This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



Election Prep: WA Initiative Measure 960

I thought I had registered too late for this election, but I got my absentee ballot in the mail a few days ago, so I guess I’m golden. This election is all state and local, so I pretty much know nothing about any of the issues or the people. So I need to educate myself. As I did for the last election I voted in (2004 in Melbourne, FL) I’ll post about each of the items as I decide how I am going to vote.

The first item on the ballot is Initiative 960. The summary text on the ballot itself is:

Initiative Measure No. 960 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government.

This measure would require two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval for tax increases, legislative approval of fee increases, certain published information on tax-increasing bills, and advisory votes on taxes enacted without voter approval.

But of course the summaries are not a good way to make a decision. I glanced over the pro/con statements in the voter info packet, but then went to the full text and spent 30 minutes or so reading it.

I started out with a fairly positive feeling about it. All about disclosure and making sure all proposed tax laws have the potential effects analyzed and published, etc. Good stuff in general I guess. Something that one would expect to be part of a reasoned process anyway. And I’m all for the requiring a 2/3 majority for tax increases. And for tightening some loopholes that were used to avoid this in the past. I’m not so sure about the ability to sometimes submit the tax increase proposals directly to a popular vote. I’m not sure that is really how such things should be done. But I was still in favor at that point in general. The ability to refer a tax increase to referendum is already current law. Right now that is optional.

But then they killed it by in cases where through one of several methods a tax increase happened WITHOUT a public vote an “advisory vote” would be required. That would be a vote to gauge the opinion of the people but which would be non-binding. If this requirement had been for a binding vote to determine if the increase stayed or went, I might have still been good. (Although I think I would still be on the edge.)

But non-binding votes are stupid and should just not happen. There are better ways to gauge public opinion. It is called a poll. There are better ways to raise awareness as well, which I think is the only real purpose of this section. Things which are put up on a ballot in a public election should always be binding, otherwise they are a huge waste of time.

I think this is also true of votes in legislatures. Every time they pass a “non-binding resolution” or “Sense of the Senate” or whatnot they are just showing their uselessness. Whatever though.


There is still a balance here though. Yes, it adds the insanely stupid advisory votes… why not just make the referendums mandatory instead of optional if you really always want a vote… and make it binding… such that you need the 2/3 majority in both houses AND a majority referendum (or maybe even 2/3 there too) rather than just an “OR”. But on the other hand, it does add some additional transparency and close some loopholes that let tax increases happen without the 2/3 vote.

Grrr. Unfortunately most legislation is like this (and ballot initiatives I guess). Bundling things that make sense with things that are crap. The trap is if you vote for the good, you get the bad too.

I don’t think I am going to do that. Give me the same thing without the stupid advisory votes and I’ll consider it. In the mean time, I am voting “No”.

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