB 5937 would add $6,918,101,000 in new taxes as an emergency measure. Proposed by politician Paull Shin of Mukilteo, it perpetuates the use of the term "emergency."
HB 2078 will add $922,960,000 to retail and B&O taxes for school funding, to enhance class size for K3. This bill is fast tracking.
Why can't the politicians leave things alone for once? Why do they constantly push pet projects and taxes on us? Isn't "bringing home the bacon" legalized theft?
Friday, April 15, 2011
The consequence: You may be forced to live next door to a violent criminal.
The state is considering barring access from a violent offender's juvenile records. This is good news for violent offenders who started criminal activity early in life. Landlords, including public landlords, use criminal records to evaluate an applicant-renter. This act will bar that practice for young, violent offenders.
HB 1793 passed the Senate. Tell the governor to veto this one.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
House Bill 2067, introduced by state Representative Ross Hunter (D-48) [Vote WA questionnaire], would repeal the existing Washington law that provides for the reimbursement of legal defense costs to law-abiding citizens who are charged with a crime but found not guilty by reason of self-defense.
Here is actual language from the law that is proposed to be repealed: “No person in the state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting by any reasonable means necessary, himself or herself, his or her family… When a person charged with a crime…is found not guilty by reason of self-defense, the state of Washington shall reimburse the defendant for all reasonable costs…”
Self-defense is a fundamental right that can be weakened by overzealous prosecution. Current law provides an incentive for prosecutors to give serious consideration to whether the accused has a viable claim of self-defense before the prosecution begins. The passage of HB 2067 would repeal an important citizen protection in the state's legal system.
HB 2067 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee this Wednesday, April 13 at 3:00 p.m.
Please contact your state Representative, by calling the toll-free legislative hotline, (800) 562-6000, and respectfully urge him or her to OPPOSE this anti-self-defense bill.
If your state Representative sits on the House Ways & Means Committee, please refer to the list below and call and e-mail their office directly.
If you need help identifying your state Representative, please click here.
House Ways & Means Committee members:
Representative Ross Hunter (D-48), Chairman <- Hunter is the sponsor.
Representative Jeannie Darneille (D-27), Vice Chairman
Representative Bob Hasegawa (D-11), Vice Chair
Representative Reuven Carlyle (D-36)
Representative Eileen Cody (D-34)
Representative Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36)
Representative Kathy Haigh (D-35)
Representative Zack Hudgins (D-11)
Representative Sam Hunt (D-22)
Representative Ruth Kagi (D-32)
Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (D-46)
Representative Timm Ormsby (D-3)
Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-37)
Representative Larry Seaquist (D-26)
Representative Larry Springer (D-45)
Representative Pat Sullivan (D-47)
Representative Ed Orcutt (R-18)
Representative Gary Alexander (R-20)
Representative Barbara Bailey (R-10)
Representative Bruce Dammeier (R-25)
Representative Bruce Chandler (R-15)
Representative Larry Haler (R-8)
Representative Bill Hinkle (R-13)
Representative Kevin Parker (R-6)
Representative Charles Ross (R-14)
Representative Joe Schmick (R-9)
Representative J.T. Wilcox (R-2)
The April 13th hearing for House Bill 2067 was cancelled minutes before it was to start. This bill is likely dead for this legislative session.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
State revenue is expected to be $778 million less for the combined 2009-11 and 2011-13 budgets: Download the official projection here.
$79.8 million less for the 2009-11 budget, creating a $229 million shortfall.
$698.4 million less for the 2011-13 budget, creating a $5.1 billion shortfall. (Spending is going way, way up.)
This means the 2011 Legislature must address a projected total shortfall of $5.1 billion. I say projected because that assumes a budget of $37 billion, or roughly a 15 percent increase. In the current economy we cannot expect to increase spending by 15 percent. The revenue forecast itself is 13.5 percent more than the previous biennium. At $32.5 billion, it is our highest revenue number ever.
