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Cross-posted on the Northwest Progressive Institute's website: NPI Post

As a continuation of my earlier DailyKos Diary on a (state) Constitutional Congressional redistricting of Washington state, I came up with a possible Constitutional Legislative map for my state as well as a single-member House plan.

As before, I was spurred to look at this issue following the late John Milem's lawsuit challenging the legality of the Washington State Redistricting Commission's decennial maps. The state Constitution, Article II Section 43, and state law - RCW 44.05.090 - state that redistricting maps should be drawn so as to (1) coincide with the boundaries of local political subdivisions and areas recognized as communities of interest; (2) make the number of counties and municipalities divided among more than one district as small as possible; (3) be convenient, contiguous (connected by transportation), and compact territory; and (4) provide fair and effective representation, encourage electoral competition, and not drawn to purposely favor of any political party or group.

Also while the state Constitution doesn't forbid single-member House districts, RCW 44.05.090 currently states that State Representatives are elected at-large in the Legislative Districts. Washington is one of only ten states left that still has multi-member districts. Single-member districts allow for a more logical hierarchy between the House and Senate, as well as allowing for more majority-minority districts resulting in more legislators from racial minorities in the state legislature. While Washington state isn't under the umbrella of Section 5 of the VRA - even before the Supreme Court's recent decision eviscerating Section 4 - greater diversity in our elected officials is a worthwhile goal, particularly in light of Washington state's decreasing legislative diversity.

In Washington, redistricting is done by the Washington State Redistricting Commission which has 2 Democrats, 2 Republicans and a non-voting non-partisan chair. Since it's bipartisan, their redistricting plans always essentially redound to incumbent protection maps with each party trying to protect their own. This results in safe districts that unnecessarily split counties and cities, which is in violation of what's in both the state Constitution and state law.

Also, Washington is one of only ten states that has multi-member districts with the RCW 44.05.090 stating: "The house of representatives shall consist of ninety-eight members, two of whom shall be elected from and run at large within each legislative district". Multi-member districting has been in decline since the VRA and specifically the 1982 Supreme Court case Thornburg v. Gingles in which a unanimous Court found that "the legacy of official discrimination ... acted in concert with the multi-member districting scheme to impair the ability of ... cohesive groups of black voters to participate equally in the political process and to elect candidates of their choice." Since the VRA and Thornburg v. Gingles states not covered by Section 5 of the VRA have taken a 'better safe than sorry' approach by eliminating their multi-member districting so as to not be subject to court challenges. Its plainly obvious that when you have smaller districts of 'communities of interest' you are less likely to dilute the voting strength of communities of color and therefore better allow them to elect candidates of their choice. A fine example is South Dakota, which like Washington state, has 2 State Representatives and 1 State Senator elected from each Legislative District, except for 2 legislative districts (26 & 28) which are split into single-member House districts since the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations are (or were until recently) covered under Section 5 of the VRA.

In both 2011 and 2012, Hans Dunshee (D-District 44/Snohomish) introduced House Bill 1092 which would have changed the state law to state: "Each legislative district shall be divided into two house districts, denoted as house district A and B, with a single member of the house of representatives being elected from each house district." This would have resulted in Washington being analogous to other western states like Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming which also have a '2-in-1' legislative structure. Suffice to say, the bill - which would have potentially displaced several incumbents - failed to get a vote. This points at another issue with the current multi-member districting - legislator crowding. For example, in LD's 12 and 25 all of the legislators reside in Wenatchee/East Wenatchee and Puyallup, respectively, even though those cities account for less than half of the population in the district. As shown below, that would not be possible in a single-member House district map.

Also at issue with multi-member districting is that its at odds with the commonly understood American hierarchy between upper and lower legislative bodies, wherein senators represent larger populations with more broad and diverse interests and concerns while representatives have narrower, more cohesive constituencies. In states like Washington, senators and representatives represent identical communities resulting in less diversity of legislative mindsets; to say nothing of decreased diversity in legislators themselves. In addition, single-member House districts would allow for partisan diversity from region to region. Currently, eastern Washington is represented entirely by Republicans outside of the city of Spokane in uncompetitive districts, while smaller House districts would enable Democrats, particularly in east Yakima (as shown below), to at least have a chance of being elected - and encouraging electoral competition is one of the principles that the Redistricting Commission is supposed to be using when creating their plans.

First, let's look at the legislative map created by the Redistricting Commission. It is important to note that their plan split 24 cities that didn't need to be split due to size; those being: Aberdeen, Auburn, Battle Ground, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bremerton, Burien, Des Moines, Edmonds, Everett, Issaquah, Kennewick, Kent, Kirkland, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mount Vernon, Mountlake Terrace, Pasco, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, and Yakima. Also their plan split 7 counties that didn't need to be based on their population, with those being: Cowlitz, Franklin, Grant, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Okanogan, and Skagit Counties.

Current statewide Washington legislative map (note: deviations from actual map are the result of Dave's Redistricting App (DRA) not allowing for the splitting of voting precincts, while the Commission could):

Legislative map drawn by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

The Spokane area:

Spokane spotlight on the Legislative map drawn by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

The Vancouver area:

Vancouver spotlight on the Legislative map drawn by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

The South Puget Sound area:

South Puget Sound spotlight on the Legislative map drawn by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

The Central Puget Sound area:

Central Puget Sound spotlight on the Legislative map drawn by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

The North Puget Sound area:

North Puget Sound spotlight on the Legislative map drawn by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

Electoral performance of the current Washington legislative map based on the 2008 Presidential and 2010 Senate elections:

Chart of electoral performance of Legislative map drawn by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

Last year, John Milem, a Vancouver, WA redistricting expert, filed a lawsuit to challenge the (state) Constitutionality of the Redistricting Commission's maps. Included in his complaint, Milem created his own plan that he felt would actually follow those previously stated canons of redistricting.

Here is a statewide look at his legislative map:

John Milem's proposed Legislative map from his lawsuit.

