Friday, April 16, 2010

2010 Washington State Initiatives to the People

While browsing across the Washington Secretary of State's website (don't ask), I stumbled onto the list of initiatives filed for 2010.  To be certified and placed on the November ballot, these initiatives need petitions with the signatures of 241,153 Washington State voters (8% of the total number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election).

Of course, just getting the text of your initiative filed with the Secretary of State requires not much more than a properly formatted document and a $5.00 filing fee.  This, of course, lends itself to some very interesting initiatives that never make their way to the ballot.  I present a roundup of this year's more interesting initiatives on file with the State... that you'll never see on a ballot:  

Initiative 1069:  Replace the Seal of the State of Washington

This measure would require the Seal of the State of Washington to be changed to depict a vignette of a tapeworm dressed in a three piece suit attached to the lower intestine of a taxpayer shown as the central figure. The seal would be required to be encircled with the following words: “Committed to sucking the life blood out of each and every tax payer.” The illustration would be selected from submissions submitted by taxpayers. 

This one gets my "creative initiative of the year" award.  

Initiative 1058: Teach the Declaration of Independence and its relationship to the federal and state constitutions.  

This measure would require specified teaching concerning the relationship of the Declaration of Independence to the federal and state constitutions, and related documents, as a prerequisite to graduation from public and private high school. Copies of these documents would be displayed in all schools. The measure also defines what “teaching” is required. Teaching would occur in fifth grade, eighth grade, and two years of high school, and would be a subject of state standardized testing. 

Funny, I seem to recall learning this all anyway.  I don't really need a test to tell me I learned it.  Then again, maybe if we could make the cable news pundits forced to learn this stuff some good might come of it.  

Initiative 1072:  Change the legal age to sell liquor, but not to consume it.  

The laws prohibiting selling or providing “liquor” (alcohol, spirits, beer, and wine) to anyone under age twenty-one would be changed to prohibit selling or providing liquor to anyone under nineteen. The measure, however, does not change the laws preventing persons under twenty-one from possessing, consuming, and purchasing liquor, and public intoxication, although it modifies penalties for persons who purchase liquor under age twenty-one. The measure requires a public vote on the measure after ten years. 

I'm not sure what's more confusing, the idea or the wording.  Basically, what I get out of this is that the drinking age is still 21, but if I'm selling you beer, it's not a crime for me to sell it to you if you're 19 (though it's still a crime for you to buy it from me).  The point seems to be to save money by not going after all of the liquor age enforcement, but leaving the penalty to those 19 and 20 year olds who consume it.  Uh-huh.  

Initiative 1076:  Repeal every law enacted by the 2010 Legislature.  

This measure would repeal all laws adopted in 2010 prior to this measure’s enactment, other than initiatives, that were not subject to referendum because they contained clauses declaring the bill to be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, or support of state government and its existing public institutions. Other 2010 laws that could not have been enacted but for a law repealed by this measure would also be repealed. 

The state constitution provides a way for any law the legislature enacts to be referred to a vote of the people by petition.  As it is, the state legislature has a way to make laws un-referable by calling it "necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace", the so-called "emergency clause".  This would basically undo any of those such laws, or any laws resulting from them.  An interesting concept, but seems like you'd be throwing baby out with the bathwater.  


Tim Eyman and crew have added another half dozen initiative proposals in the last week contesting everything related to the new taxes on cheap beer, pop, bottled water, candy and tobacco.  In fact, there are at least 2 dozen other initiatives Eyman has already submitted related to taxation in some way or other, that will probably also never make it to the ballot.  At least give these other initiatives some credit for creativity.  

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