The Seattle Times

Another two local ballot measures, in Spokane, have been thrown off the November ballot, reports the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier for state lawmakers to increase taxes.

The court, in a 6-3 ruling, decided a state law requiring a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to increase taxes is unconstitutional.

“Our holding today is not a judgment on the wisdom of requiring a supermajority for the passage of tax legislation,” the court said in its majority opinion.

A committee in the Washington state Senate is considering a proposal to increase the amount of time that initiative campaigns have to collect signatures.

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman testified Thursday that the larger window of time would aid citizen-led campaigns that may not have the financial resources to fund an army of signature collectors. He said signature collectors also have to work during challenging winter months and during a time when other political campaigns are not active.

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THE 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has made a good ruling in Family PAC v. McKenna, a case on Washington’s law of initiative and referendum. The ruling keeps our state’s strong rules for public disclosure of campaign finances.

The rule at issue is that anyone giving more than $25 to support or oppose a ballot measure must disclose his name and address, and if giving more than $100, occupation and employer.

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Two unions have filed a lawsuit in King County attempting to stop implementation of Initiative 1183, which voters approved in November and which would kick the state out of the liquor business. The unions represent nearly 1,000 workers expected to lose their jobs because of I-1183. The lawsuit claims the measure violates the single-subject rule, which requires that an initiative address just one issue.

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Readers sent questions Wednesday about a Costco-backed voter initiative on the November ballot that would privatize the state’s liquor business. Here’s an edited version of our question-and-answer session on Initiative 1183.

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A group from Mukilteo asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule on the validity of a public vote on red-light traffic cameras. It’s a case that could have broad implications as red-light-camera opponents push ballot measures in several Washington cities. Camera foes, including frequent initiative sponsor Tim Eyman, collected signatures last year seeking to repeal a Mukilteo ordinance allowing the cameras and require a public vote before the city could use them. The measure passed with 71 percent.

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A coalition of retailers and restaurants, including Costco, filed an initiative Friday that would privatize the distribution and sale of liquor in Washington. Last November, voters rejected I-1100, which was financed largely by Costco Wholesale, with 53 percent of the vote. The measure would have allowed grocery stores and other retailers to sell liquor. Costco also unsuccessfully pushed a privatization proposal in the Legislature this year.

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Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes filed suit Tuesday to prevent an anti-tunnel referendum, saying he wants to save citizens the expense and grief of what he considers a futile election. The motion, filed in King County Superior Court, basically asks a judge to decide whether City Council agreements for the planned Highway 99 tunnel are subject to a public vote.

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With fewer than 250 signatures left to review, anti-tunnel Initiative 101 doesn’t have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The initiative, which seeks to prohibit the the state’s use of city rights-of-way for construction of a Highway 99 tunnel, needs 20,629 verified signatures to be sent to voters. As of Tuesday, 19,128 had been verified, while 8,641 had been challenged, said Kim van Ekstrom, spokeswoman for King County Elections office, which certifies the signatures.

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State Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-West Seattle, is sponsoring a bill this session that would place new requirements on the ballot-initiative process aimed at reducing the chances of fraud in paid signature-gathering.

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Homebuilder Rob Carlisle is carefully managing costs for materials and labor these days to keep his small Seattle company profitable, but he’s frustrated by what he pays for workers’ compensation insurance. “My rate increases have been pretty ridiculous, and we’re a pretty safe company,” Carlisle said. “If it was privatized and private companies were allowed to come in and compete, I feel I could get the same coverage for my employees for less.”

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Washington voters face two initiatives on the general election ballot that would end the state monopoly on hard liquor sales. Initiative 1100 also would eliminate price controls and other regulations, some of which have been in place since the 1930s. Retailers now selling beer and wine could add hard liquor. They also would be able to buy beer and wine directly from manufacturers.

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Signature gatherers for anti-tunnel Initiative 101 are becoming more conspicuous, in their red shirts at grocery stores and farmers markets. Organizer Elizabeth Campbell says 5,000 people have signed. What voters might not realize is that even if the measure attracts the required 20,629 valid signatures, it likely wouldn’t appear on the Seattle ballot until May ”” months after the state Department of Transportation is to sign a construction deal in January for at least $1.1 billion, to build a four-lane Highway 99 tunnel from Sodo to South Lake Union.

Secretary of State Sam Reed has certified one of two liquor privatization measures to the ballot.Initiative 1100 was certified Monday. Supporters turned in more than 390,000 voter signatures, well above the 241,000 required. A random check of signatures was completed Friday.

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