Difference between revisions of "Laws governing the initiative process in Washington"

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Revision as of 18:21, 20 December 2010

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Citizens of Washington can use the initiative process to:

A fourth way, not involving direct democracy, that a ballot measure can be placed on the statewide ballot in Washington is through the process of legislative referral. These are known as Referendum Bills. They are proposed laws or constitutional amendments that the legislature chooses to place before the voters on the ballot.

Washington voters are not permitted the right to initiate constitutional amendments through a direct democracy process.

This article focuses on general issues of I&R law. For more information on getting an initiative on the ballot, see also Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Washington.

Types of citizen intitatives and referenda

Initiative to the People

Once an Initiative to the People is certified (sufficient signatures have been filed and certified as valid), it is placed on the next state general election ballot for voter approval.

Initiative to the Legislature

Once an Initiative to the Legislature is certified (sufficient signatures have been filed and certified as valid), it is submitted to the Legislature at its next regular session in January. The Legislature must take one of the following three actions:

  • (a) adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law;
  • (b) 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
  • (c) 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.

Veto referendum

Once a Referendum Measure is certified (sufficient signatures have been filed and certified as valid), it is placed on the next state general election ballot for the voters to decide. A "Yes" vote approves the law as passed by the Legislature. A "No" vote rejects it.

Filing requirements

Initiative activist Tim Eyman filing the language for his Save the 2/3rds Supermajority Vote initiative in 2010 at the Secretary of State's office in Olympia, Washington.
Photo credit: Washington Secretary of State

Text of the proposed initiative or referendum is filed with the Office of the Washington Secretary of State, along with a signed affidavit verifying that the initiative's sponsor is a legal Washington voter. A $5 filing fee is also required.

Single-subject rule

Washington has a single-subject rule, which requires that an initiative deal with only one issue or subject.

Signature-gathering

The number of signatures that need to be collected to place a measure on the ballot is based on the total number of votes cast for the Governor at the last regular gubernatorial election. Eight percent (8%) of that vote total is required for initiatives and four percent (4%) for referenda.

Circulation period

The circulation period for Initiative to the People petitions is six months.

The circulation period for Initiative to the Legislature petitions is ten months.

Residency

Circulators do not have to be residents of the state of Washington.[1]

Circulator access rights

Where initiative circulators are allowed to stand when they are soliciting signatures is a somewhat gray area of Washington law, although it is better defined in this state than in many other I&R states.

In 1981, in its Alderwood Associations v. Washington Environmental Council decision, the Washington Supreme Court said that initiative circulators could collect signatures within a large regional mall against the wishes of the mall's private owners. This was a 5-4 decision based on the state constitution's creating what the justices viewed as a right for citizens to advocate for initiatives overriding private property rights. In 1989, in the case of Southcenter Joint Venture v. National Democratic Policy Committee, the court re-iterated that the Alderwood decision was based on initiative rights guaranteed in the constitution, not on general free-speech principles.

In 1997, in Initiative 172 v. Western Washington Fair Association, a state appeals court laid out some time, place and manner restrictions on circulators, saying that reasonable limits do not impair the underlying rights of free speech and initiative.

In 1999, in the case of Waremart v. Progressive Campaigns, Inc., the state supreme court ruled once again on the question of collecting signatures on private property against the wishes of the property owner. However, in Waremart, as opposed to in the 1981 Alderwood decision, the court in this instance agreed with the private property owner. In the court's mind, the difference between the two situations is the difference between a large regional mall that hosts a number of events and has become a genuine public forum through custom, layout and norms, versus a free-standing big box store, like Waremart, that did not have any of those characteristics.

On May 2, 2007, Rob McKenna, the Washington Attorney General, wrote a formal opinion called "Political Activity at Shopping Centers" to help Washington property owners, circulators, petition sponsors and police departments understand where circulators can and cannot collect signatures.[2]

LIMIT v. Maleng decided that it was not only unconstitutional to ban the payment of petition circulators, but also to regulate how the petitioners are paid.[3]

Distribution requirement

Washington has no distribution requirement for signatures.

