Sunday, October 30, 2016

Alan Durning’s Votes, November 8, 2016

In case you’re curious, here’s how I voted my ballot, in the order the questions appeared there (omitting unopposed candidates). Remember, this is my personal blog; it does not speak for the organization I direct. Sightline has published analysis of I-732 and I-1464, which I link to below, but my views are only my own. On many of these issues, I bet other Sightline team members are voting differently than I.

The short form:

I-1433: YES

I-1464: YES

I-1491: YES

I-1501: NO

I-732: YES

I-735: YES

Advisory No. 14: Maintained

Advisory No. 15: Maintained

Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210: Approved

King County Charter Amendment No. 1: YES

King County Charter Amendment No. 2: YES

President: Hilary Clinton and Tim Kaine

US Senator: Patty Murray

US Representative, District 7: Brady Piñero Walkinshaw

Governor: Jay Inslee

Lieutenant Governor: Cyrus Habib

Secretary of State: Tina Podlodowski

State Treasurer: Duane Davidson

State Auditor: Pat McCarthy

Attorney General: Bob Ferguson

Commissioner of Public Lands: Hilary Franz

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Chris Reykdal

Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler

State Supreme Countrt Position No. 1: Mary Wu

Position No. 5: Barbara Madsen

Position No. 6: Charlie Wiggins

Superior Court Judge Position No. 14: Nicole Gaines Phelps

Position No. 26: David Keenan

Position No. 31: Helen Halpert

Position No. 44: Eric Newman

Position No. 52: Kristin Richardson

Position No. 53: Mariane Spearman

City of Seattle Initiative Measure No. 124: NO

Sound Transit Proposition No. 1: REJECTED

NOTES AND REASONING, only on those that warrant it.

I-1433 Raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave. I voted YES, though I have doubts about this vote. The best research summary my sources and I found on the effects of minimum wage increases concludes that for every 10 percent increase in minimum wages, the number of jobs available for the least-skilled workers (who are, disproportionately, young) decreases by 1-2 percent. I-1433 raises the minimum wage by about 30 percent over four years and also imposes additional costs on employers for sick leave. Simplifying, then, for every 100 minimum-wage workers in the state, three to six will lose (or more likely, not find) jobs, while all the rest will get big raises. It will also nudge up wages for those who earn more than the minimum, because employers adjust the whole bottom end of their pay scales. I worry intensely for the few who lose from this policy, who are likely to be the least skilled of all. On the other hand, raising wages so substantially for the remaining 90+ percent of workers seems worth the tradeoff. What I wish we could do instead—what I hope we will one day do instead—is provide everyone a guaranteed basic income, paid for with progressive taxation on incomes, wealth, and/or land values. Unfortunately, such ideas are currently beyond the political pale, and we have to vote YES or NO on what is before us. I voted YES.

I-1464 Money in Politics. Sightline and I have worked for almost three years to help write, explain, and argue for this initiative, in partnership with many local and national partners. In my view, it’s the most far-reaching opportunity to improve democracy in this election cycle anywhere in the United States. And we desperately need to do that! For the last 23 years, I’ve seen one good, popular policy idea after another go down to defeat in Olympia: so many issues! For me the most personally painful have been good climate policy ideas, blocked by the big money of the oil industry. Whatever else you care about, we need to fix our democracy first. The initiative is truly bipartisan, supported by everyone from the League of Women Voters to the leader of the Tea Party in Seattle.

I-1464 closes the revolving door of politicians turning lobbyists, blocks campaign money from lobbyists and state contractors, strengthens enforcement of campaign laws, lifts the curtain to show who is actually paying for dark money super-PAC advertising in the state, dramatically improves transparency in lobbying and campaign funding, and creates a hotline for reporting violations of campaign laws. It also creates a bold new public funding program for candidates for the state legislature and, later, other state offices. Every voter in the state will get three $50 Democracy Credits they can assign to candidates who agree to cut in half the size of the contributions they will accept from big-money sources. The whole program is paid for by closing a sales tax exemption that allows Oregonians to shop tax free in Washington—a sales tax exemption that no other state has. So, everyone in Washington gets free campaign money, and Oregonians pay for it. The legislature will never reform itself: the foxes are guarding the hen house. We need to fix this by initiative.

You can read Sightline’s analysis and explanation of the initiative here: I urge you to vote YES and spread the word!

