A handful of statewide sleeper items on the Nov. 8 ballot have not generated big-money campaigns, mailers or TV ads. Voters might be tempted to skip over them, but we can’t condone that.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210 merits the same full-throated support it received from the 2016 Legislature. State officials aren’t known for unanimously agreeing on many things, but they came together for a common-sense tweak to the way state political maps are redrawn every 10 years.
SJR 8210 could help increase public participation in the byzantine work of the bipartisan state Redistricting Commission. The proposed constitutional amendment would accelerate the commission’s process of adjusting state legislative and congressional district boundaries, moving up the deadline from Jan. 1 to Nov. 15. Advances in Census data mapping tools and other technology have made it easy for staff to shave several weeks off the task.
Partisan warriors, of course, are happy to take as much time as they’re granted to jockey for advantage; the power balance of government for the next decade is at stake. But it’s ridiculous that the commission would hold its final vote at 9:55 p.m. on New Year’s Day, which is what happened at the end of the 2011 redistricting marathon.
A pre-Thanksgiving deadline will cut through the posturing and allow the public to keep an eye on this important process before holiday distractions set in. And commission members will be set free to enjoy college football bowl games with the rest of us in 2022.
Two other measures show up on the easy-to-ignore section of the ballot: statewide Advisory Votes No. 14 and 15. Anytime state lawmakers approve or modify a tax, it must go to a public vote — the nonbinding, after-the-fact kind — in what amounts to wagging the populist finger of shame.
Blame initiative monger Tim Eyman for wasting your time when you could be studying up on real issues and candidates on a crowded ballot. Advisory measures were a lesser-known piece of Eyman’s Initiative 960, which Washington voters approved in 2007.
This year, voters are invited to chime in on a new tax on certain standalone dental plans. Legislators of both parties overwhelmingly approved this adjustment to the state health benefit exchange. We see no reason to doubt them.
The other advisory vote relates to tax breaks on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. It actually adds limits to an existing exemption by capping the benefit people can claim on a clean-energy vehicle purchase or lease. At a time when state leaders are vowing to close tax loopholes large and small, this modest change makes good sense.
Continuing to second-guess our duly elected lawmakers by holding ineffectual advisory votes? That makes no sense.