Heres my vote
August 27, 2008 · Updated 8:40 PM
Most of us have already voted by now but some readers have asked my opinions anyway, even if only out of curiosity, so I shall oblige as I do in most elections.
There are three controversial state measures to consider and three ho-hummers.
The one getting the most publicity is Referendum 67, which permits insurance claimants to be awarded treble damages if their insurer is found to have been unreasonable in denying their claims.
This bill, passed by the 2007 Legislature, purports to represent those who have battled with their insurance companies over claims that were either denied or reduced from what was asked. If the courts find an insurer has been unreasonable in that action, the plaintiff can be awarded three times actual damages, plus attorney fees and court costs.
Proponents say insurance companies are becoming too cavalier in denying claims. If you believe their TV ads, all kinds of deserving people are getting the runaround from premium fat companies. But are they true? After all, trial lawyers wrote it and got it passed. Their intent is to force insurance companies to agree to large settlements to avoid paying treble damages. If this passes, your premiums will hit the stratosphere.
I voted no. While I agree insurance companies may be well heeled, they have stupendous obligations after storms or floods or fires that destroy vast amounts of property. Yes, I know Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler likes it, but he in his long and varied career in politics has been a fervent liberal Democrat and Democrats have long been in bed with the trial lawyers, some of their prime contributors.
I trust the insurance companies more than I do these ambulance chasers looking for the next idiot who spills hot coffee in her lap. Thats if she bought it from a rich outfit.
Because politicians and many in the media hate Tim Eyman almost as much as they hate George Bush, Initiative 960 isnt getting much publicity. I-960 requires a two-thirds vote by the legislature or the voters to raise taxes. The legislature must approve fee increases, not agencies and voters must be supplied information on tax bills.
The pols, the governor and the media dont want taxing powers messed with, but its time we reined them in. If a tax increase is really needed, the two-thirds will be there.
The really scary ballot measure is HJR 4204, which is the ticket to cornucopias of money for the education system which is even greedier than the trial lawyers, if thats possible. It removes the requirement for 60 percent approval of school levies and the necessity of a turnout of 40 percent of voters who participated in the previous general election.
The supermajority approval isnt as bad as the elimination of the minimum, because if this passes, say only 100 people vote, 51 can increase your taxes. Currently, it requires a turnout of thousands. OK, so all the ex-governors are for it but theyre usually for anything that spends property taxes so the state doesnt have to find funds elsewhere.
OK, the ho-hummers. SJR 8206 proposes a rainy day fund by annual transfer of 1 percent of general fund revenues to a budget stabilization account to be used in catastrophic emergencies or by a 60 percent vote for other uses. The legislature has managed to nip into other rainy day caches but Im willing to try this one.
SJR 8212 would permit labor contracts between the state and prison inmates. This apparently restores a longtime program the Supreme Court dumped for technical reasons in 2004, so OK. HJR 4215 authorizes the investment of higher education money in stocks and bonds. I guess Im for it until some broker screws up and loses a bunch of money and well have to take it away from them. How long do you think itll be?
Adele Ferguson can be reached at PO Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.