Initiative 1098, which would impose a new income tax on wages earned above $200,000 for an individual or $400,000 for a couple filing jointly, has been approved for the November ballot in Washington. The measure would also reduce property taxes and certain business and occupation taxes. Bill Gates Sr., father of the Microsoft founder, has been a champion of I-1098.
A Seattle Post Intelligencer blog reports that a petition circulator for Initiative 1098 is being investigated for submitting fraudulent signatures. I-1098 would impose an income tax on Washington's highest earners. State officials verifying signatures on the petitions noticed that several pages bearing about 350 signatures appeared to be filled out in the same handwriting and the same pen. Further investigation revealed that while some signers were valid voters, the signatures did not match. Law enforcement is investigating.
Even if the signatures at issue turn out to be fraudulent, it shouldn't affect whether I-1098 qualifies for the ballot. Proponents turned in about 385,000 signatures, and just over 241,000 are needed to qualify.
This case calls to mind the fall of 2006, when five initiatives in three states were initially declared qualified for the ballot, then later removed after courts found evidence of fraud in the signature-gathering process. Those initiatives dealt with affirmative action in Michigan; a state spending limit, judicial recall, and property rights in Montana; and a taxpayers' bill of rights in Oklahoma.
Initiative 1100, which would close state-operated liquor stores and permit privately-owned retailers to sell liquor in Washington, has been certified for the ballot. This is the first initiative to land on the November ballot in Washington this year. I-1100 is sponsored by liquor retailers, including Costco. A second initiative dealing with private liquor sales, I-1105, is sponsored by wholesalers. It awaits signature verification.
Certification of Initiative 1082 was announced shortly after. I-1082 would permit private worker's compensation insurance.
Two more initiatives were submitted, including the second liquor store measure, and await signature verification.
The Massachusetts secretary of state's office has determined that three of the four initiatives submitted for the November ballot have gathered sufficient signatures. They would repeal the state's sales tax on alcohol, reduce the sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, and repeal a law that establishes a streamlined permitting process for low- to moderate-income housing. The fourth initiative that failed to submit sufficient signatures would have limited carbon dioxide emissions from certain renewable and alternative energy sources.
Sponsors for four initiatives submitted their petitions to the secretary of state's office in Massachusetts yesterday. The signatures have already been validated by local election officials. The secretary of state's office must verify the totals provided by local officials, and will announce which measures have qualified for the ballot as soon as tomorrow. NCSL will stay on the story and provide news of certification as soon as it's available.
The four petitions that were submitted are:
Repeal the sales tax on alcohol
Reduce the state sales tax rate from 6.25 to 3 percent
Repeal a state law that allows a streamlined permitting process for government-subsidized affordable housing
Redefine "renewable energy generating sources" as it pertains to retail electricity suppliers that rely on waste-to-energy and biomass sources to comply with renewable energy requirements
Although 20 initiatives were filed for circulation this year in Idaho (19 of them filed by the same individual), none gathered enough signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot. This is the second election year in a row that Idaho has seen no statewide initiatives on the ballot. The last initiative on the Idaho ballot was in 2006.
According to the Seattle Times, three initiative campaigns are reporting that they already have more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, well in advance of the July 2 petition filing deadline. The three are:
Initiative 1098: would tax adjusted gross incomes of more than $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for joint filers, with the revenue generated going to fund a 20 percent cut in the state property tax, an increase in the business and occupation tax credit for small businesses, and a new trust fund for improving education and health services
Initiative 1100: would close state liquor stores and allow private parties to be licensed to sell liquor
A total of 46 initiatives are circulating in hopes of reaching the November 2010 ballot in Washington.
The deadline to submit initiative petitions for signature verification by county election officials in Montana was Friday, June 18. According to the Billings Gazette, at least two of the ten petitions circulated this year have a good chance of qualifying for the ballot. One would regulate payday lenders and cap interest rates at 36 percent; the other would prohibit real estate sale and transfer taxes. Other initiatives submitted include one to change hunting license fees, a ban on trapping wild animals and birds, an anti-abortion "personhood" measure, and a repeal of the state's medical marijuana law.
Initiatives proposing changes to state law require signatures from 24,337 qualified voters, which must include signatures from five percent of the qualified voters in each of 34 of the state's 100 legislative districts. Constitutional amendments require 48,674 signatures, including signatures from 10 percent of the qualified voters in each of 40 legislative districts.
County officials have until July 16 to verify signatures and turn the petitions in to the secretary of state.