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Initiatives to the People (Washington)

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In the state of Washington, there are "Initiatives to the People" and Initiatives to the Legislature.

Initiatives to the People, if certified to have sufficient signatures, are submitted for a vote of the people at the next state general election.

Initiatives to the Legislature, if certified, are submitted to the Legislature at its next regular session in January. Once submitted, the Legislature must take one of the following three actions:

  • The Legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people;
  • The Legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or
  • The Legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the Legislature's alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.

Controversy over Initiative 1029

In 2008, SEIU submitted signatures on an initiative petition, Initiative 1029, to Sam Reed, the Washington Secretary of State. At some point, it was discovered that SEIU had mislabeled the petition forms. Intending to circulate the initiative as an Initiative to the People, they had instead printed on the petition that it was an Initiative to the Legislature. Reed indicated that he would accept the petitions as an initiative to the people (rather than the legislature) despite what it said on the petition.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorialized against this, saying:

"Could Secretary of State Sam Reed still change his mind about accepting egregiously mislabeled initiative petitions? We'd like to think the steady, veteran public leader could summon the political fortitude to reverse his decision to ignore a powerful labor union's flagrant carelessness on an issue that's supposedly so important it must be brought to voters in November."[1]

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