ENGROSSED SENATE BILL 5833
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2001 Regular Session
By Senators Costa, Thibaudeau, Patterson, Parlette, Deccio, Jacobsen, Kohl‑Welles and Oke
Read first time 02/05/2001. Referred to Committee on State & Local Government.
AN ACT Relating to legislative hearings on initiatives and referendums; amending RCW 43.07.030, 42.17.130, and 42.52.180; adding a new section to chapter 43.07 RCW; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that an active, informed electorate provides a strong foundation for a democratic republic and as such, efforts to fully inform voters are critical to sustain our democratic form of government. The initiative process, a constitutional embodiment of an active electorate, is cherished by Washington's independent-minded citizens. Recent initiative history demonstrates the willingness of the public to exercise their constitutional right to legislate by initiative. The legislature finds that as the state officer with the responsibility of certifying initiatives to the ballot, the secretary of state should provide a formal opportunity for the general public to hear information about a ballot measure in a public setting with an opportunity for both proponents and opponents of the measure to present their arguments. The legislature intends for the secretary to be a facilitator in this process and as such should maintain a neutral or nonbiased course of action throughout the public hearing process.
Sec. 2. RCW 43.07.030 and 1982 c 35 s 186 are each amended to read as follows:
The secretary of state shall:
(1) Keep a register of and attest the official acts of the governor;
(2) Affix the state seal, with his attestation, to commissions, pardons, and other public instruments to which the signature of the governor is required, and also attestations and authentications of certificates and other documents properly issued by the secretary;
(3) Record all articles of incorporation, deeds, or other papers filed in the secretary of state's office;
(4) Receive and file all the official bonds of officers required to be filed with the secretary of state;
(5) Take and file in the secretary of state's office receipts for all books distributed by him;
(6) Hold public hearings on initiative measures certified to the general election ballot;
(7) Certify to the legislature the election returns for all officers required by the Constitution to be so certified, and certify to the governor the names of all other persons who have received at any election the highest number of votes for any office the incumbent of which is to be commissioned by the governor;
Furnish, on demand, to any person paying the fees therefor, a certified copy of
all or any part of any law, record, or other instrument filed, deposited, or
recorded in the secretary of state's office;
Present to the speaker of the house of representatives, at the beginning of
each regular session of the legislature during an odd-numbered year, a full
account of all purchases made and expenses incurred by the secretary of state
on account of the state;
File in his office an impression of each and every seal in use by any state
Keep a record of all fees charged or received by the secretary of state.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. A new section is added to chapter 43.07 RCW to read as follows:
(1) After the secretary of state certifies an initiative measure as qualified for the general election ballot, the secretary of state, or the secretary's designee, shall hold a public hearing on the measure in each congressional district in the state. When two or more congressional districts are in a compact geographical area, the secretary of state may hold one hearing to serve these multiple congressional districts. The secretary or a designee shall preside over the hearings. The secretary may combine two or more initiative measures in a single hearing.
(2) The secretary of state shall give thirty days' notice of the hearings to all cabinet level state agencies, county legislative authorities, and persons designated in subsection (3)(a) of this section.
(3) The public hearings must include opportunity for the following persons, or their designees, to present to attendees arguments for and against each initiative measure, including fiscal and policy impacts of the measure:
(a) Members of the committees appointed under RCW 29.81.240 to prepare statements for the voters' pamphlet;
(b) State, county, and municipal officers and agencies thereof who determine that the measure affects their constitutional or statutory responsibilities;
(c) Registered voters in the congressional district.
(4) The hearings must be held between September 1st and October 15th, and the secretary of state shall give notice of them by notifying press, radio, and television in the congressional districts, and by other means such as the secretary of state's web site. The secretary may publish information in the state voter's pamphlet regarding the availability of unedited audio or audio/video from the hearings.
(5) Elected and appointed state and local officials, with the assistance of the employees of the official's office or agency, and under the supervision of the official, may use public facilities to prepare or deliver written or verbal communications at the hearings, consisting of information on the impact of the ballot measure that foreseeably may affect a matter that falls within their constitutional or statutory responsibilities. Copies of any written material may be provided to the public at the time of the hearing and at any time thereafter upon request. Other than the official voters' pamphlet, a public official may not send, by mail or other form of communication, any unsolicited information on the ballot measure. The secretary shall not distribute any printed information presented by participants under subsections (2) and (3) of this section, but may supply online access to an unedited audio or audio/video file of any hearing by means of the office's web site. Public officials attending the hearings are entitled to travel expenses as otherwise provided by law.
(6) Nothing in this section diminishes a citizen's constitutional rights nor may any part of this section or the hearings authorized in it invalidate an initiative measure.
(7) The secretary may adopt rules in accordance with this section to ensure that the public hearings are carried out in an organized, objective manner.
Sec. 4. RCW 42.17.130 and 1979 ex.s. c 265 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
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) 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) any required notice of the meeting includes the title and number of the ballot proposition, and (b) members of the legislative body or members of the public are afforded an approximately equal opportunity for the expression of an opposing view;
(2) 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) Activities ((
that are part of the normal and regular conduct of the office or agency;
(4) Activities in compliance with section 3 of this act of an elected official or an employee of the official's office or a person appointed to or employed by a public office or agency.
Sec. 5. RCW 42.52.180 and 1995 c 397 s 30 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) No state officer or state employee may use or authorize the use of facilities of an agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of a person to an office or for the promotion of or opposition to a ballot proposition. Knowing acquiescence by a person with authority to direct, control, or influence the actions of the state officer or state employee using public resources in violation of this section constitutes a violation of this section. Facilities of an agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationery, postage, machines, and equipment, use of state employees of the agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the agency.
(2) This section shall not apply to the following activities:
(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 as long as (i) required notice of the meeting includes the title and number of the ballot proposition, and (ii) members of the legislative body or members of the public are afforded an approximately equal opportunity for the expression of an opposing view;
(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. For the purposes of this subsection, it is not a violation of this section for an elected official to respond to an inquiry regarding a ballot proposition, to make incidental remarks concerning a ballot proposition in an official communication, or otherwise comment on a ballot proposition without an actual, measurable expenditure of public funds. The ethics boards shall adopt by rule a definition of measurable expenditure;
(c) Activities that are
part of the normal and regular conduct of the office or agency; ((
(d) De minimis use of public facilities by statewide elected officials and legislators incidental to the preparation or delivery of permissible communications, including written and verbal communications initiated by them of their views on ballot propositions that foreseeably may affect a matter that falls within their constitutional or statutory responsibilities; and
(e) Activities of an elected official or state employee in compliance with section 3 of this act.
(3) As to state officers and employees, this section operates to the exclusion of RCW 42.17.130.
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