And an inset of the Puget Sound region:

John Milem's proposed Legislative map - Puget Sound inset - from his lawsuit.

One of the glaring flaws, as I see it, with Milem’s plan is that he cares nothing about incumbency. By that, I don’t mean protecting incumbents from electoral challenge, but preventing incumbent state senators who aren’t up for election the year following redistricting, in this case in 2012, from representing a district where they do not reside. California is currently facing a similar problem in the aftermath of a complete overhaul of their redistricting process. Only half of Washington state senators are up for election every biennium, so when tasked with legislative redistricting – as opposed to Congressional redistricting where all incumbents are up for election each even-numbered year – one must seek to avoid having those state senators NOT up for election, in this case in 2012, districted out. I can say that in at least 4 occasions Milem districted two state senators into the same district when neither were up for election in 2012 – his 4th (Ranker & Ericksen), 25th (Eide & Keiser), 21st (Kohl-Welles & Murray) and 8th (Harper & Shin) Legislative Districts. I too districted Harper & Shin together – more on that later – but under Milem’s plan more than 8% of the State Senate would be represented by State Senators who don’t live in their district. One solution to this would be to do what Texas does – one of the few commonsense things around redistricting they do – where all of the state senators are up for election the year following redistricting and then after the election they draw straws with half getting the short straw and serving a 2-year term and the other half drawing a long straw and serving a 4-year term. While Texas still does a ridiculous amount of gerrymandering they don’t have to for reasons of state senators not being up for election. Washington could also take up this reform and also not be put in this very situation.

On as lesser note, I don’t like the practice of condensing city splits into cities that could be cut more simply or not at all. Milem splits the cities of Tacoma and Renton into 4 and 3 LDs, respectively, while Tacoma only needs to be split into 2 districts and Renton does not need to be split at all, which I was able accomplish in both cases. But all in all, I agree with much of what John Milem proposed as you’ll see several similarities in our approaches. In the end, his plan split only 5 cities that didn't need to be based on size; those being: Bellevue, Bothell, Coulee Dam, Renton, and Yakima. Also, his plan splits only 1 unnecessary county, Skagit, but he disregards the necessity for connectivity with his Island County district having no way to get from Camano Island to Whidbey Island.

Note: I wasn't able create a chart of the electoral performance of John Milem's proposed legislative map, since I don't have DRA or Shape files for his plan and its too hard to "eyeball" it.

Now we, finally, come to my proposed State Senate and House proposed redistricting maps.

First here's my statewide State Senate map:

My proposed Senate Legislative map of Washington state.

My statewide State House map:

My proposed House Legislative map of Washington state.

An inset of the Spokane area for my State Senate map:

Spokane spotlight on my Senate Legislative map.

An inset of the Spokane area for my State House map:

Spokane spotlight on my House Legislative map.

An inset of the Vancouver area for my State Senate map:

Vancouver spotlight on my Senate Legislative map.

An inset of the Vancouver area for my State House map:

Vancouver spotlight on my House Legislative map.

An inset of the South Sound area for my State Senate map:

South Puget Sound spotlight on my Senate Legislative map.

An inset of the South Sound area for my State House map:

South Puget Sound spotlight on my House Legislative map.

An inset of the Central Sound area for my State Senate map:

Central Puget Sound spotlight on my Senate Legislative map.

An inset of the Central Sound area for my State House map:

Central Puget Sound spotlight on my House Legislative map.

An inset of the North Sound area for my State Senate map:

North Puget Sound spotlight on my Senate Legislative map.

An inset of the North Sound area for my State Senate map:

North Puget Sound spotlight on my House Legislative map.

Due to the compact nature of one House District, here is an inset of the Tri-Cities area for my State House map:

Tri-Cities spotlight on my House Legislative map.

And also due to the compact nature of one House District, here is an inset of the Yakima area for my State House map:

Yakima spotlight on my House Legislative map.

Here is a chart of the electoral performance of my proposed State Senate map:

Chart of electoral performance of my proposed Senate Legislative map of Washington State.

And here is a chart of the electoral performance of my proposed State House map:

Chart of electoral performance of my proposed House Legislative map of Washington State.

Now I'll go through the proposed districts and note their characteristics. (Note: I used numbering similar to what's being used currently, but in cases of where there was an incumbent state senator that wasn't up for election in 2012, his or her district number took precedence. Ex. Derek Kilmer wasn't up for election in 2012, so his hypothetical "new" district would say #26, even though #27 more closely resembles his proposed district.)

1st SD: Likely-to-safe Democratic suburban district straddling King-Snohomish County line with all of Bothell (which is in both counties), Woodinville, Brier, and Kenmore. HD 1 is an entirely King County safe Democratic district, including Bothell (King County portion), Woodinville, and Kenmore, while HD 2 is a likely Democratic completely Snohomish County district including Bothell (Snohomish County portion), Brier, and the unincorporated North Creek community.

2nd SD: Safe Republican rural/suburban district straddling Pierce-Thurston County line with most of JBLM and all of Steilacoom, Yelm, Orting, and Eatonville. HD 3 is the more westerly likely Republican district, including JBLM, Steilacoom, Yelm, and Dupont. Obama lost by less than 250 votes here in 2008, but it'd take an exceptional circumstance for a Democrat to be elected here. HD 4 is the eastern safe Republican, more rural district, including Orting, Eatonville, and the unincorporated Graham community.

3rd SD: Tossup urban/suburban district with northern Spokane and unincorporated suburbs north of Spokane. Note: Made 3rd and 6th SD's basically electorally equivalent. In both proposed senate districts, Murray won by 50.1-50.0%. Both very swingy, in pursuit of electoral competition (and since Spokane must be split). Also, like the 6th SD, the House districts redounded to a likely Democratic district entirely within the city of Spokane, in this case HD 5, and a likely Republican, mostly suburban district, in this case HD 6.

