Joint Ballot Heading OK for Pending Seattle Vote

     (CN) – Seattle can use a joint ballot title for two competing early childhood education measures, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled.
     This fall, residents will choose between a voter initiative that establishes a $15 minimum wage for child care teachers and staff, limits child care costs, prohibits hiring violent felons and requires enhanced job training or a Seattle City Council proposed ordinance that funds preschools on a sliding scale and includes a property tax levy for funding.
     The City Council determined both measures pertain to the same subject and will be placed under the same ballot title. Voters will then answer yes or no if they believe either proposal should go forward. If they answer yes, they must pick one of the measures.
     Yes For Early Success, sponsor of the initiative, filed three separate suits in July challenging the form of the ballot.
     Judge Helen Halpert consolidated the cases and ruled the ballot format could stand.
     She found while the Seattle City Charter requires both the initiative and the legislative alternative to be presented independently, state law requires the combined measure with two-part question.
     “The provisions of a city charter are subservient to the general laws of the State of
     Washington,” Halpert wrote.
     Halpert also found that while there were “significant differences,” both proposals deal with improving early childhood education.
     She denied the other challenges without discussion to dispose of the case quickly because the ballot needs to be printed on September 5, according to the ruling.
     Yes For Early Success raised a limited appeal, conceding the challenged order “disposes of every appealable matter in the three consolidated cases, reserving … only a statutory appeal of the ballot title for Ordinance 124509,” according to the appellate ruling.
     On review, the appeals court affirmed the decision to keep a single ballot title for both measures.
     Writing for the majority, Judge Mary Kay Becker found the lower court correctly found state law applies.
     “We agree with the trial court that RCW 29A.36.050(3) specifies the mandatory ballot title for the measures under the circumstances present here and controls over any conflicting provisions of the Seattle City Charter. Yes For Early Success’s remaining claims do not establish reversible error,” she wrote.

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