The signature deadline for 2022 Washington Initiatives to the Legislature (ITL) was December 30, 2021. For an ITL to be taken up by the Washington State Legislature and potentially put on the ballot in 2022, proponents needed to submit 324,516 valid signatures.
Citizens of Washington may initiate legislation as either a direct state statute—called Initiative to the People (ITP) in Washington—or indirect state statute—called Initiative to the Legislature (ITL) in Washington. In Washington, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments.
A total of 133 ITLs were filed by nine sponsors. None of the campaigns submitted signatures by the deadline. The filed initiatives concerned a range of topics including taxes, prohibiting mandatory vaccinations, emergency powers of the governor, and healthcare.
If campaigns submit enough valid signatures for an ITL, the initiative goes before the Washington Legislature at the next regular legislative session in January. The legislature must take one of three actions.
1. The legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people.
2. The legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.
3. The legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the legislature’s alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.
Thirty-four Initiatives to the Legislature have been on the ballot since the first ITL in 1916; 18 were approved. The most recent ITL, Initiative 976, was on the ballot in 2019. It was approved but later invalidated by the Washington State Supreme Court.
Besides Initiatives to the Legislature, Washington citizens may sign petitions for Initiatives to the People. These initiatives are direct initiatives, meaning that if enough valid signatures are collected, election officials place the measure directly on the next general election ballot for a vote. Initiatives to the People (ITP) may be filed targeting the 2022 ballot with a signature due date of July 8, 2022.
The number of required signatures for 2022 Initiatives to the People and veto referendums is based on the number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in 2020. To qualify an ITP or ITL for the 2022 ballot, 324,516 valid signatures are required. For veto referendums, signatures must be filed with the secretary of state within 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session at which the targeted legislation was passed. To qualify a veto referendum for the 2022 ballot, 162,258 valid signatures are required.
A total of 66 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during even years between 2000 and 2021. Of the 66 measures, 54.55% (36) were approved and 45.45% (30) were defeated.