So, you think that Oregon is the national leader in number of ballot questions that the state’s voters must decide on? Well, this time around, you might be mistaken. This November, Washington voters will have no fewer than nine ballot initiatives and other measures to vote on.

Certainly, you are already being bombarded by political ads on television and radio, and the onslaught is just beginning. In the coming weeks, I will have discussions on what all of these measures are about for helping you decide the matters for yourself. In the meantime, here is a summary of the issues that you will be asked to become experts on:

The Washington Judge Bail Authority Amendment will give state judges the ability to deny bail whenever they deem that the public might be at risk.  It is estimated this might cover around 5,000 prisoners per year.   This was a reaction to the killer of the four Lakewood Police officers last year by a felon who was out on bail.

The Washington State Debt Limits Amendment will alter the way interest is calculated in state debt limits in the constitution to make Washington eligible for a new federal subsidy.  This is merely a housekeeping measure.

Referred Bill 52, Washington Schools Energy Efficiency Projects, will call for a $500 million bond that lawmakers estimate would create 40,000 new jobs in public school and government building renovations. The bond proceeds would be spent on replacing roofs, installing insulation, cleaning mold-infested buildings, and making energy-saving improvements. These improvements would take place on school campuses and state offices throughout the state.

Initiative 1100, the Washington Privatize State Liquor Stores Initiative
Initiative 1105, the Washington Revised State Liquor Laws Initiative
These two competing measures have many similarities and also some differences.  In the end, they are both looking to close the Washington state-owned liquor stores and allow private sellers to sell the liquor that they now sell.  It would also change the way that the state collects taxes on the liquor and the profits they make from liquor store sales. Besides, the best question might be what happens if they both pass?

Initiative 1082, the Washington Workers’ Comp Insurance Reform Initiative will try to privatize the publicly-run workers compensation system. Yes, despite what the ads will say, this is a way for corporations to save a few dollars and a new way for workers who are injured on the job to be screwed. (Did he say screwed? As a matter of fact, yes!) And, get this, isn’t it the Republican party, friends of the big corporations, that are claiming that if we save the big corporations money, that they will help the workers? Yeah, right.

Initiative 1098, the Washington State Income Tax Initiative will reduce your Washington property tax bill by 20%. It will make Washington a better place to start or operate a small business by cutting the Business & Occupation Tax on small businesses. It would generate an additional $2 billion per year to fund health care and education. It will do it by instituting a state income tax on individuals making over $200,000 per year or couples making over $400,000 per year. Opponents will tell you that rich people will flee Washington and head for one of the five remaining states without an income tax. Just like they have in 45 other states. Or not.

Initiative 1053, the Washington Tax Initiative, is the “off the wall” offering of that crazy Tim Eyman in this particular election.  He, and his financial backers, believe that certain legislative or initiative measures should not be adopted, even if a majority of Washingtonians want them to pass.  In the case of certain tax-related laws, they would not be adopted unless 2/3 of those voting voted “yes” on them.  In effect, this is a measure where we are voting to say whether the will of the people should be considered or not in certain cases.  Surprisingly, it would not require a 2/3 majority of the people voting yes for this measure to pass.  That should be telling in itself, no?  I’m comfortable with a system where the majority of the people decide on issues, thank you.

Initiative 1107, the Washington Repeal Tax Law Amendments Initiative, would reduce tax rates for certain food processors, end the sales tax on candy, and end the temporary sales tax on some bottled water and carbonated beverages. For those who are deeply concerned as to whether or not they have to pay sales tax on the purchase of that candy bar or can of soda.

As you can now see, you will have a lot of studying to do before the final exam on November 2.  As you are bombarded with ads between not and than, feel free to count how many actually make reasoned arguments for or against these measures.  It will certainly be easier than counting the ones making random, nice-sounding, but implausible (or irrelevant) statements about each issue.