That said, this will require major adjustments since many, many programs were added or expanded, and even more promises were made before the downturn. Like the rest of the economy, we are now having a hangover from our years of exuberance. I will give you a view of the budgets when they are presented in the next few weeks.
Closing Tax "Loopholes"
The majority party and a number of their supporters continue to push for additional revenues despite the projection they will exceed the expenditures in our current budget cycle. They are calling on the Legislature “close tax loopholes to balance the state budget.” What these special interest groups are actually talking about are “tax preferences.”
One of the largest tax preference "loopholes" is food. I don’t think many of us would want to close that so-called tax loophole. It is important we are clear about what we are talking about on this issue.
Each tax preference should be reviewed for effectiveness, because there are many that are beneficial. You may recall the tax incentives we passed in 2010 for aluminum companies. It allowed Alcoa to restart additional pot-lines at the Wenatchee Works plant. You may not recall this either. Its a sort of wonkish thing to know.
In November, the People voted down I 1082. Now we face the consequences of trusting government to do the right thing.
The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) pays $1.84 in benefits for every $1.00 in premiums it collects, the highest “combined ratio” of any public or private workers’ comp insurer in the country.
According to L&I, these costs are not sustainable without annual double-digit premium increases on employers that pay into the state fund.
The 2008 Washington Pension System Review (Upjohn Institute) confirmed one reason for the highest number of long-term disability cases and pensions in the nation is the absence of a voluntary settlement option that exists in 44 other states.
Total benefits paid in Washington grew from $1.3 billion in 1998 to $2.2 billion in 2008. That’s an increase of 70.4 percent, compared to 34.2 percent growth for all states.
Merrily into debt we go. But Washington State is prohibited from accumulating debt*. So we are going to have a round of increased fees or taxation. But We the People forbid that without a 2/3rds majority in the Legislature. So the majority Party (along with some help from RINO Mike Armstrong) delegated "rate increases" to the various agencies which actually charge the rates.
The Puget Sound area will probably face ferry rate increases, other than the regular Summer increase. A toll will likely be imposed on routes in addition to the 520 bridge. Tolls will be added to use certain HOV lanes on some highways. (My cousin, who is an urban planner, refers to these as HIV lanes.)
The increases are probably illegal. I-1053 requires super-majority in the Legislature for revenue increase. But you can rely on the "Democratic" Party to suck around for your money to buy itself "friends." As long as politicians can act irresponsibly and get away with it, they will.
*Current debt may not exceed 9% of current spending. This was supposed to prevent uncontrolled spending of exactly the type we are seeing.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Guess What? – The Bill Excludes Labor Unions
By Erik Smith, Staff writer/ Washington State Wire
"OLYMPIA, Feb. 26 — Union officials and left-wing activist groups are saying that an embarrassing signature fraud case involving the Service Employees International Union last summer is a terrific reason to regulate everyone else [Service Employees International Union is the government workers union].
"They’re pushing a bill that would impose tight new restrictions on signature-gathering companies. It’s the same basic idea they’ve been backing for years, and it’s looking like it is picking up support in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
"But here’s the funny thing about it. Not only is the SEIU case the only time in recent years that any campaign has turned in fraudulent signatures to the state – the bill that SEIU is backing wouldn’t apply to labor unions."
Click here to read the rest of the story.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
House Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 5297 are a monstrosity of anti-initiative policies. Instead of separate anti-initiative bills where each anti-initiative policy can be critiqued and highlighted, this year the Democrats went with the omnibus approach, putting all their anti-initiative eggs into one basket.
There is no justification for any change to the initiative process because there is no problem. Over 12 years, 12.7 million signatures have been submitted to the Secretary of State, and there's been 1 problem with 1 SEIU volunteer last year. The SEUI volunteer "collected" 250 forged signatures and subsequently has been charged.
The large number of signatures is a substantial enough hurdle that only a handful of initiatives qualify each year and voters approve some and reject others (and more times than not, the side which spends the least amount of money wins at the ballot box -- voters don't care which side has more money, they care about which side has the better argument).
