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A Legal Challenge to Charter Schools

A coalition of educators and community groups has filed a legal demand with the Washington Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 1240, the state’s new charter school law.

The demand asserts I-1240, the Charter School Act, violates the Washington Constitution by improperly diverting public school funds to private non-profit groups that are not subject to local voter control and impeding the state’s constitutional obligation to fund fully K-12 public education.

The League of Women Voters of Washington, the Washington Education Association and El Centro de la Raza filed the demand with the state attorney general’s office earlier today.
“The Washington Supreme Court has ruled the state is violating its paramount duty to fund our public schools,” said Catherine Ahl of the League. “The Charter School Act drains money from public schools to privately run charter schools that aren’t accountable to local voters — taking away the right of citizens to elect representatives to oversee the spending of their taxes.”

The demand outlines at least seven constitutional problems with the Charter School Act:
1. It violates the state’s constitutional “paramount duty” to provide for the education of children within its borders. In its 2012 McCleary decision, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund basic educational programs by 2018. The Charter School Act interferes with the state’s progress toward compliance by diverting already insufficient resources away from public school districts.
2. It unconstitutionally diverts funding that is restricted to use for public common schools to private charter schools that are not subject to local voter control.
3. It violates the “general and uniform” requirement in the constitution because charter schools are not subject to most of the laws and regulations applicable to public school districts, including many of the common school provisions defining the elements of a basic education.
4. It amends existing state law in a manner not permitted by the constitution.
5. It violates the constitutional requirement that the superintendent of public instruction “have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools.”
6. Its language relating to the conversion of a public school into a charter school is unconstitutionally vague.
7. It violates the constitution because it mandates the use of local voter-approved levy funds for a purpose other than the purpose for which the voters approved the levies.

The demand asks the attorney general’s office to address the unconstitutional provisions of the Charter School Act. If the attorney general’s office declines, the coalition will file a complaint in Superior Court. Paul Lawrence of Pacifica Law Group is the lead attorney in the case.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization. WEA represents nearly 82,000 public school employees. El Centro de la Raza is a Seattle-based group dedicated to social justice.

Celebrate our First 50 Years at Art Walk March 1

The Kitsap County Historical Society Museum, 280 Fourth St., Bremerton, will host the League of Women Voters of Kitsap’s 50-Year Celebration during Art Walk, March 1 from 5-8 p.m.
There will be a program at 6 p.m. with members of the League speaking about our history. The League has recently completed a project organizing archives with the assistance of museum volunteers. A presentation of the archive will then be made to the museum. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, please contact (360) 479-6226.

Leaguers Urged to Support Appleton’s Single-Payer Bill

Here are notes on recent developments from our Health Committee chair:
1) Obama’s Health Care Reform Law that goes into effect in 2014 allows states to request a federal waiver to implement a health care delivery system known as a single payer or Medicare for everyone. Rep. Sherry Appleton has introduced HB1085 that would authorize our state to apply for a waiver and upon approval adopt a single payer system in 2017. You can read the bill at

The LWVWA supports the single payer health care system and many Leaguers will be attending a Health Care and Wellness Committee hearing on Appleton’s bill today (Feb. 1) in Olympia. Rep. Jan Angel, 26th Legislative District, is on this Committee and this is a request for you to contact Jan Angel to express your support for this legislation. Representative Angel can be contacted at 360-443-2409 or at her District Office, 360-786-7964. If you live in her District you can e-mail her at or by going to her Website. Thanks for your help.

