Washington Propositions Top Ballot in Washington State With PM-Elections Rdp, Bjt
Nov. 05, 1991
SEATTLE (AP) _ Washington state voters weigh emotion-charged ballot proposals today to legalize euthanasia, guarantee abortion rights, and test the national drive to limit terms of politicians.
All eight Washington congressmen, including House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, and 109 of 147 state legislators could be forced to retire in 1994 if voters approve the nation's strictest term limits. Foley stumped against the measure, calling it ''flat-out unconstitutional.''
Initiative 119, the so-called Death with Dignity measure, has captured worldwide attention. It would make Washington the first state to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients who request it.
''Washington state often is billed as a good place to live. It may soon become a good place to die,'' said the British publication The Economist.
A vigorous campaign against the measure by religious and anti-abortion groups has apparently tightened the contest.
A poll found that 64 percent of Americans approve of doctor-assisted suicide. The poll, sponsored by The Boston Globe and Harvard University, was conducted among 1,311 adults by telephone Oct. 18-20. It was done by KRC Communications Research and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Also on the ballot is an initiative guaranteeing abortion rights even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, and a measure to reduce property taxes for longtime residents and raise them on more recently bought homes.
Among other propositions around the country:
- Attempts in St. Paul, Minn., and Concord, Calif., to repeal homosexual rights.
- Measures in San Francisco that would allow medicinal use of marijuana and repeal an ordinance that extended city benefits to homosexual live-in companions.
- A measure in the District of Columbia making dealers and manufacturers of assault guns potentially liable for violence involving the weapons.
- Measures in Texas to create a state lottery and authorize a $1.1 billion prison construction bond.
- A $385 million proposed tax increase in Missouri for education reform.
If approved, Washington's term limits would be the first to take effect retroactively. They would cap total service in Congress - House and Senate combined - at 12 years by 1994. Within that time, House service would be restricted to three two-year terms.
State legislators would be limited to 10 years' total service, and the governor and lieutenant governor could serve no more than two four-year terms.
Colorado is the only state to approve congressional limits. They don't take effect until 2002.
Initiative 553 Proponent John Burick said Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' Senate confirmation hearings and reports of checks bounced by House members helped the cause.
''What the scandals of Congress did, occurring about every other week, is to reinforce our message,'' he said.
Opposition spokesman Mark Brown said the outcome ''will depend on whether people vote on reason or on emotion.''
Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin agreed: ''The point here has little to do with term limits per se and everything to do with the fact that people are miserably unhappy. Clearly, gut reactions right now are to clean house.''