I-1491. Keeping guns away from people at extreme risk of harming themselves or others. YES. Without abridging anyone’s rights to legal review, this initiative gives families a new tool for protecting their loved ones who are in crisis. Most gun violence in the United States is suicide, and family members often know if someone is suicidal. Yet at present, they have no way legally to remove guns from the possession of their suicidal loved ones. I-1491 lets them, and certain others, ask a judge to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of persons at risk. This is the kind of thing the legislature would do were it not so afraid of the gun lobby (see 1464). YES.

I-1501. Public disclosure law and caregivers. NO. This measure, sponsored by the union that represents home health workers, sounds great on the face of it. And I don’t know a tremendous amount about it, but both the far-left Stranger and a libertarian friend I rely on to test my reflexive liberal instincts made me rethink. They say it’s actually about protecting the union’s control of dues deducted from caregivers’ paychecks. And it threatens the state’s public records law, which is not worth endangering. If there really is a major problem with identity theft from seniors in Washington, I’d be astonished if a bipartisan majority in each house couldn’t agree on stiffer penalties and stronger protections. The Stranger’s piece is here; I voted NO.

I-732. A carbon pollution tax plus offsetting reductions in other taxes. This initiative campaign has been the most painful, bitter, and divisive fight within the state’s progressive movements that I’ve experienced. By circulating this recommendation, I may make some of my friends angry at me. But still, on two grounds, I voted YES.

First, whatever its political and strategic flaws, I-732 is good policy. Sightline wrote a series of articles examining it. It’s not perfect, but it gets a lot of things right. And it is indisputably the most aggressive tax on carbon anywhere in the United States and probably the world. It is also the most progressive fix to Washington’s regressive tax system in four decades. Critics make a lot of false, misleading, or arguable claims about 732 as policy. Their much more telling arguments are political and/or strategic, and those arguments are worth serious reflection. But in the end, for me, 732 is what’s on the ballot. We don’t get to vote for things not on the ballot. We only get to decide whether, on balance, the policies before us are good or bad. On balance, this one is good.

Second, I-732 is an extreme long shot. The polls have never been favorable for it, and the campaign for it has few friends, no big money, and many enemies. As my friend Jabe Blumenthal argues, even if it cannot win, we should all want it to come close. The only way we can succeed, together, with a successor climate policy that is better than 732—that has many friends, lots of money, and only fossil-fuel interests as enemies—is if 732 exceeds expectations. If it loses horribly, we will have a much harder time winning a price on carbon pollution in the legislature or from the voters soon. But if 732 does better than expected by, for example, getting 45% of the vote, we’ll have every chance of getting to victory next time. So I voted YES.

I-735. Overturn Citizens United. YES. This measure calls on the state Congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment that roots out the judicial doctrines–money is speech, corporations are persons—that gave us Citizens United. The measure is not binding but it sends the right message. We can be the 16th state calling for this amendment. YES.

US Representative, District 7: Brady Piñero Walkinshaw  With no disrespect to his opponent Pramila Jayapal (also a friend and hero of mine), I voted for Brady Walkinshaw. The reason--beyond his other good qualities and his personal passion for climate policy--is because of his successful bipartisan work in Olympia on "Joel's law" and other mental health reforms. The United States' so-called system for mental illness care is not merely broken but a moral stain on our society. As some of you know, this issue is personal for me. It's personal for Brady too, and he and I have had the opportunity to discuss it away from the heat of campaigning. For at least the next four years, and probably for longer, the US House will likely be controlled by Republicans. So sending a progressive champion who has proven his effectiveness at bipartisanship is a strategic choice. I voted for Brady.

The judicial races: I used a lot for these choices. Highly recommended!

City of Seattle Initiative No. 124: hotel employees’ health and safety. NO. Confession: I do not know much about this issue, so I could be totally wrong. But I read about it some. My decision ultimately came from asking why the universally liberal Seattle City Council wouldn’t adopt all appropriate policies to protect hotel workers. If the case for this is strong, why hasn’t the council already adopted it? My default vote on ballot measures is “no,” because I think representative democracy is usually better than direct democracy. No arguments convinced me that this issue warranted overriding our elected representatives. Besides, a friend whom I respect greatly co-authored the “no” argument in the voters’ guide. So, while I support the intention of this initiative, I voted NO.

[There used to be a section here about my vote on ST3, but it was getting far more attention than it deserved. So I took it down.]


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