6 initiatives appear headed for fall ballot
Here's more evidence of discontent among the voters — six initiatives appear headed for the ballot after meeting the Friday deadline for turning in signatures.
Seattle Times Olympia bureau
OLYMPIA — Here's more evidence of discontent among the voters: Six initiatives appear headed for the November ballot after meeting the Friday deadline for turning in signatures.
Some would have major implications for the state budget if approved.
One measure would repeal taxes on pop, candy and gum recently approved by the Legislature to help balance the state budget. Another would impose an income tax on top earners and use the money to help fund education and health-care programs. Still another would make it harder for lawmakers to increase taxes without a public vote.
Initiatives give people "the opportunity to legislate when they're unhappy with the Legislature. Clearly that is happening now," Secretary of State Sam Reed said.
The record for initiatives on the ballot was seven, back in 1914. Having six measures on the ballot this year would tie the number that voters faced in 2000.
In addition to the initiatives, voters will decide three measures the Legislature put on the ballot, including one proposal in response to Maurice Clemmons, who killed four Lakewood police officers last year while out on bail.
The state constitutional amendment would allow a judge in certain cases to deny bail to a person charged with an offense punishable by life in prison. Currently under the state constitution, bail can be denied only for defendants charged with aggravated first-degree murder.
Initiatives need at least 241,153 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to make the ballot. The state recommends proponents turn in at least 300,000 to provide a buffer. State officials must verify that the petitions have enough valid signatures to qualify.
Initiative backers have spent more than $1 million on the campaigns so far, much of it going to paid signature gatherers.
The following initiative campaigns said they had turned in more than 300,000 signatures by the Friday deadline:
• I-1098, backed by a coalition including labor, health-care and education groups, would create a 5 percent tax rate on annual income above $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples, and a 9 percent tax rate on income above $500,000 for individuals and on income above $1 million for couples. It also would cut the state property tax by 20 percent and increase the business-and-occupation tax credit for small businesses to $4,800 from $420 per year. Sponsors say the measure would generate about $1 billion annually for education and health-care programs. They said they turned in more than 375,000 signatures Thursday and Friday.
• I-1100, backed by Costco, would take the state out of the liquor-store business, eliminate price controls and allow volume discounts. Supporters said they delivered petitions with more than 390,000 signatures last week.
• I-1105, a competing liquor-store measure, would close state liquor stores and license private parties to sell or distribute spirits. Sponsors said they turned in more than 350,000 signatures on Friday.
• I-1082, backed by the Building Industry Association of Washington, would allow private workers' compensation insurance to compete with the state government's system. Supporters said they submitted more than 340,000 signatures on Wednesday.
• I-1107, backed by the American Beverage Association, would repeal recent tax increases approved by the Legislature on soda, candy, gum and certain processed foods. Sponsors said they turned in around 395,000 signatures on Friday.
• I-1053, backed by initiative activist Tim Eyman, would reinstate the need for a two-thirds legislative majority, or voter approval, to raise taxes. Voters have approved similar requirements three times over the years, but legislators have suspended it and raised taxes when facing big budget deficits, as they did in 2010. Initiative sponsors said they turned in more than 330,000 signatures Friday.
Two other measures were put on the ballot by the Legislature. One, Referendum 52, would authorize and fund bonds for energy-efficiency projects in public schools and higher-education buildings. It would make a temporary tax on bottled water, recently approved by the Legislature, permanent.
The other would amend the state constitution to allow the state, when calculating its debt limit, to exclude federal subsidies for certain bonds. Basically, this is a way for the state to borrow more money within the state debt limit.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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