Signature verification process

Washington's signature verification involves random sampling.

Deadlines

Ballot measures
in Washington State
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Constitutional amendments
Initiatives to the People
Initiatives to the Legislature
Statutes referred by Legislature
Veto referendums
Political topics on the ballot
LawsHistoryConstitution
  • Initiatives to the People must be filed in the ten-month period prior to the state general election ballot on which you wish the measure to appear. Petitions (signatures) must be filed with the Secretary of State not later than 5 pm on the last business day not less than four months prior to that general election. If a filing deadline falls on a Saturday, the office of the Secretary of State will be transact business on that Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm.
  • Initiatives to the Legislature must be filed in the ten-month period prior to the regular session of the Legislature in which you wish them to be considered. Petitions must be filed with the Secretary of State not later than 5 pm on the last business day not less than ten days prior to that regular legislative session convening. If a filing deadline falls on a Saturday, the office of the Secretary of State will be transact business on that Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm.
  • Veto referenda may be filed any time after the Governor has signed the act that the sponsor wants referred to the ballot. Petitions must be filed with the Secretary of State not later than ninety days after final adjournment of the session in which the measure was passed by the state legislature.

Effective dates of measures

Initiatives and referenda voted into law become effective 30 days after the election at which they are approved unless there is a section in the initiative which sets a different effective date.

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The Washington State Legislature can repeal or amend an initiative by a two-thirds vote of each house during the first two years of enactment and by majority vote thereafter.

Examples of legislative tampering in Washington include:

Proposed changes

2010

Changes in 2010 to laws governing the initiative process
  • Defeatedd HB 1057-Requiring ballot measures to list the impact towards property tax levies. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[4].
  • Defeatedd HB 2310-Easing restrictions on how voter information pamphlets are distributed. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[5].
  • Defeatedd HB 2311-Repealing public notice requirements for ballot measures. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[6].
  • Defeatedd HB 2397-Bans petition circulators from gathering signatures less than fifteen away from a retail store. The bill was approved by the Washington House of Representatives on February 13, 2010 by a 82-12 vote, but died in Senate Committee[7].
  • Defeatedd HB 2418-Allows petition signatures to be made public records. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[8].
  • Defeatedd HB 2469-Prohibits landlords from restricting initiative campaigns from engaging in political activity on their properties. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[9].
  • Defeatedd HB 2570-Would increase restrictions on paid petition circulators. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[10].
  • Defeatedd HB 2579-Would allow people to withdraw their names from petitions through a written request to the Washington Secretary of State. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[11].
  • Defeatedd HB 2612-Would exempt petition signatures for initiative and referendums from public inspection. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[12].
  • Defeatedd HB 2613-Would increase restrictions for paid circulators of initiative, recall, and referendum petitions. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[13].
  • Defeatedd HB 2614-Would modify the official initiative petition form. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[14].
  • Defeatedd HB 2615-Would increase filing fees for initiative and referendum petitions. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[15].
  • Defeatedd HB 2714-Would prohibit public release of petition signatures. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[16].
  • Defeatedd HB 2981-Would require fiscal impact statements published in the voter information pamphlet. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[17].
  • Defeatedd HJR 4212-An amendment to the Washington Constitution that would eliminate the mandatory public notice requirement for constitutional amendments. The resolution died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[18].
  • Defeatedd SB 5098-A Senate version of HB 1057 that would require ballot measures to list the impact towards property tax levies. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[19].
  • Defeatedd SB 5508-A bill to deal with errors in voter information pamphlets. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[20].
  • Defeatedd SB 6099-Would require fiscal impact statements published for ballot measures dealing with tax increases or decreases. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[21].
  • Defeatedd SB 6123-A Senate version of HB 2311 that would repeal public notice requirements for ballot measures. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[22].
  • Defeatedd SB 6184-Changing administrative procedures on how the Washington Office of Financial Management and the Washington Attorney General handles initiatives. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[23].
  • Defeatedd SB 6449-Would increase restrictions for paid petition circulators. The bill was approved by the Washington State Senate on February 15, 2010 by a 29-19 vote, but failed in House Committee[24].
  • Defeatedd SB 6665-Would raise filing fees for initiatives from $5 to $250. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[25].
  • Defeatedd SB 6797-Would eliminate financial hardship exemption for local governments distributing voter information pamphlets. The bill died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[26].
  • Defeatedd SJR 8202-Would repeal the initiative process from the state constitution. The resolution died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[27].
  • DefeateddSJR 8217-Would eliminate the public notice requirement for constitutional amendments. The resolution died in committee without seeing a floor vote in the Legislature[28].

