Yesterday was Election Day here in the United States, and Washington State had a few interesting issues on the ballot. Unfortunately, I had neglected to register to vote since I'd moved, and my parents neglected to mail me my absentee ballot for Spokane County. Such is life, at least this wasn't a major election year. Still, I had opinions on the issues being voted on this year, and I'm disappointed that I didn't voice my opinion, even if I agree with most of the decisions made.
Initiaive Measure 960 - Concerning Tax and Fee increases by the State government. Passed: 52.4% - 47.5%
Requires tax and fee increases proposed by the government to have a 2/3rds majority (either legislative or from the people) before being passed into law. Not surprised this passed, since the people of Washington of often tried to limit the governments ability to tax us. It'll be interesting to see if this is upheld by the courts, as so many other attempts to do the same have not been.
Referendum Measure 67 - Concerning triple damages for people illegally denied insurance claims Passed: 56.9% - 43.0%
The wording of this referendum was ridiculous. "It will be unlawful for insurance companies to 'unreasonably' deny claims." Okay, so, what is the definition of 'unreasonable' in the above sentence? Oh, and apparently there is a clause that will give the attorneys more money too! My favorite part is that some insurance companies will be exempt, so it's not even a consitent law.
This law needed to apply to all insurers, have no clause regarding attorney fees, and provide a strong definition of 'unreasonable' for this to have been reasonable. The pro-groups claimed that Insurance rates won't go up because of this. That's bullshit. The cost of doing business will rise because of this law, and it will cause the rates of insurance to go up. Period. Too bad for people trying to run small businesses (like myself) who need to get insurance without the benifit of a lot of members on the same plan. Good thing for me, that I still have a day job, I guess.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 8206 - Establishment of a budget stabilization account Passed: 68.0% - 31.9%
Requires that 1% of the state's funds every year be put in a special fund with limited access. It's an emergency fund, which is a reasonable thing for the government to have, especially given the volcanic activity we will experience again someday. I think the government should, in general, be more responsible in setting up these sorts of funds, as most government money today is just thrown into a general fund.
Senate Joint Resolution 8212 - Constitutional Amendment to allow Inmate Labor Passed: 60.1% - 39.8%
I'm glad this passed, though I was torn on this issue. The danger is that the Inmate Labor could potentially outcompete other citizen-run firms, as their expenses are less (since Inmates don't typically get paid much for their time). However, the use of Inamte Labor could serve as a good alternative to the employment of 'migrant workers'. It's not that I'm against migrant workers in theory, they're clearly filling a need that no one else is.
However, they're usually non-citizens and they're causing a lot of problems. They take most of their earnings out of our country, they use SSNs belonging to citizens, they often take advantage of services they're not paying to support. Hopefully, someday, we can get a decent law passed that gives migrant workers a legitimate legal status, whether or not it provides a path to citizenry (which I don't think most of them want).
The use of Inmate Labor provides a service to this state that can fill the same need as migrant workers, while also standing a better chance at actual rehabilitation of the men and women sent to prisons. Arizona had had work camps and inmate labor for years, as a voluntary program for prisoners to enroll in tha serves to shorten their time. Most of the prisoners who do a tour in the work camps appear to come out more ready to integrate properly in society. Plus, a large amoount of the prisons in Arizona today were constructed by inmates, no doubt at a much reduced cost to the state, and it's people.
Engrossed House Joint Resolution 4204 - Constituional Amendent to revise school tax levies to only require a simple majority Failed: 48.1% - 51.8%
As strongly as I believe in Public Schools, I'm glad this wasn't passed. The argument for the referendum was reasonable: If levies for prisons and stadiums and the like can be approved by a simple majority vote, why does it require a super-majority to pass school levies? Why are schools held to a higher standard?
I agree with the sentiment. I disagree with the execution. If we're going to hold schools to a super-majority, we should hold other public works projects that require tax levies to be held to the same standard. If someone were to write up a new constituional amendment requiring a super-majority for all tax-levies based on property ownership, I'd be all for it. Congress needs to spend the money they have more responsibly, and I believe that requiring a super-majority on many more projects would help to force that to happen.
Substitute House Joint Resolution 4215 - Constitutional Amendment to invest in Higher Eductaion Funds Passed: 53.0% - 46.9%
Having been heavily affiliated with Universities for the majority of the last decade now, I definitely feel that it's worth investing in. I just don't understand what the point of this law is. Is the money from the investments to go to keeping tuition rates lower? Is it supposed to sponsor research or other Academic Programs? Making this money work and be available is good, but I just don't understand what they are trying to achieve, and that make me doubt the necessity.
All in all, things landed about how I expected, and I'm about 50% in my agreement with the decisions made by the voters, which also wasn't unexpected.