Steve Zemke

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Steve Zemke is a progressive activist who has been involved in many initiative campaigns in Washington State.

Ballot measure advocacy

  • Initiative 61 - the Returnable Beverage Container Act - Chairperson
  • Initiative 394 - Don't Bankrupt Washington - Chairperson
  • Initiative 97 - Citizens Toxic Cleanup Campaign - Campaign Director - signature drive
  • Initiative 99 - Presidential Primary - Campaign Director
  • Initiative 547 - Citizens for Balanced Growth - Campaign Director
  • Initiative 735 - Campaign Adviser

Political career

Steve Zemke has also served in a consulting capacity, both paid and unpaid, in a number of other initiative efforts over the years including minimum wage, bottle bills, campaign finance reform, tax reform and in opposition to so called property rights measures and Tim Eyman's anti-tax measures.[1]

Other activities

He is currently the Director of Tax Sanity, an organization working for tax loophole reform and tax fairness both in Washington State and nationally. In 2013 and 2014, Tax Sanity filed several initiative drafts on a proposed initiative to the Washington State Legislature for tax loophole reform, including adding tax expenditures to the State Budget process and adding sunset provisions to existing tax expenditures.[1]

In 2014, Tax Sanity narrowed its focus to concentrate on creating a tax expenditure budget as part of the regular budget appropriation process in Washington State. It introduced HB 2721/SB 6477 in the 2014 session of the Washington State Legislature. The bill had 25 sponsors in the House and nine sponsors in the Senate. The session ended with no action on the bills.[2]

Tax Sanity succeeded in getting HB 1239/SB 5492, the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act, re-introduced in the 2015 session of the Washington State legislature with 26 sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate. The bill would require the Washington State Legislature to adopt a Tax Exemption Budget as part of the regular biennial budget appropriations process.[3]

Zemke is a past Chair of the King County Democrats in Washington State and remains active in Democratic politics. He is also the Chair of Friends of Seattle's Urban Forest which successfully promoted the creation of an Urban Forestry Commission in Seattle in 2009. The group is working to pass a strengthened tree ordinance in Seattle. In 2015, Zemke was appointed to the Wildlife Biologist's position on the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission.[1]

Steve Zemke is currently serving on the campaign committee of Initiative 735 sponsored by, and he is acting as a Campaign Advisor. Initiative 735 is an initiative to the 2016 Washington State Legislature. If they do not enact the measure it will be on the Nov. 2016 ballot. Initiative 735 urges the U.S. Congress to pass a resolution to the States to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens' United and declare that corporations are not people and money is not free speech.[1]