4th SD: Safe Republican suburban/rural district east of Spokane centered around Spokane Valley. HD 7 is the more rural and more Republican district, while HD 8 is the region on Spokane Valley (and Millwood) nearest the city of Spokane and somewhat less conservative, though both are still safe Republican districts.

5th SD: Lean-to-likely Democratic diverse (53% Caucasian) district, including all of Kent and Covington. HD 9 is western Kent safe Democratic majority-minority house district, while HD 10 is a tossup district including eastern Kent and Covington (only 58% Caucasian).

6th SD: Tossup (see 3rd SD) Spokane County district with southern and northwestern Spokane and Cheney, Medical Lake and Fairchild Air Force Base. Note: With Dave's Redistricting App, you cannot split precincts, though it would require enough land to connect the college town Cheney with the rest of the district. HD 11 and HD 12 are similar to HD 5 and HD 6, respectively, in that they are composed of a likely Democratic city of Spokane district and a likely Republican district mostly made up of populations outside the city. Its also worth noting that the dividing line between SD 3 and SD 6 was very cleanly done along I-90.

7th SD: Safe Republican Okanogan highlands district, that includes the entirety of the counties of Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend O'reille as well as northern (rural) Spokane County. HD 13 while a safe Republican district it also has the highest Native American population (11%) of any proposed House District by including both the Spokane and Colville Indian Reservations as well as all of Okanogan, Ferry, and western Stevens Counties. HD 14 is a safe Republican district, including Pend O'reille County, eastern Stevens County and northern Spokane County.

8th SD: Safe Republican Benton County district with all of Richland and almost all of Kennewick (split to connect Benton and Frankling Counties) as well as the Hanford Nuclear reservation. HD 15 is a safe Republican district wholly within the city of Kennewick (25% Hispanic), whereas HD 16 is a safe Republican district, including the cities of Richland, West Richland and small amount of Kennewick.

9th SD: Safe Republican southeast Washington district containing Walla Walla and Pullman (both college towns) and agricultural territory. This district includes the entirety of Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, Asotin, and Whitman Counties as well as some of rural SE Spokane County. HD 17 is a safe Republican district, including  Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin (excluding the Lewiston area) Counties, while in HD 18, including all of Whitman County, the Lewiston area in Asotin County, and rural SE Spokane County, President Obama did reasonably well in 2008 by only losing by 787 votes (largely due to WSU college kids) but is still a safe Republican district.

10th SD: Tossup-to-lean Republican Snohomish & Island County district containing Marysville, Arlington, Stanwood, the Tualip Indian Reservation and Camano Island. HD 19 is the more rural lean Republican district outside of Marysville including the Tualip Indian Reservation, while HD 20 is a tossup district that's nearly completely within the city of Marysville.

11th SD: Safe Democratic district is comprised of Renton, Newcastle and SW Bellevue. The Redistricting Commission's 11th LD is bizarrely shaped, but a majority-minority district. My 11th SD is not, but is only 53.3% Caucasian. The nearly exclusively Renton (as well as some unincorporated King County) HD 21 I had to very slightly gerrymander to make it majority-minority house district. HD 22 is less diverse (57% Caucasian) safe Democratic district made up of northern Renton, all of Newcastle and the Newport, Somerset, and Factoria neighborhoods of Bellevue, though this house district includes a lot of more affluent Eastside (of Lake Washington) area and socially liberal Republicans have done well there.

12th SD: Safe Republican district has all of Kittitas and Chelan Counties and East Wenatchee in Douglas County. HD 23 is a compact safe Republican district comprised of Cashmere, Wenatchee and East Wenatchee with sizable Hispanic population (27%), while HD 24 is a safe Republican district composed of rural areas in Kittitas and Chelan Counties.

13th SD: Safe Republican district including all of Lincoln and Grant Counties, most of Douglas County except East Wenatchee, and rural western Spokane County. Note: One-third minority. While still a safe Republican district, HD 25 is a majority-minority house district (46% Hispanic) in southern Grant County centered around Moses Lake, but also includes small towns of Quincy and Mattawa. HD 26 is a safe Republican more rural and considerably less diverse (82.6% Caucasian) district with US Highway 2 running through the middle of the district that includes all of Lincoln County, most of Douglas County, northern Grant County, and rural western Spokane County.

14th SD: Safe Republican district in northern Yakima County comprising all of Moxee, Selah, Zillah, Sunnyside, and Grandview and the western (more Caucasian) part of the city of Yakima. Note: More than 40% minority. The city of Yakima was split due to it being essentially de facto segregated with east Yakima being heavily Hispanic, while west Yakima not having many members of racial minorities. Thus, in the interest of creating electorally competitive (See: SD 15) that didn't divide a "community of interest" (read: communities of color), I split the city of Yakima, which isn't necessary based on its population. Both HD 27 (east) and HD 28 (west) are safe Republican districts, but HD 27 is a majority-minority house district with a 57% Hispanic population.

15th SD: Tossup majority-minority senate district (47% Caucasian) comprised of the rest of Yakima County not in the 14th SD, Skamania County, Klickitat County and a small portion of Clark County. HD 29 is exclusively east Yakima and Union Gap, a majority-minority house district (51% Hispanic) and electorally a tossup district. HD 30 contains basically all of the Yakama Indian Reservation and has the second highest population of Native Americans (10.7%) of the proposed House Districts. HD 30 is a tossup district and, while not majority-minority, is only 51.7% Caucasian.

16th SD: Safe Republican majority-minority senate district that has all of Franklin and Adams Counties, rural Benton County and a small portion of unincorporated Yakima County south of Grandview. Both HD 31 (south) and HD 32 (north) are majority-minority house districts and very safe Republican districts.

17th SD: Lean Republican district entirely in Clark County containing eastern Vancouver, Camas, and Washougal. HD 33 is a tossup district entirely in eastern Vancouver, while HD 34 is a likely Republican district including all of Camas and Washougal and a small amount of the city of Vancouver in the Mill Plain area.