But the greatest tragedy would be the bills' increase in initiative filing fees. Here's why: opponents of the initiative process say this will stop "frivolous" initiatives from being filed. There's no such thing. Some Washington citizen felt strongly enough about an idea or policy to fill out an affidavit making public their home mailing address, phone number, and email address, draft the initiative language, and submit it to the Secretary of State. They agreed to put themselves and their idea in the public realm for public consumption and public debate. And yes, he or she included $5. That is a good faith effort by a regular citizen to participate in our state's initiative process which is guaranteed by our state Constitution. Usually about 10 to 20 regular citizens do this each year. It takes a great deal of courage for a regular citizen to go through all that.
By way of comparison, legislators introduce 3000 bills in Olympia each legislative session. None of them fill out an affidavit disclosing their home address or pay $5, they just introduce or co-sponsor as many bills as they want. Some are serious, some are not (allowing dogs in bars, naming the state drink, banning body piercing). These thousands of bills are sent to the Code Revisor's office which, with a yearly $4.6 million budget, helps legislators draft them.
No one works on commission, they are paid the same whether it's 3000 bills or 3200. These same people at the Code Revisor's office help the handful of regular people who file initiatives each year. It doesn't cost the taxpayer anything extra for there to be 50 initiatives filed, or 25, or 10, or 5.
These bills propose to increase the filing fee 10,000% to $500. The bills' increase in the filing fee GUARANTEES that regular citizens will no longer have access to their own initiative process. The 'big guys' (us, SEIU, WEA, Bill Gates Sr, BIAW, Costco, etc) will continue to file initiatives but no one else will. The bills' proposed $400 refund if the initiative qualifies for the ballot will only reward the big guys; it'll clearly kill off participation by regular citizens.
Again, we're only talking about a handful of initiatives each year and again, there are no additional costs to taxpayers for initiatives filed (Code Revisor, Secretary of State, AG, they are all salaried, none are paid on commission, so there's no marginal cost for the 10-20 initiatives filed each year by regular citizens).
The initiative process has worked for over 100 years. Please just leave the initiative process alone.
Please see Eliminating Democracy for the Unions.
Sometimes you see a bill in legislature where the supporting arguments are weak. Its not often you see a bill where the arguments have no connection with the legislation, as is the case with SB 5297. No one seems able to point out a problem that the bill would actually fix. The bill only makes it more difficult for the people to control their government.
Voice your opinion
Please email your State Legislators, and let 'em know they ought to vote No on House Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 5297. Look up your legislator
Senate Bill 5298 has passed out of committee on a party line vote. It is headed to the floor of the State Senate.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I was at a rally when this woman came up to me and stuck a camera in my face. I mentioned she was being a little rude to take the peoples photos without permission. She replied How else would they identify me later. Its amazing how intimidating she thought she was. But I was ready for rock and roll that day. "Bring it on," I answered.
That seemed to put her off photographing the rest of us. But I wonder how many of the little old ladies in our group would have stayed in the protest had the moonbat photographer tried to scare them.
All of which leads us to the following quotes, taken from internal memos of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees. The memos are provided by a mole inside the AFSCME - AFL-CIO. The quotes all indicate that intimidation tactics be used on signature gatherers.
"If you see a signature gatherer, call us. We want to do all we can to stop them."
"Keep an eye out for signature gatherers. Mr. Eyman wouldn't have been able to qualify his initiatives if it wasn't for the paid signature gatherers. We need your help to track these mercenaries."
"If you see a signature gatherer, we suggest you ask signature gatherers if they are being paid, find out their names and take their pictures (alone). 'We would like to identify as many as possible.'"
Even the Moonbat Authoritarian Daily Kos reported (suggested is more like it) that the Democrats ought to use similar tactics in the 2008 Presidential race.
The Washington State legislature will soon be voting on a bill to make signature gathering more intimidating. HB 1668/SB 5297 will require every signature gatherer to register with the state authorities, get licensed, provide a photograph for identification, and publish home addresses. All information will be made public. This move would put a thick frosting on citizen involvement in government.
