Early take on 3 measures
•Initiative 1125, regarding the imposition of fees and tolls: In between writing local red-light-camera initiatives, Tim Eyman put this one forward, with the help of a $500,000 donation from Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr.
It reinstates a provision of last year's voter-approved I-1053, forcing the Legislature to vote on fees and tolls rather than delegating such decisions to commissions.
A more troubling provision would cement a current law that requires tolls fund only the specific highway project used by those paying them. The short-term aim appears to be preventing the establishment of tolls on the I-90 floating bridge across Lake Washington to help pay for a new Highway 520 bridge, where tolls have already been approved.
We question the wisdom of that idea. Those parallel bridges are in effect one traffic corridor between Seattle and its eastern suburbs. Replacement of the aging 520 bridge will benefit users of both -- why shouldn't all of them pay for it?
A law that allowed for such a logical option could be narrowly written to prevent tolls on one corridor from being used for a totally unrelated project. This blunt-instrument approach would preclude such a win-win solution.
•Initiative 1183, privatizing liquor sales: This is an improved version of last year's I-1100, which voters rejected by a 53-47 margin. It's backed by Costco, major grocers and restaurants. Like I-1100, it would close state liquor stores and require the state to sell its liquor-distribution center.
Its two key differences from I-1100: For the most part, only larger stores would be allowed to sell hard liquor, not mini-marts or gas stations; and the state would reap a significantly higher share of the proceeds from liquor sales. But like I-1100, which we endorsed, it would get the state out of the liquor business -- hardly an essential mission of government -- while increasing consumer choice and convenience.
•Initiative 1163, requiring background checks and training for long-term-care workers and providers: This is basically a repeat of I-1029, which voters passed in 2008 but the Legislature put on hold because of the budget crisis.
We recommended a "no" vote on I-1029, and we remain skeptical of this union-created "solution" to a problem that doesn't seem to exist. The Service Employees International Union, which already has raised more than $1 million for this measure, needs to make a convincing case that the current effectiveness of long-term-care workers and providers falls short, and that I-1163 is a cost-effective idea for a state government that's spent the past few years slashing basic services.
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