Thursday, February 13, 2020

2020 presidential primary

2020 Washington presidential primary February 21 to March 10, 2020

This is a first for Washington, a presidential primary. Let me explain. Most countries have multiple parties, and each party chooses its own candidate for positions such as president or prime minister. The US is a politically depauperate country, with only 2 parties. All other things being equal, each party should hold its own elections to determine a candidate for the final, general election. Some years ago the Washington Grange went to court and won a ruling that political parties do not have the right to choose their own candidates. Rather, the top two vote getters in a primary advance to the general election. That means that it is quite conceivable that two members of one party could end up on the general election ballot. Gives us lots of choice, yeah? 

Until now, Washington chose its presidential candidates in party caucuses. If you’ve been to a caucus, you know that it is every bit as loud, disorganized, and frustrating as what we saw happening in Iowa weeks ago. It is also very limiting. The democratic caucuses on south Whidbey were held in the high school cafeteria. It was terribly loud. People wandered about lost. Our precinct was lucky to have the benefit of Steve and his pre-programmed laptop, and my crib sheet from having attended the caucus officer workshop. For all that, only a few hundred people crowded into that space.

So this year we will receive ballots in the mail in mid-February, to be returned by March 10. For purposes of the primary you will have to state a party preference. On the red side there will be only a single candidate. On the blue side there will be a rather long list of 13 options. These ballots were printed back in December, so they do not reflect today’s political reality. Several candidates have withdrawn but their names are still on the ballot. Several others are really out of the running but have not officially withdrawn. I have given them short shrift below.

For more detailed information, check out good old Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Washington_Democratic_primary
This gives the details of the byzantine process by which delegates to the national Democratic convention are chosen. Yeah, we get to vote, but our votes only account for about 2/3 of the delegates. Party bosses and elected officials get the other 1/3 of the decision. Seems less than fair to me. 

From the state elections website:

For the March 10 Presidential Primary only, the major political parties require voters to mark a party box on the return envelope. You must mark and sign the political party declaration (box) on your envelope for your vote to count per  RCW 29A.56.050.  Each major party wrote its declaration and provided it to the Secretary of State’s Office for ballot materials. Attempts to change the party declaration wording could result in your ballot not being counted. Your choice of party will not affect how you may vote in future elections. In the November General Election, you will not declare a party and may vote for any Presidential candidate you wish.

Your ballot is divided into 2 sides: Democratic Party (blue) and Republican Party (red). For your vote to count, you must vote for one candidate from the political party you marked on your envelope. If you vote both sides of the ballot, or the opposite side of the ballot, your vote will not count. Ballots are mailed February 21.


Ok, here are the basics: 

First, you need to know that you are registered to vote. To check, go to https://weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/MyVote/#/login 

Ballots will be mailed by February 21, 2020. If you don’t have one in hand by about the 24th or so, contact the elections office. 

The deadline for registering on line or for changing name or address is March 2. If you miss that deadline you will have to go to the Elections Office at 400 N Main Street in Coupeville. For more information call 360-679-7366 or email   elections@co.island.wa.us 
They’re open 8:00 – 4:30   Monday - Friday

The Elections Office tells us that ballots must be postmarked on or before election day, March 10. The League of Women Voters has informed us that the Postal Service is being less than helpful. Ballots dropped in mailboxes in Island County get shipped to Seattle for processing, and are usually postmarked the next day. Which means your ballot would be postmarked too late.   So if you drop your ballot in the mail on March 10 it may very well not be counted. NOT GOOD!

There are several solutions.
1. Get your ballot in the mail by Monday, March 9.
2. If you can’t do it before March 10, take it to the counter and ask the postal clerk to hand stamp it. And no, you don’t need to put a stamp on it, but you do need to get there by closing time, between 4:00 and 4:30.  Check your local post office.
3. Drop it in one of the 6 ballot drop boxes before 8:00 pm on Tuesday, March 10. They are located at:
    
    Island County Elections Office
    400 N Main Street    Coupeville

    Trinity Lutheran Church
    18341 Hwy 525    Freeland

    Ken’s Corner Shopping Center
    4141 Hwy 525 (at Langley Road)    Clinton

    Island County Camano Annex
    121 N East Camano Drive    Camano Island

    Langley Post Office, front patio
    115  2nd Street        Langley

    Oak Harbor City Hall
    865 SE Barrington    Oak Harbor

If you haven’t received a ballot by February 24, contact the Elections office.

And here is Marianne’s regular disclaimer: I would never presume to tell you how to vote. That is very much your business. I’m merely telling you how I intend to vote and why. You can make your own decisions from there.

Whatever else you do, VOTE. And encourage, hassle, bug, and convince everyone you know to vote as well. Feel free to forward information about the blog to all and sundry. 



If you’re voting in the Republican primary, you have no choice at all.

