Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Political Desk: Rolling for Initiatives

The initiative system in Washington State has pluses and debits. It allows the people to make an end-run around the legislature to support a new law. You means it you can get enough people together on an idea, you can have it implemented. It also means that, if you enough money, or access to people with enough money, you can put an initiative on the ballot and sell it to an ignorant electorate. It ALSO means that the initiative can be challenged in a court of law, often on specious grounds, but that's just icing.

We have four initiatives up in Washington State, and an Advisory vote. Three of the initiatives are "to the people" which means they came from the ground up (but see above), which the fourth is "to the legislature" as a double-check for legislation someone doesn't like. Advisory votes are a remnant of an earlier initiative which was partially struck down, and now required the legislature to check in when they spend money, but they don't have to pay any attention to it. More whining about that later. Here are the four initiatives and the Advisory Vote

I-1631, also called Initiative Measure No. 1631, also called the carbon fee initiative. Remember the middle of the year, when all the surrounding wildfires filled the Puget Sound region with a smokey haze? That was a natural occurrence, that was a rarity in the modern age, and that was one situation we'd like to keep rare. Throwing on a "pollution fee" for sources of greenhouse gases and using the money to promote more clean energy is a good idea. Washington State is taking the lead of reducing this type of pollution and should do more. Vote YES. [And the big argument is that the polluters will just pass the cost along to consumers. That convinces people, then the polluters jack their rates ANYWAY because war/scarcity/distribution problems/added value to their shareholders. Tell you what: I'd vote No on this if you let the voters decide EVERY price rise from here on in. Any takers?]

I-1634, also called Initiative Measure No. 1634, also called the soda tax initiative. Here's the story on this one. Seattle passed a tax on some carbonated beverages. Big Gulp, consisting of the soda companies, freaked out and want this initiative to keep any other locality from getting ideas and  doing the same. As a result, they have been wallpapering the mailboxes with scare mailers and peppering the local channels with farmers fearful that they will have to give up the back forty if we tax Bouncy Bubbly cola. This is what you call an astroturf campaign - it looks like grass roots but it ain't. Give localities the power to make their own decisions. Make corporations buy politicians the old-fashioned way, one at a time. Vote NO

I-1639, also called Initiative Measure No. 1639. also called the gun safety initiative. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of looking at my shoes. You know what I mean. Someone shoots up a school, or a night club, or a church, and there are coffins and eulogies and we all look at our shoes and feel bad that we didn't do more to keep it from happening. This is about handling a whole bunch of gun stuff - safe storage, decent background checks, training. Will it eradicate all guns? No more than Speed Limits eradicated all cars. I just want to not look at my shoes as often. Vote YES.

I-940, also called Initiative Measure No. 940. which doesn't have a short-hand name. This is the result of carefully crafted negotiations between civic groups and law enforcement agencies to reduce the chances of cops shooting people, by giving the officers more tools and training to use as well as remove language that makes it harder to deal with such situations (currently, you have to prove the officer was MAD at the victim to prosecute - So casual and off-hand shootings were OK).  It was made a law. It was contested in court. Now it pushed back to the people to make the call. And even then, it will probably go back to court. Schoolhouse Rock never prepared me for this. Go with YES.

Advisory Vote No. 19, Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6269, also called One of the reasons why no one wants to be in state government. This is about raising the taxes and fees on petroleum products to cover the inevitable leakages. Given that at the national level they REALLY want more oil (though China isn't going to order from us for a while, apparently), this works for me. Actually, the ADVISORY part of the title tells it all - this is a poll at best, if we're good with this. Go with Maintained, anyway.

Next up, we get personal. As in, we talk about people running for office.

More later,