UPDATE — ELECTION — GMO labeling DEFEATED. $15 wage MAINTAINS LEAD. The state's most expensive legislative contest ever has Republican IN THE LEAD
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The Associated Press (click to enlarge photo)
State Sen. Maralyn Chase shows the first election results of I-522 to Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap CEO David Bronner during the Yes on I-522 campaign party in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood Tuesday,

By The Associated Press

State measure on labeling GMO foods defeated

SEATTLE — State voters have rejected a ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The campaign over Initiative 522 drew millions of dollars from out of state and was one of the costliest initiative fights in state history.

The measure was failing 46 percent to 54 percent after more ballots were counted Wednesday evening, with the “yes” side trailing by almost 100,000 votes.

Had voters approved I-522, Washington would've been the first state to put in place labeling requirements for genetically modified foods. The opposition raised $22 million to defeat the measure.

Money came from Monsanto Co., DuPont Pioneer and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which collected millions in donations from the nation's top food companies, including Nestle SA, General Mills Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

Many of those companies mounted a $46 million defense to defeat a similar food-labeling measure in California last year.

Supporters of I-522 have raised about $7.9 million, backed by Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, natural food companies and consumer groups.

Only about 6 percent of the approximately $30 million raised by both camps came from within Washington state, according to campaign finance reports.

Most GMO crops such as field corn and soybean are used for animal feed or as ingredients in processed foods including breakfast cereal, potato chips, baked goods and sodas.

Supporters say consumers have the right to know what's in the food they buy, while opponents say the measure would lead to higher food costs.



$15 minimum wage initiative maintains lead

SEATTLE — An initiative to create a $15 minimum wage for many SeaTac workers is maintaining a narrow lead.

Updated vote totals released Wednesday showed the measure passing with 53 percent of the vote.

Because of the city's small size, the gap is only a matter of a couple hundred votes. Since ballots only needed to be postmarked by Tuesday, more votes will be counted in the coming days.

The campaign in SeaTac drew national attention from both labor unions and business groups.

The proposal requires a $15 minimum wage for many workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Proponents say the plan will support the local economy while opponents express concern about the impacts on businesses.



Most expensive legislative contest in state history has Republican in the lead

OLYMPIA — Jan Angel increased her lead over Democrat Nathan Schlicher as counties updated their vote tallies for the Senate's 26th District race.

Angel, 66, held a 52-48 percent lead over Schlicher, 30, on Wednesday, increasing her lead from 770 votes on Tuesday to 1,237 after additional returns were posted by Kitsap and Pierce Counties.

Because Washington state votes by mail, counting will continue throughout the week as ballots continue to arrive.

A predominantly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus currently controls the Senate with the help of two Democrats, giving the majority caucus a one-vote advantage in the chamber, and Republicans hope to gain another seat to give their caucus more cushion heading into the 2014 election, when about half of the Senate will be up for re-election.

The race has been the most expensive legislative contest in state history, with combined spending of more than $2.9 million.

Schlicher, an emergency room doctor from Gig Harbor, was appointed to the Senate seat in January to replace Democrat Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress.

Angel, of Port Orchard, has served in the House since 2009.

Both currently represent the district they are vying for, a swing district that includes the southeastern Kitsap peninsula from Bremerton and Port Orchard to Gig Harbor in Pierce County.












I-522 on labeling GMO foods failing
SEATTLE —

A Washington state ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods is failing.

The campaign over Initiative 522 has been one of the costliest initiative fights in state history, drawing millions of dollars from out of state.

The measure was failing 45 percent to 55 percent with more than 980,000 ballots counted Tuesday night.

"We're delighted with the vote tonight," said Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman for the No on 522 campaign. Voters "gave a clear message. The more they looked at the initiative the less they liked it."

But labeling supporters weren't conceding.

"This is far from over and we have several days of vote counting ahead," said Delana Jones, campaign manager for the Yes on 522 campaign, noting that thousands of ballots in liberal-leaning King County had not yet been counted. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

Voters in Washington, which has a vote-by-mail system, must postmark their ballots by Tuesday so more ballots are left to count.

If voters approve I-522, Washington would be the first state to put in place labeling requirements for genetically modified foods.

Early polling showed voters favored the measure. But a barrage of TV and radio spots financed by a food industry group and five biotechnology companies has helped narrow the gap. The opposition outspent supporters about 3 to 1.

The opposition has raised $22 million to defeat I-522 and had spent much of that by Election Day. Hefty contributions came from Monsanto Co., DuPont Pioneer and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which collected millions in donations from the nation's top food companies, including Nestle SA, General Mills Inc.,
Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

Many of those companies mounted a $46 million defense to defeat a similar food-labeling measure in California last year.

