Tagwashington

Stories about Washington

Inslee and Culp advance from Washington’s top-two gubernatorial primary

Incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Loren Culp (R) defeated 34 other candidates to advance in Washington’s top-two primary for governor on August 4, 2020. In a top-two primary, all candidates regardless of party affiliation run in the same primary. The top-two vote-getters advance to the general election.

Eleven Republicans, five Democrats, five unaffiliated candidates, three independents, and 12 candidates affiliated with third parties were on the ballot. As of 10:15 p.m. Western Time, Inslee had received 52% of the vote followed by Culp with 17% with an estimated 50% of precincts reporting. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote.

Inslee, first elected in 2012, is seeking a third term. One Washington governor has ever served a third consecutive term: Daniel Evans (R), who left office in 1977. Inslee was a 2020 Democratic primary candidate for president and suspended his campaign in August 2019.

Culp is the Chief of Police in Republic. He served as a combat engineer and owned Stamped Concrete, a construction business. Culp was also a police officer and narcotics detective before being appointed police chief.

Inslee last won re-election in 2016 with 54% of the vote to Bill Bryant’s (R) 45%.


Recall petition filed against Washington sheriff

An effort to recall Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington began in July 2020. The Benton County Sheriff’s Guild is leading the recall effort. They said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. Over 90% of the guild members participated in a vote on the matter in June 2020, and 100% of those who voted were in favor of starting the recall effort.

Hatcher said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing. “It’s been hard watching what goes on in the nation,” Hatcher said. “And for the first time, I’m seeing it within my own organization.”

Benton County Sergeant Jason Erickson filed the recall petition with the Benton County Auditor on July 20, 2020. The next step is for a judge to rule whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support the claims in the recall petition. If the judge rules in favor of the petition, Hatcher will be able to file an appeal. If he does not, or if his appeal is rejected, recall supporters will be able to circulate petitions.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


Special election primary being held in Washington Senate district

A special election primary is being held on August 4 for District 38 of the Washington State Senate. June Robinson (D), Kelly Fox (D), and Bernard Moody (R) are running in the special election. The top two candidates in the primary will compete in a general election on November 3. Candidates are running to serve the remainder of the unexpired two-year term.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of John McCoy on April 17. McCoy had represented the district since 2013. Robinson was appointed to the seat by the Snohomish County Council on May 13.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 29-20 majority in the Washington State Senate. Washington has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of July, 50 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 25 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/State_legislative_special_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Washington_State_Senate_District_38



Mayoral recall effort underway in Seattle

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is facing a recall effort over actions by the Seattle Police Department during protests following the death of George Floyd. Petitions were approved for circulation on July 10, 2020. Recall organizers have until January 6, 2021, to gather about 54,000 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot.

The recall effort is organized by Elliott Grace Harvey, Alan Meekins Jr., Courtney Scott, Leah Solomon, and Charlie Stone. Petition filings made seven accusations against Durkan. King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts found that the second charge was sufficient grounds for the recall effort to move forward. The second charge read, “Mayor Durkan endangered the peace and safety of the community and violated her duties under RCW 35.18.200, Seattle Charter Art. V, Sec. 2, SMC 10.02.010A, and her oath to uphold US Const., Amends. 1 and 4, Washington Constitution, Art. 1 Sec. 3-5, when she failed to institute new polices and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department when using crowd control measures during a public health emergency.”

The other six charges were dismissed as being insufficient for a recall election. The Superior Court hearings were to determine if the accusations were legally sufficient for a recall election. It is not the role of the court to decide whether any alleged facts are true or not.

A spokesperson for Mayor Durkan provided a written statement following the court decision to allow recall organizers to begin gathering signatures. The statement read, “In the midst of unprecedented challenges for the City, Mayor Durkan consistently has acted to protect the City’s public health and safety and to respect the constitutional rights of peaceful protestors. She also believes Chief Best has exercised her challenging duties lawfully and appropriately to protect the public peace. At this stage, the Court is required to accept the petition’s allegations as factually true. Even under this low standard, the Court dismissed six of the seven claims in the petition, in addition to dismissing outright another petition. The Mayor believes the remaining claim will be dismissed.”

