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Sept. 20, 2021

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In Our View: Maintain Tax, With Asterisk

Advisory vote No. 19 should not be on ballot, but ‘maintain’ vote recommended

The Columbian
Published:

Perhaps the most confusing and certainly the most meaningless item on the Nov. 6 ballot falls under the headline “Advisory Vote No. 19.” The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends a “maintain” vote on this item.

As always, this is merely a recommendation. And more than most of our recommendations, it requires some explanation.

Advisory vote No. 19 reads: “The legislature expended, without a vote of the people, the oil spill response and administration taxes to crude oil or petroleum products received by pipeline, costing $13,000,000 over 10 years for government spending.” It then asks whether this tax increase should be repealed or maintained.

While The Columbian believes the tax should be maintained, we also believe that this is a pointless question that should not be on the ballot. Advisory votes are nonbinding, making them about as meaningful as asking whether Disney should build a theme park in Yacolt. The only uncertainty is whether or not lawmakers will look at the results before tossing them in the recycling bin.

Last year, three advisory votes were the only statewide issues on a ballot consisting mostly of city council and school board races. Those advisory votes resulted in state expenditures of more than $550,000 because a statewide Voters Pamphlet would otherwise have been unnecessary.

Advisory votes are a remnant of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960, which was passed by voters in 2007. The initiative required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for tax increases, but that portion was tossed out by the state Supreme Court, leaving only the meaningless advisory votes. We recommend that voters choose “maintain” on Advisory Vote No. 19 — and then move on to more important items.

Ballots are on their way to voters and must be returned or postmarked by the Nov. 6 election day. The Columbian’s Editorial Board has been providing recommendations throughout the past three weeks. Here is a recap:

Initiative 1631 (Carbon fee): No.

Initiative 1634 (Grocery taxes): No.

Initiative 1639 (Gun control): No.

Initiative 940 (Use of police force): No.

• Advisory vote 19 (Oil spills): Maintained.

U.S. Senator: Maria Cantwell (D) is the clear choice.

U.S. Representative: Carolyn Long (D).

State Representative, 17th District, Pos. 1: Tanisha Harris (D).

State Representative, 17th District, Pos. 2: Paul Harris (R) is the clear choice.

State Representative, 18th District, Pos. 1: Brandon Vick (R).

State Representative, 18th District, Pos. 2: Kathy Gillespie (D).

Clark County Assessor: Peter Van Nortwick (R).

Clark County Clerk: Scott Weber (R).

Clark County Council Chair: Eric Holt (D).

Clark County Councilor, District 1: Temple Lentz (D).

Clark County Councilor, District 2: Julie Olson (R) is the clear choice.

Clark County Treasurer: Alishia Topper (no party preference).

State Supreme Court: Susan Owens, Steve Gonzalez, Sheryl Gordon McCloud.

Vancouver City Council, Pos. 1: Laurie Lebowsky.

Public Utility District Commissioner, District 1: Jim Malinowski.

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