These bills are being pushed by the union bosses of Washington State Council of County and City Employees (AFSCME - AFL-CIO). Unionized "public servants" have already been able to push the legislature into fantastic pay raises during the depression. Now the union bosses are looking to freeze out the people from control of their own government.
Email your legislator and tell them to vote No! on HB 1668/SB 5297.
This story was compiled from sources.
Voters Want More Choices - Numerous Pictures Show Harassment of Danielle M.
Sound Politics - Anti-initiative Bills Would Make Harassment Easier
Seattle PI Letters column
ParkenFarken blog - Secret Plot to Kill Initiative Process
Saturday, February 12, 2011
by Caleb Heimlich
This victory for taxpayers illustrates the power of grassroots citizens and shows that we are on the winning side of the policy debate. The rejected proposition 1 campaign; a coalition including Tea Party Groups, Campaign for Liberty members, Republicans and members of Americans for Prosperity-Washington were outspent 85-1 by special interests, including government unions. Our side won because of hard work and perseverance. We won because voters agree with our message and oppose tax increases.
While this victory was sweet and should send a clear message to Olympia that taxes are not what the people want, big government forces are already seeking a way around this vote.
Just this week HB 1536 was introduced by Representative Marko Liias which would give local transit agencies the ability to levy taxes on vehicle registration. Without requiring a vote of the people, local transit agencies in Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties would be able to re-institute a $30 tax [increase] on vehicle tab registration.
So while voters rejected one tax hike, it looks like more could be coming our way. Be sure to be in touch with your Legislator and let them know that you do not support higher taxes. The number for the Legislative exchange is 1-800-562-6000.
HB 1536 was passed by the transportation committee on a party line vote 15-12. It will be moving to the House floor. We need you to tell your Legislators to say no to higher taxes and fees.
There is a companion bill in the State Senate, number SB 5457
Clearly the state legislators are ready to spend lots more of your money. Contact them and let them know what you think of these bills.
Adapted from Democrats Seek to Raise Taxes on Vehicle Registration posted at Americans for Prosperity.
Friday, February 4, 2011
[The] New bill will completely shut down the initiative process (join us at 2 hearings in Oly next week Wed 8 am & Thurs 10 am)
"Initiative process, born 1914, died 2011, cause of death HB 1668/SB 5297." That's how the death certificate will read for our constitutionally guaranteed right to initiative if House Bill 1668 / Senate Bill 5297 is approved and signed into law by Gregoire. This monstrosity of anti-initiative policies passed the state senate last year (29 Democrats yes, 19 Republicans no). It failed to get out of committee in the house, but this year, they've added more anti-initiative legislators to that same committee to prevent that from happening again.
These bills are being fast-tracked through the process. And these bills are not requested by the Secretary of State. And amazingly, it's estimated to cost $360,000 to implement (I thought they had a budget problem?).
Before we list all the ways this legislation burdens the signature gathering process, let's first analyze if there's a problem. From 1999 to 2009, there were 36 ballot measures that submitted a total of 10,516,645 voter signatures to the Secretary of State. Zero instances of verified forgeries or fraud. Last year in 2010, there were 6 ballot measures that submitted 2.2 million signatures, no verified forgeries or fraud except one SEIU official, not a paid petitioner, collecting for the income tax initiative I-1098 who is now being prosecuted under current law for several petition sheets. 12 years, 12.7 million signatures, 1 problem with a SEIU volunteer.
The current system is working and current laws are clearly deterring bad behavior. The state Constitution clearly says that only laws that facilitate the process are allowed (making the process easier), laws that burden the process are unconstitutional. But that's not stopping these anti-initiative zealot politicians, backed by anti-initiative special interest groups, pushing their shut-it-all-down bill to regulate the initiative process to death. Here's just a few of its most egregious policies:
* HB 1668/SB 5297 is the "gotta-register-and-be-licensed-by-the-government-to-gather-voter-signatures" bill. We'd have to apply for a license, be subjected to criminal background checks ("paper-copy finger-print based background checks"), provide a "conventional photograph showing head, neck, and shoulders appropriate for copying and processing,” and if approved by the government, carry it with us when collecting signatures (only one license per initiative) and must produce it whenever asked ("Show us your papers" just doesn't sound right in America). There's also a laundry list of fines and other requirements that heavily burden the signature gathering process. In Oregon, these rules TRIPLED the cost to qualify for the ballot (before, the average was $150,000, after, the average was $470,000).
