S-3315.2          _______________________________________________


                                 SENATE BILL 6173



State of Washington              52nd Legislature             1992 Regular Session


By Senators Nelson, McCaslin, Rasmussen, Oke and Cantu


Read first time 01/20/92.  Referred to Committee on Governmental Operations.Prohibiting the use of public funds to support or oppose ballot propositions.

     AN ACT Relating to a prohibition on the use of public funds to support or oppose ballot propositions; amending RCW 42.17.130; and creating a new section.




     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.      The Washington state Constitution prohibits the credit of the state or any political subdivision to be given or loaned to any individual, association, company, or corporation.  In addition, the Public Disclosure Act forbids the use of public office or agency facilities in election campaigns or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition.  The legislature continues to recognize the need to prohibit the use of public resources for private purposes and to keep public funds and facilities removed from the election process.  The legislature also finds that it is imperative that ballot propositions continue to be free from the direct or indirect influence of governmental or quasi-governmental organizations.  To promote these goals, and to avoid any undue and improper influence that may arise between organizations in the private sector and public agencies, the legislature intends to further restrict the expenditure of public agency moneys to ensure the impartiality of the election process as guaranteed under the state Constitution.


     Sec. 2.  RCW 42.17.130 and 1979 ex.s. c 265 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:

     (1) No elective official nor any employee of his office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition.  Facilities of public office or agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationery, postage, machines, and equipment, use of employees of the office or agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency:  PROVIDED, That the foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to the following activities:

     (((1))) (a) Action taken at an open public meeting by members of an elected legislative body to express a collective decision, or to actually vote upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order, or ordinance, or to support or oppose a ballot proposition so long as (((a))) (i) any required notice of the meeting includes the title and number of the ballot proposition, and (((b))) (ii) members of the legislative body or members of the public are afforded an approximately equal opportunity for the expression of an opposing view;

     (((2))) (b) A statement by an elected official in support of or in opposition to any ballot proposition at an open press conference or in response to a specific inquiry;

     (((3))) (c) Activities which are part of the normal and regular conduct of the office or agency.

     (2) An agency may not disburse funds in the form of dues or membership fees to an entity that uses any portion of the dues or membership fees for the support of or opposition to a ballot proposition.