Supporters of I-522 have raised about $7.9 million, backed by Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, natural food companies and consumer groups.

Only about 6 percent of the roughly $30 million raised by both sides has come from within Washington state, according to campaign finance reports.

Supporters say consumers have the right to know what's in the food they buy, while opponents say the measure would lead to higher food costs.

Under I-522, seeds or foods containing GMO ingredients offered for retail sale would require a label starting in 2015. Some foods are exempt, including restaurant food, alcohol, certified organic food and medicine.

Most GMO crops such as field corn and soybean are used for animal feed or as ingredients in processed foods including breakfast cereal, potato chips, baked goods and sodas.

Voters reject 'initiative on initiatives'

OLYMPIA —
Voters in Washington state on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have expanded the rights of initiative signature gatherers.

With more than 950,000 ballots counted, about 60 percent of voters were rejecting Initiative 517 in early returns.
Because of the state's vote-by mail system, counties will be updating their numbers daily throughout the week.

The measure would have required that voters be allowed to have their say on any proposal that qualifies for the ballot, even if a lawsuit has been filed against it. The initiative also would have given supporters a year, instead of the current six months, to collect signatures, and it would have made it a misdemeanor to interfere with the signature-gathering process.

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman filed I-517 last year just weeks after the state Supreme Court ruled that city laws allowing for red light traffic cameras are not subject to repeal by voters.

Business groups and others had lined up in opposition to the measure, saying the proposal will affect their ability to deal with nuisances outside of their stores.

A state Supreme Court ruling in 1981 found that initiative backers have a constitutional right to gather signatures at a large regional shopping mall. A 2007 attorney general opinion notes a Court of Appeals ruling stating that right is tempered by the property's owner's ability to place "reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on the activity."

The attorney general's office had not stated whether I-517 would have overridden time, place, or manner restrictions, or whether that would violate the constitutional rights of property owners, and initiative supporters had argued nothing in the proposal would have taken rights from business owners.

Jan Gee, a spokeswoman for the No on I-517 campaign, said that she was "overjoyed" with the outcome.

"I think that it shows that petition signature gatherers and Tim Eyman have stepped out too far from what the voters are comfortable with, and they spoke out loud and strong tonight," she said.

Eyman, along with supporters Jack and Mike Fagan, released a joint statement saying that "unless reforms like those contained in Initiative 517 are enacted, only initiatives sponsored by the big guys will make it."


Initiative for $15 wage winning early vote count

SEATTLE —
A national push to create a $15 minimum wage found a new source of momentum Tuesday as an initiative on the issue built an early lead in the airport city of SeaTac.

An early vote count showed the measure carrying 54 percent of the vote. Because Washington state votes entirely by mail and ballots only need to be postmarked by Tuesday, more ballots are left to count.

The campaign in SeaTac drew national attention from both labor unions and business groups, with the two sides combining to spend $1.8 million — enough money to hire every registered voter in the city for a day at $15 per hour. It followed a series of summertime rallies in which fast food workers and others around the country called attention to their struggle to earn a living.

Supporters declared victory Tuesday night, saying the win gives hope to thousands of people, helping them pay bills, take care of medical issues, save for retirement and pursue an education.

Heather Weiner, a spokeswoman for the campaign to support the initiative, said the vote is a sign that people are tired of waiting for Congress or corporations to make a change on wages. She said she expects the vote will inspire people to take more action, noting that there is increased discussion in nearby Seattle about the issue, and that people can now push the issue at the ballot.

"This has introduced a new way to address that income inequality — through a public conversation," Weiner said.

She particularly mentioned how the vote may help workers in fast-food restaurants and big box stores.

Gary Smith, a spokesman with opposition group Common Sense SeaTac, said the group was cautiously optimistic that the results could shift as later ballots are counted. He noted that less than 300 votes separate the two sides, with perhaps thousands more ballots remaining.

The proposal requires a $15 minimum wage for many workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Proponents say the plan will support the local economy and particularly help thousands of workers who could use the money. Opponents express concern about the impacts on businesses and contend that the plan's enforcement may end up costing the small city money.

Groups outside of Washington state are watching the results. National labor unions contributed to support the effort while national business organizations contributed in opposition.

The campaign also drew the attention of the mayoral candidates in nearby Seattle. Both Mayor Mike McGinn and challenger Ed Murray voiced support for the initiative and the idea of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle.

Washington state has the nation's highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Last modified: November 06. 2013 7:06PM
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