Washington’s initiative season opens Jan. 5; Eyman plans to file Lower Property Taxes Initiative

If you want to put a citizen initiative on the state ballot, you can take your first step starting on Monday, Jan. 5.

That’s the first day to file initiatives to the people. Petitions for such initiatives this year must be turned in by July 3. Under state law, initiatives to the people must be filed with the Secretary of State at least four months before the date of the General Election.

The required number of signatures for a citizen initiative to the ballot this year is 241,153, which, under state law, is the required 8 percent of the total number of votes cast in the November 2008 gubernatorial race.

“Our initiative and referendum system is a cherished tradition and a key part of Washington’s democratic process,” Secretary of State Sam Reed said. “Initiatives provide an opportunity for citizens to bring forth their ideas to improve our state.”

Tim Eyman announced today that he will file an initiative Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. in the Secretary of State’s Office in the Legislative Building in Olympia. Eyman’s measure is called the Lower Property Taxes Initiative.

There were 47 initiatives filed in 2008. Of them, three made it onto the November ballot. Two of those three were approved by state voters – Initiative 1000, which dealt with assisted suicide or “Death with Dignity,” and I-1029, which provided for certification of long-term care aides.

There is a later deadline for submitting another type of initiative. The first day to file initiatives to the 2010 Legislature is March 4. Under state law, initiatives to the Legislature must be filed with the Secretary of State within 10 months before a regular session of the Legislature convenes. Such an initiative requires 241,153 signatures to be submitted to the Legislature.

Once submitted, the Legislature may do one of three things with such an initiative: 1) adopt it as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people; 2) reject or refuse to act on it, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot in the next state General Election; or 3) approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, which means both the original proposal and the Legislature’s alternative must be placed on the ballot in the next General Election.

There is no initiative filed to the 2009 Legislature. In 2008, there were 24 initiatives filed to the 2009 Legislature, but none of the initiative sponsors brought in signature petitions.

Once an initiative is filed, it is sent to the Office of the Code Reviser for review. Once the Code Reviser returns the proposal with the Certificate of Review to the initiative sponsor with any recommended changes, the sponsor can choose whether to make those changes. The sponsor then files a final draft of the initiative with the Secretary of State, who will assign a serial number to the proposal and send it to the Attorney General’s Office, where it will receive a ballot title and summary.

After obtaining an official serial number and a ballot title and summary, the initiative sponsor may print signature petition sheets and circulate them.

Filing an initiative or referendum costs $5.

For information on filing initiatives and referenda, CLICK HERE.

For initiative and referendum history and statistics, CLICK HERE.

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