Vote-by-mail ballots will soon arrive in the mailboxes of Washington's registered voters. With the presidential election out of the way two years ago, there's not much on the ballot.
Voters living in the confines of Port District 2 have the only contested race on the ballot. Lori Scott is challenging incumbent Carlton Appelo for the position that represents western Wahkiakum County. Appelo is over 90 years old but his mind is still sharp. He was one of the founding commissioners of the district back in 1966 and feels he brings a wealth of experience to the board. Scott, a business owner and former member of the Naselle/Grays River Valley School District Board of Directors, is offering voters a choice.
We'll see what they decide. Either will serve the port district well.
Moving on, there are five statewide issues to decide.
Senate Joint Resolution 8205 proposes a constitutional amendment to repeal an inoperative provision of the state constitution regarding the length of time a voter must reside in Washington to be able to vote for president and vice-president. The state Senate and House both voted unanimously in favor of the resolution. I hope the voters will do the same.
Senate Joint Resolution 8206 proposes another constitutional amendment to require the legislature create a "budget stabilization account" and transfer money into it in years with "extraordinary revenue growth."
In 2007, voters amended the constitution to create a "rainy day fund" financed by a 1 percent contribution from the state General Fund. The resolution would increase that and require that extraordinary revenues go into the fund.
To me, this seems like overkill. It takes money away from the legislature that could be spent on school class sizes or other needs. The legislature doesn't need another hurdle like that, and I hope the measure goes down.
Initiative Measure No. 1125 concerns state expenditures on transportation.
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.
Again, the legislature doesn't need an additional hurdle. The existing structure handles it pretty well. Tolls are set so that, for the most part, people who use the road or bridge are paying for that service. The initiative has the potential of creating havoc with the transportation system and hamstringing its ability to respond to our transportation needs. I hope this measure goes down.
Initiative Measure No. 1183 would close state liquor stores and sell their assets; license private parties to sell and distribute spirits; set license fees based on sales; regulate licensees; and change regulation of wine distribution.
Corporate marketers such as Costco are pushing this initiative. In exchange for profits from the sale of beer, wine and liquor, they promise that sales will increase and there will be increased revenue for the state General Fund.
Opponents say the increased revenue will be the result of increased costs to consumers. Emergency response organizations have opposed it, saying it expands access to alcohol and that will lead to increased health and safety risks for people of all ages.
Voters have twice rejected similar initiatives. I hope they do it again. The current system works. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.
Finally, Initiative Measure No. 1163 would reinstate background checks, training, and other requirements for long-term care workers and providers, if amended in 2011; and it would address financial accountability and administrative expenses of the long-term in-home care program.
In 2008, voters approved a similar initiative. It, like Initiative 1163, doesn't have a dedicated revenue source, and the legislature delayed implementation because of recession's adverse impact on the economy and state revenue.
The goals of this initiative are worthwhile, but at the moment, I don't think the state can afford them.