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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Azusa Uchikura. Azusa Uchikura is a senior at the University of Washington studying Journalism. She was a legislative reporter for Northwest News Network in Olympia for the 2012 legislative session. Her work has been published by NPR and other public radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, Berliner Rundfunk radio station in Germany and TJS radio in California. She is the 2012 Common Language Fellow and will be in Japan to report on the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami this summer.

May 26, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Wisconsin recall election exacting a high social toll

On June 5 Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker might become the third U.S. governor to be recalled – ever. Whatever happens to him electorally, the social impact of the recall is straining relationships in this Midwest state.

Madison Labor Protest Feb. 26

Homemade signs with strong messages are common among demonstrators (Photo by Emily Mills via Flickr)

MADISON, Wisc. – The stories are everywhere we turn: friends are becoming frenemies as the gubernatorial recall election in this state cascades toward its June 5 decision.

Here’s the numbers: In a randomly-sampled poll by Marquette University two weeks ago of likely recall-election voters in Wisconsin, there was this question: “Is there anyone you have stopped talking with about politics due to disagreements over the recall elections or Scott Walker?”

A stunning 34% said yes.

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Comments | More in National | Topics: Recall election, Scott Walker recall, Wisconsin recall election

May 22, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Wrap your head around this: Marijuana laws in Washington and Oregon

Matt Lewis collecting petitions at the Saturday market in Portland on May 13, 2012.(Photo by A.V. Crofts/UW Election Eye)

Washington and Oregon both legalized medical marijuana in 1998. Since then, there’s been amendments, initiatives, petitions, and proposals. Here’s a breakdown of the laws in our neighboring states, and a look at what lessons Washington can learn from Oregon as we consider legalization.

PORTLAND — During our second day in Portland, with temperatures nearing 90 degrees making it feel more like July than May, the UWEE team found a man collecting signatures at the Saturday Market. He was advocating for two initiatives that would make the Oregon marijuana law more lenient. We had seen similar efforts all over town.

Marijuana legalization will also be one of the hot-button issue in Washington this election season: Initiative-502 will be on your ballot in November.

According to New Approach Washington, a group supporting the ballot initiative, I-502 “would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana and marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.”

Phew — that’s a mouthful. In simpler terms, I-502 would legalize marijuana in Washington.

Well, sort of. 

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Comments | More in State | Topics: Ballot, I-502, marijuana legalization

May 12, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Who will replace our State Senate Majority Leader (and what does she do anyways)?

After 7 years as Senate Majority Leader, Lisa Brown is stepping down. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Washington Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown will be leaving office at the end of her term this year. Who her successor will be depends on a lot — including whether Democrats can hold onto their majority.

SEATTLE — Last week, State Senator Lisa Brown (D) of the 3rd district announced she will not be running for reelection in the fall and will let her term expire at the end of the year. Brown has represented the Spokane area as State Senator since 1997.

As I read her statement on her decision to leave office, I wondered: Who will take over Brown’s spot after she leaves? But honestly, I also wondered: What does a Majority Leader do anyway?

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Comments | More in State | Topics: legislature, Lisa Brown, senate leadership

May 2, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Early liquor store closures hint at trouble for neighboring businesses

State Liquor Store No. 72 in Mercer Island closed ahead of the transition to private liquor sales (Photo by Azusa Uchikura/UW Election Eye).

The transition to private liquor sales is just a month away, but some Washington State liquor stores are closing early as employees jump ship. That’s got neighboring businesses worried about what will happen if stores stay vacant come June 1st.

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — Mercer Island only had one liquor store. It was in a tiny plaza with a pediatric clinic, an office for an online bike store and a True Value hardware store with a spots bar on top.

There’s still about a month to go until the state government officially steps out of the liquor business, prompted by the passage of Initiative 1183 last year. But state liquor store No. 72, along 13 other stores around the state, closed its doors earlier than expected last Thursday, leaving the plaza looking empty.

The early closures were the result of a shortage of employees, as liquor store workers move on to new jobs before they’re laid off (or possibly rehired by new private owners) next month.

True Value, the only other physical retail store in the plaza, is already seeing an effect on business.

“We’re definitely losing customers,” says Tony Machis, who works at the True Value, though it’s tough to tell the exact numbers yet since the liquor store only closed a few days ago.

Even though this particular store is going to reopen in the same location, Machis says he’s still worried about business in the plaza. QFC is less than half a mile away, and since they’ll also be stocking liquor in June, the competition will be fierce.

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Comments | More in Local | Topics: Costco, Initiative 1183, Liquor Store

April 25, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Border-hopping shoppers cost state millions in lost revenue

Washingtonians who shop in Oregon or make tax-free purchases online might not know it, but they’re actually breaking the law. With a billion dollar budget shortfall, state lawmakers are considering drastic measures to make up this lost revenue.

That tax-free shopping spree in Oregon is actually tax evasion (Illustration by Amber Jackson/UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — I remember the day my father brought home our flat screen TV. It was about seven years ago, he went on a business day-trip to Portland and came back with a huge flat box and a “guess what I got” smirk on his face. He said he happened to walk into an electronic store earlier that day, found the slick 52-inch flat screen for $800. The best part is, he didn’t have to pay sales tax in Oregon!

A lot of Washingtonians do the same. Drive a couple of hours (or just a few minutes if you live in Vancouver, WA) across the southern border and get the same things you can in Washington, but without up to 10% sales tax you’d pay here.

That’s a pretty good saving, and no harm done, right?

Well it turns out it’s illegal. And it’s costing our budget-crunched state government quite a chunk of change.

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Comments | More in State | Topics: border, online shopping, Oregon