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`Direct democracy’ sponsors eye ballot spot

by David Ammons | July 2nd, 2015 3:31 pm | No Comments


Two citizen initiative campaign submitted boxloads of petitions by the Friday deadline, and both appear to have an excellent shot at making the statewide ballot this fall.

Tim Eyman, the state’s most prominent use of the initiative process, turned in what he and co-sponsors Jack and Mike Fagan estimated at at least 334,000 signatures for their Initiative 1366. That measure would direct the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot for ratification — or face a 1-cent reduction in the state’s 6.5-cent sales tax.

The State Supreme Court previously overturned an earlier Eyman initiative to require a two-thirds vote  in both houses to approve tax hikes in Olympia. The only way to overcome that ruling would be to amend the state Constitution. Voters can’t amend by initiative; it must originate in the Legislature, with two-thirds votes in both chambers.  I-1366 would provide an incentive — a potential $1 billion annual revenue loss — for lawmakers to place it on the ballot.

The other measure, Initiative 1401, is backed by billionaire Microsoft co-founder and Seahawks owner Paul Allen. It would expand state authority over combatting trafficking of endangered species and their parts. It would make selling, purchasing, trading, or distributing endangered animals and products containing such species, a gross misdemeanor or class-C felony, with exemptions for certain types of transfers.

Their backers brought in an estimated 349,000 signatures on Wednesday.

If history is a guide, both measures are likely to make the fall ballot. The bare minimum is 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters. To cover duplicates or invalid signatures, the state Elections Division always recommends submitting about 325,000 to be on the safe side.

Both sets of petitions will undergo a page-by-page inspection, including a preliminary fraud check, and then go to the State Archives for imaging. When images return, the Elections work crew will compile them into volumes and prepare for random-sampling of 3 percent of the signatures to see if they match those on file for registered voters. Actual scrutiny of the sample will begin about July 13 and should be complete by the week of the 20th.

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Celebrating Combined Fund Drive super-achievers


Secretary of State Kim Wyman did her first “Wyman Works for You” work day Thursday at the  Washington Veterans’ Home at Retsil in Port Orchard. She described it as a heart-warming opportunity to serve lattes and have great conversations with veterans like M. John Stanley, who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

Wyman was fulfilling a promise she made at last year’s Combined Fund Drive’s Leadership Breakfast.  She threw down a challenge that she would work for a day for any agency that got 100 percent participation for CFD payroll contributions or for large agencies that more than doubled their participation. Five small agencies got to 100 percent, and the Department of Veterans Affairs was able to more than double their participation, jumping from 17 percent to 56 percent.

She’s made the same CFD challenge for this year’s campaign as well.

The Combined Fund Drive, part of the Office of the Secretary of State, empowers public employees and retirees to strengthen their communities through funding and support of charities, primarily through regular payroll deductions. Last year, CFD helped raise over $5 million and since it was created in 1984, has raised over $120 million.

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Secretary Wyman: `Voters win’ with 2016 Presidential Primary

2016 Presidential Primary
OLYMPIA – Secretary of State Kim Wyman is praising lawmakers for ensuring that Washington voters will have a voice in the 2016 presidential nominating process.

Lawmakers in both chambers and both parties joined in approving $11.5 million for the state to hold a Presidential Primary next winter. Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, will advocate for a March 8 election, conducted by mail over an 18-day period. The Primary is a big opportunity to engage voters, she said:

“The voters win with a `people’s primary’ that is sure to gain the attention of the national campaigns and draw strong participation from our four million voters. The people of Washington will benefit by having candidates and the national media hear their issues first-hand.

“We have a wide-open race for the White House in 2016, with multiple candidates on both sides, and our voters will be eager to weigh in.”

Wyman will invite Democratic and Republican leaders to Olympia soon to select a date earlier than the current default date of May 24. She is suggesting March 8, one week after Super Tuesday. March 1 is the earliest that most states may hold primaries/caucuses without penalty.

The Legislature did not pass Wyman’s reform bill that would have made the second Tuesday in March the default date and would have required the parties to use the primary results to allocate at least some of their national convention delegates.   The Senate passed the bill, but the House did not.

However, House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, attempted to set a threshold for 75 percent delegate allocation as a condition of holding the primary. Wyman supported that continue reading

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Ready to vote on June Library Jewels?

We’ve shown off the three Library Jewels for June, so it’s time for you to choose your favorite. Your  choices are an 1867 map of the northern U.S. from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean, 1890 state legislators’ signatures, and the J.W. Thompson photo collection of Washington.

You can select your fave by going to our online poll (below), which be open until Friday at 5 p.m.

1867 map of America from Lake Superior to Pacific Ocean

1890 state legislators’ signatures

J.W. Thompson photo collection of Washington

What is your favorite June Library Jewel?

