How I’m Voting and Why – Ballot Measures

 

Washington State Ballot Measurers

(also Proposition 1 in Spokane County)

Detailed information on ballot measures can be found in the online voters guide published by the Secretary of State.

A former Montana state representative once shared the following checklist with me that he used when assessing bills in the legislature. It also works quite well for ballot measures.

If Yes to any of the following, vote NO!

  1. Would it affect or diminish private ownership of anything.
  2. Would it cost the individual anything (permit, money, tax, fee, freedom).
  3. Would it require citizens to get government permission in any form.
  4. Would it cause any growth in government or bureaucracy.
  5. Would it add any new public employees.
  6. Would it run counter to the constitution, federal or state in ANYway.

 

INITIATIVE 1433

Concerns labor standards.

This measure would increase the state minimum wage to $11.00 in 2017, $11.50 in 2018, $12.00 in 2019, and $13.50 in 2020, require employers to provide paid sick leave, and adopt related laws.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

I’m voting “NO” – here’s why

Though I would be happy to see everyone get a raise, it is not the proper role of government to set wages and determine employee benefits. Only in a socialist-statist system (which apparently we’ve become) is this an object of government regulation. In a free country, people contract together as they see fit, including employers and employees.

While reviewing the ballot measures at the October 20 Constitution Party of Spokane County meeting, one of the participants explained, “if you want more of something, reduce the costs and regulations; if you want less of something, increase the costs and regulations.” If we really wanted to help entry level workers, we would decrease the size of government and decrease taxes, thus leaving more money in the pockets of our citizens to spend on goods and services where more people could be employed at higher wages.

This initiative runs counter to free market economics and to freedom itself.

 

INITIATIVE 1464

Concerns campaign finance laws and lobbyists.

This measure would create a campaign-finance system; allow residents to direct state funds to candidates; repeal the non-resident sales-tax exemption; restrict lobbying employment by certain former public employees; and add enforcement requirements.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

I’m voting “NO” – here’s why

This initiative fails most of the questions listed at the beginning of this review, plus it violates our state’s requirement that initiatives be limited to a single topic. By my count, this initiative deals with three topics – elections, taxation and lobbying.

The first thought that comes to my mind is Thomas Jefferson’s famous statement that, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” This initiative would create a system where taxpayer dollars, including sales tax paid by out of state visitors who have no representation in our state, would be assigned to candidates for public office. That means some of my tax dollars could be assigned to a candidate who opposes my Christian values, while an atheist’s tax dollars might get assigned to my Christian candidate, thus requiring both of us to fund ideas that we oppose and bringing to fruition the tyranny that Mr. Jefferson so adamantly opposed.

This initiative would add many restrictions, regulations and expenses to implement, thus decreasing freedom and increasing the size, power and cost of government. It also unwisely places the implementation of many future regulations and limitations into the hands of the unelected Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), thus eroding the power of we the people over the electoral process and increasing the power of the state.

While the object of this initiative may be to rein-in corruption, that is something that only we the people can do by our vote. A corrupt people will elect corrupt public officials. Only a moral and virtuous people will elect moral and virtuous public officials.

 

INITIATIVE 1491

Concerns court-issued extreme risk protection orders temporarily preventing access to firearms.

This measure would allow police, family, or household members to obtain court orders temporarily preventing firearms access by persons exhibiting mental illness, violent or other behavior indicating they may harm themselves or others.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

I’m voting “NO” – here’s why

We already have laws for dealing with threats, stalking and true mental illness or incompetence. What this initiative really does is to make it easier to bring allegations against a person and to deprive them of their Second Amendment right without their actually committing a crime, making a threat, being competently diagnosed, or necessarily even being present to defend themselves in court. If this initiative is really about preventing people from doing harm to themselves or others, then why does it only deal with taking a person’s guns, what about knives, automobiles, and even prescription drugs that can be used for suicide?

There must be a balance between protecting people and protecting people’s rights. This initiative makes it easier to deprive a person of their rights, but does little to nothing to better protect the public against actual threats.

 

INITIATIVE 1501

Concerns seniors and vulnerable individuals.

