Thoughts about election issues
October 15, 2015
It's election time. We'll receive our vote-by-mail ballots soon, so here are some thoughts about issues.
First, however, elsewhere in this issue you'll find candidates' responses to our invitation to fill out a brief candidate interview form. These are the local races, and it's very interesting to read the responses. We have many intelligent, dedicated people willing to step into the often unappreciated positions on local boards, councils and commissions. It is a true form of public service.
Now, here are some thoughts on the initiatives on the ballot:
Initiative 1366: This measure would decrease the sales tax rate unless the legislature refers to voters a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and legislative approval for fee increases. I recommend a no vote on this measure. This initiative is yet another effort by Tim Eyman and his supporters to subvert the principle of simple majority rule. The state constitution says all bills shall be passed by simple majority vote, but this measure would require a super majority. The state supreme court has already ruled a similar Eyman initiative was unconstitutional. If it passed, just 17 senators could kill an effort to raise the revenue needed for our education, transportation, mental health and other safety net programs.
We elect our representatives and senators, and we should let them do the jobs which we've delegated to them. Consequently, I hope voters will vote to maintain the legislators' actions found in the four state advisory votes. They are the result of bipartisan compromise in one of the toughest legislative sessions in history.
In Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1449, the legislature imposed a tax on oil products transported by rail to help fund accident response efforts. Accidents in other parts of the country have shown how difficult and expensive it is to respond to an oil spill. I think our state needs to be prepared to address this potential.
Second Substitute Senate Bill 5052 imposes an excise tax on medical marijuana sales and raised money for state funded programs.
Second Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5987 adds additional taxes on motor vehicle and special fuels costing an estimated $3.7 billion in the first 10 years, for government spending--including our underfunded educational system.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6138 increases business and occupation tax revenues and excludes certain software manufacturers from a retail sales tax exemption, and generating more revenue needed for state funded programs.
Initiative 1401: An international treaty called the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species” identifies many species of animals and plants that are at risk of extinction worldwide. The United States agreed to this treaty in the 1970s. Federal law makes it illegal to sell, import, or trade in endangered species listed by the treaty, or in parts or products made from animals that are listed as endangered (with some exceptions). Washington state law does not match the federal law. This measure would prohibit any person in Washington from selling, buying, trading, or distributing parts of certain endangered animal species, or products containing or made from those animals--elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, pangolins, marine turtles, sharks, and rays. It has exceptions, such as the sale or trade of existing antiques, or for products for museums or educational purposes. It would be one step in helping stop the extinction of valued animal species, and so, it's worth a yes vote.
Finally, there's our own Wahkiakum County Advisory Proposition, a non-binding vote asking if the county should enact an ordinance regulating the quantity of junk or solid waste on private property that is visible from the public right-of-way. The proposed ordinance came from community input, and it was developed by a committee of citizens and officials who recognize property rights but also see a need for grounds for government action in extreme cases. Exceptions are numerous, and most citizens will have no impact from the ordinance. The ordinance is needed. The full text may be seen on line at http://www.co.wahkiakum.wa.us/documents/SolidWasteNuisanceOrdinance6-24-15.pdf