Evan Smith on Politics: Two statewide initiatives probably headed for November ballot

Monday, February 11, 2013

By Evan Smith

Two statewide initiatives appear to be headed for the November ballot.

The secretary of state’s office has certified both Initiative 517 and I-522 as initiatives to the legislature.

Initiatives to the legislature first become bills in the legislature. The legislature could pass either of them, but I-517 sponsor Tim Eyman says that legislators have passed such measures only about 1 percent of the time.

If the legislature either defeats an initiative to the legislature or doesn’t act on it, it goes to the November ballot.

Last year's initiative to legalize marijuana was an initiative to the legislature, but when the legislature didn't act on it, it went to a statewide vote. 

The legislature also could propose an alternative to the initiative so that ballots ask voters, first, whether the initiative should be enacted, and, second, whether they voted yes or no, if they prefer version A or version B. Eyman notes that this has happened only once in the 100-year history of initiatives in Washington. We have had alternatives on our ballots to initiatives filed under the King County charter.

Eyman’s I-517 would protect signature gatherers from harassment and extend the time for collecting signatures for initiatives. I-522 would require labeling of genetically engineered food.

Elections officials have certified that each measure has enough signatures to go to the legislature and probably to the people.

Both initiatives were filed in 2012 and qualified by getting the number of signatures required during the 2009-2012 period --  241,153 -- based on 8 percent of the voters in the 2008 election, rather than the higher number  -- 246,372 – required during the 2013-2016 period based on the number of voters in the 2012 election.

You can reach Evan Smith by email.


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