Republican: Donald Trump


Democrats:

The center of the road, as Jim Hightower so famously put it, is occupied predominantly by roadkill.  Which is why I have been referring to the self-proclaimed “mainstream” democrats as the roadkill dems. Not the place for genuinely progressive activists, especially those running for president. 

The roadkill dems tried to refuse to allow significant debate on the single most important issue of the day: climate change and the destruction of world civilization which has already begun. So maybe its time for those progressive activist candidates to ignore the roadkill wing of the party. I learned many years ago that when someone puts me (or anyone) in a position of “its him or me”, the appropriate response is “Goodbye. Sorry to see you go.” I think its high time for the progressive wing to tell the roadkill wing goodbye – and then to offer them a route back if they mend their ways. 

The roadkill dems appear genuinely to believe that no one can win an election without their blessing and support. Is that truly the case? In 2016 the roadkill wing foisted Hillary Clinton on the country and we all watched the utter disaster that resulted. I hold this very much against them. And now they’ve tried to do it again with Joe Biden. The man is no progressive. He is a sexist with little or no regard for half the population. He really does not understand the crisis of climate change. He is Trump light when compared with the field of highly qualified progressive candidates. The roadkill dems delude themselves into believing that everyone who votes left of the KKK will automatically vote for their anointed candidate. It ain’t necessarily so. There were a very large number of progressives who simply did not vote in 2016. Do we really want to see a repeat of that?

So, to the (remaining) candidates:

Joe Biden former vice president and a loser. I dislike intensely his history of racism, sexism, and general buffonishness. He seems at this point to have lost focus. He’s against universal health care, does not appear to understand the climate crisis, and greatest of crimes, speaks of considering a Republican running mate. Not my guy.
Could he beat Trump? No way, not after the whole Ukraine/impeachment affair.

Bernie Sanders Vermont senator, true pragmatist, and a hero of mine for many years, starting back in the late 1960s when we were both anti-war activists. Through all these years his actions have reflected my ideas. Not surprising, as I was raised as a Democratic Socialist. He has proven himself at every level of government to have the best interests of all the people at heart. If I have any criticism, it is that I would like to see him take stronger actions on environmental/climate issues. Of course he has endorsed the desperately needed Green New Deal. 
And then there’s the pragmatic argument: but can he beat Trump? Well, if we have anything like a genuine election, yes he can. At this point the integrity of the election is very much an open question, with Repubs advising their people to vote for the weakest Dem, and rich Dems advocating for anyone but Bernie. 

Elizabeth Warren Massachusetts senator and brilliant scholar. She’s got a plan for everything. Like Bernie, she’s down home good people. There are those who hold against her the fact that she was raised a Republican and thought of herself as such – until she saw the logical fallacies of that political outlook and became a Democrat. Unlike Bernie, she is a proud capitalist. I consider that a failing, but I also see that she defines the term very differently than the Wall Street investors do. Her capitalism is the Adam Smith small business/yeoman farmer model. I would love to hear a friendly debate between Warren and Bernie on the question of fairness in government finance. As with Bernie, I wish she were more outspoken in her support of the Green New Deal and environmental/climate issues in general. 
On the pragmatic question of whether she can beat Trump, she can obviously think and talk circles around him. What she can’t do, as Bernie can’t, is make the elections honest and inclusive. I am terribly worried that we’re going to see a complete botch of the election, leading to the final step of the fascist takeover of the US government.

Pete Buttigieg former South Bend, Indiana mayor and bright boy. He is using his youth and his gayness to try to pass as what he is not – progressive. Pete is establishment lite. He’s against universal health care, which for me is a drop dead. He can’t seem to understand that making health care or higher education universally available is actually cheaper than having to go through the sorting/vetting process to determine who is eligible. He is mildly, blandly in favor of not cooking the planet but doesn’t seem to take it very seriously. I am deeply offended by his claim, before the votes were counted, to have won the botched Iowa caucus. His website claims that he takes no $ from federal lobbyists, corporate PACs, or the fossil fuel industry. Checking that statement, we find Forbes reporting in December that 40 billionaires are financing him. Most of those made their bux in investments, hedge funds, and silicon valley. So while the campaign fund statement is technically true, it is not true that he is independent of corporate interests. Bottom line: he is too much in the mold of Hillary and Biden for my taste.
Can he beat Trump? I don’t know. There are a lot of closet homophobes out there. 

Amy Klobuchar Minnesota senator. Well, to start with, I’m offended that I can’t get to her website without signing in and avowing my support. So I’m stuck with Wikipedia, which duly reports a situation of employee abuse in her senate office. While a lot of employees have signed onto a letter claiming there is no abuse, one does wonder. She claims the Green New Deal is “unrealistic”. Sorry, lost me there. She claims she would take steps such as rejoining Paris, investing in green jobs, etc. She is a former prosecutor with a “tough on crime/war on drugs” background. She is credibly accused of knowingly prosecuting an innocent 16 year old, suppressing evidence to obtain a verdict, and seeing him sentenced to life without parole. Kind of unforgivable – and consistent with reports of employee abuse. She finds free higher education “unrealistic.” She does not support universal health care, or even Medicare for All (there is a difference). 
Just found a report that one of her largest contributors is agribiz giant Cargill – everything that is wrong with ag. She has consistently voted in their favor on issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, labels on genetically modified foods, and even sodium in school lunches. Her legislative director is a former Cargill lobbyist. 
Can she beat Trump? While it appears she can be every bit as mean, that does not translate to votes.

