Washington: State ballot

by Caitlyn Starkey

Six initiatives and referendums come before Washington voters for approval. Capturing widespread media attention are Referendum 74 concerning same sex marriage and Initative 1240 concerning the creation of charter schools. Initiative 1185, Initiative 502, Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221 and Senate Joint Resolution 8223 are also on the ballot.

Initiative 1185 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government, according to the Secretary of State’s Election website.

The measure would require that the legislature approve tax increases with a two-thirds supermajority, compared to the traditional majority of more than 50 percent. Tax increases could also be passed through statewide voter approval.

Similar measures concerning a supermajority vote have been enacted in Washington state previously; however, the previous statute expired, according to the Secretary of State’s Online Voter’s Guide.

Initiative 502 would legalize production, possession and sale of marijuana for those over 21 years of age.

“Since the legalization movement took hold in the 1970s, at least 11 states — most recently, Rhode Island in 2012 — and several large cities have stripped criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, usually making it an infraction akin to a ticket. Full legalization has been proposed and rejected by voters in Alaska, California and Nevada, and is on the ballot this November in Colorado and Oregon,” according to Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times.

The sale of marijuana would be taxed at 25 percent of the selling rate. No location of sale could be within 1,000 feet of any school, playground, recreation centers, child care center, park, transit center, library or game arcade.

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221 seeks to redefine the state debt limit.

“This amendment would, starting July 1, 2014, phase-down the debt limit percentage in three steps from nine to eight percent and modify the calculation date, calculation period, and the term general state revenues,” according to Project Vote Smart.

In the Washington state constitution, article VIII, a cap is placed on the percentage of interest and principle paid each year by the state. When any new debt is accrued it must be within the limit. However, in section 1 of article VIII are also exceptions to the debt limit.

“For example, bonds payable from the gas tax and motor vehicle license fees are excluded, as are bonds payable from income received from investing the Permanent Common School Fund,” according to the Online Voter’s Guide.

Senate Joint Resolution 8223 would change regulations concerning investments of the University of Washington and Washington State University.

Being publicly funded universities, there is currently a restriction on where the universities may invest. The amendment would allow them to invest public money into private stocks and bonds with the legislature’s approval.

“This amendment would create an exception to constitutional restrictions on investing public funds by allowing these universities to invest specified public funds as authorized by the legislature, including in private companies or stock,” according to Project Vote Smart.

Contact Caitlyn Starkey at cstarkey13@my.whitworth.edu

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