18th SD: Safe Republican district contains rural and suburban unincorporated Clark County with the small towns of Battle Ground and Ridgefield. HD 35 is a rural, very safe Republican district centered around Battle Ground, while HD 36 including the unincorporated census-designated places in the Vancouver suburbs of Orchards, Five Corners, and Mount Vista is more moderate, likely Republican district where Democrats could be electorally competitive.

19th SD: Tossup district comprised of Pacific, Wahkiakum, and Cowlitz Counties and a small portion of Clark County in and around La Center. HD 37 is a likely Republican district in eastern Cowlitz County, including Kelso, Kalama, and Castle Rock, and the small portion of Clark County in SD 19, while HD 38 is a lean Democratic district including all of Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties and Longview in Cowlitz County. It is worth noting that considering the performance of Obama and Murray, this would be considered rather electorally competitive, but moderate-to-conservative Democrats have been elected in this area for a long time.

20th SD: Safe Republican district comprised of all of Lewis County, including the cities of Centralia and Chehalis, and rural southern Thurston County. HD 39, which is mostly southern Thurston County and rural areas around Centralia in Lewis County, was won by Obama by more than 450 votes in 2008, though based on Murray's performance in 2010 is still at best only a lean Republican district. On the other hand, HD 40, including nearly all of Lewis County, is a very safe Republican district, particularly for western Washington.

21st SD: Safe Democratic coastal Whatcom County district containing all of Bellingham, Ferndale, and Blaine. The numbering of this district was the biggest conundrum in creating this map, since the current 21st LD is represented by Sen. Paull Shin (D-Mukilteo), who wasn't up for election in 2012, but that was the same situation for the 38th LD's senator Nick Harper (D-Everett), the 44th LD's senator Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), and the 32nd LD's senator Maralyn Chase (D-Edmonds), which all border the current 21st LD. I chose to make it the 21st district that moved to Whatcom County, since it least resembled the proposed Snohomish County senate districts. This would result in one state senator, Paull Shin, representing a district where he doesn't live, but that is better than 4 in Milem's proposal. HD 41 is a likely Democratic district including Ferndale, Blaine, and northern Bellingham, as well as the Lummi Indian Reservation, while HD 42 is a safe Democratic district containing southern Bellingham and the unincorporated Sudden Valley community south of Lake Whatcom.

22nd SD: Safe Democratic Thurston County district including the state capital of Olympia and its suburb Lacey. HD 43 is a likely Democratic district containing Lacey and the unincorporated census-designated place Tanglewilde-Thompson Place. HD 44 is a safe Democratic house district centered around Olympia.

23rd SD: Lean-to-likely Democratic Kitsap County district including the cities of Poulsbo, Silverdale and Bainbridge Island. HD 45 is a safe Republican central Kitsap County district containing the unincorporated census-designated places Silverdale, Tracyton, and Erlands Point-Kitsap Lake. HD 46 is a safe Democratic northern Kitsap County district containing Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island, and the Port Madison Indian Reservation.

24th SD: Lean Democratic district contains all of Clallam and Jefferson Counties and northwestern Grays Harbor County with the natural border of the Chehalis River, including Aberdeen north of the Chehalis River and the cities of Port Angeles, Hoquiam, and Port Townsend. HD 47 is a tossup-to-lean Democratic district that has the 3rd largest Native American population (7.2%) of the proposed house districts by including the Makah and Quinault Indian Reservations as well as rural section of Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties as well as the towns of Port Angeles, Hoquiam, Forks, and Ocean Shores. HD 48 is a more compact & affluent, less diverse (90.5% Caucasian) lean-to-likely Democratic district centered around the cities of Port Townsend and Sequim. Like the 19th SD, according to the performance of Obama and Murray, you'd expect this area to be a lean Democratic district, moderate-to-conservative Democrats have been elected here for a long time by comfortable margins.

25th SD: Lean Republican Pierce County district centered around Puyallup and unincorporated Tacoma suburbs of South Hill, Waller and Frederickson. Both HD 49 and HD 50 are both Lean Republican districts, but are composed of Puyallup & South Hill (east) and Waller & Frederickson (west), respectively.

26th SD: Likely-to-safe Democratic Pierce County district in northern Tacoma (excluding the Hilltop area), Gig Harbor and Fircrest. I created a majority-minority district in southern Tacoma (SD 29) and didn't want to split Tacoma into more than 2 SD's, which resulted in this 79% Caucasian district. HD 51 is a safe Democratic district including the Tacoma neighborhoods of Northeast Tacoma, New Tacoma, and North End, while HD 52 is a tossup district including Fircrest, Gig Harbor, the unincorporated Artondale area, Fox Island, and Tacoma's West End neighborhood.

27th SD: Tossup-to-lean Republican district with the larger cities of Bremerton and Port Orchard and rural areas in southern Kitsap and Pierce Counties on the Kitsap Peninsula. This area saw some of the smallest drop-offs in Democratic performance when comparing the results of Obama in 2008 and Murray in 2010, which is likely due to the large military (naval) presence in the Bremerton area and Murray's work on veterans' issues. HD 53 is a tossup district centered around Bremerton, while HD 54 is a lean Republican district including Port Orchard and is the only district to cross the Pierce-Kitsap county line (which resulted in it being somewhat odd-shaped).

28th SD: Lean Democratic suburban Pierce County district between Tacoma and JBLM, including the cities of Lakewood and University Place and unincorporated communities in Parkland and Spanaway. Also, included a small part of JBLM to have a more compact district, but doing so was not necessary. Note: Less than 59% Caucasian. HD 55 is the southern, more diverse (less than 56% Caucasian) lean Democratic district including parts of Lakewood, Parkland and Spanaway, while HD 56 is the northern lean Democratic district including all of University Place and part of Lakewood.

29th SD: Safe Democratic majority-minority senate district in southern Tacoma, Fife, and unincorporated communities in Parkland and Midland. Both HD 57 (south) and HD 58 (north) are safe Democratic majority-minority house districts.