Michael Bloomberg former New York mayor and former Republican. I can’t take seriously someone who buys himself onto the ballot. I have taken the trouble to check out his website, in which he claims to be an entrepreneur, mayor, and problem-solving philanthropist. I know that as mayor of New York he approved the “stop and frisk” cops coming down on people of color for the crime of living while black. That is pretty hard to forgive. In 2008 he blamed the recession on the Democrats because they outlawed redlining (the practice of refusing to sell houses in certain neighborhoods to people of a certain skin color) back in the 1970s. He claims to have been the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for climate action. His program looks good. I just don’t trust him. 
Can he beat Trump? Since that seems to come down to who is willing to spend the most money, it might be possible.


Tom Steyer businessman, largely self-financed. His website reports that he has submitted 3200 pages of tax returns in service to openness. It also tells us that he and his wife pledged in 2010 to give the vast bulk of their wealth to charitable pursuits during their lifetime. He is committed to the wealthy paying their fair share. Refreshing. He would use that income to improve public education, access to healthcare, and Social Security. His platform includes taking back power from the corporations, climate justice and climate change, limiting capitalism, supporting labor unions. He espouses the “5 rights.” health, equal vote, clean air & water, education, a living wage. I conclude that not all rich people are dipwads. Tom Steyer appears to be the genuine article and I would like to see him in a position in federal government where he can do some good. Sadly, I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance at the presidency.
Can he beat Trump? Probably not. 

Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii representative. Not clear to me if she is still in the race at all. I like what I see of her platform, but don’t consider her a serious enough candidate to spend a whole lot of time on her.

A friend contacted me to complain of the unfairness of my writing off Ms Gabbard. So I am posting what he sent me for your consideration:
Tulsi Gabbard, a 16 year member of the National Guard who did two tours in Iraq is currently a major. She is a 7 year congresswoman representing Hawaii. Elected in 2012, she is the first Hindu member of Congress and the first Samoan-American voting member of Congress. Gabbard’s announcement of her intention to seek the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election made her the first female combat veteran to run for president. Gabbard has served for 7 years on the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Homeland Security committees, where she has been intimately involved with sensitive national security issues.

In 2016 Gabbard was vice chair of the DNC. She resigned the position to support Bernie Sanders due to conflicting views of foreign policy with Hillary Clinton. From the moment of Gabbard’s announcement of her candidacy she has been smeared by the mainstream media, the DNC, and Hillary Clinton for her foreign policy views and her support for Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Gabbard supports a Medicare for All health care plan she calls “Single Payer Plus” and strengthening Roe v Wade by codifying it into federal law. She co-sponsored the Family Act for paid family and medical leave. Until 2004 she voted and lobbied against same-sex marriage in Hawaii. She publicly apologized for those position in 2012, and again after launching her presidential campaign in 2019. Since 2013 she has been a member of the LGBT Equality caucus in Congress

Her decision to meet Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and her skeptical approach to two claims that he had used chemical weapons were controversial, although new information has come out from whistleblowers who actually investigated the gas attacks and claim that contrary evidence was suppressed from the official investigation. The whistleblower information is now being suppressed to justify US intervention in Syria.

Gabbard is the only candidate who is outspoken against regime changing wars. She believes that the trillions of dollars spent on the unnecessary wars should be spent at home taking care of the American people and that these regime changing wars increase the likelihood of nuclear war.

Tulsi brings the spirit of Aloha. Aloha is a way of life. Aloha means “I come to you with an open heart, with love, respect, and an acknowledgement that we are all brothers and sister, that all life is interconnected.” The famous Hawaiian cultural leader Aunty Pilahi Paki said “The world will turn to Hawaii as they search for peace because Hawaii has the key, and that is Aloha.”


More information about Tulsi Gabbard can be found at  Tulsi2020.com
Could she beat Trump? No way.

Deval Patrick (withdrew) 
Cory Booker (withdrew)
Andrew Yang (withdrew)
Michael Bennett (withdrew)
John Delaney (withdrew)

Of this now-winnowed crop of candidates, I am torn between Bernie and Elizabeth. I wish I didn’t have to decide between the two of them. What I would really like to see is a joint candidacy (hey, I can dream), with the two as co-presidents and no need for a vice president. Given that at this point the Constitution is a quaint document cited for historical purposes and having precious little to do with the governing of the country, why not have co-presidents?

This past Saturday I attended a Warren organizing meeting, and now I'm more torn than ever. I really want to see both of these two working together to lead this country. I found out at that meeting that Warren organized all her campaign workers into a union so they would have health care and so they wouldn't overwork themselves into burnout. That impresses me. 
I will be voting for  either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren for democratic candidate for president.

