A fourth initiative, I-1053, has qualified for the ballot in Washington. This one is a bit complicated to explain, so bear with us while we explain a little Washington history:
In 2007, Washington voters approved Initiative 960 by a narrow 51.2% majority. I-960 was sponsored by Washington's most prolific initiative activist, Tim Eyman, and required a 2/3 vote of the legislature to approve tax and fee increases. During the 2010 legislative session, the legislature voted to temporarily suspend I-960 until July 2011 in order to ease the process of closing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. (The Washington Legislature could do this because I-960 was statutory, not constitutional, and therefore did not require a popular vote to be amended.) Besides making drastic budget cuts, the legislature took advantage of the temporary simple majority vote requirement to pass a tax increase on carbonated beverages, candy gum and bottled water (this tax increase may be subject to repeal by initiative this year too, by the way). The legislature also considered increasing a tax called the Hazardous Substance Tax this year too, which falls largely on the oil industry, but in the end did not.
This year's I-1053, also sponsored by Tim Eyman, would undo the legislature's temporary suspension of I-960. If voters approve I-1053 on November 2, I-960 will go back into effect immediately instead of in July 2011. A coalition of Washington businesses, including the Washington Restaurant Association, the Washington Bankers Association, the Washington State Farm Bureau, and the Washington Association of Realtors, as well as other corporate interests including BP, Bank of America, and Conoco Phillips are all funders of the measure. No doubt they worry that their industry could be hit with tax increases in the 2011 legislative session as the legislature continues to cope with a difficult economy and budget shortfalls, and they'd rather those increases be subject to the supermajority vote imposed by I-960 rather than the simple majority in effect while I-960 is suspended.
Two initiatives remain in signature verification in Washington: I-1105, which would privatize liquor sales in the state, and I-1107, which would undo the new tax increase on carbonated beverages, bottled water, candy and gum.