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GOP assails Dems for reluctance to schedule public hearings on initiatives

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(The Center Square) – State Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, is calling on her colleagues across the aisle to schedule a public hearing on Initiative 2117, certified by the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday, that would repeal Washington’s cap-and-trade law that many contend has made gas more expensive.

“You can see the pattern already forming by Democrats, and this is their approach to it, to do nothing,” said Dye, who is the ranking member on the House Environment & Energy Committee that would take up the initiative if the committee chair decides to hold a hearing.

She was referring to House floor action Wednesday when Republicans made a motion to suspend the rules and instruct the House Environment & Energy Committee to promptly hold a public hearing on I-2117.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, rose in opposition to the motion, then read from House and Senate rules regarding initiatives to the Legislature.

“Upon receipt of said initiative, each body of the Legislature through its presiding officer should refer the certified copies of the initiative to a proper committee,” he said.

Fitzgibbon continued, “Those are the joint rules of the House and Senate. We’ve never done this before, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for this body to direct a committee how to manage its agenda and its own schedule.”

A final vote on the motion to suspend House rules was rejected by a vote of 39-to-58, with one member excused.

“It’s really disingenuous [not to schedule a public hearing] when you have more than 400,000 people signing these initiatives and you think about the impact the Climate Commitment Act has had on them and people are hurting,” Dye told The Center Square.

She went on to say, “And it’s not just at the gas pump; it’s your utility bills and everything else. It’s the complete socialization of our energy economy.”

Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, said, “It’s unlikely any of the initiatives will get a hearing and frankly I don’t really mind.”

He explained his rationale: “The best thing would be to sign them into law, but the next best thing would be to leave them alone and send them to the ballot.”

Voter advocacy group Let’s Go Washington has turned in signatures for a total of six initiatives. The other five are to 1) provide parents and guardians with a right to review educational materials, receive certain notifications, and withdraw from certain sexual health education programs; 2) allow certain people to opt out of the state’s mandatory long-term care tax; 3) repeal the capital gains tax; 4) prohibit income taxes at the city and county level; and 5) roll back restrictions imposed on police vehicular pursuits.

The parents’ rights and police pursuit initiatives have also been certified by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“Will the other side figure out, or will their backers instruct them that at least a few of these initiatives should get a hearing, in order to facilitate the alternative that would go on the ballot?” Walsh asked. “They may wake up and realize tactically that might be the better play for them, but if they don’t wake up, that’s okay with me.”

Other initiatives are expected to be certified in the coming days and weeks.

“The income tax measure may take a little longer,” Walsh said, “and then we’ll get the repeal of the capital gains tax initiative and the opt-out of long-term care one.”

Walsh said he’s been assured that all six measures will be certified no later than Feb 9.

The Center Square reached out to the office of Rep. Beth Doglio, D-Olympia, chair of the Environment & Energy Committee for comment on I-2117 and to ask if it will be given a hearing, but did not receive a response.

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