National nominating convention Milwaukee, Wisconsin summer 2020
Washington has 107 delegates


Thursday, October 17, 2019

November 5, 2019 General Election

Well, its time for another edition of Marianne’s Politiblog. If somehow the 2019 elections were not on your radar because we’re all so focused on 2020, this is the reminder that you need.

One thing that this year’s election has been driving home to me is that it is possible (and sometimes inevitable) to make choices nobody likes. If you go one way, supporters of the opposite hate you. If you go the other, supporters of the first feel betrayed. I don’t like that. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about that other than to make my reasoning as clear as possible.

I have arranged the blog so you get the statewide issues first, then north Whidbey, central Whidbey, south Whidbey, and Camano. The idea was to save you, the reader, from plowing through all sorts of stuff not relevant to your area. On the other hand, if you enjoy reading my snark, have fun. If you're in a real hurry, you can skip down to the bottom of each race to find my choice highlighted in red. Of course I will consider that cheating, since I really do want people to know who and what they're voting for. 

Ok, here are the basics: 

First, you need to know that you are registered to vote. To check, go to https://weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/MyVote/#/login 

Ballots will be mailed by October 18, 2019. If you don’t have one in hand by about the 21st or so, contact the elections office. The postal service has been abysmally slow recently, and you want to be sure you get your ballot in a timely fashion.   

The deadline for registering on line or for changing name or address is October 28. If you miss that deadline you will have to go to the Elections Office at 400 N Main Street in Coupeville. For more information call 360-679-7366 or email   elections@co.island.wa.us 
They’re open 8:00 – 4:30   Monday - Friday

The Elections Office tells us that ballots must be postmarked on or before election day, November 5. The League of Women Voters has informed us that the Postal Service is being less than helpful. Ballots dropped in mailboxes in Island County get shipped to Seattle for processing, and are usually postmarked the next day. Which means your ballot would be postmarked too late.   So if you drop your ballot in the mail on November 5 it may very well not be counted. NOT GOOD!

There are several solutions.
1. Get your ballot in the mail by Monday, November 4.
2. If you can’t do it before November 5, take it to the counter and ask the postal clerk to hand stamp it. And no, you don’t need to put a stamp on it, but you do need to get there by closing time, between 4:00 and 4:30.  Check your local post office.
3. Drop it in one of the 6 ballot drop boxes before 8:00 pm on Tuesday, November 5. They are located at:
    
    Island County Elections Office
    400 N Main Street    Coupeville

    Trinity Lutheran Church
    18341 Hwy 525    Freeland

    Ken’s Corner Shopping Center
    4141 Hwy 525 (at Langley Road)    Clinton

    Island County Camano Annex
    121 N East Camano Drive    Camano Island

    Langley Post Office, front patio
    115  2nd Street        Langley

    Oak Harbor City Hall
    865 SE Barrington    Oak Harbor

If you haven’t received a ballot by October 22, contact the Elections office.

And here is Marianne’s regular disclaimer: I would never presume to tell you how to vote. That is very much your business. I’m merely telling you how I intend to vote (or how I would vote if I could in any particular race) and why. You can make your own decisions from there.

Whatever else you do, VOTE. And encourage, hassle, bug, and convince everyone you know to vote as well. Feel free to forward information about the blog to all and sundry. And while this may not appear to be the most earth-shattering of elections, it is nevertheless important. 

This year I’ve tried something different. Rather than do the tedious legwork of researching every candidate for every position, I have done several things:
1. If someone is running unopposed I am not researching them or making a recommendation – unless the candidate happens to be a friend or someone I think deserves mention. Several candidates returned the questions and then their opponent dropped out. I chose to post their answers anyway, since they'd gone to the trouble.

2. I sent out a series of questions to all candidates for contested positions. A fair number responded. I sent second and even third notices. I will be posting the responses – and we’ll just have to see how those who didn’t bother to respond fare. 

3. This is the important change. I have re-arranged the order of the blog parts. Note the long list of entries. Since I can’t get all of this in a single post, there is a whole series - 17 of them, all relevant to this election. There is one set of state-wide issues applicable to everyone. Then there are sub-sets for different regions. Unless you are a masochist and want to see what is happening around the county, you can save time by just focusing on your particular region.

There are a lot of positions open, but most of them are pretty small and local – water districts, fire districts, etc. Here’s the long list:

North Whidbey/Oak Harbor
Oak Harbor City Council
Oak Harbor Mayor
Oak Harbor School District
North Whidbey Fire & Rescue District
North Whidbey Pool, Park, & Recreation District
Cemetery District #1 (Oak Harbor)
Swantown Water District
Penn Cove Water & Sewer District


Central Whidbey/Coupeville
Coupeville Town Council
Coupeville Mayor
Coupeville School District
Port of Coupeville
Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue District
Admiral’s Cove Water District
Cemetery District #2 (Coupeville)
Crockett Lake Water District
Rhodena Beach Water District


South Whidbey/Langley
South Whidbey School District
Port of South Whidbey
South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District
South Whidbey Fire & EMS District
Langley City Council
Langley Mayor
Clinton Water District
Scatchet Head Sewer District
Scatchet Head Water District
Freeland Water & Sewer District
Main Street Sewer District (Freeland)
Holmes Harbor Sewer District
Lagoon Point Water District
Ledgewood Beach Water District
Bayview Beach Water District

Camano
Stanwood School District
Fire District #1 (Camano)
Camano Vista Water District
Juniper Beach Water District
Port of Mabana


County-wide?
Public Hospital District

Obviously you will not see all of these on your ballot, just the ones relevant to where you live.

Here are the questions I put to the candidates:

1. Why are you running for this particular position
2. What do you hope to accomplish in this position? 
If an incumbent, what have you accomplished.                                                                                                                                 3. What problems do you see that you expect to correct or alleviate?                                                                                                      4. What relevant experience do you have?                                                                                                                                                5. What will be your operating philosophy in office?                                                                                                                               6. What message would you like to convey to voters?


And then there are the ballot issues. Good ole Tim Eyman has made our lives ever so much better by forcing the “advisory votes” onto the ballot. This time there are no fewer than 12. These are the terribly worded questions as to whether we like the actions of the legislature in the past year. They have no actual effect, other than to waste a lot of time, energy, and money. That’s Eyman for you. There are two other Eyman issues on the ballot, one is an initiative. The other is a referendum to reverse an earlier Eyman initiative. And finally, there is a Senate Joint Resolution to amend the state Constitution. I’ll explain it all when I get that far. 

There are also several local ballot issues, all of them contentious. Oak Harbor is asking for money for infrastructure/road repair. Langley is asking for money for infrastructure repair and expansion, and the South Whidbey Parks & Rec district is asking for money to acquire some more land. 

Ok, time to dive in.



I-976

State Measures - Initiative Measure No. 976
Initiative Measure No. 976 concerns motor vehicle taxes and fees. 
https://voter.votewa.gov/GenericVoterGuide.aspx?e=566&c=99#/measure/4244
Measure Text
Initiative Measure No. 976 concerns motor vehicle taxes and fees.
This measure would repeal, reduce, or remove authority to impose certain vehicle taxes and fees; limit annual motor-vehicle-license fees to $30, except voter-approved charges; and base vehicle taxes on Kelley Blue Book value.
Should this measure be enacted into law?     
Yes 
No 
Links

Eyman I 976 limiting motor vehicle excise tax


Here’s yet another Tim Eyman special. This would be Eyman the petty thief (stealing a chair from a store) and a major thief (our time, energy, taxes, and dedicated donations). 

A digression here. Government is all of us deciding what we consider important to accomplish on behalf of all of us, and then hiring the people to make that happen. The hiring process is an election and the hiring interview is the election campaign. Once hired, if those people do not do what we asked or expected of them, we fire them by electing someone else. 

Obviously, we have to pay the people we hire and to pay for the things we expect them to do. We all chip in to accomplish that. We call that chipping in paying taxes. Politics is the part where we all argue who is best for the job, what really needs doing, and how we’re going to pay for it. 

Enter Tim Eyman. He has been making a quite lucrative (and evidently somewhat illegal) living pushing initiatives to limit what taxes may be imposed and the uses to which we can put them.  He really truly hates public transit (or at least the people who pay him to run initiatives do).

His latest, I-976, would hark back to the $30.00 car tabs. That was the initiative which in a single blow nearly destroyed Island Transit and many other public transit systems by yanking away 55% of their funding. It sounded so good in the ads. Pay less for your car tabs. The effect on our transportation system was devastating – as witness the parking lot conditions of many of our major highways. 

Back when the first $30.00 car tab initiative was being debated I checked out the impact it would have on me. My dad was quite old and blind. Twice a week he used Island Transit paratransit to go to the Senior Center for their Time Together program. Without that paratransit I would have had to stop work in the morning, drive to my dad’s house, bring him to the Senior Center, come back home, work a few hours, and then do the whole trip again in reverse. That would have taken about half of my work day, twice a week – in exchange for which I would have saved less than $50.00/year on my tabs. Think about how public transit benefits you, and whether those benefits outweigh the $50.00 - $100.00/year you might save. 

I-976 would
~ limit annual license fees for vehicles under 10k lb (pretty much everything smaller than a 2.5 ton truck) to $30.00. Any increase (remember inflation?) would have to go to a statewide vote (which is very expensive).
~ base vehicle sales tax on Kelly Blue Book rather than MSRP or actual purchase price.
~ repeal local Transportation Benefit District fees. I hope you really like potholes.
~ repeal the $150.00 fee on electric vehicles. This one is contentious because we want to encourage the switch to electric. But even electric cars cause wear and tear on roads. Its got to come from somewhere.
~ repeal authorization for regional transit authorities (read Sound Transit) to impose motor vehicle excise taxes. 

