Taking Initiative

Even the financial might and vocal support of Bill Gates couldn't convince Washington voters to impose the nation's toughest controls on handgun ownership. By a 2-to-1 margin, Evergreen State voters rejected an initiative that would have forced all handgun owners, current and prospective, to register with the government. The state's major police organizations opposed the measure because they said it could never be enforced.

Voters decided hundreds of other ballot measures on November 4, including:

* Washington voters rejected an initiative that would have allowed illegal drugs such as marijuana and heroin to be used for medicinal purposes. The measure also could have freed more than 300 inmates who were incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses and would have eliminated jail time for simple possession. Republican presidential hopeful Steve Forbes flooded the radio airwaves with ads denouncing the proposal.

* Nearly two-thirds of voters in Western Pennsylvania rejected an increase in
the state sales tax that would have financed new stadiums for Pittsburgh's Pirates and Steelers.

* Voters in Maine turned down a measure that would have ended "clear cutting," even in private forests. Opponents contended that the initiative's definition of clear cutting was sufficiently vague that it could have shut down much of the state's forestry industry.

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