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I-1185: A recipe for special interest control…

October 21, 2012 2 comments

“The two-thirds rule offers these interests the protection of a rigid supermajority barrier by making it impossible to reform our overly complex tax code through the elimination of underperforming tax exemptions”

Let me be clear: I support well thought out limits on taxes. Our general sales tax is already high enough to encourage day trips to Oregon to avoid it and our B&O tax system is an archaic burden to struggling small businesses that can’t afford lobbyists to protect their interest. But over the years, I’ve come to revile Tim Eyman’s ham-fisted efforts to limit taxes because of how poorly thought out they are and the array of unintended consequences.  The key problem with 1185 is that it hands an effective veto against ANY revenue measure, no matter how well thought out and broadly supported, to a mere 17 out of 147 legislators. That has been a recipe for special interest control or our state’s tax code.  Want a tax loophole to “create jobs”? You only need convince a simple majority of legislators in both houses. Want to get rid of that tax loophole after it’s shown to be ineffective? The bar has been raised to 2/3.

Eyman cites new taxes on candy and bottled water imposed by the legislature as an example of the need for I-1185.  This is ironic since those taxes were repealed by the voters through a simple majority vote. (A campaign coincidentally funded by, you guessed it, the candy and beverage manufacturers) Another Irony: Tim Eyman claims to support “Joe Six Pack” and yet the majority of his funding comes from large corporate interests such as BP, Conoco Philips, and the Beer Institute.

By all means, make your views about limited taxes clear to your legislators and demand limits on taxes. Yes there will be unpopular taxes imposed from time to time, but they can be repealed and legislators can be voted out of office. Vote NO on I-1185.

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Make it *easier* for people with suspended licenses to drive? Huh?

February 14, 2010 Leave a comment

The Washington State Senate is considering SB 6490 which would decriminalize “DWLS 3” – Driving with a suspended license – 3rd degree.  I suspect there may be a good motivation behind this bill, such as reducing bureaucratic costs for minor infractions.  However, as a cyclist I get nervous about anything that removes or lessens penalties for driving with a suspended license.  As such I sent the following letter to State Senator Randy Gordon regarding this bill:

Senator Gordon,

I am attempting to make sense of the purpose behind SB 6490. As a frequent cyclist, I am against anything that would decriminalize driving with a suspended license. Driving with a suspended license is a serious infraction that should result in substantial consequences.

A good example is the case of Antonio Eugene Cellestine. On September 15th of last year Mr. Cellestine hit and killed Gordon Patterson, a teacher who was cycling home in Vancouver, Washington. Mr Cellestine, who was driving with a suspended license, admitted that he was texting on his cell phone at the time of the collision. I believe that Mr. Cellestine’s decisions to text message while driving his car with a suspended license shows a pattern of disregard for the law. This, to me, seems to be the definition of criminal behavior. Mr Cellestine was convicted of hit and run which resulted in a 5 year sentence. Sadly, this 5 year sentence was only due to the fact that Mr. Cellestine did not stay at the scene of the collision.

The Association of Washington Cities (AWC) has urged opposition to this bill but I am open to there being a reasonable motivation behind it. Can you explain to me how this bill will not ease the way for more tragic situations like I have described and why it is a good idea to decriminalize driving with a suspended license?

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