Ballots have been mailed out, and it is time once again to take the opportunity the election offers to vote our values at the ballot.

The Poverty Action board – with input from our members, staff, and partners – has taken a position on critical statewide ballot initiatives that can have a great impact for years to come. In considering whether to support or oppose current initiatives, we take into our account whether it:

  • fits into our values, scope of work, and knowledge base;
  • increases equity in our state, including racial equity; and,
  • works for people of color and people with low-incomes.

Each one of the following initiatives impacts our mission Washington where everyone can prosper. In order to work towards that vision, we’ve taken the following positions:

YES on I-1433: Raise Up Washington
Increases the state minimum wage and gives workers the opportunity to earn paid sick/safe leave

No one working full-time should still be struggling to meet their basic needs. No one should have to choose between getting a paycheck and staying home with a sick child or when sick themselves. Yet, that is the reality for hundreds of thousands of Washington workers. Initiative 1433 would raise the minimum wage over four years to $13.50 by 2020, improving the lives of more than 730,000 people. It would also allow over one million (yup, million) employees to earn one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 40 hours worked. This policy is good for our workers, families, and communities.
Vote YES on Statewide Initiative I-1433

YES on I-1491: Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs)
Allows temporary prevention of access to firearms for people exhibiting demonstrated violent behavior

Gun violence deeply impacts our communities – from suicides to domestic violence to mass shootings. Yet, the majority of people who die by suicide using firearms or use them violently towards others show signs of their intentions. Loved ones and associates are often the first people to see these signs, and equally often are the most powerless to remove firearms from these individuals. Initiative 1491 would allow families, friends, households, and law enforcement to obtain a court order that temporarily prevents someone in crisis or displaying violent behavior from owning or buying guns for up to a year. The goal of the initiative is to prevent death by suicides, increase domestic violence protections, and make our communities safer for all of us.
Vote YES on I-1491

YES on I-1501
Increased penalties of identity theft and fraud of “vulnerable” populations and their in-home caregivers

Identity theft and fraud is a growing issue that affects everyone but some populations, like seniors, are especially vulnerable. I-1501 increases penalties on identity theft and fraud, and prevents the release of personal information by the state for seniors and other people who receive home health care, as well as their in-home caregivers.
Vote YES on I-1501

YES on I-735: WAmend
Moves to put WA state on record calling for a constitutional amendment against Citizens United

In the 2010 Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Committee decision, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to restrict “independent” political spending by corporations (read: money not given directly to candidates). Stating that the First Amendment protects not just a person’s right to speak but the act of free speech, regardless of who the speaker is, it essentially equated corporations to people, and money to free speech. Since then, we’ve seen a sharp, and damaging, increase in spending by PACs/SuperPACs, and undisclosed, untraceable political contributions. Suffice to say, this has created even less equity and transparency in our campaigns.

I-735 seeks to eventually overturn Citizens United by having Washington state go on record calling for a constitutional amendment to the ruling. The idea is have enough states go on record calling for this to trigger federal lawmakers to action. It won’t happen immediately. It may not happen. But it is important to say that Citizens United is failing our democratic system.
Vote YES on I-735

Recommend NO on I-732: Carbon Tax
Would create a carbon tax in WA state

On the surface, I-732 enacts a carbon tax that is meant to be revenue neutral, by lowering the sales tax by 1% and some Business & Operating taxes. It also purports to fund the Working Family Families Tax Rebate, which has remained unfunded since Poverty Action members helped pass it years ago.

So why do we recommend a no vote? For one, revenue forecasts on the bill show that the initiative is actually revenue negative, with conservative estimates costing the state $80 million/year. In a climate where lawmakers need to fully fund public education, yet repeatedly fail to generate fair revenue sources, and attempt to balance the budget by cutting social service and infrastructure investments – a greater strain on the budget is unacceptable; it works against our most vulnerable communities. Funding the Working Families Tax Rebate, should it occur, does not compensate for the squeeze created by the shortfall on our existing programs and needs.

Secondly, the tax does not take into account adaptive strategies like investing in communities most affected by climate change, or creating programs that transition workers from a fossil fuel based economy to a more sustainable one. Finally, the initiative bypasses the momentum built by organizations and communities of color to create and pass climate change solutions that take into account the voices of people most affected by climate change.

While we agree that we need to take action on climate change, we believe that, due to its strong flaws, I-732 is not the way to achieve this goal.
Vote NO on I-732

This election is a big one – from candidate races to ballot initiatives. Make sure you vote, and vote your whole ballot. Please mail in your ballots by Tuesday November 8th!