I just checked the ‘fiscal impact statement’ and that pretty much says it all. ‘total revenue loss to the state in the next six years: $2,317,121.034.00. Yeah, over $2 billion lost for road repairs, public transit - and a clause requiring default on publicly financed projects dependent on those revenues. 

Here’s a statement from Mainstream Republicans of Washington: "Some 60 communities around our state, from Anacortes to Zillah, have agreed to tax themselves to fix their transportation challenges:.The state should not be allowed to override these local decisions, many of which were by direct vote of the people." 

And here’s the word from Washington Environmental Council: Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 would repeal critical transportation money that funds the maintenance of our roads and our transit systems across the state. It would undermine our ability to invest in any improvements like expanding transit, building voter-approved projects, and improving freight corridors -- all tools for us to address our emissions.
I-976 removes $4 billion from the state’s budget to invest in pedestrian, bike, and transit efforts and cuts $60 million in funding every year for 63 cities across Washington. That means more cars on our roads and less options for all of us. That also means cutting the ability of local communities to decide how to invest in infrastructure and cut climate pollution.

Do check out the web links above. They give all the gory details.

Bottom line: do we want to be able to get around without having to get in a car and drive? Do we want our roads to work? Do we want our ferries to work? Then you need to vote NO on this Eyman boondoggle. 

I will be voting a resounding NO on I-976.


Referendum 88

State Measures - Referendum Measure No. 88
The legislature passed Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerning affirmative action and remedying discrimination, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this act. 
Measure Text
The legislature passed Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerning affirmative action and remedying discrimination, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this act. Initiative 1000 would allow the state to remedy discrimination for certain groups and to implement affirmative action, without the use of quotas or preferential treatment (as defined), in public education, employment, and contracting. 
Should Initiative 1000 be: 
Approved 
Rejected 
Links
https://voter.votewa.gov/GenericVoterGuide.aspx?e=566&c=99#/measure/424
Ok, its confusion time again. Back in 1998 our good friend Tim Eyman pushed – and passed – I 200, which banned affirmative action in Washington.  Last year I-1000 was passed by voters. This initiative allowed the state to consider a person’s age, gender, race, etc in order to take affirmative action to include all different kinds of people. In effect, it reversed I-200. I’m not exactly clear on next steps, but it appears that some members of the Chinese community in Seattle are convinced that this somehow discriminates against them, and they have filed Referendum 88 to try to reverse I-1000. See why I’m confused?
A little help from Crosscut: An approve vote supports allowing Initiative 1000 to go into effect, thereby expressly allowing the state to implement affirmative action policies (without the use of preferential treatment or quotas as defined in the initiative) in public employment, education, and contracting.
reject vote supports blocking I-1000 from going into effect, thereby restricting the state from implementing certain affirmative action policies in public employment, education, and contracting.
~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~
I have looked into this very carefully, even reading the text of the law which was amended. I think I’ve got this right. As far as I can tell a YES on R-88 supports affirmative action. 

I’ll be voting APPROVED on R-88

Senate Joint Resolution No 8200

State Measures - Senate Joint Resolution No. 8200
The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment concerning legislative powers in times of emergency. 
https://voter.votewa.gov/GenericVoterGuide.aspx?e=566&c=15#/measure/4237
Measure Text
The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment concerning legislative powers in times of emergency. This measure would add "catastrophic incidents" to the specified times of emergency that the legislature may take certain immediate actions to ensure continuity of state and local governmental operations. 
Should this constitutional amendment be: 

Approved 
Rejected 
This one is pretty straightforward. The State Constitution did not foresee the crazy kinds of things that are happening these days. They did not include who had the power to decide that we were in a state of emergency and what we would do about that. 
To quote from The Columbian: Senate Joint Resolution 8200 would amend the state constitution to reflect current realities. It would allow the executive branch and the Legislature to take necessary measures to keep government running in the event of a catastrophic event. If government is incapacitated, the amendment would give lawmakers the power to move the state capital or a county seat, pass bills and fill vacancies in state or county offices. It also would allow the Legislature to fill an open governor’s seat if all people in line for succession were unavailable.
Under the existing law, passed by voters in 1962, the Legislature can act only in the event of an “enemy attack.” Back then, the public was more concerned about falling bombs than shaking earth; now, the biggest threat to a functioning government is more likely to be a massive earthquake or some other natural disaster. Senate Joint Resolution 8200 is a response to that altered perception.
Critics argue that the amendment would give too much power to the Legislature and the executive branch to upend state government. They warn that “catastrophic incident” is too vague and that a rogue governor could abuse newfound powers. State statutes already define “catastrophic incident” as any natural or human-caused event — including terrorism — with mass casualties and high levels of damage or disruption.

~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~

I agree that we do not amend the constitution lightly. This amendment is a reasonable response to an unfortunately likely possibility. One more piece of preparedness.

