On Nov. 21, Let’s Go Washington, a committee sponsoring six citizen-initiated ballot measures, submitted signatures for one of them—Initiative 2117. The initiatives would appear on the ballot at the general election in Nov. 2024.
Initiative 2117 was designed to prohibit carbon tax credit trading and repeal provisions of the 2021 Washington Climate Commitment Act (CCA), a state law that provided for a cap-and-invest program designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 95% by 2050. The cap-and-invest program sets a cap on the total carbon emissions in the state and requires businesses with emissions exceeding 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (such as fuel suppliers and natural gas and electric utility companies) to obtain allowances equal to their allowed greenhouse gas emissions. The cap-and-invest program was designed to allow businesses that reduce emissions to sell their remaining carbon emission allowance permits to other companies.
The initiative was proposed by State Rep. Jim Walsh (R-19). Walsh said, “This cap and trade gas tax scheme is what is making Washington’s price of living the highest in the nation alongside California. This cap and trade gas tax scheme has created over $1.5 BILLION for Olympia Bureaucrats in this year alone – paid for by working families – and it doesn’t actually reduce emissions.”
The Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense PAC launched a campaign, called Stop Greed, to oppose Initiative 2117, as well as the five other proposed initiatives sponsored by Let’s Go Washington.
Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, said, “Brian Heywood and Jim Walsh’s initiatives are a grave threat to Washington’s future. America and the world are in dire need of climate action leadership at this critical moment for humanity. Washington State has been a beacon of hope in dark and disturbing times, but now our local right wing wants to roll back the clock and eliminate the billions in revenue the Climate Commitment Act is raising to provide a path to a clean energy future.”
The initiative is an indirect initiated state statute, known as an Initiative to the Legislature. If sponsors submit 324,516 valid signatures by Dec. 29, the initiative will be presented to the state legislature at the 2024 legislative session, which begins in January. The legislature has three options:
(1) The legislature can adopt an Initiative to the Legislature, in which case the initiative is enacted into law without a vote of electors;
(2) The legislature can reject or not act on the initiative, in which case the initiative is placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or
(3) The legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the legislative alternative are placed on the ballot at the next state general election.
Proponents reported submitting 418,399 total signatures to the secretary of state’s office, meaning at least 77.56% must be found valid for the initiative to be forwarded to the state legislature. Each of the five other initiatives also require 324,516 valid signatures by Dec. 29.
Since 1914, Washington citizens have filed 1,728 Initiatives to the Legislature, of which, six were enacted by the state legislature and 32 were certified for the ballot. Of the 32 measures on the ballot, 17 (53%) were approved and 15 (47%) were rejected.
Additional reading: Washington 2024 ballot measures