Submitted by the San Juan County Democrats
This is possibly the most important article we have ever written.
Initiative 200 was a Tim Eyman-led initiative that created a 1998 law for Washington State that bans preferences in public contracting, education, and public employment. Despite the ability for public agencies to do certain activities such as establishing voluntary goals and conducting specialized outreach, I-200 has had a devastating effect on diverse outcomes in various forums, including education, hiring and utilization of women and minority-owned businesses by public agencies. There are significant business, education, and employment gaps in Washington state, particularly for people of color, and these gaps continue to worsen. In other words, discrimination is real in our state.
Our legislature voted to overturn this law in 2019, but advocates of the law put Referendum 88 on the ballot last fall to overturn the legislature’s vote, and unfortunately, the referendum barely passed. Since then, COVID 19 has exposed wide diversity in the incidence of the virus among different communities, and a doctor involved in treating COVID patients has been so concerned about these disparities that he is sponsoring another attempt to overturn I-200, this time adding a public health component so that we have the data to be able to inform more vulnerable communities of the circumstances they face. Here is an introduction to the new initiative.
Introduction to Initiative 1776
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has unmasked the discriminatory health, educational, employment and economic disparities that have long plagued seniors, women, persons with disabilities, persons of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, military veterans, and other vulnerable communities in Washington state.
In 2020, the Washington State Department of Health has reported:
• 56 percent of men dying from the novel coronavirus exceeded men’s 50 percent of the state population.
• 52 percent of coronavirus infected women exceed women’s 50 percent of the state population.
• Hispanics are 40 percent of the racially identifiable confirmed COVID-19 cases, while only 13 percent of the state’s population.
• African Americans are seven percent of the racially identifiable confirmed COVID-19 cases, nearly double their percentage of the state’s population.
• Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders are two percent of the racially identifiable confirmed COVID-19 cases, double their percentage of the state’s population.
In June Dr. Terryl Ross sponsored Initiative 1776 which achieves the following:
• Requires Washington state to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all Washington residents who voluntarily give their fully informed consent for a vaccination, at no cost to the patient;
• Prohibits age discrimination in public employment, public education & public contracting;
• Redefines Affirmative Action to require that all candidates must be qualified to receive public education, employment and contracting opportunities;
• Defines preferential treatment for the first time in state law;
• Prohibits quotas, but allows goals and timetables to achieve diversity;
• Expands Affirmative Action to include all veterans;
• Expands the terms of sexual orientation and LGBTQ+ to all state anti-discrimination laws.
I-1776 is urgently needed to prevent discriminatory laws and actions from increasing disparities and deaths in our most vulnerable communities during and after this public health emergency.
At our June 20 San Juan County Democrats meeting, we became the first local Democratic Party organization to endorse the initiative; it was only filed with the state earlier this week. The timeline to get this measure on the November ballot is extremely short. We have only until July 2 to get 269,000 signatures. However, we are allowed to use electronic means for everyone to sign to put this on the ballot. Please read the following instructions so that you can quickly and easily sign. Then please forward this email to every Washington voter you know.
The website for I-1776 is yeson1776.com, where you will find the link to sign. Or you can link straight into the petition signature piece at powerforms.docusign.net/0aa33062-73ec-4380-a35f-fbcbc4e62595?env=na4&acct=11f31bfd-dcb9-471b-a2b7-896a606161ec.
Here are some tips to complete the form successfully:
• Go to the long link above.
• At the bottom of the page, type in your first and last name and email address.
• Click on “Sign Petition”, which will take you to a new page.
• On the new page, click the box next to “I agree to use electronic records and signatures”.
• Click “Continue.”
• If you would like, read the ballot summary.
• Fill out the information in the boxes.
• Click on “Sign,” which also has an arrow with it.
• Use your mouse to sign your name. You can practice until you get it close to your usual signature. You can click “clear” to get rid of practice signatures.
• Click “Adopt and Sign.”
• Fill out the rest of the information. Note that your date of birth should be in the form of xx/xx/xx. Do not put in all four • digits of your year or it won’t be accepted.
• Click “Finish.”
That’s it. This should not take longer than a couple of minutes. Please do it now while you are looking at this, and please forward this email to everyone you know who is a Washington voter. We can make this happen and be on the right side of history.
Thank you so much for your participation in making this happen!