2009

Changes in 2009 to laws governing the initiative process
  • HB 1057 requires that ballot titles involving property tax levies must include a comparison of the financial impact (if any) between the preceding year and the current ballot proposal in both dollar and percentage differences.[29]
  • SB 5098 requires that if a measure relates to a property tax levy, the ballot title must include a comparison of the financial impact between the immediately preceding year and the current ballot, in both dollar and percentage change terms.[30]
  • SB 5508 requires notification by an election officer, either by publication or by direct mail, when a material error occurs in a local voters' pamphlet.[31]
  • SB 6099 requires the concise description on a ballot title to include a statement describing the amount the measure will increase or decrease taxes if the measure has tax implications.[32]
  • SJR 8202 was proposed by Ken Jacobsen as an amendment to the state Constitution to modify the powers of initiative and referendum.[33]
  • HB 2310 changes notice requirements about proposed amendments.[34]
  • HB 2311 repeals statutory requirements for legal advertising of proposed constitutional amendments, initiatives, and referenda.[35]
  • HJR 4212 changes the notice requirement for amendments submitted to the people.[36]
  • SB 6123 repeals the statutory requirements for legal advertising of proposed constitutional amendments, initiatives, and referenda.[37]
  • SJR 8217 changes notice requires for amendments submitted to the people.[38]

Campaign finance

Main article: Campaign finance requirements for Washington ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Washington State's campaign finance laws include:

  • Washington State treats groups in support or opposition of a ballot question the same like other political committees on most matters except campaign disclosure.
  • Washington uses a frequent reporting system for filing disclosure reports in which most reports are due on a monthly basis.
  • Washington State limits any person or other committee to donating $5,000 in the last 21 days of the election. State party organizations are exempt.
  • Washington State requires electronic reporting of all campaign finance disclosure.

External links

References

  1. Washington State's Filing Initiative and Referenda Manual: 2005-2008
  2. Political Activity at Shopping Centers, an opinion of the Washington Attorney General (PDF file)
  3. Minnesota House of Representative, I&R Legislation
  4. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 1057 (2010)"
  5. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2310 (2010)"
  6. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2311 (2010)"
  7. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2397 (2010)"
  8. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2418 (2010)"
  9. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2469 (2010)"
  10. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2570 (2010)"
  11. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2579 (2010)"
  12. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2612 (2010)"
  13. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2613 (2010)"
  14. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2614 (2010)"
  15. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2615 (2010)"
  16. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2714 (2010)"
  17. Washington Legislature "History of House Bill 2981 (2010)"
  18. Washington Legislature "History of House Joint Resolution 4212 (2010)"
  19. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 5098 (2010)"
  20. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 5508 (2010)"
  21. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 6099 (2010)"
  22. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 6123 (2010)"
  23. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 6184(2010)"
  24. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 6449 (2010)"
  25. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 6665 (2010)"
  26. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Bill 6797 (2010)"
  27. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Joint Resolution 8202 (2010)"
  28. Washington Legislature "History of Senate Joint Resolution 8217 (2010)"
  29. Washington Votes, "Text of HB 1057"
  30. Analysis of SB 5098
  31. Analysis of SB 5508
  32. Analysis of 6099
  33. Analysis of 8202
  34. Analysis of HB 2310
  35. Analysis of 2311
  36. Text of HJR 4212
  37. Analyis of SB 6123
  38. Text of SJR 8217