October 19, 2015
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Seattle voters to face complex, untested local candidate contribution Initiative 122

The Seattle Times last month recommended that voters reject Initiative 122. Billed as a measure that would add transparency to the local mayoral and council candidate campaign contribution process, it would actually create “a grab-bag of varying tax rules that tax citizens to pay for city campaigns and could potentially benefit well-organized special interest groups,” the paper wrote.

Proponents of the measure say they want to limit “big money in elections” by creating a taxpayer funded election system. But as written, opponents of the measure warn that I-122 could actually do the opposite and serve as a cover for those looking to unfairly influence and exploit the democratic process in Seattle’s local elections.

If approved by voters next month, I-122 would raise property taxes in order to provide each registered voter in the city of Seattle four $25 "democracy vouchers" to give to local candidates of their choosing. There are currently 415,000 registered voters in the city of Seattle, putting the cost to property taxpayers at $41.5 million. However, the initiative's provisions only allow for $3 million in new property tax collections. Many believe this setup would ensure most voters would not be able to use their $25 vouchers because they would be funded on a first-come, first-served basis, disenfranchising voters who take longer to scrutinize candidates.

Additionally, because of how the measure is written, it could create a complex maze that could allow special-interest groups to gain an unfair advantage for a candidate in a local election. For example, under I-122, candidates could raise the full amount of vouchers allowed under the new spending limit, but then opt out of the spending limit if a large, independent donor enters the race. This means candidates could both take taxpayer-funded vouchers and unlimited outside dollars — the exact opposite of the intent of the initiative.

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Export-Import Bank Critical to Washington's Economy

Ex-Im Bank Is an Easy Yes

By Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers

ProGauge Technologies, Inc., a manufacturing company based in Bakersfield, California, is bidding on a project that could lead to 30 new jobs, but only five are staying here in the United States. The rest will be created abroad.

It didn't have to be that way. ProGauge is one of countless manufacturers in the United States, large and small, losing out on foreign sales and international deals because of Congress' failure to stand up for American jobs. "It's pretty sad not to be able to keep the jobs here," said ProGauge president Don Nelson.

Earlier this year, Congress allowed the Export-Import Bank's charter to expire and has not yet acted to reauthorize it. The Ex-Im Bank has served for more than 80 years as the U.S. export credit agency, ensuring access to competitive export financing for manufacturers in the United States that private banks are unable to offer. Countries around the world have similar credit agencies, and without ours, it is harder for U.S.-based companies to sell their products, made by American workers, overseas.

Click here to read the full column in U.S. News & World Report
Ag Worth Billions to State

Needed: More Water for Everyone in Yakima Valley

By The News Tribune editorial board

Some of America's richest farmland lies just over the Cascade Mountains in the Yakima River Valley. It provides most of the nation's apples and hops, and pulls billions of dollars into the state economy.

It's also fragile, as this year's unprecedented drought demonstrated. The valley's reservoir system is roughly a century old; even in the best of years, it doesn't deliver enough water to go around. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has introduced a measure that would bring the system into the 21st century; the Senate should pass it.

Her bill would put the U.S. government behind the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, a combination of irrigation, reservoir and habitat improvements. The legislation is backed by an improbably broad coalition that includes farmers, environmentalists, the Yakama Indians, fishermen, Republican and Democratic leaders.

A lot of those people are normally in the habit of squabbling with each other. Their unanimity in this case reflects the fact that the Integrated Plan pretty much makes everyone happy.

Click here to read the full editorial in The News Tribune
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