Slate of initiatives has upended Olympia, lobbyist says

‘Potential showstoppers’ described at Coffee with Colleen

PORT ANGELES — The half-dozen citizen initiatives to the state Legislature this session — three of which are likely to be sent to the voters — have had an impact that’s never been seen before, North Olympic Legislative Alliance lobbyist Josh Weiss told the Coffee with Colleen audience Wednesday morning.

“These have had a significant impact on the tenor of the Legislature. They are potential showstoppers that really could throw a wrench into the system,” he said during the weekly session hosted by the Clallam Economic Development Council.

The six initiatives to the legislature would:

• Repeal the state’s new capital gains tax.

• Repeal the carbon cap-and-trade program.

• Make it easier for workers to opt out of the state’s new long-term care insurance program.

• Remove most restrictions on police vehicle pursuits.

• Make it harder for state and local governments to impose an income tax.

• Create a “bill of rights” for parents of public school students.

Weiss said once the initiatives are certified by the Secretary of State, they become bills and move through the legislative process.

The “group speculation,” Weiss said, is that the ones dealing with the state and local income tax, the parental bill of rights and police pursuits will be passed by the Legislature and the others will be sent to the voters,

The one dealing with the state and local income tax doesn’t really do very much, so the Legislature’s Democratic majority are looking closely on the other three because they are defending their higher priorities and are against those that could create budget problems if they pass, he said.

Initiatives to the people require a simple majority of voter approval to become law (except for gambling or lottery measures, which require 60 percent approval).

Initiatives to the Legislature are submitted to it at its regular session each January.

According to state law, the Legislature may adopt the initiative as proposed and it becomes law without a vote of the people; or the Legislature may reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative and the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or the Legislature may propose a different measure dealing with the same subject and both measures must be placed on the next state general election ballot.

Democrats hold a 58-40 majority in the House of Representatives and a 29-20 majority in the Senate. The Legislature adjourns March 7.

________

Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at Brian.Gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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