This measure would increase the penalties for criminal identity theft and civil consumer fraud targeted at seniors or vulnerable individuals; and exempt certain information of vulnerable individuals and in-home caregivers from public disclosure.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

I’m voting “NO” – here’s why

Some of the Constitution Party meeting participants (and the argument against the initiative in the voters guide) pointed out that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) wants to use this initiative as a means of blocking caregivers from obtaining each others contact information, thereby preventing them from informing their fellow caregivers around the state that they are no longer required to pay union dues – something the state and the union have failed to tell caregivers. It would appear the part about protecting seniors from identity theft and fraud is the window dressing designed to make the measure more appealing to our sense of do-gooderism. However, I also find fault with that part of the initiative.

The Bible instructs us not to show partiality, or favoritism in judgment (Lev 19:15, Deu 1:17, James 2:9), and that God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). Having special laws, rules, or tax rates that apply to a particular age group, race, gender or income bracket, establishes a double standard, gives preferential treatment to one group over another, and violates this biblical principle.

What is just for one is just for all. What is unjust for one is unjust for all. Identity theft and fraud are already illegal and that should be enough.

 

INITIATIVE 732

Concerns taxes.

This measure would impose a carbon emission tax on certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel-generated electricity, reduce the sales tax by one percentage point and increase a low-income exemption, and reduce certain manufacturing taxes.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

I’m voting “NO” – here’s why

There are two just and proper means of generating revenue for the legitimate functions of government, 1) A general tax for general services, i.e. taxing everyone equally to fund those functions that serve everyone equally, 2) A specific tax or fee for specific services, i.e. a fee charged to those who use a service in order to pay for that service. Anything else constitutes the confiscation of wealth from one group of citizens for the benefit of another, or as Frédéric Bastiat called it, “legal plunder.”

Since this would primarily be a tax on those operating motor vehicles, and since the highway system is already fully funded by the existing fuel tax, then the revenues generated by this tax are obviously intended to go into the general fund, thus taxing some citizens for the benefit of others, which is unjust.

This initiative is based on the premise that the burning of so-called “fossil fuels” (coal, oil, natural gas) “produces carbon dioxide, which can trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere.” (from the explanatory statement in the voters guide). Even if that belief were true, the revenue generated from the proposed tax would not be used to fix the problem. Therefore, the tax would be a strictly punitive measure designed to discourage the use of certain energy sources. If an activity is detrimental to the general population it should be banned outright, if not, then it should not be discriminated against with a punitive tax.

This is social engineering and it is springing from assertions made by only a minority in the scientific community and which are based on beliefs that are being refuted by many, even at NASA. Respected climatologist, Dr. Ed Berry, debunks climate change alarmism on his website. The measure also fails the test prescribed at the beginning of this review and again violates the biblical prohibition against preferential treatment, or in this case, discriminatory treatment.

 

INITIATIVE 735

Concerns a proposed amendment to the federal constitution.

This measure would urge the Washington state congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations, and constitutionally-protected free speech excludes the spending of money.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

I’m voting “NO” – here’s why

This is a very dangerous proposal that could be used to effectively strip we the people of any meaningful freedom of speech. It is thoroughly alarming to think that we would propose a constitutional amendment declaring that, “free speech excludes the spending of money.”

The point of free speech is to have your views heard by your fellow citizens. Try getting your views heard by more than a dozen friends and neighbors without spending money. To be effective in contending for a cause, like-minded citizens need to pool their resources to purchase advertising in newspapers, on television or on radio, and that costs money. Even standing on a street corner handing out flyers requires spending money to print the flyers.

Giving government the power to silence any form of free speech that requires spending money effectively gives government the power to silence free speech.

 

ADVISORY VOTE 14

The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, the insurance premium tax to some insurance for stand-alone family dental plans, costing an indeterminate amount in the first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

I’m voting “REPEALED” – here’s why

This act of our legislature fails tests #2 (would it cost the individual anything) and #4 (would it cause any growth in government) as it increases taxes, and whenever taxes increase, government grows accordingly.

This also fails the biblical test of impartiality as it extends the insurance tax to “some” dental plans, but not all, and at varying rates. If by having dental insurance, people are placing a burden on government services (which they are not), then we should tax every dental plan and tax them all at the same rate. This tax increase is arbitrary and unjust.

 

ADVISORY VOTE 15

The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, certain limitations on the retail sales and use tax exemptions for clean alternative-fuel vehicles, costing $2,000,000 in the first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

I’m voting “REPEALED” – here’s why

Once again, this fails tests #2 and #4 by increasing taxes and thereby growing government.