30th SD: Likely Democratic King County district that's principally Federal Way, most of Des Moines, and unincorporated Lakeland communities. Note: Less than 55% Caucasian. Also, its worth noting that all of Des Moines can't be in the same district since both Sen. Eide (LD-30) and Sen. Kaiser (LD-33) live in Des Moines and weren't up for election in 2012. HD 59 is a lean Democratic, less diverse (57.5% Caucasian) district in southern Federal Way and unincorporated Lakeland South, while HD 60 is a likely-to-safe Democratic more diverse (52.4% Caucasian) district in northern Federal Way, most of Des Moines, and unincorporated Lakeland North.

31st SD: Likely-to-safe Republican rural/suburban district with in southeastern King County and eastern Pierce Counties and the modestly-sized cities of Buckley, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, and Snoqualmie. HD 61 is a safe Republican district that crosses the King-Pierce County line including Enumclaw, Buckley and unincorporated communities of Prairie Ridge and Lake Morton-Berrydale, while HD 62 is a lean Republican King County district that includes Black Diamond, Maple Valley, Snoqualmie and North Bend (though its tough to know since Murray did 9% worse than Obama).

32nd SD: Safe Democratic southeast Snohomish County district with the urban/suburban towns of Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mountlake Terrace. HD 63 is a diverse (59% Caucasian) safe Democratic district centered around Lynnwood, while HD 64 is a much less diverse (76.5% Caucasian) safe Democratic district including Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, and Woodway.

33rd SD: Safe Democratic King County majority-minority senate district with urban/suburban cities of Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila, and the northern tip of Des Moines. HD 65 is a safe Democratic, much-less diverse (56% Caucasian) district including Burien, Normandy Park, the northern tip of Des Moines and the unincorporated White Center community, while HD 66 is a safe Democratic very diverse (36% Caucasian) majority-minority house district including SeaTac, Tukwila, and unincorporated Riverton-Boulevard Park and Bryn Mawr-Skyway communities.

34th SD: Safe Democratic district including the Seattle neighborhoods of Downtown, West Seattle, Delridge, Georgetown, South Park, and Beacon Hill west of Beacon Ave as well as Vashon Island. HD 67 is a safe Democratic district including West Seattle and Vashon Island, while HD 68 is a safe Democratic majority-minority house district including the Seattle neighborhoods of Downtown, Georgetown, Delridge, South Park, and Beacon Hill west of Beacon Ave.

35th SD: Tossup-to-lean Democratic district containing all of Mason County, western Thurston County, including Tumwater, and southeastern Grays Harbor County, including Montesano, Cosmopolis, and Elma. HD 69 is a lean Democratic district crossing the Grays Harbor-Thurston county line, including Tumwater, Montesano, Cosmopolis, and Elma, while HD 70 is a tossup district including all of Mason County as well as a small amount of unincorporated northwestern Thurston County.

36th SD: Safe Democratic Seattle district west of Highway 99/Aurora Ave including the neighborhoods of Ballard, Queen Anne, Interbay, and Magnolia. HD 71 is a safe Democratic district including the neighborhoods of Fremont, Westlake, Queen Anne, Interbay, and Magnolia, while HD 72 is a safe Democratic district including the neighborhoods of Ballard, Phinney Ridge, North Beach/Blue Ridge, Crown Hill, and Greenwood.

37th SD: Safe Democratic southeast Seattle majority-minority senate district, including the neighborhoods of Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Central Area and Beacon Hill east of Beacon Ave. HD 73 is a very diverse (28% Caucasian) safe Democratic majority-minority house district, including the neighborhoods of Rainier Valley, Seward Park, and Beacon Hill east of Beacon Ave, while HD 74 is a safe Democratic district including the neighborhoods of Central Area and Madison Park.

38th SD: Likely-to-safe Democratic Snohomish County district including the cities of Everett and Mukilteo. HD 75 is a likely Democratic district including all of Mukilteo, Everett neighborhoods south of Highway 526, and unincorporated communities of Lake Stickney and Picnic Point-North Lynnwood, while HD 76 is a safe Democratic district nearly exclusively in the city of Everett north of Highway 526.

39th SD: Lean Republican King-Snohomish County district including small Cascade foothill cities of Monroe, Granite Falls, Carnation, and Duvall. HD 77 is a likely Republican Snohomish County district including Granite Falls, Monroe, and unincorporated communities of Canyon Creek, Three Lakes, and Woods Creek, while HD 78 is a tossup district crossing the King-Snohomish County Line including the cities of Duvall, Carnation, Sultan, and Skykomish and the unincorporated community of Maltby.

40th SD: Lean Democratic district containing all of San Juan County, coastal Skagit County - principally Anacortes, Burlington and Sedro-Woolley - and Whidbey Island in Island County. HD 79 is a likely Democratic district including all of San Juan County and the cities of Anacortes, Burlington, and Sedro-Woolley in Skagit County, while HD 80 is a tossup district though there was a very small drop-off in Democratic performance when comparing the results of Obama in 2008 and Murray in 2010 (only 2.4%), which is likely due to the large military (naval airfields) presence on Whidbey Island and Murray's work on veterans' issues.

41st SD: Tossup wealthy Eastside (of Lake Sammamish) district containing Issaquah, Sammamish, and the unincorporated East Renton Highlands. HD 81 is a tossup-to-lean Republican district including the city of Sammamish and unincorporated communities of Union Hill-Novelty Hill and Klahanie, while HD 82 is a tossup-to-lean Democratic centered around the city of Issaquah and unincorporated communities of East Renton Highlands, Fairwood, and Maple Heights-Lake Desire. It is worth noting that socially liberal Republicans do well in this area and its tough to know gauge partisan leaning since there are such extreme drops in electoral performance from Obama in 2008 to Murray in 2010.