A separate recall effort, relating to accusations of misuse of police force during protests, was deemed insufficient by the King County Superior Court on July 10.

The Washington Constitution allows for the recall of elected officials if they violate their oath of office or “in commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office.” To put a recall on the ballot, recall supporters have 180 days to collect valid signatures equal to 25% of the total vote for the office in the last regular election.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


Washington Supreme Court schedules sheriff recall appeal for September 10

Two efforts to recall Adam Fortney from his position as sheriff of Snohomish County, Washington, have been approved to circulate petitions. The efforts began after Fortney announced on Facebook in April 2020 that his office would not enforce restrictions Gov. Jay Inslee (D) set in place in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The first recall petition said that Fortney “used his position as an elected official to encourage citizens to defy the law and violate the Governor’s Emergency Proclamations.” The second recall petition said that Fortney had violated his oath of office.

The first recall petition was approved for circulation on May 15, 2020, and the second was approved for circulation on June 2, 2020. The two recall efforts had acted independently of each other as of June 22, 2020. Recall supporters must collect 44,494 signatures in six months to get the recall on the ballot.

In response to the recall efforts, Fortney said he stood by his statement that the sheriff’s department “will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights.” He filed a motion for the court to reconsider the decision approving the second recall petition for circulation, but the motion was rejected on June 12, 2020. Fortney appealed to the Washington Supreme Court on June 22, 2020. The court scheduled September 10, 2020, as the date to decide the appeal. If the court rejects the appeal, recall supporters of the second effort will be able to begin collecting signatures.

Fortney was elected sheriff on November 5, 2019, with 55% of the vote.

Additional reading:


Signatures filed for D.C. ballot initiative on psilocybin mushrooms and entheogenic plants and fungi

On July 6, 2020, the campaign Decriminalize Nature D.C. reported filing 36,249 signatures with the D.C. Board of Elections for a ballot initiative on entheogenic plants and fungi. In Washington, D.C., the number of signatures required for a ballot initiative is equal to 5 percent of the district’s registered voters. As of May 31, there were 496,701 registered voters in Washington, D.C.; therefore, the signature requirement is 24,836 valid signatures.
Known as Initiative 81, the ballot initiative would declare that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi as among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Initiative 81 would define entheogenic plants and fungi as species of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn. Examples include psilocybin mushrooms—also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms—peyote, and iboga. The ballot initiative would also ask the D.C. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for D.C. to cease the prosecution of residents who engage with entheogenic plants and fungi.
The D.C. Board of Elections has 30 days from July 6 to determine if enough of the submitted signatures are valid for the initiative to appear on the November 3 ballot. D.C. also has a distribution requirement for signatures, requiring that the total number of submitted signatures include 5 percent of the registered electors in each of at least 5 of the city’s 8 wards.
In 2019, Denver, Colorado, became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Denver Initiated Ordinance 301, which received 50.6 percent of the vote, declared that the adult use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms were of the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities. Initiated Ordinance 301 prohibited the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.
Voters in Oregon could decide a psilocybin-related initiative on November 3, 2020. The Oregon Psilocybin Society submitted signatures on June 29, 2020.


Washington initiative signature deadline passes with no campaigns submitting 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.
As of July 1, 2020, 229 ITPs had been filed for the 2020 cycle. The signature submission deadline for 2020 Initiatives to the People passed on July 2, 2020. To qualify for the 2020 ballot, 259,622 signatures were required. No campaigns submitted signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office by the deadline.
The 2020 election is the first presidential election year since 1928 in which the Washington ballot will not feature a ballot initiative.
Two measures are certified to appear on the 2020 ballot in Washington. One is a veto referendum targeting the repeal of Senate Bill 5395, which was designed to require comprehensive sexual health education in public schools. The Washington Legislature referred the other measure to the ballot. It would allow the legislature to invest the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Account and the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Trust Account into stocks or other methods of investment.
A total of 60 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during even-numbered years from 2000 through 2018. Of the total, 58% (35) were approved and 42% (25) were defeated.
Citizens may file Initiatives to the Legislature (ITL) targeting the 2021 ballot. The signature deadline for 2021 ITLs is December 31, 2020. A total of 259,622 valid signatures are required to qualify an Initiative to the Legislature for submission to the 2021 legislature and for potential inclusion on the 2021 ballot.
If enough signatures are submitted, 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.
A total of 61 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during odd-numbered years from 1999 through 2019. Of the total, 56% (34) were approved and 44% (27) were defeated.