  • J.W. Thompson photo collection of Washington (61%)
  • 1867 map of northern U.S. from Lake Superior to Pacific Ocean (29%)
  • 1890 state legislators' signatures (10%)

Total Voters: 72

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Library Jewel #3: J.W. Thompson photo collection of WA


Three Indian princesses examine a camera. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Library)

Our third and final Library Jewel for June is a collection of photographs and slides of Washington, taken by J. W. Thompson between 1950 and 1968.

The collection includes 115 photos and about 1,500 slides of a wide variety of subjects of the Pacific Northwest, including Native Americans on both sides of the Cascades, Northwest scenery and historic spots, and WA industries, including cranberry growing at Grayland, logging and lumbering, and oysters at Willapa Bay.

According to the State Library’s notes about him, Thompson was a retired Seattle high school botany teacher in the 1950s. He was an avid photographer looking for subjects for an educational series he was developing.

When Thompson went to visit his sister in Toppenish, he learned that tribal elders from nearby reservations had assembled on the Yakama Reservation to observe the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1855. This was the Treaty that established Reservations for the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. At the historic gathering he had the opportunity to meet tribal leaders and to gain their permission to photograph their lives that still were little known to other residents of the region. Mr. Thompson’s purpose was to find images that were interesting and authentic to document the lives of the Native Americans of Washington state at the middle of the 20th century. With the subject’s permission, he photographed Native people at longhouse celebrations, salmon feasts, summer encampments, in traditional dress and harvesting roots and berries. The photographs portray the rich fellowship of tribal gatherings on the Columbia Plateau in the 1950s.


Library Jewel #2: 1890 legislators’ signatures


As House and Senate negotiators try to reach a compromise on the next two-year state operating budget, our second Library Jewel for June has a nice legislative tie-in from yesteryear: an autograph album that contains the signatures of the members of the 1st Legislature of Washington, 1890.

The image above shows signatures of (top to bottom) state Reps. Joseph C. Painter of Touchet, Walla Walla County, Harry Hamilton of Conconully, Okanogan County, and Henry B. Day of Dayton, Columbia County. All three were Republicans. Two of the entries were dated March 26, 1890, two days before the first regular session ended that year.

From the very informative book, History of the Legislature, 1854-1963:

“Washington had been moderately Republican since the Civil War and the first state election reflected this. All state-elected officials in 1889, were Republicans. In the Legislature there were: 34 Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate and 62 Republicans and eight Democrats in the House. The members ranged in age from 26 to 62. Only three (all in the House) had been born in the Territory. Thirty-one were veterans of the Civil War. By occupation, the largest single group were farmers followed by lawyers. While a large majority were Republicans, their political philosophy was wide-ranging and several later identified with the populist movement. In a departure from the normal experience the average age of the Senate members was younger than those in the House.”

For more information about legislative history, also take a look at State of Washington Members of the Legislature 1889-2014.


June Library Jewel #1: 1867 map from Lake Superior to Pacific


(Image courtesy of Washington State Library)

If you’re into maps, the State Library is for you. It has a collection of Metsker maps of each Washington county, topographical maps, national forest, park and trail maps, nautical charts, and an outstanding rare maps collection.

One is this 1867 map of the country from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean. For those who need a cartographical refresher course, that part of the nation stretches from what is now Minnesota to the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and – drum roll, please – Washington.

The map, found in the library’s Rare Maps Collection, was prepared at Coltons Geographical Establishment in New York. It accompanied a report by Edwin Ferry Johnson, who was Northern Pacific Railroad’s chief engineer during this era.  This map shows the NP Railroad route as envisioned in 1867, with the terminus placed in Seattle. Keep in mind that the first wagon road over Snoqualmie Pass was still in the process of completion. Upon completion in May 1888, the railroad route ended not in Seattle, but Tacoma.

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Docs, photos of first WA territorial prison top Archives poll


Seatco Prison, near present-day Bucoda. (Photo courtesy Washington State Archives)

Nowadays, it seems like anything about prison is hot. First, there’s the TV series “Orange Is the New Black.” And, OK, now you have documents about Washington’s first territorial prison capturing the June edition of the Archives Treasures poll. Is that a trend or what?

The docs and photos related to the Seatco Prison near present-day Bucoda took first place with 57 percent, easily defeating State Ferries schedule pamphlets (30 percent) and photos of the Spafford murals being removed from the House Gallery (13 percent).

We’ll begin the June Library Jewels series later this week, so be watching.

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WA honors Magna Carta’s 800-year legacy of liberty


British flag flies outside Capitol. (Photos courtesy of Benjamin Helle)

As the Union Jack flew at the Washington state Capitol and inside the ornate Temple of Justice, the state joined a national and international celebration of the 800-year legacy of liberty and the rule of law.

The foundational document was described as “the most famous and pivotal law document in the world” by Robin Twyman, UK consul in Seattle. Robert Stacey, an expert on early British history, said American colonists took the often-forgotten Great Charter and ran with it, famously rebelling against “taxation without representation” and demanding the rule of law and the consent of the governed.


Allen Miller takes on the role of Thomas Jefferson.