42nd SD: Safe Republican rural Whatcom, Skagit, and northern Snohomish County district with the only major cities being Mount Vernon and Lynden. HD 83 is a very safe Republican district centered around Lynden, while HD 84 is a tossup-to-lean Republican district with the moderately-sized city of Mount Vernon and low-population density Cascade foothills areas of Skagit, eastern Whatcom, and northern Snohomish Counties.

43rd SD: Safe Democratic Seattle district centered around the University of Washington. HD 85 is a safe Democratic district including the Seattle neighborhoods of Green Lake, Maple Leaf, Windermere, and Laurelhurst, while HD 86 is a safe Democratic district including the Seattle neighborhoods of Wallingford, University District and Capitol Hill.

44th SD: Tossup Snohomish County district including the cities of Lake Stevens, Snohomish, and Mill Creek. HD 87 is a tossup-to-lean Democratic district centered around Mill Creek, while HD 88 is a tossup-to-lean Republican district including the cities of Lake Stevens and Snohomish.

45th SD: Likely Democratic district containing only Kirkland and Redmond. HD 89 is a likely Democratic district entirely within the city of Kirkland, while HD 90 contains all of Redmond, the Kingsgate area of Kirkland, and some of the unincorporated community of Union Hill-Novelty Hill. It is important to note that socially liberal Republicans have done well in affluent Eastside (of Lake Washington) areas, like those included in these districts.

46th SD: Safe Democratic district including Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, and the Seattle neighborhoods of Wedgewood, Lake City, Northgate, and Broadview. HD 91 is safe Democratic district including the cities of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park and the Seattle neighborhood of Cedar Park, while HD 92 is a safe Democratic Seattle district including the neighborhoods of Wedgewood, Broadview, Bitter Lake, Haler Lake, Pinehurst, and Lake City.

47th SD: Tossup-to-lean Republican suburban King-Pierce County district including Auburn, Milton, Sumner, and Bonney Lake. HD 93 is a tossup-to-lean Democratic King County district including all of Algona and the King County portion of Auburn (which is 90% of the city), while HD 94 is a likely Republican King-Pierce district including the cities of Sumner, Edgewood, and Bonney Lake, as well as the Pierce County portion of Auburn and both Milton and Pacific, which both cross the county line.

48th SD: Lean-to-likely Democratic district containing the very wealthy Mercer Island, extremely wealthy Medina and the simply wealthy northern Bellevue. Despite Obama and Murray's strong performance in this district, socially liberal Republicans have done well here for a long time. HD 95 is a lean Democratic district including the extremely wealthy small suburbs at the eastern end of the Floating 520 Bridge including Medina, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point, as well as Mercer Island and western Bellevue. On the other hand, HD 96 is a likely Democratic rather diverse (55.6% Caucasian) district in eastern Bellevue.

49th SD: Lean-to-likely Democratic western Vancouver (and its unincorporated suburbs) district. HD 97 is a tossup district composed of the unincorporated Vancouver suburbs including Walnut Grove, Felida, and Minnehaha as well as part of the city itself, while HD 98 is a safe Democratic district that's nearly completely within Vancouver.

My Washington State Senate redistricting plan splits only 6 cities that didn't need to be, based on size, with those being: Aberdeen, Bellevue, Coulee Dam, Des Moines, Yakima, and Kennewick (slightly for transportation-connectivity). This is only one more city than Milem's legislative redistricting plan. Also, my plan splits only 4 counties: Douglas, Grays Harbor, Island, and Skagit, while Milem split only 1 unnecessary county - Skagit. Milem, though in my opinion, failed to have contiguous, i.e. connected by transportation, legislative district for his district including Island County, since there is no means of transportation between Camano and Whidbey Islands.

To the question as to whether this map, as well as single-member house districts, result in a greater number of districts where minorities have a good chance of being elected, the numbers bear it out. In the Redistricting Commission's map, with multi-member disticts, there are only 4 majority-minority senate districts, and therefore only 8 house seats in districts that are majority-minority. Also, there's one district (2 house seats) with a Caucasian population between 50 and 55% and two districts (4 house seats) with a Caucasian population between 55 and 60%.

On the other hand, my senate plan results in five majority-minority senate districts (25% increase over the Commission's plan), three senate districts with a Caucasian population between 50 and 55% (200% increase) and one senate district with a Caucasian population between 55 and 60% (50% decrease). My house plan results in twelve majority-minority house districts (50% increase), two house districts with a Caucasian population between 50 and 55% (no change), and seven house districts (75% increase).

Therefore, clearly not only does my senate map, which has far fewer city and county splits, result in fewer divided "communities of interest", in this case racial minorities, but by having a single-member house map we have even more opportunities for minorities to be elected.

So there's my plan for what I consider to be a Constitutional alternative to Milem's plan. If people in Washington state would like single-member house districts, then the time is now to change the law, as it'll give lawmakers a long time to prepare for possibly being districted-out before the 2021 redistricting process. If one was concerned about the undue influence incumbent politicians would apply to the Redistricting Commission, as documented by The (Tacoma) News Tribune last year, Washington state should enact language that Iowa has, as former Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed discussed, and stipulate that redistricting will be done "without regard to party and incumbency."

Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 3:21 AM PT: Upon request, here is the House District map for the Longview-Kelso area:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for taking the time... (0+ / 0-)

    to sort through and put all of this information together, ChemChampion. It's much appreciated.

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by AuroraDawn on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 06:44:32 PM PDT

  •  A Better Plan (0+ / 0-)

    I think you have a better plan than any of them, and I hope you pursue it.

    The only thing is that I think we should be less concerned about splitting towns or cities and more concerned about balancing the districts. I'd like to see something that limits districts to about 5% difference in their differences in party registration around the average. So, for Washington, where probably 55% of the registered voters from the two main parties are Democratic, then we'd be looking for districts where the number of registered voters in them was between maybe 50 and 60%.

    Your figures are for how the districts lean based on their votes for President, I think, so it isn't strictly the same thing, but when I see districts that are +12 or whatever, that seems like a lot.

