By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
OLYMPIA — Sponsors of several statewide initiatives are turning in signatures this week, moving them a step closer to having their ideas go before voters this fall.
Petitions for a measure to end the state’s hold on hard liquor distribution and sales are in hand.
State election officials are preparing to receive initiatives that would repeal new taxes on candy and soda pop, revamp the workers’ compensation system and add an income tax to Washington’s wealthiest.
A minimum of 241,153 signatures of registered voters is needed to qualify. Deadline to turn them in is 5 p.m. Friday.
In all, there may be seven measures on the ballot, tying the all-time high set in 1914, which was the first year state residents could file initiatives.
“It is a very popular year for them,” said David Ammons, communications director for the Secretary of State’s Office.
Petitions for the Costco-backed liquor privatization measure arrived last week. Backers of an income tax on high wage earners are delivering signatures Thursday. Their measure also would reduce the state portion of property taxes and lower taxes for some businesses.
On Friday, petitions are expected to be turned in for an initiative to repeal new taxes on candy, soda pop and some processed foods approved earlier this year.
Also Friday, the Building Industry Association of Washington is expected to hand in signatures for its measure to open the workers compensation insurance program to private businesses.
There may be more arrivals. There’s a second initiative aimed at getting the state out of liquor sales and Mukilteo’s Tim Eyman is again pushing a measure to make it tough on lawmakers to raise taxes.
Those wanting to legalize marijuana use by adults are determined to get enough signers for their initiative, too.
With special interests behind most of this year’s batch, gobs of money will be poured into campaigns this fall.
Supporters and opponents of the various measures collectively raised $6.28 million as of Friday, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Of that, $1.7 million has been spent, much of it to pay signature gatherers.
It’s paying off.
Sponsors are gathering sums of signatures large enough to pretty much guarantee a place on the November ballot. For example, the Costco-backed Initiative 1100 arrived with nearly 400,000 signatures to the Office of the Secretary of State.
A random sample of 3 percent of them will be checked out. Depending on the percentage of valid and invalid ones, the state will decide if it needs to check every signature or not.
Workers have been specially trained for the certifying process, Ammons said.
Given the attention paid them in last year’s review of petitions for Referendum 71, they’re expecting to be watched very closely, he said.
“They’re ready for this and there is a sense they will be under the gun,” he said.
Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623, firstname.lastname@example.org.