Voter Registration, Ballot Return and Election Results
If you are new to Bellevue or the State of Washington, you may not be certain how to vote. Just a few years ago, our state eliminated polling places and moved to vote by mail only. That means that if you are a registered voter, you should already have received your general election voters’ pamphlet in the mail, with your ballot soon to follow.
If you have not yet registered, you must do so by Monday, October 29th at the King County Elections office in person, via mail or online at the WA Secretary of State’s Office or get more information here.
To learn more about candidates and measures on the ballot and to track local election night results, visit the King County Elections web page. To track statewide election results, visit the WA Secretary of State elections site.
More on Statewide Ballot Measures
As noted in this week’s issue of BizVoice, there are important issues up and down this year’s general election ballot, from US Senator and WA State Supreme Court to legislative races. There are two statewide ballot measures, however, which stand out due to their potential implications for the business community.
After due diligence and deep discussion by the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, the Chamber has taken positions on I-1634, grocery taxation and I-1631, carbon emissions fee.
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 s 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, non-elected 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.
For additional analysis on I-1631, see More on I-1631, from the Bellevue Blitz dated October 10, 2018.