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Tax advisory votes may soon be history in Washington

Photo by Austin Jenkins

The Washington House has voted to eliminate public advisory votes on tax increases approved by the legislature.

In 2007 Washington voters approved an initiative that mandated the tax advisory ballot measures, even though lawmakers aren’t compelled to honor the results. Those who oppose the measures say they’re confusing and sometimes misleading.

During a hearing on the House floor Friday, Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber [R-Republic] disputed that, saying the advisory votes are a way for people to participate in state government.

“When they see those advisory votes, they want to participate. They want to participate in the government. They’re not too stupid to understand, Mr. Speaker," she said.

Maycumber and other Republicans argue the advisory votes give voters a way to express their opinions to their elected representatives.

But Julia Reed [D-Seattle] says she doesn’t need an advisory vote to hear from her constituents.

“I agree we need an engaged electorate, but advisory votes are expensive. They are discouraging to people who speak English as a second language, to communities that are voting for the first time," Reed said.

The bill was approved 54-43. Three Democrats crossed the aisle to vote against dropping the advisory votes. The bill had already passed the Senate on a mostly party-line vote. It now goes to the governor.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.