Monday, October 31, 2016

The Political Desk: Initiatives, Advisory Votes, Amendments, and Other Weighty Matters.

Clickbait TLDR: Yes/Approved/Maintained on all except one. You'll be surprised by the one that doesn't get recommended!

We have a slew of things to vote upon that are not people here: We have Initiatives to the People. We have Initiatives to the Legislature. We have Advisory Votes (which really don't matter at all). We have an amendment to the State Constitution (which is less dire than it sounds). We have two amendments to the King County Charter. We have a Transit Proposal, and, most locally, we have School Construction Bond.

Initiative Measure No. 1433 - Raising the minimum wage state-wide. YES. When Seattle raised its minimum wage, doomsayers stated categorically that it would be the demise of the city's small businesses and chain restaurants. Instead businesses are doing even better and unemployment is down. Now that the same idea is posed statewide, the same doomsayers declare that such actions can ONLY succeed in Seattle, which is successful and, um, has a higher minimum wage. Like I said, YES.

Initiative Measure No. 1464 - Campaign finance reform. Creates a campaign finance system that will allow residents to send state funds to candidates and thereby reduce the power of PACs and special interest groups. Paid for by closing a loophole involving non-resident sales-tax exemptions.  This is a very experimental idea, and I say YES.

Initiative Measure No, 1491 - Court orders to prevent access to firearms by individuals"exhibiting mental illness, violent or other behavior indicating they may harm themselves or others." This is a good step to taking guns out of the hands of those who may pose a direct threat to themselves and others, and addresses it from the "It's not guns, its people with guns" side, which I keep hearing about as a reason NOT to do anything after every major shooting. YES.

Initiative Measure No, 1501 - Increases penalties for people defrauding senior citizens. NO. What? What do I have against old people (bordering on that demographic myself)? The fine print with exempt certain individuals, like in-home caregivers, from public disclosure searches. This last bit is to keep union-busters at bay by not letting them access files. Don't like union-busting, but really do not like to fog up our transparency laws. Still like old people, though. Seriously, take one out to lunch. Or call you Mom. Either one works.

Initiative Measure No. 732 - Carbon Tax. YES. This is a revenue-neutral proposal to reduce the among of carbon pollution pumped into the atmosphere. Some of the ecology groups are not fans of this, because it does not go far enough, but I say it is a beginning. Others point out that the new tax will raise gas prices to ... much lower than we were paying nineyears ago. In addition it reduces our regressive sales tax by a point and eliminates some B&O taxes. Reduces taxes, you say? I find your pamphlet interesting and would like to know more.

Initiative Measure No. 735 - This one proposes that the state pushes an federal constitution amendment that overturns Citizen United, which has done SO much to screw our recent elections. Doesn't have as much teeth in it, but pushes our Legislature in that direction. YES.

Advisory Vote No. 14  House Bill 2768. - Advisory votes cheese me off only because they are there because of a free-pony initiative that forces the legislature to check with the people about their financial arrangements. Not to listen to the people, just to check. Plus these are written in the scariest manner possible. This one will extend an existing tax on some online insurance plans for dental plans. It is maintaining a tax, but is still called a tax increase. I say its broccoli and I say the hell with it. MAINTAINED.

Ditto Advisory Vote No. 15 Second Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2778, which states (according to our scary-language law) that it will cost 2 million dollars in ten years, which means it with RAISE 2 millions dollars by closing a loophole on alt-fuel vehicles. Hell, I OWN an alt-fuel vehicle, and I think it should be MAINTAINED.

Proposed Amendment to the State Constitution Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210. moves the due date for redistricting up 46 days, putting it right after the election. when we are still paying attention to stuff and are cheesed off about gerrymandering. Its a nuts and bolts thing that makes sense since we now have computers and cars and stuff these days that make the process faster. APPROVED.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 Nonpartisan Prosecuting Attorney. All the offices of King County are supposedly non-partisan - why not this one? I'm a little leery on this, only because it forces folk to dig down deeper into the Voters' Guide to figure out where the County Attorney is getting his support, but I'll go with YES.

King County Charter Amendment No. 2 Gender-Neutral Language. - Shall we make the Charter gender neutral in its language? Sure, why not. If they need some editors to do this, and to push for clarity, I have some suggestions (mimes holding a phone to his ear and mimes the words "call me"). YES.

Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No,. 1 Light-Rail, Commuter-Rail, and Bus Service Expansion. This is a biggie - $53.8 billion for improved light rail and buses - a 20 year plan for an overstressed transit region. When they rolled out the preliminary plan, a lot of suburbs looked at it and wanted more for their particular part of the woods, so it's grown. The argument against is that we should be spending the money on education (Cool! Are we going to spend it on education? No, they're just saying they SHOULD spend money on education, but will still block all attempts at that as well). My neighborhood is so off the grid we don't even get an improved transit stop (That's cool - I was holding out for Stargates, myself), but I think that coming to grips with our highways (bad now and worse as more people want to live here) is vital. Vote APPROVED.

And finally,

Kent School District No,. 415 Proposition No. 1 Capital Improvement and School Construction General Obligation Bonds. This is permission to go out and sell bonds to build two new elementary schools, 20 new classrooms, and fix a bunch of roofs. $252 million worth of bonds. If you're voting AGAINST the previous one because of education, you'd damned well be voting FOR this one. Vote APPROVED.

Ugh. That's the list. It has been a long journey. Summary coming up next:

More later,