In our view: Less Homework!

Five ballot measures qualify for Nov. 8 ballot; remember to vote in Aug. 16 primary

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Ten days remain for voters to participate in the Aug. 16 primary. Ballots were mailed July 27 to about half of Clark County’s registered voters, who will be deciding primary races in city council, school board, port, fire district and other races. At stake is advancement to the Nov. 8 general election, which will involve the top two vote-getters in each primary race, as well as numerous other showdowns in races that have drawn two candidates each.

Even as the primary season enters the homestretch, it’s not too soon to be thinking about the fall election, and we already have good news for voters: less homework! At least when it comes to ballot measures, just five this year.

The secretary of state’s office announced last week that three initiatives have been brought by the citizens to the ballot, to be joined by two constitutional amendments placed by the Legislature. Last year there were nine combined ballot measures: six initiatives, a referendum, one Senate Joint Resolution and one House Joint Resolution.

One of this year’s initiatives addresses a familiar topic: privatization of the state liquor sales and distribution system. Two similar measures were offered last Nov. 2, one presented by retailers and one by wholesalers. Voters rejected both proposals, the former by 53.4 percent statewide (55.8 percent in Clark County) and the latter by 65.0 percent (60.0 locally).

This year, Costco is backing another liquor-privatization effort: Initiative 1183. According to Brad Shannon of The Olympian newspaper, I-1183 — if approved — would require “selling off the state’s liquor stores and warehouse and turning over liquor sales and distribution to the private sector.” Business and labor groups have formed a coalition called “Protect Our Communities” to oppose the measure, but Costco already has dedicated more than $1 million to the effort and set a record by gathering 361,339 signatures, far surpassing the 241,153 required by law. And the 13.9 percent error rate for signatures was the lowest error rate among this year’s three initiatives.

Other measures on the Nov. 8 ballot:

Initiative 1125 — sponsored by professional initiative kingpin Tim Eyman — seeks limits on highway tolling revenue and is backed by more than $1 million from Bellevue developer and anti-light rail activist Kemper Freeman.

Initiative 1163 deals with home-care training and is bolstered by more than $1 million from Service Employees Union 775 Northwest.

Senate Joint Resolution 8206 is a bipartisan legislative call for a constitutional amendment that would create an improved rainy-day fund for saving excess state revenue during boom times. Lead sponsors are state Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. “Extraordinary revenue” would be that which exceeds the average biennial growth of the previous decade by one-third.

Senate Joint Resolution 8205 would lead to a constitutional amendment that would bring state voter-residency requirements for presidential votes in line with federal rules.

More details about the five ballot measures will be reported and analyzed in future editorials, and endorsement opinions will be expressed in late October.

Remember the primary

Meanwhile, remember to participate in the Aug. 16 primary if you are among the voters who have received ballots by mail. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said that — as of Friday morning — 12,472 ballots had been received by county officials. That’s a turnout of about 11 percent, slightly ahead of schedule and enough to make Kimsey a little more confident about the projected turnout of 25 percent.