    That said, there are parts of eastern Washington where you're probably going to be stuck with districts that are R+15, maybe.

    But, if we think about this at the national level, I'd like to see districts that are more balanced because that would reduce jerrymandering and give us a more representative Congress.

    The same thing would be true at the state level. It might get you some actual change in the tax law, for example, where it's been hard to deal with the constitutional limits on taxes. A slight rebalancing of the legislature might make it possible to do what California did and fix that problem.

    So, good work and I think you're on the right track!

    •  Your proposal doesn't reduce gerrymandering (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It is gerrymandering. Gerrymandering by definition is drawing to establish a partisan advantage, and drawing explicitly to reflect partisan numbers fulfills that definition.

      23, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

      by kurykh on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 08:21:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, That's Just Isn't True (0+ / 0-)

        The way they gerrymander is to load up some number of districts with people from a party. If they have to balance them all out then the legislature represents the people. There are just more Democrats than Republicans, so balancing it is to our advantage, as well as being fairer representation.

        •  That's a complete misunderstanding of the word (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Redistricting using partisan concerns as a guide is by definition gerrymandering. You want to use partisan numbers in drawing districts; therefore you are gerrymandering.

          Look at the definition of gerrymandering (from Wikipedia):

          In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts.
          Emphasis in the original.

          Your plan advantages Democrats over Republicans based on district drawn with partisan numbers. It doesn't matter how high-minded your intentions are (I get what you're saying, but I don't think it's workable for reasons chemchampion explained below); you can't run away from the dictionary.

          Note that I never said gerrymandering was a bad thing. I have written numerous gerrymandering diaries, and I'm all for fighting fire with fire. But let's call things for what they are. You might not like the commonly negative connotation of the word, but that's what your proposal is.

          23, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

          by kurykh on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 11:35:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Partisan Advantage (0+ / 0-)

      I really didn't focus much on the Presidential race, since Republican Presidential candidates don't campaign in Washington State. I focused mostly on the Dino Rossi vs. Patty Murray Senatorial race of 2010, which was an intense, pitched fight.

      In 2010, Patty did about 3-3.5% worse than her previous elections. So one could think of the 2008 Presidential race was a Democratic high point, while the 2010 Senatorial race was a low point, but Patty did better than a lot of Democrats in the red tide of 2010 so its not perfectly balanced.

      Also, your idea of political balancing is infeasible with places like Seattle being 80-90% Democratic, while Eastern Washington is 60-70% Republican.

  •  Tipped and rec’d for a lot of reasons (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Allen

    You obviously did a lot of work. And WA is dear to my heart (I lived there from 1988 to 2011 -- 23 years -- before I moved back to Minnesota, where most of my family is).

    And I’ve done that whole spreadsheet thing, analyzing the individual (state) districts in WA. Here’s a link to what I wrote about the 2010 election in Washington: The 2010 Legislative Elections in Washington State, where I predicted the State House would have 59 Dems to 39 Reps and the State Senate would have 29 Dems to 20 Reps. 2010 was the Tea Party Year and I think I was a little bit too optimistic, but I don’t remember the exact numbers.

    I suppose I could google it.


    Let me now say where I disagree with you. I’ll try to be diplomatic and polite. The biggest problem in the Washington-state political system is not the redistricting of state and federal election boundaries, which actually works pretty well, in my opinion, because it‘s set up in fair way that doesn‘t favor Dems or Reps.

    In my opinion, the biggest problem in WA by far is the top-two primary (which really really really sucks).


    I’ll talk about redistricting in WA first.

    The redistricting system in WA is relatively fair. Two Democrats and two Republicans are appointed, plus a non-voting chairperson. If the commission doesn’t get a majority of votes (3 of 4), it goes to the State Supreme Court (which nobody wants to happen). The governor can't veto the plan, plus the legislature can vote yes or no. And there are limits on amendments by the legislature.

    This is a much better system than most states have (where whichever party currently rules the legislature can gerrymander to their hearts’ content). Gerrymandering is bad. WA has a pretty good system because, ultimately, the voters decide who gets elected to the state legislature instead of a biased redistricting commission that favors Republicans or Democrats.


    Now let’s talk about the top-two primary. Have I mentioned that it sucks?

    It sucks. It contains enormous amounts of suckage.

    For one thing, any candidate can list any party as his/her preference. A tea party Republican running in a Democratic district can outright lie and list his/her preference as “Liberal Democrat.” Or someone can list a preference as “Pot-Smoking Small Government Party” or whatever. In 2010, several candidates claimed to be GOP" instead of "Republican." I guess they thought it sounded better.

    But let’s say the candidates tell the truth and you have a district that’s split about 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats and that they all correctly list either “Democratic Party” or “Republican Party.” However, let’s say there are two Reps and four Dems in the primary and they split the vote relatively evenly -- the two Reps get about 25% each and the four Dems get about 12.5% each -- because they split the vote evenly. Understand? Then in the general election, voters in that legislative district will have two choices, both of them Republicans who ended up in the top two. 50% of the voters are Democrats but they'll be forced to choose between two Republicans in the general election.

    That's an awful system. The math is all wrong.


    If I still lived in WA, I’d be fighting to change the insane top-two primary, not fighting to change the redistricting (which is not bad).

    I’m not arguing against you, I’m just saying there are better and more worthwhile battles to fight in WA.


    One more thing. Ranked choice voting (which they use in Minneapolis for mayoral elections) is an intriguing idea. It gives you a top two, but in a much better way than what WA currently does. If you're a Democrat in Minneapolis, you can choose different Democrats as your #1, #2, and #3 choice -- then the two most popular go to the general election, but if your #1 choice doesn't make the cut, then your #2 choice gets your vote (and so on). I do like that system.

    In that system you can vote for whatever (Green Party or Vegetarian Party or Elvis-Lives! Party) as your first choice, knowing that they won't win but that your second choice (Democrats) will ultimately get your vote.

