Opinion

Stop greedy corporate initiatives in Washington state | Andrew Villeneuve

Washington voters face what seems like a record number of initiatives. Five of these measures are almost exclusively funded by corporations and would damage our state’s quality of life. Here’s a guide to each and why you should vote no.

• No on 1053: Tim Eyman’s latest scheme, funded by corporations like BP, ConocoPhillips, Tesoro, Shell, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, would sabotage majority rule and democracy. I-1053 allows just 17 state senators to veto any bill that offsets horrendous cuts to vital services like our public schools. Corporate lobbyists want to be able to undemocratically block the repeal of outdated tax loopholes that benefit them at our expense. For instance, there’s an exemption on our books which benefits Wall Street banks, allowing them to escape paying taxes on interest or investment earnings made from the interest from residential first mortgages.

• No on 1082: This year’s insurance industry ploy, brought to us by Liberty Mutual, The Hartford Financial and Farmers, would destroy Washington’s publicly-run industrial insurance system, which protects workers when they’re injured on the job. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says the initiative is riddled with loopholes that give insurers special exemptions that no other line of insurance is allowed. One provision even allows these guys to delay or deny legitimate claims for any reason. Don’t let insurance giants get away with increasing costs and reducing benefits for injured Washington workers.

• No on 1100 and 1105: Two competing corporate fronts are pushing measures that would deregulate the state’s liquor system and close state liquor stores. Costco, Fred Meyer, Safeway and Wal-Mart are behind I-1100; Odom Corporation and Young’s Market Company are behind I-1105. The initiatives are not identical, but they have the same overarching objective. The only difference is which corporations benefit. I-1100 would make it easier for big chains to sell liquor, whereas I-1105 would concentrate additional power in the hands of distributors. These initiatives would wipe out critical regulations that provide a level playing field for small businesses and local brewers. Police officers and firefighters are concerned that violence, alcohol-related accidents and underage drinking will become much worse. The closure of state liquor stores would jeopardize 1,000 jobs.

• No on I-1107: The American Beverage Association (the lobbying front for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group) has been feverishly spending millions of dollars attempting to trick us into repealing small, temporary tax increases on soda, bottled water and candy, which they call “food” and “groceries” in their advertising. Don’t be fooled. The new revenue provided by these tax increases has saved our safety net from being obliterated, which means that more families and children have been able to keep their health care coverage. Let’s not cut them off at the knees. Don’t fall for the soda lobby’s lies.

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