11/08/2005 King County, Washington, USA Elections – State Wide Initiatives

It's voting time again. I'm going to update this article as I work through the vote pamphlet.

  • Initiative Measure 900 – NO

  • Initiative Measure 901 – YES

  • Initiative Measure 912 – NO

  • Initiative Measure 330 – HELL NO

  • Initiative Measure 336 – NO

  • Senate Joint Resolution 8207 – YES

Initiative Measure 900 – NO

This measure would allocate a few million dollars to the State Auditor to allow for performance audits of every government agency in Washington, state or local. I like audits. What I don't like is the state government sticking its nose into local governments and I also don't like the idea of the state auditor, a partisan position, being given a hunting license to stick their nose into any government entity, even the non-state ones. I can easily see this turning into a way to punish local entities who don't do what they are told. Having an audit performed is very expensive and the threat of one can be an effective lever to cause all sorts of actions.

Initiative Measure 901 – YES

This measure would make it illegal to smoke just about anywhere indoors, including removing exemptions that allowed for at least partial smoking areas. This measure would also ban smoking within 25 feet of windows, doors, air inlets, etc. (although just walking by on the side walk while smoking would not be a violation). This law is a no brainer when applied to any and all government owned spaces. These are areas people have to go to and there is absolutely no reason why they should be exposed to dangerous carcinogens. It's application to private businesses does give me pause. If we lived in a perfect world I would say that private businesses should be free to decide on smoking on their own with the employees of those businesses deciding for themselves if they want to work in a business that exposes them to known carcinogens. But the job market is far from perfect and real people who take real jobs that pay the crappy pay on offer at most businesses that allow smoking (e.g. bars, bowling alleys, etc.) can't afford to worry about cigarette smoke. This is a classic market failure and I think it's reasonable to address it by just banning smoking all together in business areas. There has been some objection to this measure because of the 25 foot external exclusion zone. The argument being that in some areas this will make smoking impossible on the sidewalk if there are a lot of windows and doors around. That's fine with me. I've had to walk through clouds of second hand smoke one time too many when entering buildings and such, I'm happy to see the restriction. I think smoking in public constitutes both a health hazard to non-smokers as well as a public nuisance so it's banning doesn't disturb me a bit. This is a classic example of balancing rights, on one hand is the right of non-smokers not to be exposed to carcinogens and an awful smell and on the other is the right of smokers to take the risk of getting cancer. I think 901 strikes the right balance.

Initiative Measure 912 – NO

This measure would repeal a recently passed gas tax increase. The gas tax increase is targeted at specific, reasonable projects that need attention like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the 520 Bridge, both of which will be toast in the next earth quake and desperately need upgrading. More then that I believe that gas taxes are way too low. They do not reflect the externalities of gas pollution.

Initiative Measure 330 – HELL NO

This initiative is a horror. It contains numerous provisions that are repugnant to anyone who believes that individuals should have right of redress to the law. First and foremost it allows medical providers to demand binding arbitration which in effect denies access to our legal system to anyone who must do business with those providers (e.g. veterans, anyone covered by company health plans, etc.). It also guts compensation for pain and suffering to $350,000 which is nothing given some of the malpractice horrors that have been committed. It also adds in such odious terms as removing the exemption to the statue of limitations for patients who are incompetent. In other words, a doctor could screw up, throw a patient into a coma for years and the patient could come out of it only to find out they have no legal redress because the statue of limitations expired while they were unconscious due to the doctor's incompetence! This initiative would also restrict pay outs that lawyers can get. This seems like a good thing to stop 'greedy' lawyers but in reality all it will do is restrict access to our legal system only to those people who have trivial cases or lots of money to pay for their own attorneys. Poor people with difficult cases will be denied access to the legal system because the potential reward for the lawyer simply isn't there. This initiative is disgusting and the fact that it made it on the ballot strongly indicates that there is something seriously wrong with our system of getting initiatives onto ballots.

Initiative Measure 336 – NO

This initiative makes me very nervous. It would ban doctors who have three jury awards for malpractice against them in ten years and require investigations for doctors who have three large out of court settlements in five years. It would change the insurance process to allow for appeals by anyone (read: lawyers looking for cash) to malpractice insurance rate increases and it would ban secrecy agreements in malpractice settlements so the public would know what's going on. While my gut instinct is to support this initiative, especially the ban on secrecy agreements, I can't shake the impression that this initiative is just wrong. The jury awards rule would force doctors into settlements on everything (good for lawyers, they get paid based on the size of the settlement, not the amount of effort put in) and the changes to insurance regulations just seems to be begging for endless lawsuits. Besides, the initiative is 13 pages of dense legal text that I lack the background to analyze. I personally don't think anything this complex has any business being an initiative, this is exactly the sort of finally tuned heavily technical horse trading that we elect our representatives to perform on our behalf.

Senate Joint Resolution 8207 – YES

Finally, a really easy one. This amends the state constitution to fix a minor screw up. Due to a language goof municipal judges aren't allowed to elect a representative to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. This resolution would change the state constitution to fix the screw up. An easy yes.

2 thoughts on “11/08/2005 King County, Washington, USA Elections – State Wide Initiatives”

  1. I agree with most on this page except the I-901.
    This one is a little extreme. If we want to avoid the risk of cancer then we should talk to the cigarette companies who are exploiting our communities and not target citizens that smoke.

  2. I don’t think cigarettes should be illegal. I firmly believe that people have the right to kill themselves. What I want to make illegal is people trying to take me along with them against my will. That’s why I think it’s reasonable to ban smoking in public places. What I don’t think would be reasonable is to ban smoking in the privacy of one’s own home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *