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Votes on initiatives raise some new questions

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By Jerry Cornfield
Herald Columnist
Voters decided the fate of three statewide initiatives this week and stirred new questions in the process.
No. 1: What will the Yes on 1183 Coalition do with its leftover $2.4 million?
Give it back to Costco from whence they came. A refund makes sense since the company kept sending them seven-figure checks to conduct the campaign that crushed the state's Prohibition-era monopoly on sales of hard liquor.
But there are other interesting options for coalition leaders John McKay, Bruce Beckett and Greg Sparks to consider.
State law allows the coalition to donate any or all of its unspent money to candidates or political action committees.
Nothing prevents them from writing a check to the gubernatorial campaign of Rob McKenna who publicly backed the measure. Or, if they thought legalizing same-sex marriage was worthy of support, they could send money to help that effort.
Kathryn Stenger, spokeswoman for the pro-liquor squad, wasn't aware of the possibilities but said it doesn't matter. Once the campaign bills are paid, the Yes on 1183 treasury will be emptied and a refund sent to Costco.
"The coalition was put together to get I-1183 passed. The coalition now disbands," she said. "This is no longer a campaign."
No. 2: What will Tim Eyman push in 2012?
With defeat of I-1125 in his rear view mirror, Mukilteo's merchant of initiatives is forging ahead to next year.
He's already said he won't make eradication of red-light cameras from all the streets of Washington his cause even though voters in Monroe, Bellingham and Longview -- three very dissimilar cities -- made clear there is broad distaste of those suckers. Eyman said he prefers the city-to-city combat that occurred this year.
It's going to be a royally full ballot in 2012. Getting attention on most issues will be hard. If the subject is traffic enforcement cameras, it could be pretty easy.
His challenge will be money. The going rate for gathering enough signatures to get on the ballot is roughly $1 million. Who will be his financier for a revolt against red light cameras or any other measure?
If cameras are out, Eyman's attention will probably return to matters of taxation.
He filed an initiative in May, which he did not pursue, that would require lawmakers to set fees and would require any tax increase be approved by either two-thirds of the Legislature or voters.
Sound familiar? It should. Voters endorsed essentially the same measure in 2010 when they passed Initiative 1053.
It's a proven winner at the polls and Eyman wants to end his losing streak at one.
No. 3: What will the Legislature do about Initiative 1163?
For the second time in three years, voters said they want the people caring for the elderly and disabled to receive more training and undergo more intense background checks.
And voters knew doing both isn't free. Yet even before the second day of ballot counting commenced, opponents of the measure began beating the drum for lawmakers to ignore the will of the voters and suspend the initiative.
They could in December in the special session, but that would take some real chutzpah so close to the election. More likely any debate on temporarily icing the measure will be in the 2012 regular session when initiative backers can suggest a means of paying for it.
One source might be a ballot measure to raise money for health care and human services. Twice, voters have said they want additional training and checks. But they've not been asked once how to cover the costs.
Maybe they will if asked in the right way.
Political reporter Jerry Cornfield's blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623 or
Story tags » LegislatureState elections

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