More on statewide ballot measures
Initiative 1634 – Keep Groceries Affordable Act (Taxation of Groceries)
Last year, the Seattle City Council voted to impose a sweetened beverage tax of $1.75 per ounce, effective January 1, 2018. The effects were felt immediately by large and small grocers alike, with a 35-cent additional tax on a 20-ounce bottle of soda with sweetener, or $1.75 on a 2-liter bottle.
Initiative 1634 would amend state law to prevent enaction of any additional taxes on grocery items, defined as raw or processed foods, including sweetened beverages, at the local level. Seattle’s existing ordinance would not be affected.
The Bellevue Chamber believes imposing taxes on the grocery cart at the local level, is neither a fair nor reliable way to fund core government programs. We join grocers, food producers and unions representing those who work in these industries, in supporting I-1634, ‘Yes to affordable groceries.”
Initiative 1631 – Protect Washington Act (Carbon Emissions Fee)
In 2016, Initiative 732 – Create Carbon Emission Tax, was rejected by a vote 59 – 41%. This measure would have implemented a tax of $25 per metric ton in 2018, followed by an escalator of 3.5 % plus inflation, with a cap of $100. At the same time, to reduce costs to businesses and individuals, I-732 proposed reductions in B&O taxes and sales tax relief for low income households.
Initiative 1631 proposes a fee of $15 per metric ton, escalating annually by $2 plus inflation, with a cap in 2035 if state greenhouse gas reduction targets are met. While the ballot title claims the measure will reduce pollution in part by “imposing a fee on large emitters based on their pollution,” so-called Energy Intensive Trade Industries are exempt.
Firms and individuals which are not exempt, however, are projected to see a 14 cent per gallon increase in motor vehicle fuel costs in 2020 and that is just for starters. Unlike I-732, this ballot measure makes no attempt to be revenue neutral and offers no tax offsets. Moreover, I-1631 creates a new, unelected board to dispense fee revenue as follows:
- · 70 percent to the clean air and clean energy account;
- · 25 percent to the clean water and healthy forests account;
- · 5 percent to the healthy communities account.
The Bellevue Chamber strongly supports transition to a clean energy economy and is already leading the way in advocating electrification of the transportation sector. However, we cannot support a punitive carbon fee that will land primarily on small businesses and individuals without an EITE exemption.
Let’s put this measure down and go back to the drawing board in Olympia, proposing new alternative fuel vehicle tax incentives, electrification of public sector transportation fleets and real commute trip reduction options for employers. The Bellevue Chamber joins with the Association of Washington Business in recommending a NO vote on Initiative 1631.
Q4 Advocacy Program
While September is often the “real” summer in Seattle, your Chamber advocacy initiatives will be up and running. Here are a few examples of issues we’ll take on during the Fourth Quarter of 2019.
New Business – Q4 Advocacy Work Program
1. Housing Affordability Project – Status report and further direction regarding prioritization (September – November).
2. I-405 Bus Rapid Transit – Presentation in committee or before Bellevue Chamber Board of Directors (September – October).
3. SeaTac Airport Sustainable Airport Master Plan – Presentation in committee or before Board (September).
4. Review and make recommendations regarding proposed Bellevue 2019-20 operating budget, 2019-25 CIP and 2019-2030 TFP (September – November).
5. Review, refine and adopt East King Chambers Coalition 2019 Legislative Agenda (September – November).
6. Review and refine disruptive transportation technologies initiatives (ongoing).
7. Review and recommend strategies for funding and implementation of I-405 Master Plan, both current and future phases (ongoing).
See something missing or want to get involved? Contact Chris Johnson at [email protected]
124th NE Bike facilities survey
The City’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Implementation Plan, as adopted in 2009, proposed over 400 different projects to create a network of safe, non-motorized transportation facilities. Earlier this year, the Bike Rapid Implementation Program identified a Priority Bicycle Corridor network, including gaps in existing facilities.
Now the City is proposing interim changes to improve bicycling conditions on 124th Avenue Northeast, between NE 8th and NE 12th. Take a look at design concepts and take a survey here.
In the meantime, we’ll be monitoring the Downtown Demonstration Bikeway and Bellevue’s bike share pilot program, and will let you know when these projects go into the evaluation phase. If you would like either of these items to be added to the Chamber’s Q4 advocacy program, contact Chris Johnson at [email protected]