Voter initiative supporters to rally in Olympia as lawmakers leave them in limbo

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(The Center Square) – A Wednesday afternoon rally is scheduled at the Washington State Capitol Campus in Olympia by supporters of six citizen initiatives currently lingering in the state Legislature.

The initiatives concern a wide variety of citizen concerns, from police pursuits to parental rights, and climate laws that have driven up gas prices, but none appear likely at this point of the session to receive a public hearing.

The Legislature has three options: 1) adopting the initiatives, in which case the initiatives are enacted into law without a vote of electors; 2) rejecting or not acting on the initiatives, in which case the initiatives would be placed on the ballot in November; and 3) approving an alternative to the proposed initiatives, in which case both the original proposals and the legislative alternatives would be placed on November’s ballot.

During a media availability with Democratic leaders on Tuesday, Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, was asked about the fate of the citizen initiatives and what Democrats plan to do.

“We’ve been having a lot of conversations about that,” Randall said.

She went on to say, “If some or all of these initiatives pass, first off our kids are at risk, our nation leading childcare policy as well … it is an important line in the sand for us to hold onto.”

“I worry about pulling us back and negating all of these wonderful policy advancements that we’ve made, what the right strategies are to protect those investments, we’re still working on developing,” Randall said.

“I think it’s really important to look at this effort to buy the initiatives, to buy an election by one person, as an effort to pull us back into holes that we saw in the last recession.”

She was referring to Let’s Go Washington founder Brian Heywood. In December 2023, Let’s Go Washington submitted 2.6 million signatures between the six initiatives.

Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, added, “I thinks it’s very important for us to be thoughtful because there’s a lot that’s on the line.”

“A lot of the reasons that people love living in Washington and are so proud of the work we’re doing, these initiatives are going to take all of that work and go backwards.”

During the media questioning Tuesday, Democratic leaders were asked what their strategy is for the initiatives and whether any may receive a hearing during session.

Randall was asked specifically about the parental rights initiative.

“We’ve been talking as an LGBTQI caucus that we want to be sure we’re staying true to our goals to make sure that Washington state is a safe place for trans young people and their families, and that we’re a safe place to move to,” she responded.

She added, “We’re already seeing it happen, people coming from Texas and Florida to come to Washington because this is a safe place.”

During a GOP leadership media availability on Tuesday, when asked about Democrats being unwilling to give the initiatives public hearings, House Minority Leader Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, told The Center Square, “All six initiatives have been certified and referred to respective committees. The Washington constitution says initiatives shall take precedence and we feel that the language has to mean something.”

He added, “It would have demonstrated to the public that we are prioritizing hearings rather than leaving it up to the committee chairs like we do for every other bill.”

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