2) At their January 2 meeting, the LWVK Board signed a Resolution in support of the Kitsap County Commissioners passing a 1/10th of one-percent sales tax increase to fund new mental health, chemical dependency and related housing and criminal justice services. It is estimated that over $3 million would be available annually. Our League is participating on the Strategic Leadership Committee to help gather community support for the initiative and to provide assistance in any way we can to assure improved services in our county. Nineteen counties and the City of Tacoma have already passed this tax. If passed the tax would begin the first month of the next quarter and funds would be collected for a year giving time to develop the programs and assure funding availability. An oversight committee will be formed to assure neutrality, transparency and accountability including an evaluation of the efficacy and cost savings of each funded program. Many thanks to those League members who have volunteered to help gather signatures for the Resolution.
Pam Hamon, Chair
LWVK Health Committee

League Completes Energy Study

A meeting to discuss the state League’s new energy report is scheduled for 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Poulsbo Library. The report can be accessed at

Below are the consensus questions on the report:

The LWVWA report in 1977 created a three-pronged approach:
Conservation education
Incentives for efficient uses of current energy sources
Greater use of alternative sources
Since our 1977 study, technologies have changed because of research & development, and government policies, etc. Therefore this report focuses on the third of the three-pronged approaches, alternative sources. And because many of these sources currently produce energy at a commercial level, now the appropriate term is renewable, not alternative, sources of energy.
The questions for consensus discussion follow.
1. Of the following list of characteristics of energy usage and production, which two to four do you consider the most important?
a. Locally generated power
b. Energy efficiency
c. Level and results of current research
d. Requirements for use of the renewable
e. Level of resulting greenhouse gas emissions
f. Level of dependency on few sources
g. Reliability
h. Cost
i. Capacity (availability) of resources
j. Competition for resource usage, e.g. water, land, navigation, rare minerals
k. Environmental effects, e.g. wildlife, plant life, land, water, air
l. Noise
2. Which of the above one to two do you consider to be the least important?
3. Based on your list of most and least important characteristics above and the choices below where should League put its support when it comes to renewable energy use and production? Please rank.
a. Wind
b. Solar
c. Biomass/Bioenergy (wood)
d. Wave
e. Tidal
f. Geothermal
g. Hydropower
4. The Smart Grid will be expensive, and may possibly raise privacy concerns. Do you consider those to be problems? Please explain.
5. Are there trade-offs you personally would be willing to make in your daily use of energy? If so, please list up to three to four your group would be willing to consider.

Registration Deadlines Approaching for Feb. 12 Election

Voters in the Silverdale area will have a chance to vote on whether Silverdale should become a city on Feb. 12. Also on the ballot that day will be an operations levy for South Kitsap schools.
If you are not registered to vote, here are the deadlines to register in time for the Feb. 12 election:
Jan. 14: Deadline for mail or online new registrations and voter updates prior to the February special election.
Feb. 4: Last day for in-person registration to vote in the February special election

Board Endorses Sales Tax for Mental Health

The Board of Directors of LWV Kitsap has joined Judge Jay Roof, Judge Anna Laurie, CEO Scott Bosch of Harrison Medical Center and many others to support a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax increase for mental health and chemical dependency treatment programs.
The resolution passed unanimously by the board on Jan. 2 is below:



Whereas, mental health and chemical dependency treatment programs and services have been shown effective in helping people recover from behavioral health illness, thereby reducing human and financial costs to society, and increasing the productivity of individuals as members of our community, and
Whereas, such services are known to prevent and reduce costly and unnecessary involvement with criminal justice and court system, emergency medical care, shelters, and crisis services, and promote recovery for persons with disabling mental illness and chemical dependency by implementing a full continuum of treatment, including outpatient treatment, housing, and case management services, and
Whereas, the public mental health system, funded by state and federal dollars, does not have adequate resources to provide outpatient treatment to non-Medicaid eligible individuals, and
Whereas, current and forecasted funding does not provide the needed funds to establish and/or maintain therapeutic court programs shown to reduce crime, recidivism and support recovery, and
Whereas, decreased availability of less costly behavioral health out-patient services rapidly results in use of emergent and far more expensive crisis services, where these increasingly scarce dollars must be used to treat people in costly inpatient units and hospitals, an unnecessary toll in both human suffering and financial burden, and
Whereas, the Washington State Legislature adopted in 2005, Chapter 504 (E2SSB 5763) authorizing counties to fix and impose a sales and use tax in the amount of one-tenth of one percent (1/10%) to provide new or expanded mental health or chemical dependency treatment programs and services that include but are not limited to treatment services, case management, and housing that are a component of a coordinated chemical dependency or mental health treatment program or services, and to provide for the operation of new or expanded therapeutic court programs,
Whereas, 20 of 37 counties in Washington State have successfully enacted E2SSB 5763, in order to promote recovery for persons with disabling mental illness and chemical dependency, and
Whereas, the League of Women Voters of Kitsap is gravely concerned the loss of local, state,

