Washington voters have their own constitutional amendment to weigh in on in November, along with a referendum regarding sex education.

There are a number of advisory votes on the ballot as well, both in Washington and Nez Perce County; none of them are binding, but they could serve to inform elected officials:

The Nez Perce County advisory vote deals with the aging county courthouse.

The measure notes that the building has been “plagued” with a variety of problems in recent years, including issues with the electrical, plumbing and hearing/air conditioning systems, and with meeting Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements.

“These issues impact ongoing maintenance costs and, in some cases, the safety of our civil servants,” it says.

Replacing the building would cost tens of millions of dollars. Before deciding how to proceed, the county commissioners want voters to provide their input.

The advisory vote asks whether the county should build a new courthouse, remodel and expand the existing building, or purchase and remodel an existing building. It also asks when the work should begin and where people want the courthouse to be located.

The constitutional amendment on Washington’s ballot would allow public money held in trust for long-term care services to be invested in private equities, if authorized by the Legislature.

The state constitution currently prohibits most public funds from being invested in the stock of private companies.

However, as explained in the Washington Voter’s Pamphlet, several types of funds are exempt from this restriction, including “any public pension or retirement fund, the industrial insurance trust fund and money held in trust for the benefit of people with developmental disabilities.”

The amendment would add the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Account to the list of exempt accounts. The trust was established in 2019, when the Legislature enacted a new, public long-term care insurance plan. Employers will begin paying premiums into the trust account on Jan. 1, 2022. Under current law, the money could only be invested in bonds and other fixed-income securities, which typically have smaller yields that stock investments.

Washington voters will also decide the fate of Referendum 90, which asks whether the sexual health education bill approved by the Legislature earlier this year should be enacted. Parents or legal guardians can also chose to exclude students from the curriculum.

Should Referendum 90 be approved, school districts would be required to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate sexual health education to all students by the 2022-23 school year. Parents and legal guardians would still have the option to exclude their children from the curriculum; they would have access to any course material ahead of time, to help with that decision.

As has been the case for several years now, the general election ballot also includes advisory votes on a number of recent tax increases approved by the Legislature. The votes are not binding in any way.

In Washington, ballots will be mailed to voters on Friday. Idaho voters can choose to vote by absentee ballot, through early voting at the county elections office, or in-person at the polls on Nov. 3.


William L. Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208)791-9168.

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