Despite the lack of federal offices up for election in 2007, a number of important issues stand before the people of Washington State at least. As I fill out my last-minute ballot, let me take you through the choices I made and the reasons for them.
Initiative Measure Number 960 (I-960):
I think Washington State’s constitution should be amended to prevent Tim Eyman from ever proposing, sponsoring, or being in any way associated with a ballot initiative measure. The stream of ill-concieved, badly-written initiative measures originating with this man truly boggles the mind. I-960 is more of the same, a tax-rebellion initiative that would seem appealing to voters by the surface description but which would have truly ugly consequences (in the form of massive and useless increases in government overhead) in practice.
I voted to reject I-960.
Referendum Measure 67 (R-67):
A Referendum Measure in Washington State is a kind of People’s Veto. The law in question was already voted on and approved by the legislature, but some extraordinarily resourceful wags took exception to it and decided to try to overturn it with a popular vote.
R-67 particularly is an attempt to reject Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5726 (ESSB 5726,) which authorizes (but does not require) the award of significant (up to a total award, along with actual damages, of three times the actual damages) punitive damages in first-party bad-faith lawsuits, and required the award of attorney fees and court costs in the same. (the award of such costs and fees had previously been allowed under Washington State case law, but not required.)
The R-67 campaign has been an especially contentious and repugnant one, with falsehoods and fallacies flying hard and fast from both sides.
The insurance companies who have backed the campaign to reject ESSB5726 claim that insurance premiums would be drastically increased, to the tune of $205 per family per year. There is no basis in fact for this figure, not even the independant (read: sponsored by insurance companies) study they frequently cite to support it. Frequent use of ad hominem and strawman fallacies, as well as contradictory and nonsensical claims (such as that ESSB5726 provides no benefit to consumers while simultaneously increasing insurance costs, when the only cost to insurers would be those benefits [punitive damages, court costs, and attorney fees] provided to consumers) make this campaign particularly odious.
The trial lawyer-backed campaign to approve R-67 (and thus ESSB5726) is really no less irritating. It, too, is full of ad hominem irrelevancy, false, distorted, and wildly fanciful claims (such as that R-67 will not cause an increase in insurance premiums, which would be basically impossible, given the effects of ESSB5726.)
Ultimately, then, these provide no guidance, except that I find the “Reject” advertisements to be greatly more irritating than their opposites. However, an irrational decision based on emotion serves noone and so I was forced to do my own digging and draw my own conclusions.
Based on the facts that:
- The state legislature approved ESSB5726 by a considerable margin
- “No” Campaign claims of vastly increased premiums have no substansive factual basis, and real increases seem likely to be offset by real benefits.
- Insurance companies should be liable for forcing their customers to sue them in order to recover the just value of their policies
I voted to approve R-67.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 8206 (ESSJR 8206):
This measure proposes to make a constituional amendment out of a slight variation on existing budgetary law, enshrining the current “rainy day fund” in the constitution (at least until such a time as we amend it again.)
I consider this measure to be unnecessary and useless. In my opinion, the state constitution is not the place to set budgetary policy. As such,
I voted to reject ESSJR 8206
Senate Joint Resolution 8212 (SJR 8212):
This measure amends the state constitution to allow privately contracted inmate labor programs which may not unfairly compete with other legitimate businesses. Amusingly, it also uses the word “inmate” to replace the word “convict” where it appears in the relevant passages of the existing constitution.
To tell you the truth, I can’t see what harm this could possibly cause, and the opposition statement seems to be founded on nothing more than Chicken Little logic.
I voted to approve SJR 8212
Engrossed House Joint Resolution 4204 (EHJR 4204)
This straightforward measure would make it easier to get school levies approved by:
- Reducing the required vote to a simple majority from a 60% supermajority.
- Eliminating the minimum-vote requirement for school levy elections.
I consider it my duty as a citizen of Washington State to cancel out the knee-jerk vote of the guy who worries about this increasing his property taxes instead of thinking of the benefits for children and schools.
I voted to approve EHJR 4204
Substitute House Joint Resolution 4215 (EHJR 4215)
This measure removes the constitutional restrictions on investment of the state’s higher education fund, expressly allowing their investment in the stock market if authorized by law.
Previously, these funds were limited to “safe” investments, such as US Government Savings Bonds, so SHJR 4215 might provide for greater growth of these funds, but would not necessarily do so. There is a certain risk in placing funds on the stock market, and if professional stock brokers can’t reliably beat out monkeys with rolodexes, I’m not sure I want to trust professional politicians to try and do the same.
Therefore, I took the cautious option and chose to reject SHJR 4215.
Benton County Proposition Number 1
This measure increases the sales tax by a meaningless number in order to provide additional funding for law enforcement. I like law enforcement, and realise that our police need all the money they can get.
Also, I generally support tax increases, if only because of the number of idiots who routinely reject them regardless of their purpose.
I voted to approve Benton County Proposition Number 1.
A number of local offices were up for election.
- Port of Bention Commissioner (Position 2 District 1) goes to Roy D Keck in an uncontested election. I resisted the urge to Write-in for Bob the Hopping Moose, Bugs Bunny, or Mickey Mouse.*.
- City of Richland Council Position 2 goes to Ed Revell in an uncontested election. I resisted the urge to Write-In for Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, or Harvy the Wonder Hamster.*
- City of Richland Council Position 3 goes to Rob Welch in an uncontested election. I resisted the urge to Write-In for Road Runner, Wiley Coyote, or the Underdog.*
- City of Richland Council Position 4 was actually contested. Both incumbent David W Rose and Kent Madsen seem quite qualified, and I have no reason to suspect either candidate would make a poor councilman. It’s only a pity they were running against each other. I helped elect the incumbent and I have not been particularly dissatisfied with his service, so I chose to retain Rose, though I would invite Madsen to keep trying.
- City of Richland Council Position 6 was contested between Shelia Sullivan and Phillip R Lemley. Again, both candidates are remarkably well-qualified, and it’s only a shame they were contesting for the same spot. Again, I helped elect Shelia Sullivan, and I have had no complaint with her service on the city council. If she wants to keep the job, I say she can have it, so I chose to retain Sullivan.
- Richland School District #400 Director Position 3 was contested between Peter M Knollmeyer and Kevin Smith. I couldn’t decide between the two, so I took the cheap way out and went with the Tri-City Herald’s recomendation to elect Knollmeyer. May his promises pan out.
- Richland School District #400 Director Position 4 was contested between Mary Guay and Jim Dukelow. Again, both candidates seemed well-qualified, and I went with the Herald’s recommendation to elect Guay, whose superior school board experience would probably have decided me in her favor in any case.
- Richland School District #400 Director Position 5 went to Phyllis Strickler in an uncontested election. I resisted the urge to Write-In for Superman, James Bond, or The Incredible Hulk.*
*I have nothing against these candidates, I just hate not having an option. If noone cares enough to run, I don’t see why I should care enough to vote.
And that concludes this year’s election picks. When the votes are tallied, I’ll get back to you with how my picks did.