Letter to the editor: The message behind advisory votes on November ballot


Many of us have been anxiously following Tuesday night’s results, hoping our favorite candidate had enough votes to win the election.

While the non-partisan races are being decided, Snohomish County voters gave their advice about how they feel on three issues that didn’t include candidates this year but could impact partisan races next year, or at least they should.

Our Nov. 2 ballots included three Advisory Votes (AV) on legislation that was passed without a vote of the people by our state legislators and voters indicated how they feel about them.

This year the legislature imposed House Bill 1477. It was co-sponsored by our own 21st Legislative District Representatives, Lillian Ortiz-Self and Strom Peterson. HB1477 implements a $432 million tax on telephone lines to fund behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention. Voters voiced their opinion on this legislation with AV36.

The legislature also passed Senate Bill 5096, a 7% tax on capital gains in excess of $250,000. SB5096 would cost taxpayers over $5 1/2 billion and added to government spending. Voters voiced their opinion on this legislation with AV37.

AV38 asked voters opinion about Senate Bill 5315, a 2% tax on insurers raising $53 million for government spending.

The results of the Nov. 2 vote have not been finalized but it already looks like Snohomish County voters – by 65% – would like these legislative tax bills repealed.

Legislative representatives from the 21st District — Liias, Peterson and Ortiz-Self — supported tax bills which the people opposed by an overwhelming margin. Clearly, they have no interest in the wishes and needs of the people they claim to represent. So, when they run for reelection, we should ask them to explain their votes and make certain the voters of the 21st District are aware of their support for these tax increases and find candidates that will represent their best interests.

Jeff Scherrer

  1. I believe Liias, Peterson and Ortiz-Self also all supported the long-term care tax bill that ultimate became the Washington Cares Program. The program imposes a 0.58% payroll deduction on Washington workers. Even if you agree with the program the implementation has been horrible.

  2. The advisory vote process is a result of a Tim Eyman produced and promoted initiative and was one of the few elements of that initiative to survive court challenge. If Tim Eyman taught the Washington public anything , it is the fact that if you only ask people if they want to pay more taxes, they will say no. That is what typically happens with the advisory votes. It is also why we have a representative form of government. So that our representatives can look not just at what is being asked (more taxes) but also at what is being given up by not imposing those taxes, things like roads and safety net and all the costs of government for the matters we want and need to develop an effective society. The Washington tax structure is very strictly limited and the ability to pay for the costs of government requires creativity and a willingness to take brave stands to reach those desired goals. I applaud our representatives for their willingness to go that extra mile, at, as indicated in the LTE above, significant political risk.

    1. Well said. As is often the case with “doing our own research” it is possible that folks who’ve studied a problem might in fact, have a reasonable handle on the solution. Referencing T.Eyman solidifies the sense of the process being to our benefit as citizens, even though it may have a small impact on us as tax payers. I’m old enough not to expect something for nothing.

  3. Well said, Doug, and thank you for pointing this out and it bears repeating: ‘…what is being given up by not imposing those taxes, things like roads and safety net and all the costs of government for the matters we want and need to develop an effective society.”

  4. Jeff, you certainly demonstrate self-confidence to state that, “Clearly, they [Liias, Peterson and Ortiz-Self] have no interest in the wishes and needs of the people they claim to represent.” Heck, they show an interest in issues that I consider important, and they got elected by a majority of the voters in their constituenies. Those are important. All three have been re-elected.
    In my point of view, advisory voting is an infringement of the legislative process. I voted for members to act on my behalf. If the legislature votes in favor of a fee, fine, tax or other levy, and the governor signs it, then it becomes law. If the courts overturn it as unconstitutional, then it is negated. This process does not need another set of voting, at taxpayer expense, I must add.
    The only people I have ever heard say that they should pay more in taxes have been rich. I certainly don’t want to pay more. I can say that Washington’s tax burden is not very different than other states in which I have resided. It differs in its composition, but not so much in what I have had to pay.
    You may not like how the three legislators have voted, but that does not mean they have no interest in the needs or wishes of their constituents.

  5. Mike, I’d say what we need is a lot more of those rich people you seem to hear saying, ” I’d like to pay more in taxes.” I seem to recall Warren Buffet saying something along those lines, but that is about it. Elon Musk just took an online poll regarding if he should sell stock to have to pay some of his share of taxes. The outcome was he should and he apparently did.

    Maybe there is hope that the ultra rich, who many of us worship and adore (Trump tax cuts for people who don’t need or even ask for them, for example), will wise up on their own, and realize their ultra wealth may be self defeating in the long run, if we don’t rehab. our infrastructure, on shore industrial strength, and the plight of our middle and lower class citizens. The history of the ultra rich in America is that of the Robber Barons who lie, cheat, steal and pay starvation wages, then give the people back philanthropic foundations and libraries to sooth their guilt in their old ages. We have modern versions of them, who’s corruption and faults are just starting to become visible.

    Uncle Sam is in pretty bad shape. One of the two major political parties is trying to sabotage our voting system andour belief in it, while making laws to discourage voting itself. That party is encouraging the establishment of strong man and one party rule. We are literally, on a precipice I think. Next time Trump’s Republican pals Will change the national election out come and then the shooting really starts. (Think 1861 because some states just won’t put up with it). Trump just said calling for hanging Mike Pence “was just common sense” because the election was stolen. We got lucky this time around.

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