Signatures certified for ballot initiative related to police pursuits in Washington; five more are pending signature verification

On Jan. 11, 2024, Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs (D) certified that enough valid signatures were submitted for Initiative 2113, meaning the initiative was certified to the state legislature.

Initiative 2113 was designed to remove certain restrictions on police officers’ vehicular pursuits.

The Let’s Go Washington PAC, which is sponsoring the initiative, submitted 434,594 signatures for the initiative on Dec. 14, 2023. A random sample projected that 81.14% of the submitted signatures were valid—that’s about 352,629 signatures. At least 324,516 signatures needed to be valid.

Under existing law, a police officer can engage in a vehicular pursuit if:

  • there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a person in the vehicle is committing or has committed a violent offense, a sex offense, a vehicular assault offense, a domestic violence offense, an escape, or driving under the influence;
  • the pursuit is necessary to identify and apprehend the person; and
  • the person poses a serious risk of harm to others and the safety risks of failing to apprehend the person are greater than the safety risks of the pursuit.

The initiative would change the law to allow vehicular pursuits if:

  • there is a reasonable suspicion that a person has violated the law;
  • the pursuit is necessary to identify and apprehend the person; and
  • the person poses a threat to the safety of others and the safety risks of failing to apprehend the person are greater than the safety risks of the pursuit.

The Washington State Legislature can take one of three actions on the initiative:

  1. The legislature can adopt the initiative, in which case the initiative is enacted into law without appearing on the ballot;
  2. The legislature can reject or not act on the initiative, in which case the initiative will appear on the Nov. 2024 ballot; or
  3. The legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the legislative alternative will be placed on the ballot on Nov. 5, 2024.

Brian Heywood, founder of Let’s Go Washington, said, “I believe they should return this to the local jurisdiction to make the call. I’m not saying let’s go chase everything at 250 miles an hour… there are reasonable times not to pursue. But I would like to return that to the common sense of the chief of police or the sheriff.”

The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, which opposes the initiative, said “Pursuits are appropriate in some circumstances, such as when they can effectively address or prevent violent crime. However, pursuits are not the right tactic for offenses such as shoplifting, broken tail lights, and theft. Why? Because high-speed vehicular pursuits put everyone – officers, uninvolved bystanders, drivers, and passengers – at risk of serious injury and death. … Initiative 2113 seeks to drag the state backward, allowing pursuits for any infraction, which makes the streets more dangerous for all of us. Our current pursuit policy saves lives – unrestricted pursuits just don’t make sense.”

Let’s Go Washington submitted signatures for five other initiatives which have been forwarded to the state legislature and are pending verification of signatures. State Rep. Jim Walsh (R-19) sponsored the six initiatives, along with Let’s Go Washington. Brian Heywood, CEO of Taiyo Pacific Partners, founded the PAC. Heywood has also donated to Republicans. The five other initiatives would do the following:

Initiative 2081 would provide parents with a right, in statute, to review educational materials, receive certain notifications, and opt out of sexual health education.

Initiative 2109 would repeal the capital gains excise tax on individuals’ long-term capital assets with capital gains over $250,000.

Initiative 2111 would prohibit taxes based on personal income.

Initiative 2117 would 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 intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 95% by 2050.

Initiative 2124 would allow employees and self-employed individuals to opt out of the state’s long-term services and supports trust health care program, known as WA Cares.

Washington is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats hold the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house. The Washington State Democratic Party opposes the six initiatives.

Between 1914 and August 10, 2023, Washington citizens 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 Initiative 2113, Police Vehicular Pursuits Initiative (2024)

Washington 2024 ballot measures