* Right now, both volunteers and paid petitioners print their name on the back -- in 2006, out of 17000 petition sheets, 3000 from our volunteers either forgot or chose not to put their printed name on the back. HB 1668/SB 5297 would require printed name, signature, address, city, state, zip code, and date. With that, fewer volunteers would collect signatures, fewer petition sheets would be sent in, among those sent in fewer would have the necessary information, and the campaign would be fined for any sheets without the information on the back, resulting in the campaign discarding perfectly valid voter signatures. All that extra burden for everyone in order to make it easier to find the people collecting bad signatures which isn't happening.
* The 9th Circuit struck down a 1993 Washington state law that required the names and addresses of people collecting voter signatures for ballot measures to be publicly reported (again, we're not talking about petition signers, just signature collectors). They ruled that citizens who ask voters to sign petitions have a right to anonymity ("There can be no doubt that the compelled disclosure of this information chills political speech.”). People who gather signatures are regularly harassed and forcing them to publicly identify themselves will make them even more susceptible to intimidation.
* A 10,000% increase in the initiative filing fee. This bill radically increases the cost to file an initiative and is clearly intended to deter citizens from petitioning their government for change. The huge number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot already provides a big enough hurdle. The people overwhelmingly support the initiative process and oppose legislative sabotage, like HB 1668/SB 5297, imposing additional burdens on the citizens.
The initiative process is already really tough and getting tougher every four years (the number of signatures keeps increasing). This bill will shut it down.There you have it. Olympia is trying to make us their subjects. Tell your legislators what you think of HB 1668 and SB 5297.
Remind them they are your hired servants.
Washington State allows initiative petition campaigns to hire signature gatherers. House Bill 1668 increases the initiative filing fee, and will increase regulation on petition "circulators", and will charge a fee to register signature gathering companies.
Every element of this proposed legislation is designed to clamp down on the petition voice of the People. (Part of the Democrats plan to see democracy inaction.)
The "Democrats" have been repeatedly stung by the initiatives of the people. Its no surprise all the sponsors of this bill are all "Democrats". The "Democratic" Party has not been happy serving the will of the People in a long time.
Try looking at the Get Fiscal Note link on the state HB 1668 webpage. The link didn't work for me. It would be interesting if there is monkey biz happening in Olympia on this one.
HB 1692 will establish rent control in manufacture housing rentals. The authoritarian, nanny-state element of the legislature is sticking their toe in the door again.
Here is the official bill digest:
- "Facilitates and encourages fair bargaining between tenants and owners of manufactured/mobile home parks to achieve mutually satisfactory agreements regarding space or lot rents in the parks.
- "Protects tenants from unreasonable space or lot rent increases while simultaneously recognizing and providing for the need of park owners to receive a just and reasonable return on the investment in their property.
- "Creates the manufactured/mobile home park rental review board.
- "Provides that the act is null and void if appropriations are not approved."
Another government regulatory agency will be created: The Rental Review Board.
Rent control never made rental housing better. Rent control has only limited the quantity of housing available and degraded the quality of the housing. Although the dollar price of the housing may go down, the loss of quality way offsets the price decrease.
If this bill is enacted into law, it will be another Great Waster of human effort. Rent control is a hateful idea. Rent control is bad because it interferes with free people making use of their property.
The greedy Democrats want to make free use of your private property, so they want rent control. They want to impose their sense of what should be as long as it doesn't cost them anything. It doesn't matter to them that it costs you the control of what you own.
Once again, into the breach. Notify your legislators in Olympia and tell them what you think of these ideas to micromanage our way of life.
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