Washington Long-Term Care Initiative, Initiative 1029 (2008)

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The Long-Term Care Initiative, or Initiative 1029, was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Washington, where it was approved.. It enacted law which requires people who work with the elderly and disabled to get more training and be certified to do so.[1]

I-1029 was an Initiative to the People.

Election results

See also 2008 ballot measure election results

Washington Initiative 1029 (2008)
Approveda Yes 2,113,773 72.53%

Specific Provisions

  • I-1029 requires long-term care workers to receive 75 hours of training and be certified. Currently, certification is optional and workers need 34 hours of training.
  • The initiative doesn't apply to people who work in nursing homes, hospitals, adult day care centers, hospice, or volunteers.
  • People who care only for their child or parent, or who work 20 hours or less a month and have only one client, are included but would need only a few more hours of training and certification would be optional.
  • The initiative also would require workers to undergo federal criminal background checks.
  • It would apply to people hired after Jan. 1, 2010, and cost $23 million in 2010-12.[3]
  • The state would pay for the training of state-subsidized caregivers and pay their salaries while they receive training, at a cost of nearly $30 million in the 2009-11 biennium.[4]

Ballot Language

The official ballot measure summary read:

Beginning January 1, 2010, this measure would require certification for long-term care workers for the elderly and persons with disabilities, requiring a written examination, increased and additional criminal background checks. Continuing education would be required in order to retain certification. Disciplinary standards and procedures would be applied to long-term care workers who are certified as home care aides. Certain workers would be exempt based on prior employment, training or other circumstances.


I-1029 was sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775. The campaign committee was called People for Safe Quality Care.

The SEIU website stated that the measure "will improve long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities by setting standards for caregiver training. It will also bring additional respect to caregivers and the quality care we provide."[5]

Gov. Christine Gregoire supported I-1029.[6]

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had a guest editorial opinion article, noting that hairdressers are currently required to get more than ten times the hours of training as are long-term care workers.[7]

Western and Central Washington chapter of the Alzheimer's Association also supported Initiative 1029. "I feel like (the measure) is an important step forward for us," said Nancy Dapper, executive director of the group.[3]


According to Public Disclosure Commission filings through Oct. 10, 2008, People for Safe Quality Care raised $985,845.10 for 2008 from three contributors: SEIU Healthcare 775NW ($945,648.30), the Working Families Coalition ($39,696.81), and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 17 PAC ($500).[8]


The Community Care Coalition of Washington opposed the initiative.

Opponents argued that:

  • Initiative 1029 will eliminate entry level caregiving jobs and deplete the pool of qualified workers, when there is already a shortage of quality caregivers to care for our vulnerable community members.
  • State Patrol background checks are already required by law for all paid caregivers in all settings.
  • All paid family members (including parents)—who know their loved ones best—will be forced by law to take unnecessary training.
  • The timing of the initiative could not be worse, costing state taxpayers an estimated $135 million over the next five years when the State is already projecting at least a $2.5 billion budget shortfall in the next biennium.
  • The State has already carefully analyzed and rejected these ideas. A Governor’s task force found no data to support a 75-hour training requirement. The Legislature found that the proposal did not improve care and was too expensive.
  • Health care costs are already skyrocketing. The initiative will unnecessarily further drive up costs with no evidence that it will improve care. This will pull money away from other critical needs such as education, social services, and health care.
  • Our caregivers are well-trained: Recent surveys show nearly 90 percent said they were adequately trained to do their jobs. In contrast, the caregivers SEIU 775 represents need more training because the union is failing to provide adequate training and supervision.
  • Washington has a flexible, community-based care system recognized as one of the nation’s best. The initiative threatens the flexibility that makes that system possible and may force more people into institutional care.

The Washington Home Care Coalition charges that the initiative is the SEIU's attempt to train and organize thousands of low-paid workers who care for the elderly and disabled in their homes, assisted living centers, and adult family homes.[4]

"They have an ulterior motive," said Deb Murphy, chief executive officer of Aging Services of Washington, a state association of nonprofit providers dedicated to the needs of older persons, and a spokesman for the campaign to defeat I-1029. That motive, she said, is "to get those training dollars from the state."[4]


According to Public Disclosure Commission filings through Oct. 8, 2008, the Community Care Coalition of Washington raised $143,758.40 for 2008. The largest single contribution came from Washington Association of Housing Services for the Aging ($14,404.94). Top contributors included Home Care Association of Washington ($31,024.68), Washington Association of Housing Services for the Aging ($27,825.38), and Visiting Angels ($4,000).[8]


See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.
Month of Poll Polling company In Favor Opposed Undecided
October 2008 Washington Poll 65 percent 20 percent 15 percent[9]

Path to the ballot

Supporters filed signatures with the Secretary of State on July 3, 2008. The measure was officially certified for the November 2008 ballot on Aug. 13, 2008.

An unsuccessful court challenge to the validity of the measure's petition signatures was filed by the Community Care Coalition of Washington, based on a mistake on the petitions, which wrongly stated that the measure is an "Initiative to the Legislature" rather than an "Initiative to the People." The two types of initiatives go through completely different processes, and while officials in Secretary of State Sam Reed's office say they consider the error minor and that they'll accept the petitions, attorneys Kathleen Benedict and Narda Pierce for Community Care Coalition of Washington demanded that the petitions be rejected.[10] [11] [12]

The Supreme Court ruled on Sept. 5, 2008, that the measure should be presented to voters on the November ballot. The court order gave no reasons for its ruling, saying only that Community Care's petition was dismissed by a majority vote. Formal opinions will be written and released later.[13]

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, published an editorial July 17, 2008, calling Secretary of State Reed's decision to accept the petitions a "political misjudgment."[14]

We can only imagine how many people—us, perhaps most of all—would be howling if initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman had done something so slipshod. Instead, there is a lot of pretending that this was a minor mistake involving fine print, a technicality or some verbiage that's only marginally relevant. The mistake is right on the signature page of the petitions, something voters would be most likely to read before signing. Anyone attempting to exercise care about providing his or her signature should be able to trust that the language of what he signed meant what it said and that the measure would first go to the Legislature with an option for lawmakers to enact it or propose an alternative.[14]

The editorial goes on to agree with Eyman's suggested solution: that the petitions be accepted for the measure—but only as an Initiative to the Legislature, just what the signers signed for. Initiatives to the Legislature are first submitted to the state legislature for consideration. If legislators pass it, it becomes law. If they do not pass it, it is put to a vote of the people on the next general election ballot.[14] [15]

See also

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