- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Voters in Washington were deciding the fate of two statewide initiatives and scores of local races Tuesday night. Here is the latest from the election:

10:45 p.m.

Seattle voters were passing a property tax increase to pay for public financing of local election contests.

Initiative 122, a 10-year, $30 million property-tax levy to pay for “democracy vouchers,” had a commanding lead in early ballot returns Tuesday. The measure would also tighten rules for campaign contributions and lobbying.

The Seattle Times reports ( http://bit.ly/1Q4Vufk ) that under the measure, for each city election cycle, or every two years, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission would mail four $25 vouchers to each voter. They could only be used in Seattle campaigns for mayor, city council and city attorney.

A previous campaign for publicly financed elections in Seattle narrowly lost in 2013.

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10:10 p.m.

Two Latinos have been elected to the Yakima City Council and a third was leading her opponent.

The Yakima Herald reports ( http://bit.ly/1XOfqV0 ) that prior to Tuesday, the city had never elected a Latino to the council.

Dulce Gutierrez and Avina Gutierrez easily defeated their opponents, while Carmen Mendez was leading in her race to join the seven-person council.

Tuesday’s elections were the first under a new district-based system ordered by a federal judge. The court order was the result of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington in which the judge determined Yakima’s previous elections system denied Latino’s electoral interests.

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9:41 p.m.

Voters in Tacoma have decided to raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.

The News Tribune reports ( http://bit.ly/1MgnsSC ) that city voters overwhelmingly chose the $12 figure, to be phased in over two years, over an option that would’ve hiked the minimum pay to $15-an-hour immediately.

The state minimum wage is $9.47. The first step toward the new Tacoma figure will be $10.35, starting Feb. 1.

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9:08 p.m.

In the most-watched state House race, early voter returns showed Republican challenger Teri Hickel leading Democrat Carol Gregory in the 30th Legislative District covering parts of King and Pierce counties.

If Hickel holds the lead from the initial round of returns Tuesday, the Democrats’ slight majority in the House will slip to two seats with all House seats up for election next year.

Gregory of Federal Way was appointed to the seat in January following the death of Roger Freeman. The contest winner will serve the remaining year of Freeman’s term.

Republican Rep. Mary Dye took a commanding early lead in preliminary returns against Republican challenger Richard Lathim in the Eastern Washington’s 9th Legislative District in the only other state legislative race.

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8:54 p.m.

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366 has taken a lead in early election returns Tuesday night. The measure would decrease the 6.5-percent state sales tax to 5.5 percent unless the Legislature approves a constitutional amendment before April 15 that voters would weigh in on later next year.

Currently, taxes can be raised through a simple-majority vote of the Legislature.

The state Office of Financial Management has estimated that the measure would reduce revenue to the state budget by $8 billion through the middle of 2021, if its tax-cut element becomes law.

Previous voter-approved initiatives sponsored by I-1366 sponsor Eyman required a supermajority vote on taxes, but the state Supreme Court struck that requirement down in 2013, saying it was unconstitutional.

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8:47 p.m.

Washington voters passed a ballot measure that would outlaw sales of items ranging from lion skins to elephant ivory.

The first batch of election results Tuesday night showed Initiative 1401 with an overwhelming lead in early returns across the state. The measure would ban the purchase, sale and distribution of parts or products made from 10 endangered animals. They include lions, elephants, rhinos, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays.

Offenders could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Critics have argued the measure will do little to help reduce poaching. But supporters say Washington can serve as a model for other states.

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8:30 p.m.

Washington voters are strongly supporting a ballot measure that would outlaw sales of items ranging from lion skins to elephant ivory.

The first batch of election results Tuesday night show Initiative 1401 with a strong lead in early returns across the state. The measure would ban the purchase, sale and distribution of parts or products made from 10 endangered animals. They include lions, elephants, rhinos, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays.

Offenders could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Critics have argued the measure will do little to help reduce poaching. But supporters say Washington can serve as a model for other states.

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