Washington voters and taxpayers have been busy signing several initiative petitions that have been placed around the state.
Everything from the privatization of liquor sales to an income tax for high wage earners has been passed around for signatures.
Secretary of State Sam Reed and his office has been busy certifying petition signatures. Here is an update of what is happening with the initiatives.
•I-1100 – Liquor privatization measure (one of two initiatives) Over 395,000 signatures were turned in to the Secretary of State for qualification. Only 241,153 signatures were needed.
Signature checks were made by using a random sample method.
•I-1082 – The BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) backed proposal that would allow “three-way” workers’ compensation with the private insurance carriers offering coverage in competition with the state-run program.
I-1082 campaign turned in over 345,000 signatures and will receive a three percent random check on signatures.
* I-1053 - The Tim Eyman-sponsored measure would re-establish the two-thirds vote requirement for the state Legislature to raise taxes. It turned in about 330,000 signatures. Waiting for random check.
* I-1105 - The other liquor initiative, supported by wholesalers, would take the state out of the liquor retail business. Whereas I-1100 would let retailers buy liquor stock directly from manufacturers, I-1105 would require use of wholesalers. 359,000 signatures have been collected and state is working on sampling check.
* I-1107: It would repeal new taxes on certain candy, pop, and bottled water. Backed by the American Beverage Association, it brought in 395,000 signatures in only three weeks.
*I-1098 - Supported by Bill Gates Sr., would create a state income tax on high-wage earners and would reduce the state share of the property tax and lower the B&O tax on many businesses. 351,000 signatures were turned in.
While performing their random signature check, the Secretary of State’s Election Division found 20 petition sheets, all collected by the same gatherer, were problematic.
Last Thursday the Office of the Secretary of State formally requested the Washington State Patrol to look into apparent fraud by the petition-gatherer.
About 350 names, signatures and addresses are being investigated. The gatherer signed the back of each of the questioned petitions.
Elections Director Nick Handy said, “the investigation is ongoing,” and that the Secretary of State’s Office has notified the Washington State Patrol, the state attorney general and local authorities. Handy on Thursday asked the patrol to investigate and make the “proper referral to the appropriate law enforcement authorities” as warranted.
County sheriffs and prosecutors typically have jurisdiction over felony criminal investigations. The patrol advises the Elections Division on signature-fraud detection techniques and gives instruction to state initiative signature-checkers.
Initiative signature fraud is a Class C felony punishable by prison time. “We intend to get to the bottom of this. We take our role of protecting the state’s initiative process very, very seriously. There are laws against fraud and we will vigorously pursue this situation,” Secretary of State Sam Reed said.
The Legislature has sent three other measures to the statewide ballot this fall: Referendum 52 would authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013.
House Joint Resolution 4220, known as the “Lakewood Police Officers Memorial Act,” would amend the state constitution on bail requirements for judges. Senate Joint Resolution 8225 would amend the state constitution relating to debt limits for the state.