I’ll be voting APPROVED on SJR 8200.




Advisory Votes, all 12 of them

Here we go again with the Advisory Votes. These are a time and money wasting exercise imposed by our friend Tim Eyman. The hostile language is dictated by that initiative. When it talks about “costing” what it means is that is how much revenue the state expects to take in.

What makes this really obnoxious is that the Advisory Vote has absolutely no impact. It is an exercise in futility.

With that in mind, lets go to the full dozen  ‘Advisory Votes.’

And for those of you who don’t want to go through the whole mess, the quick cheat is just to vote MAINTAIN on all but #21, which should be REPEALED. 

Advisory Vote No. 20
Second Substitute House Bill 1087 
Measure Text
The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, an additional wage premium for long-term care services, costing an indeterminate amount in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be: 

• Repealed •Maintained 

Some of you may have noticed that there is an additional minuscule deduction from your paycheck. Employers are paying an additional 0.4% in withholding to fund longterm health care. It’s a great need and I wonder if that 0.4% is going to be enough. At least it’s a start.

I will be voting to MAINTAIN 


Advisory Vote No. 21
Engrossed Third Substitute House Bill 1324 
Measure Text
The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, the business and occupation tax for extracting, manufacturing, and selling timber and timber-related products, costing $21,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

             • Repealed             Maintained 
The B&O tax has existed for years. This particular subset of it, dealing with timber products, was scheduled to sunset in 2024. The legislature removed that sunset date. The Eymanistas went nuts. I will be voting to MAINTAIN.
CORRECTION. I misread this. It is the reduction in tax rate that has been extended. I will be voting to REPEAL. Many thanks to the reader who caught this and brought it to my attention. 

Advisory Vote No. 22
Substitute House Bill 1652 
Measure Text
The legislature increased, without a vote of the people, retail sales tax on architectural paint by adding an assessment to the purchase price, costing $6,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed     Maintained 
Yep, the legislature authorized a special assessment on house paint – in order to fund a program to manage waste paint. The producers are completely responsible for adding the assessment, and for managing the funds, which must be used for the waste paint management program. I did not find any specific dollar amount in the bill.
I like the idea of having a program to deal with leftover paint.  I will be voting to MAINTAIN


Advisory Vote No. 23
Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1873 
Measure Text
The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, a tax on the sale, use, consumption, handling, possession, and distribution of vapor products costing $178,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed        Maintained 
This measure recognizes the fact that vape products are new and were not classified as tobacco and therefore were not taxed as tobacco is. It was the closing of a loophole created by a technological advance. It is a bit tangential to this issue, but very interesting that people are dying from contaminated vape products. And it turns out vape products are more addictive than straight tobacco. One has the distinct impression that there is going to be a need for funds to treat the many people becoming sick and/or addicted to vape products. 

I’m anti-tobacco to start with. I’m all the more against vaping. You bet I’ll be voting to MAINTAIN 


Advisory Vote No. 24
Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2158 
Measure Text
The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, an additional service and other business and occupation tax for certain specified business activities, costing $2,253,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed          Maintained 

We’ve all been hearing and debating about how to reduce the cost of higher education. At the same time we have been discussing the unfairness of taxes in Washington. These two threads come together in this bill. The legislature passed a bill to increase B&O taxes to fund a program to provide “workforce education”. There’s a whole menu of grant programs for which people are eligible. The final bill report states that over 22,600 people were eligible for various grants but there was no money to actually give them. This B&O tax increase is intended to provide the funds to make higher education accessible.

I will be voting to MAINTAIN 


Advisory Vote No. 25
Substitute House Bill 2167 
Measure Text
The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, an additional business and occupation tax for certain specified financial institutions, costing $1,036,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed           Maintained 

This one is fun. This is the legislature going after the big banks ( or “specified financial institutions, as the bill calls them), insisting that they pay at least a little bit back. It doesn’t go into effect until 1-1-20, and applies only to those whose annual net income is at least $1 billion. They’re being asked to pay 1.2% in B&O, which will generate a substantial addition to the state’s general fund.

Yep, I’ll be voting to MAINTAIN 


Advisory Vote No. 26
Substitute Senate Bill 5581
Measure Text
The legislature expanded, without a vote of the people, application of the state tax code to certain remote sellers, marketplace facilitators, and others, costing $1,051,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed          Maintained 

You may have noticed that you are now having to pay sales tax on on-line purchases. What a drag. The simple reality is that Washington has a terribly regressive state tax system. That means the state is often caught short on necessary expenses – like paying for schools and teachers. 

You may remember the McLeary decision, the one which directed the state to provide adequate funds for schools. The price tag was about $1 billion. The state failed for years to come up with that money, and the result was a $100k/day fine – which ended up costing the state $3,650,000/year. Add to that the fact that as on-line commerce grew and storefront retail shrank, the state was losing more and more in sales tax. So, over the screaming objections of Amazon and eBay, and following a successful Supreme Court case in South Dakota, Washington imposed a sales tax on on-line sales – which then provided the funds to meet the McLeary requirements to upgrade our schools.