and federal funds to our community has resulted in a diminished capacity to provide necessary behavioral health services for children, families, adults and older adults, and that the uncertain forecast for additional funding losses will result in an even greater lack of access to behavioral health care, compromising the health and safety of individuals and the community.

Be it known that the League of Women Voters of Kitsap stands firmly behind enactment of a sales and use tax increase and recommends adoption of this tax to help ensure mental health and chemical dependency treatment programs and services, with specific attention to provision of services through the county jail, juvenile justice system, children’s services and schools, county courts, inpatient and outpatient facilities, shelters and housing services for eligible, high need individuals.

Meet and Greet for Members

Our next event is for members only. It will be a chance to share breakfast with our local legislators and commissioners.

Here’s the information:

Come and have breakfast with your Legislators and Commissioners
Where: Ambrosia Catering, 4954 State Hwy 303 NE
Bremerton (south of Fred Meyer)
When: Dec. 5, 8-10 a.m.
Cost: $15
Check payable to LWV Kitsap sent to Sue Hughes, 8653 Sungate Place NE, Bremerton, WA 98311
RSVP by Wednesday, Nov 28
Contact for more information and to arrange transportation:
Sue Hughes, 360-692-3571 or
Please join us!

Online Guide Features Local Candidates

Voters across the state can find information about the candidates on their ballots by visiting
The League of Women Voters of Washington has added local information to to serve as a resource for all voters. The guide provides simple tools to help people navigate the voting process this November.

“Just key in your address and your candidate information follows,” said Linnea Hirst, LWVWA co- president. “This is one of the most important elections of our lifetime, and each of us has a role to play. Learning about our candidates and ballot issues is a good start.”

Nationally, in 2008, approximately 20 million voters found the information they needed through, many of them young people and first-time voters.

“ is convenient, easy and empowering,” concluded Hirst. “I’ll be sharing it with my friends and family to help them prepare for Election Day. We hope you will, too.”

Learn More about Health Care Reform

Wondering about health care reform and how it will work in Washington? Get answers to your questions at a public meeting, 1-3 p.m., Oct. 29, at the Norm Dicks Government Center, First Floor Chambers, 345 6th St., Bremerton, on the following topic:
Health Care Reform in Our State:
How Will the Marketplace Work?

LWV Kitsap and the Kitsap Public Health District will co-sponsor a presentation on our state’s Health Benefit Exchange (HBE). Michael Marchand, Director of Communications for the state’s HBE, will explain the program and how individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance that meets their needs.
The meeting will be televised later on BKAT. Premier media sponsor is the Kitsap Sun.
For information call 360-692-3571.

League Members Honored

LWV Kitsap always has taken great pride in the wonderful work done by our members in service to the community. In the last month, three of our members have been singled out for commendation for their extraordinary efforts.

❈ Marge Thorne will be recognized by the State AARP with the Andrus Award for Volunteer Service at our next meeting.

❈ Susan Daniel received the C. Keith Birkenfeld Humanitarian Award for her efforts in founding the Dispute Resolution Center, Kitsap Legal Services and Leadership Kitsap.

❈ Lois Curtis was named 2012 Outstanding Philanthropist by the Bainbridge Community Foundation for her continuing financial support for a number of environmental, civic and educational causes over many years.