Washington Unemployment Insurance, Referendum 53 (2002)

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Washington Unemployment Insurance, Referendum 53 was on the November 5, 2002 ballot in the State of Washington as a veto referendum, where it succeeded in overturning parts of a law recently enacted by the Washington State Legislature. The law that was partially overturned was about unemployment insurance for employers. It established new employer rate classes, increased some taxable wage bases, and imposed surcharges under certain circumstances.

Election results

Referendum 53
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No966,90159.22%
Yes 665,760 40.78%


The question on the ballot was "The Legislature passed Engrossed House Bill 2901 (EHB 2901) concerning unemployment insurance [and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on parts of this bill]. This bill would revise laws regarding unemployment insurance for employers, including establishing new employer rate classes, increasing some taxable wage bases, and imposing surcharges if certain contingencies occur. Should this Bill be Approved or Rejected?"

Path to the ballot

Elliot J. Swaney filed a notice of intent to seek signatures to overturn the new unemployment insurance law on April 8, 2002. His group ultimately submitted 151, 239 signatures.

Vote in legislature

Engrossed House Bill 2901 -- the law that Referendum 53 challenged -- was passed by the Washington State Legislature by these votes:

Chamber Ayes Noes
House 64 33
Senate 35 14


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