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Archives: Jan. 2009


Huge turnout means 241,153 signatures needed for initiatives

Let’s see, that means at $2 apiece, Tim Eyman‘s legions will need to be paid $482,306 to secure a place on the ballot this fall.

“The required number of signatures for a citizen initiative to the ballot this year is 241,153, which, under state law, is the required 8 percent of the total number of votes cast in the November 2008 gubernatorial race,” Secretary of State spokesman Brian Zylstra said in a news release.

A referendum takes half that number of signatures, but they only get about half as much time to gather them.

By the way, for the last four years it took 224,880 valid signatures on petitions to win a spot on the ballot, and 112,440 for each referendum.

Washington’s initiative season opens January 5

OLYMPIA…If you want to put a citizen initiative on the ballot, you can take your first step starting on Monday, January 5.

That’s the first day to file initiatives to the people. Petitions for such initiatives this year must be turned in by July 3. Under state law, initiatives to the people must be filed with the Secretary of State at least four months before the date of the General Election.

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Ride light rail: Seattle to Sea-Tac Airport would be $2.75 (max)

Sound Transit is gearing up for the grand opening of the first segment of light-rail service between downtown Seattle and Seattle Tacoma International Airport. In July, you can get as far as Southcenter. By Dec. 31 (or so they say) you can actually ride all the way to the airport parking garages.

Anyway, it’s time to talk fares. They’re holding public hearings on their fare proposals and EVERY SINGLE ONE IS IN SEATTLE.

(It’s only called Sound Transit for tax collection purposes in Pierce, Snohomish, South King and East King counties. ST really stands for SEATTLE Transit. The agency might start holding hearings as far south as Federal Way in 2023. That’s when light rail might reach that far south. As for Pierce County, your grandchildren probably can attend public hearings that are held in Tacoma, long after your deaths.)

Sound Transit is looking at a base fare of $1.75, plus 5 cents a mile. (That assumes they charge you in the bus tunnel. It’s free right now.)

Another option is a $2 base fare, plus 5 cents a mile, but they DON’T charge you in the bus tunnel.

Here is a grid of example fares.

Right now, it’s free to ride Metro Transit buses from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle. (The City of Seattle slips Metro a few extra bucks for providing the free service. It’s so the lunch crowd can ride the bus down the street to a restaurant and back to the office for free. The free zone if roughly where the Seattle P.I. used to be, 6th and Bell to Union Station, South Jackson Street.)

So, tangentially, the Sound Transit board’s decision on light-rail fares might have some bearing on bus fares downtown and in the tunnel.

“The City of Seattle pays King County Metro to offset the loss of bus fare revenues,” according to the agency’s Web site. “Sound Transit has no such agreement for ST Express bus routes in downtown Seattle or for future Link service. “Sound Transit receives no revenue to offset the cost of free rides in downtown Seattle.”

The ST board will make a decision in February.

UPDATE: Sound Transit says the fares that they’re talking about don’t effect the Link in downtown Tacoma (which is free). And I guess Seattle Transit doesn’t expects anyone from Tacoma to ride their light-rail trains. Otherwise, they might have scheduled a public hearing down this way.

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January 12 through April 26: 105 glorious days of session

Being a full-service blog, I’m posting the draft calendar for the upcoming 2009 legislative session.

For those you who work on “the hill,” you’ll know what the calender cutoff dates mean. You live by them. We all do. For others, it will give you an idea of how the Legislature is progressing.

Feb. 18 is a key date: Last day to consider bills in house of origin. That’s Day 66. What that means is, if the full House doesn’t pass a bill that was introduced in the House and was assigned to a commmitee by then,

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Gregoire’s No. 2 budget guy will be assistant state treasurer

Wolfgang Opitz, who has been deputy budget director for the past 8 years, is going to work for new state Treasurer Jim McIntire.

The new job starts in mid-January, when McIntire, a former state legislator, will be sworn into office. McIntire beat longtime state chief economist ChangMook Sohn in the Democratic primary election this year, and Republican Allan Martin, who was Treasurer Mike Murphy‘s assistant treasurer, in the November general election.

Opitz, 47, who lives in Tacoma’s North End, was the No. 2 budget guy for former Gov. Gary Locke for 4 years and for Gov.

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Tim Eyman claims his 2009 initiative will cut your property taxes

Fresh off his most recent defeat at the polls in November, professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman, a former Mukilteo mail-order watch salesman, is coming forward with another ballot measure proposal this year.

You’ll have to take his word for what his proposal actually will do because he isn’t sharing it until Monday at 11 a.m., when he’ll be filing the measure with the Secretary of State’s office.

(Eyman apparently has taken a page out the legislative handbook: when legislators unveil their budget, they hold a news conference at which they characterize, but won’t let reporters actually see or read their budget proposals until the budget-writers leave the room.)

Legislators do it so they can “spin” their budgets the way they want without being asked any knowledgeable questions from reporters who have actually had the benefit of reading their budgets.

Eyman does it largely because he wants two bites at the apple. That is, he wants free publicity today and more free publicity on Monday.

Here’s what Eyman sent us via e-mail, minus the plea for money from his supporters.

Media folks: we’re filing the initiative at 11 am on Monday at the Secretary of State’s office in the Capitol building. A couple of surprises are left that’ll be included in Monday’s announcement — hope you can attend.

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Kilmer, Seaquist will answer ‘reasonable’ questions about budget

Mark Brown of the 26th District Democrats sent out this news release and I was humorously struck by his admonishment to “come prepared with reasonable” questions.

The Q & A for the two Gig Harbor Democrats will be next Tuesday.

The 26 Legislative District Democrats Monthly Meeting will be Tuesday Jan. 6th at 7 PM at Givens Community Center 1026 Sidney Ave. Port Orchard WA. 98366. Senator Derek Kilmer and Rep Larry Seaquist will be in attendance speaking about the upcoming budget session dealing with a 6 Billion dollar shortfall. Come prepared with reasonable questions on budget priorities

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