HOUSE BILL 2823
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2002 Regular Session
By Representatives McDermott, Romero, Schmidt, Upthegrove, Schual‑Berke, McIntire and Kagi
Read first time 01/29/2002. Referred to Committee on State Government.
AN ACT Relating to providing voters with additional information on fiscal impacts of initiatives; and adding new sections to chapter 29.79 RCW.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 29.79 RCW to read as follows:
The legislature recognizes that through the initiative process, voters play an increasing role in setting statewide legislative policy and adopting new laws. In exercising this authority, voters in this state deserve to have sufficient information to make educated decisions. The Washington state supreme court recognized that a significant number of voters make decisions on initiatives based merely upon the information provided in the ballot. Therefore, the ballot should provide voters with the information they need to evaluate the impacts of their decision, just as the legislature educates its own decisions through fiscal notes under chapter 43.88A RCW. The legislature finds that the voters of the state have a particular interest in understanding their decisions' impacts on existing government services and programs. This is best accomplished by providing voters with a "notice of probable impacts," which will be displayed on ballots directly beneath the ballot title.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 29.79 RCW to read as follows:
The office of financial management shall, in cooperation with the secretary of state and appropriate legislative committees and legislative staff, establish a procedure for preparing a notice of probable impacts for initiatives that will be presented to voters beneath the ballot title. The notice is required only when the initiative is anticipated to result in reduction in state or local government services or programs due to reduced revenues or due to the initiative's requirement of new state or local government services or programs for which the initiative provides insufficient new revenue. The notice will be prepared after the secretary of state has certified that sufficient signatures have been submitted to qualify the initiative for the ballot. After certifying an initiative that meets the requirements of a notice of probable impacts in this section, the secretary of state shall transmit a copy of the initiative to the director of financial management or the director's designee for the preparation of a notice of probable impacts.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. A new section is added to chapter 29.79 RCW to read as follows:
The notice of probable impacts may be no more than one hundred words in length, excluding the heading. The notice must summarize the probable impact of an initiative on existing state and local government services and programs resulting from the initiative's reduction in statewide or local revenue or due to the initiative's requirement of new state or local government services or programs for which insufficient new revenue is provided. The notice must be written in plain language to be understood by the average voter, and must list the existing government programs and services that are likely to be impacted, and the magnitude of the impacts. The notice must identify which programs will be eliminated, if any. Where it cannot be determined which specific government services or programs will be impacted, the notice must identify the magnitude of the anticipated reduction in government services or programs as a dollar amount, and must list five of the largest services or programs currently funded by impacted governments.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. A new section is added to chapter 29.79 RCW to read as follows:
The director of financial management or the director's designee shall file the notice of probable impacts with the secretary of state. Upon the filing, the secretary of state shall promptly distribute it under the procedures established by RCW 29.79.050 for distribution of initiative ballot titles.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 5. A new section is added to chapter 29.79 RCW to read as follows:
Any person, including the attorney general or either or both houses of the legislature, dissatisfied with the notice of probable impacts may, within five days from the filing of the notice in the office of the secretary of state, appeal to the superior court of Thurston County by petition setting forth the initiative, the notice of probable impacts, and the objection to it, and requesting amendment of the notice by the court. Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays are not counted in calculating the time limits. The distribution of the petition and the court's responsibilities are the same as set forth in RCW 29.79.060 for appeals of ballot titles.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. A new section is added to chapter 29.79 RCW to read as follows:
When the notice of probable impacts is finally established, the secretary of state shall ensure that it will appear on all ballots directly beneath the ballot title. Above the notice must be a heading in capital letters, stating "NOTICE TO VOTERS OF PROBABLE IMPACTS OF INITIATIVE."
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