Even Thomas Jefferson put in an appearance! At precisely 12:15 p.m. Monday — for the year 1215, when King John sealed the document to quell a rebellion — bells were rung and “huzzahs” shouted. Re-enactor Allen Miller as Jefferson read the “Free Man Clause” on the due process of law.  Jefferson and the founders relied on themes from the Magna Carta in writing the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.

Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair of the organizing committee, called the charter “the greatest constitutional document of its time… that has served as the foundation of freedom against the authority of despots.” He traced its impact on American law, including “the rights we often take for granted.”

Twyman said the symbolic moment of a king submitting to the rule of law is an enduring concept, even if the Charter itself has mostly been discarded. “Thus was born the legacy of law and liberty,” he said. Some of the great social justice movements, including those by Mandela and Gandhi, have drawn on that legacy.  The charter was “no silver bullet, no Big Bang moment,” but was the beginning of an evolution that bent the arc of history, he said.


Robert Stacey, a UW history professor, discusses the history of the Magna Carta.  

Stacey, history professor at the University of Washington and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, traced the long and checkered history of the Magna Carta in the UK.  He said the charter was a political document in England, but a foundational legal document in America.

“It is a symbol of good government … and sank deeper roots in America” at the intersection of taxation, representation and consent, and rebellion, Stacey said. “It mattered more to the U.S. than to England. … The debt the American judicial system owes to Magna Carta is significant.” continue reading

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SOS Wyman on the road: Ellensburg

Kim's Kittitas County lunch

Secretary Wyman talks about her office’s programs during lunch with her Kittitas County Advisory Committee. (Photo courtesy of Toni McKinley-Camp)

From time to time, Secretary of State Wyman leaves Olympia and visits other parts of Washington to meet with community leaders, take part in historical or cultural events and talk with local media about what our office is doing.

After all, since part of her title is “state,” it only makes sense for Wyman to visit communities around our state and learn more about them while letting folks know about our office’s programs and goals.

On Monday, Wyman enjoyed visiting Ellensburg, the Kittitas County seat and home to Central Washington University. (Trivia: Did you know that Ellensburg –
or Ellensburgh, as it was known then – was a finalist to become Washington’s state capital in 1889?

The secretary began her E-burg stay with a tour Washington State Archives’ Central Regional Branch, located on the CWU campus. Wyman met for lunch with more than 20 members of her Kittitas County Advisory Committee, informing them about current or upcoming programs, including Washington Remembers, which features online profiles and photos of Washingtonians who served in World War II as we approach the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.

After an afternoon meeting with the Ellensburg Daily Record’s editorial board, Wyman was set to speak Monday night to the Girls State participants, who are congregating on the CWU campus this week.

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SOS panel: Wyman talks elections with Munro, Reed

Kim with Sam and Ralph at 2015 elections conf

Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro (left) talks about an elections issue as current Secretary of State Kim Wyman and her predecessor, Sam Reed, listen. (Photo courtesy of Lori Augino)

The current and two most recent secretaries of state for Washington were featured guests at the annual state elections conference in SeaTac on Thursday, sharing their stories and experiences from the past 34 years during a panel discussion.

Ralph Munro, who served 20 years as secretary of state beginning in 1981, traced Washington’s amazing progress in elections during recent decades. Munro said the state became a national leader by promoting voting rights for 18-year-olds, a “Motor Voter” program that allows citizens to register to vote at the time of acquiring a driver’s license, and major technological advances. He urged the election officials at the conference to continue vigorous outreach programs, particularly for voters with disabilities.

Sam Reed, who served as Thurston County Auditor for 23 years before becoming SOS in 2001, said the state has gone through a number of court challenges, including the fight to preserve wide-open Top 2 Primary voting, and hundreds of reforms needed after the ultra-close 2004 governor’s race that called Washington’s election system into question. Reed noted that WA helped pioneer online voter registration, online candidate filing and online voters’ guides and expanding voter information in general. He also talked about college civics tours and other strategies for engaging younger voters.

Kim Wyman, who was elected secretary of state in 2012 after succeeding Reed as Thurston County Auditor 12 years earlier, said the state faces many technology challenges, as well as adjusting to federal Help America Vote Act dollars drying up. Wyman said as the state adapts to new technology, it must be done carefully and in close collaboration between state and county elections offices. She said she was reminded in the early digital age that people were choosing between Beta and VHS for video players, and how if you made the wrong choice it had huge ramifications. She said that example has stuck with her. Adopting new voting equipment needs to be carefully made, Wyman added.

Sitting in armchairs on a stage before a packed ballroom crowd, the three secretaries bantered with each other and answered questions from attendees. At the end of their talk, Munro summed it up: “We faced a lot of big challenges over the decades and we always figured out a smart way to address those challenges. We’ve proven we’re capable of making smart decisions for the future.”

The annual elections conference, sponsored by the Washington State Association of County Auditors, has included workshops on continue reading

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