Washington 2008 ballot news archive

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For current headlines, see Washington ballot news.

Note: This page includes short news headlines as they happen. If you scroll through the page and read earlier headlines, information pertaining to the events in those sections may have changed significantly since the section was posted.
==Court orders new wording for King Co. initiative==

Leading initiative proponent Tim Eyman won a court battle Sept. 11, 2008, to reword the ballot title of a measure that would make it harder to amend the King County charter by initiative.[1]

"They just put a stake in the heart of this thing," Eyman said. "There's no way the voters will vote for this now."[1]

The measure, to go before King County voters in November, would double the number of signatures needed to place proposed charter amendments on the ballot. The original ballot wording chosen by county officials didn't mention that the requirement would be increased, only that the measure would "establish a process and signature threshold for amendments to the King County Charter by citizen initiative, as provided in Ordinance No. 16221."

King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick ordered that the wording be changed to explain clearly that the measure would boost the number of signatures required from 10% to 20%.[1]

Eyman said that no county with a 20% signature theshold has ever had a successful initiative.

Supreme Court to rule on I-960

The Washington Supreme Court will begin the process Sept. 9, 2008, of deciding whether a provision of Initiative 960, which requires that all tax increases be approved by supermajority vote in both houses, is unconstitutional.[2]

Senate Democrats follow through with lawsuit

The democratic leadership filed their expected lawsuit March 3, 2008, against the requirement for a supermajority to raise taxes imposed by I-960 and asked the state Supreme Court for an expedited ruling on the matter.[3]

The court denied the motion for a rush decision.

Senate Democrats argue that provisions in the measure shouldn't have the authority to trump the state's constitution. The measure, approved by voters in November 2007, was sponsored by Tim Eyman and requires a two-thirds majority to pass tax increases. The constitution only requires a simple majority.

An opinion column in The News Tribune said:

Those voters have twice told the Legislature they want that supermajority—in passing I-601 in 1993 and in reaffirming it just last November [via I-960].
For all the world, it looks as if Brown and her colleagues are deliberately defying the voters for the sake of raising taxes next year. State economists are predicting a $2.4 billion shortfall going into the next biennial budget if Legislature is to maintain its current spending plans.[4]

"This isn't about 960, and this isn't about undoing the will of the people," Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) said. "This is about defending the constitution and the Legislature's ability to pass laws under the constitution."

But The News Tribune disagreed: "Actually, it's precisely about undoing the will of the people, because that's the only effect the lawsuit would have. The people of Washington will understand that, even if the Democrats in the Legislature don't."[5]

Judge declines to add "assisted suicide" to title

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham refused to add the words "physician-assisted suicide" to the ballot or official voters pamphlet description for Washington's Death with Dignity Initiative.

"It is a somewhat loaded term," Judge Wickham said.

Instead of "suicide," voters will read that the measure would allow some terminally ill patients "to request and self-administer lethal medication" prescribed by a doctor. The court declined to add language requested by opponents and largely upheld the description as written by the state attorney general's office.[6]

Senate Democrats threaten lawsuit against I-960

Washington's I-960 is being threatened with a lawsuit from Senate Democrats who claim the measure shouldn't have the authority to trump the state's constitution. The measure, approved by voters in November 2007, was sponsored by Tim Eyman and requires a two-thirds majority to pass tax increases.

Democratic lawmakers admit that they were using the Feb. 29th vote on an increase in the liquor tax—which garnered a majority but not the super-majority required by I-960—to establish standing for bringing the suit against I-960.[7]

The new measure has been a thorn in the side of many legislators since its passage. While supporters say it is doing exactly what it was intended to do by discouraging tax increases, some legislators complain that it is "getting in the way of taking care of the business of our state."[8]

"Death with Dignity" measure faces challenge

The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide, opponents of a Washington Death with Dignity initiative, are challenging the ballot summary in court, alleging that the summary is misleading. Supporters of the initiative say that the challenge is a tactic to stall signature gathering.[9]

Initiative process safe in Washington for another year

Bills threatening the initiative process in Washington state were defeated Feb. 20, 2008, after citizen activists rose to defend their right to petition their government. Second Substitute House Bill 2601 sought to require petitioners to register with the government and rose fears of increased harassment of people collecting signatures.

Washington HB 2601 clears committee

Washington House Bill 2601 has cleared a House committee, striking fear into initiative proponents. The bill would require paid petition circulators and companies that employ paid petitioners to register and be licensed by the government before gathering signatures, as well as to publicly identify themselves and list their permanent residence.[10]

See also

Washington 2008 ballot measures