If you pro-Hillary voters can step back from the ledge, know this: There were some truly progressive ballot measures that did pass, not only in Washington but Oregon and California, as well.
I felt a flicker of pride on Tuesday night and, no, it had nothing to do with Donald Trump’s improbable win. That was truly an out-of-body experience, as if Americans were suddenly strangers in a strange land, set adrift by an outcome that defied explanation.
If you can step back from the ledge, however, know this: There were some truly progressive ballot measures that did pass. States like Washington are learning to lead and not wait for Congress to snap out of its dysfunction.
In fact, left-leaning West Coast voters approved a slew of smart, forward-thinking ballot measures, including Washington’s Initiative 1491, the gun-safety measure that passed — can I say it? — bigly.
I-1491 was a slam dunk in liberal King County, where Democrats nervously downed “The Madam President” blue-vodka cocktails Tuesday night hoping it was all just a bad dream. What was impressive, though, was that 32 of 39 counties embraced the initiative, which allows a judge to temporarily take a person’s gun away if he or she is at risk of hurting themselves or others.
Think about that for a second: Here’s a measure that promises to save lives.
One writer ominously warned that, if I-1491 passed, it could result “in hundreds, perhaps thousands of law-abiding citizens having their firearms unjustifiably (and unconstitutionally) confiscated by law enforcement.” Voters wisely saw the measure for what it was: A bold step in the right direction to address gun violence.
State lawmakers should take note that the measure passed by 70 percent. Coming up next legislative session: a proposal to ban military-style weapons.
Washington voters also raised the state minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020. This is a big deal, especially in Trump-leaning rural communities, where a greater share of minimum-wage workers will see a pay raise of about $1.50 an hour starting Jan. 1. For hardworking people trying to pay rent, go to school, raise a family, Initiative 1433 was the right thing to do.
Voters in Colorado, Maine and Arizona also saw the wisdom in helping people escape the steely jaws of poverty. Those states voted to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 — another signal that states are not waiting for Congress to do the right thing.
And in Oregon, voters had the heart to pledge 1.5 percent of state-lottery net proceeds to pay for enhanced veterans’ services, such as better mental-health treatment, support for post-traumatic stress disorder and preventing homelessness.
It is true there were loud groans and cheers as Sound Transit 3 handily passed in King and Snohomish counties, not exactly a surprise given our wretched traffic and tsunami of population growth.
It’s clear some Pierce County voters, who voted 56 percent to reject ST3, would love to secede from Sound Transit’s taxing district. And I know some King County voters who would like to, as well. But that’s unlikely.
Love it or hate it, we now have a voter-approved, 25-year transit plan. Those who argued against expanding light rail will never be convinced of its long-term value. Fair enough. However, ST3 does promise faster, more frequent bus service in commuter-heavy corridors, enhanced north-south Sounder train service and some 8,500 new park-and-ride stalls to go along with 62 miles of added light-rail service.
Will there be legal and financial challenges ahead for Sound Transit? Almost certainly, given the agency’s history. But consider this: Tuesday’s vote should finally put to rest 50 years of regional hand-wringing over mass transit.
Interestingly, in California, recreational marijuana finally won approval along with passage of Los Angeles’ own $120 billion, 40-year mass transit package. Voters there also approved spending $1.2 billion to pay for 10,000 apartment units to be built over the next decade to house the chronically homeless.
This “housing first” approach is one you’ll be hearing more about from Seattle officials, who realize that shelter services are not a credible long-term solution for caring for our most vulnerable.
As a somber Seattle Mayor Ed Murray noted this week: There’s no point in waiting for the feds to come to our rescue on funding to help with our homelessness crisis. For that, we have to, once again, go it alone.
And that may be especially true as Trump and his new administration prepare to move into the White House.