I oppose the idea of giving sales tax exemptions for the purchase of certain vehicles as it once again treats people with partiality and engages in social engineering – an attempt to manipulate people into doing what they otherwise would not. Nevertheless, I also oppose increasing taxes and growing government. I would prefer we set a single tax rate on all automobiles and set it at a level that reduces overall taxation.

 

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 8210

The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on the deadline for completing state legislative and congressional redistricting.

This amendment would require the state redistricting commission to complete redistricting for state legislative and congressional districts by November 15 of each year ending in a one, 46 days earlier than currently required.

Should this constitutional amendment be:

I’m voting “APPROVED” – here’s why

Our state constitution already requires redistricting to take place every ten years, so this is not creating a new law, it is only changing a deadline. This will potentially save the redistricting commission time and money and will provide better opportunity for public oversight and input in the redistricting process. Currently, much of the last minute maneuvering, and potential gerrymandering, can take place during the Christmas holiday season when the public is not paying attention.

Not a single member of the state legislature voted against this resolution.

 

SPOKANE TRANSIT AUTHORITY (STA) PROPOSITION 1

The Spokane Transit Authority Board of Directors approved a proposition seeking an increase in its sales and use tax authority to maintain the existing transit system, including paratransit and vanpool services, and improve fixed-route bus service through high frequency, high performance transit service, including extended hours on all basic and frequent routes, expanded transit service to new areas, new routes, and expanded passenger services including new and enhanced park and ride lots. This proposition would authorize the collection of an additional sales and use tax of up to 2/10 of 1%, 1/10th effective April 1, 2017 and the second 1/10th effective April 1, 2019 both expiring no later than December 31, 2028, all as provided in Resolution No. 742-16. Should this proposition be:

I’m voting “REJECTED” – here’s why

This one fails tests number 2, 4 and 5 as it increases taxes, causes growth in government and adds new public employees. The proposition goes contrary to the principles of just taxation as outlined in my review of Initiative 732 by applying a general tax on everyone in order to pay for a program that is used by only a small segment of the population. It also violates the biblical principle of non preferential treatment by subsidizing the transportation of some at the expense of others.

Many years ago, I attended an STA sponsored meeting where I discovered that only 26% of the operating costs were being covered by bus fares (1), leaving 74% of the budget subsidized by people who were not using the system. I see no reason to think that has changed seeing that STA now needs even more money from non bus riders in order to subsidize its delusional dream of creating a Utopian paradise by driving even more, mostly empty, big buses all over the county.

I searched for nearly an hour trying to find a projected total cost to the public for this tax increase. The closest I came was an article in the Cheney Free Press that estimates the proposition would “increase STA’s annual budget by about $20 million.” That’s $20 million per year taken out of the current economy – money that taxpayers would otherwise use to go out to dinner, buy a new car, enlarge or remodel their home, or dozens of other activities that would create jobs and improve our standard of living. Put another way, passing this tax increase would have an effect equivalent to driving an employer out of our community that has a $20 million annual payroll.

This proposition flies in the face of nearly every sound principle I can think of, including common sense. Let free market economics take their course. If there is actually a demand for mass transit, then someone will meet that demand and users of the service will pay for it. Oh, wait, that already happened back in the middle of the last century when there was a privately operated bus service. However, as personal prosperity increased, people bought cars and there was no longer a demand for public transportation so it died a natural death. But that hasn’t stopped some from trying to breath life back into a dead horse, and to do so at taxpayer expense.

ADDENDUM

  1. After publishing my recommendations, a reader sent a link to updated information on STA funding. It appears the situation has deteriorated since I was last informed. In the period of 2006-2013, fares only made up 10-16% of STA funding leaving as much as 90% of the operating costs being paid for by non bus riders. STA is a black hole sucking in all the tax dollars that get anywhere near it while only providing benefit to 10% of those paying for it.
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About Robert W. Peck

Bob Peck is a Christian, Constitutionist and political activist who serves as the chairman of the Constitution Party of Washington and is a member of the Constitution Party National Committee. Bob lives in Spokane Valley, Washington where he is a landlord-handyman. If, like Bob, you find yourself feeling betrayed by a two party duopoly that no longer represents your values, then check out the Constitution Party at www.constitutionparty.com or call 1-800-2VETOIRS and ask for a free information packet.
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