    So -- just a few thoughts from me.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 12:17:35 AM PDT

    •  Top-two (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not saying that redistricting is the #1 problem in Washington, just "a" problem that should be addressed. I don't like the top-two system either and both parties fought hard against it, but fell short - for the time being.

      I would disagree with your assessment of the Washington Redistricting Commission. It doesn't so much favor Democrats or Republicans, because its bi-partisan. But it does, like a laser-beam, focus on protecting incumbents. None of the Democrats or Republicans want to endanger, or even worse in their mind, displace one of the legislators.

      You should look at some of the Redistricting meeting videos, particularly at the end. When they were getting close to an agreement, possible solutions (like the non-voting Chair asking 'Why can't we keep Pasco together') would be instantly shot down because "that'd displace one of 'our' legislators" when that should have no bearing on their decisions.

      You should read that TNT article I link to also. Its so blatant and pathetic the level of lobbying to the Redistricting Commissioners by incumbents to protect their seats. Possibly most irritating is former Sen. Pridemore complaining (article) about early drafts by the Commission to make his 49th LD redder, while making the 17th LD bluer. In the end, the 49th LD remained deep blue and uncompetitive, while the 17th LD got redder and Democratic Rep. Probst lost his race in the 17th LD to defeat Republican Sen. Benton by only 78 votes.

    •  You can thank the political parties (0+ / 0-)

      themselves for the top two system. The old and wildly popular primary system where everyone, from every party, in each race, was all listed on the same ballot, and the person with the highest vote total for each party would move onto the general, was struck down in court because of the state Democratic and Republican parties wanted a "closed" primary system.

      The voters went into backlash mode and this was what we got. And because of that, I don't think you can expect any changes to the primary system.

      If it helps, I think your worries about the system are a bit too much. While the situation you describe with the district that’s split about 50/50 can happen, it would be very rare. In fact, it actually has not, at least in WA, happened. There have been a handful of races that feature only Democrats or only Republicans, but these have been in only very lopsided districts around Seattle or eastern WA.

      Age 25, conservative Republican, WA-03 (represented by wonderful Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler)

      by KyleinWA on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 08:24:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Multi-member districts and minority representation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Multi-member districts have been drawn in the past for discriminatory purposes — but that's the fault of the first-past-the-post balloting system as much as of the district.

    Cumulative voting, on the other hand, has been shown to be a reliable method for allowing minority representation within a multi-member system.

    Basically, each voter gets multiple votes (or, if you prefer, her vote is divided into multiple pieces) which can be lumped or split among all the various candidates for the multiple seats.  If, say, Armenian-Americans see a candidate they really like in an eight-member district, each of them can pile all eight votes onto that candidate and quite likely win out over candidates who mostly receive more even distributions.

    Urban gerrymandering is a terrible feature in many current state plans; it makes for odd, squiggly districts and invariably divides communities of interest.  I'd far prefer to see any major urban area and its suburbs (say, any congloneration identified by the Census as a Combined or Metropolitan Statistical Area) turned into a multi-member super-district with cumulative voting.

    That does, admittedly, tend to turn a legislative map into an obvious tussle between urban and rural interests.  But I think that's a far more real and useful division than any splits caused by the arbitrary division of continuous, economically and socially connected, urban areas.

    I welcome comments; I don't know any electoral wonks in my vicinity.  :-)

    •  Hey Chepe, (0+ / 0-)

      Welcome to DKOS. I'm not an electoral wonk, but chemchampion knows his stuff. I hope that although this diary was posted yesterday he sees your comment and responds.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      The Americas greatest political dynasty...the Kaan

      by catilinus on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 05:46:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where do they do this? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm curious where a similar voting procedure is in effect?

      I know Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic has spoken about some of his voting ideas and they're intriguing, but I don't know if what you're proposing was among them.

      •  Here and there, now and previously (0+ / 0-)

        Lani Guinier was a great proponent of cumulative voting as a straightforward protection for minority voters, though it's generally been used more for municipal elections rather than state-wide contests.  Here in Texas, for example, it's permitted (and actually used, in some areas) for school-district elections, and was recently imposed by court order (specifically to protect minority rights) for city-council elections in Port Chester, NY.  As a past example of larger-scale use, cumulative voting was used to elect the Illinois House of Representatives from 1870 until its repeal in 1980.

        See for a variety of links.

  •  Nice work (0+ / 0-)

    It really is a shame that Washington has the sort of commission it does rather than a truly independent one like California. You end up with both parties essentially protecting their incumbents and stifling competition. I also like that you took the effort to draw single member house districts, and although my personal preference is unicameralism, it seems stupid to have the same electoral districts yet one chamber elects one per district and the other elects two. That might as well be welfare for politicians. At the very least they could put everyone in one chamber and make the three representatives elected by single transferable vote as some other developed democracies do.

  •  Tipped, Recced, Hotlisted, and Followed. (0+ / 0-)

    I plan to move West when my current activity is not in need of me.

    Is the State of Washington more or less contentious than Oregon or California?

    •  I'm sure people have different opinions (0+ / 0-)

      Washington has its idiosyncrasies just like Oregon or California.

      Forever and always, Washington has the most regressive tax system because we don't have an income tax and the public is completely opposed to one. So that's a big problem.

      Also, this year 2 turncoat State Senate Democrats are caucusing with the Republicans to give them the majority.

      California has its 2/3rd's super-majority rule to raise taxes, plus Prop. 13 which keeps property taxes ridiculously low.

      Oregon . . . I'm sure they have their own problems too, but I don't know.

      •  The Business and Occupation Tax (0+ / 0-)

        is working in Washington State.

        •  B & O Tax - Not good (0+ / 0-)

          The B & O tax is another regressive tax. Its based on total receipts, not profit. Hypothetically, if you bought $1 million worth of widgets retail and sold them for $1 million + $1, your business will be taxed on that $1,000,001 - not on $1. Also, big businesses (i.e. Boeing, Microsoft, etc.) are exempted from the tax.

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