Take initiative; educate yourself on this election’s initiatives

City of Seattle
Initiative Measure No. 124

Hotel labor standards and policies around sexual harassment

This initiative would allow hotels to keep a list of guests accused by employees of assault, sexual assault, or sexual harassment. Accused guests would stay on the list for five years and employees would warned whenever those guests stayed at the establishment. Any employees working alone would be given the room number of the accused guest.

The rest of the initiative requires hotel employers to treat their employees fairly and set appropriate safety standards and work limits. The Office of Labor Standards would also have the authority to investigate violations or misconduct of hotel employers.

Argument against: The initiative denies the right of due process if there is no legal complaint filed and suggests a homemade policy that would be nearly impossible to enforce. The initiative allows loopholes for hotels to make deals with labor unions which would result in some employees not being protected. Additionally, the initiative prevents improvement in the communication between everyone involved in the hotel business, which is critical for quality service.
King County
Charter Amendment No. 2
Gender-neutral language for county charter
This amendment of the county’s charter, previously voted unanimously for by the King County Council, will edit the King County Charter to include only gender-neutral language. It would make the charter more inclusive and more concise in areas where the document switches back and forth between “his” and “his or her.”

No statement in opposition.

King County
Charter Amendment No. 1

Nonpartisan prosecuting attorney
This amendment will make the prosecuting attorney for the King County Council a non-partisan position, like every other attorney position in the county. By doing this, the judicial position of the attorney will be detached from partisan politics.

Argument against: Knowing the prosecuting attorney’s background and political preferences gives voters insight into the reasoning behind the attorney’s decisions. This initiative would remove what little information voters have about the people they are electing.

Initiative Measure No. 735

Rights of corporations
This measure would send a joint resolution from Washington state to Congress. This joint resolution would encourage an amendment to the US Constitution which would state that constitutional rights belong only to individual people, not corporations. The amendment would also state that spending money is not free speech under the constitution and that therefore, the government has the right to regulate financial contributions to political campaigns.

Argument against: The amendment would inhibit free speech by censoring the actions of financial contributors. This is harmful and blocks public discourse around politics.

Initiative Measure No. 732

Carbon emissions tax
This initiative calls for a tax on carbon emissions that would increase a given amount per metric ton per year, adjusted for inflation, to a cap at $100 per ton. The tax would apply to all carbon fuel burned. The initiative contains provisions for specific uses of the fuel, so that the tax is phased in over a longer period of time for these uses. Organizations that burn fossil fuels for specific causes or for the direct benefit of a population would have a lower increase rate on the tax. The initiative also provides exemptions for low-income families, who would get a rebate of 15 to 25 percent credit back. The initiative would also reduce sales tax by one percent over two years and reduce the manufacturing tax by 0.483 percent.

Argument against: The tax reductions imposed to balance the new tax would cut available funding for education, health care, and other “vital services” by over $7 million over the next few years. The tax does not adequately provide for areas in close proximity to carbon dioxide pollution, considering those areas may have carbon-burning as their only source of energy. The tax would chase away jobs and investment opportunities by taxing the corporations that provide them, sending Washington’s economy in the wrong direction.

Initiative Measure No. 1501

Increased penalties for fraud towards vulnerable individuals
This initiative would increase severity of the penalties for identity theft and customer fraud by altering criminal and civil laws in cases where seniors or “vulnerable individuals” were targeted. Currently, identity theft is punishable as a Class C felony. This measure would make persons convicted of knowingly targeting a senior or person judged unable to take care of themselves punishable as a Class B felony, which is more severe.

Argument against: The initiative was written by a special interest group and given an innocent name to deceive voters its actual intent. The initiative is aimed at hiding the caregiver’s right to refuse to pay their unions from caregivers and aids. Accusations under the new laws would allow the Service Employees International Union to continue collecting dues from union members without acknowledging their right to refuse or discuss the matter.

Initiative Measure No. 1491

Forced surrender of extreme-risk firearms by dangerous individuals
Although the law currently requires the surrender of firearms and dangerous weapons under certain extreme circumstances, this measure would allow for people to petition for someone to surrender their firearms or dangerous weapons if the person is believed to be a danger to themself or those around them. The measure would create two kinds of court orders: those called for by a concerned loved one, partner, or law enforcement officer, and those for extreme cases which are enacted immediately without hearing or notice. An extreme risk order would go through a series of court evaluations and, if accepted, would apply for one year before being reevaluated. The person with the order against them would be allowed to call a hearing to demonstrate that they are not a threat, but would only be allowed one hearing per year. The “ex parte” extreme risk order would force an immediate surrender of weapons by an especially dangerous person until a court hearing could be held in order to determine if an extreme risk order is necessary.

Argument against: This initiative introduces nothing new into the effort against violent gun crimes, it only stigmatized people with mental illness and strips people of their rights to notification and due process. There is also no evidence that these proposed orders would reduce mass shootings and violent crime.

Initiative Measure No. 1464

Federally supplied, citizen-donated funding of campaigns
This initiative would allow for certain amounts of state money to be allocated for individual citizen political campaign donations under the title “democracy credit contributions.” In order to receive such state funds, the initiative put into place requirements for how much of the campaign must be funded by the public, as well as limits on how much of the candidate’s personal funds may be used to in their campaign. The initiative would also restrict the approved actions of lobbyists, especially those who lobby for offices which they used to hold. The donations and perks made by contractor lobbyists who hold a direct stake in the campaign would be limited. The initiative includes measures to enforce the laws set in place, as well as new criteria for identifying the top contributors when of a political campaign.

Argument against: The initiative puts tax dollars towards politicians and their political interests and away from social services which are in need of more funding, such as education. The initiative also hurts small businesses by restricting free speech, while exempting special interest lobbyists from the tax.

Initiative Measure No. 1433

Increase state minimum wage
This initiative proposes increasing the state minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2017 and $13.50 by 2020. The minimum wage would be adjusted for inflation every year after 2020. The initiative also requires paid sick leave under the Minimum Wage Act, one hour for every 40 hours worked. The sick leave would be constant and also carry over when an employee switches jobs within a year, but not require the employer to pay vacation leave for unused sick leave. The initiative also prevents discrimination, eliminates loopholes, and requires notifications about the status of sick leave for all employees.

Argument against: The initiative is poorly crafted and doesn’t consider the different costs of living, pay structures, and need for training for many people across Washington state. The initiative also greatly increases state spending, hurting the budget and hurting small businesses by inflating prices. The state already has the eighth highest minimum wage in the country.

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