Now, in an “advisory vote”, we are being asked if that was the right thing to do. Until and unless Washington adopts a state income tax (don’t hold your breath), it has to find the funds where it can. I’m not loving it, but our schools, especially our teachers, deserve our support, and it has to come from somewhere.

So I will be voting to MAINTAIN 



Advisory Vote No. 27
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5993 
Measure Text
The legislature increased, without a vote of the people, taxes on petroleum products, costing $2,760,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed           Maintained 

Time for a deep dive into the Model Toxics Control Act. That’s a law we all passed in the 1980s to assess the fossil fuel industry in order to have a fund in place when the inevitable happened and the responsible party – just as inevitably – declared bankruptcy or otherwise avoided responsibility for the cost of cleanup. MTCA has served us well all these many years. 

Back then, the assessment was based on the value of the product. Given that value fluctuates, it was found not to be a good basis. SB 5993 changed the basis for assessment from value to volume. It’s a lot easier to measure a barrel than the value of that barrel’s contents. The change applies only to petroleum products.

Until we do away with fossil fuels, we need to have a means to clean up the mess created by accessing, transporting, processing, and burning fossil fuels. MTCA is there to make sure we have that means.
I will be voting to MAINTAIN   



Advisory Vote No. 28
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5997 
Measure Text
The legislature increased, without a vote of the people, sales and use taxes on certain nonresidents by limiting the exemption applicable to them, costing $313,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed        Maintained 
For reasons not entirely clear to me, people come from other states and BC to buy big ticket items in Washington. They used to be able to claim an out-of-state exemption from sales tax. This bill closed that loophole, at least part of the way. Out-of-state shoppers now have to pay sales tax, but once a year they can file a claim with Washington to refund the tax paid, if it was more than $25.00. This applies mostly to motor vehicles and computer tech.
I’m fine with people from outside Washington paying the same tax as we residents. I will be voting to MAINTAIN  


Advisory Vote No. 29
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5998 
Measure Text
The legislature increased, without a vote of the people, the real estate excise tax on certain sales of real property, costing $1,747,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed           Maintained 

Wow, I didn’t even know this had happened. I like it. 

When selling property, there is a Real Estate Excise Tax, which used to be a flat 1.28% of the sale price, paid by the seller, but of course calculated into the price so ultimately paid by the buyer.

This bill introduces a graduated Real Estate Excise Tax. Here’s the breakdown:
Up to $500k 1.1%
Amount between $500k and $1.5 million 1.28%
Amount between $1.5 million and $3 million 2.75%
Amount over $3 million 3%

So this actually reduces the REET rate for lower priced, ‘affordable’ homes, keeps the mid-range rate the same, and increases the top end rate. 

Frankly, I don’t see how this change is going to generate $1.7 billion in 10 years. The funds go to the Education Legacy Trust Account, created in 2005, so this is likely one small part of how to fund the McLeary mandate. 

I will be voting to MAINTAIN  



Advisory Vote No. 30
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6004 
Measure Text
The legislature increased, without a vote of the people, the business and occupation tax on certain travel agents and tour operators, costing $28,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed           Maintained 
Yet another loophole being closed. This one applies to travel agents and tour operators. Seems these folks, for reasons not at all clear to me, were enjoying an exceedingly low B&O tax rate of 0.275% while everyone else was paying 1.5%. this bill raises the B&O on those travel agents and tour operators to 0.9%. They’re still below others, but getting closer. Oh, and it only applies to those who gross more than $250k/year, so does not affect the small operators.

As long as the state’s primary tax is B&O, I think its fair that everyone pay. I will be voting to MAINTAIN 



Advisory Vote No. 31
Engrossed Senate Bill 6016 
Measure Text
The legislature increased, without a vote of the people, the business and occupation tax on certain international investment management services, costing $367,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. 
This tax increase should be: 

Repealed        Maintained 

It figures that the last item on the list is the most tangled and confusing, dealing with international financial markets. If I have this straight, and I’m not at all sure about that, “International Investment Management Services” receive a preferential B&O tax rate of 0.275% instead of the 1.5% that most of the rest of us pay. There are a whole lot of criteria about who qualifies as IIMS, but anyone with ‘average assets of more than $200 billion’, with offices in at least 8 countries and more than 500 employees gets that preferential rate. It looks as though the state is requiring these IIMSs to demonstrate that they still meet the criteria or pay back the difference between the 0.275% and the 1.5% for the years they didn’t qualify. 

On the other hand, the retail sales and use tax exemption is extended to 2031. 

I have very little sympathy for multi-billion dollar international corporations, and question why they should be receiving these tax breaks at all. I will be voting to MAINTAIN 


Whew, finally done with that exercise in futility. But now you know slightly more about Washington’s tax structure.