Referendum 90 on Washington 2020 ballot asks voters to approve or reject comprehensive sexual health education in public schools

On June 24, the Washington Secretary of State’s office found that Parents for Safe Schools, proponents of Referendum 90, had submitted enough valid signatures to qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot.

Referendum 90 asks voters to approve or reject Washington Senate Bill 5395, which was designed to require comprehensive sexual health education in public schools.

A vote to approve Referendum 90 would allow SB 5395 to go into effect. A vote to reject this referendum would repeal Senate Bill 5395. The bill is on hold pending the result of the election.

Senate Bill 5395 would require public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students in grades 6-12 beginning in the 2021-22 school year and for all public school students, including those in grades K-5, beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The curriculum would have to include instruction and information regarding affirmative consent (defined as “a conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity as a requirement before sexual activity”) and bystander training.

Parents for Safe Schools sponsored the referendum measure in an attempt to repeal SB 5395. In a random sample check of 7,940 signatures submitted by the group, the secretary of state’s office found that 7,186 signatures were valid, projecting a signature validity rate of 90.5%. This means that of 264,637 signatures submitted by proponents, 239,496 were deemed valid through the random sample verification. To qualify for the ballot, 129,811 valid signatures were required.

Senate Bill 5395 was sponsored by Senator Claire Wilson (D), vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. SB 5395 was passed in the state House on March 4 with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against. SB 5395 passed in the Senate largely along party lines on March 7, 2020, with one Democrat, Tim Sheldon, joining all Senate Republicans in voting no. Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed the bill into law on March 27, 2020.

Under SB 5395, comprehensive sexual health education means “recurring instruction in human development and reproduction that is age-appropriate and inclusive of all students.” The bill would require course materials to be verified or supported by scientific research, published in peer-reviewed journals, and recognized as accurate by organizations such as the Washington State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Comprehensive sexual health education for students in grades K-3 would need to be taught as instruction in social and emotional learning (SEL). Social and emotional learning is defined by the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction as “a process through which individuals build awareness and skills in managing emotions, setting goals, establishing relationships, and making responsible decisions that support success in school and in life.” Sexual health education would need to be provided at least once to students in grades K-3, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in grades 9-12. Sexual health education would not be required to be integrated into unrelated subjects or courses.

Schools would be required to notify parents that they are providing comprehensive sexual health education and make all course materials accessible to the parents. Parents could file a written request with the school district or the school’s principal to excuse their child from sexual health education instruction. The bill would require school officials to grant such a request.

Parents for Safe Schools said, “As parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children from inappropriate, ideology-based curriculum. This bill was passed late in the session with very little opportunity for ordinary citizens to testify and no amendments accepted. Parents and their local school boards deserve a voice in controversial curriculum decisions and many districts cannot afford an expensive, unfunded mandate.” As of June 21, Parents for Safe Schools had raised $178,846. The largest donor to the committee was The Reagan Fund, which gathers contributions for the Washington State House Republican Leadership PAC, and which gave $25,000 to Parents for Safe Schools.

Senator Claire Wilson (D), sponsor of Senate Bill 5395 and vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, said, “Some people hear the words ‘sex education’ and mistake the focus of the curriculum, which is health and safety, and is age-appropriate for each grade level. This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators. It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior. It’s about teaching all children to respect diversity and not to bully others. […] There are children who will be targeted for molestation in the coming year, there are young women who may face sexual coercion or assault. They need access to information and lessons that will enable them to make decisions to ensure their health and safety.”

Since the first in 1914, Washington voters have decided 38 statewide veto referendum measures at the ballot. The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in Washington in 2019, when voters rejected Initiative 1000, an affirmative action-related measure approved by the legislature. In 81.6% of veto referendums (31 of 38), voters repealed the targeted bill. Conversely, in 18.4% (seven of 37) of veto referendums, voters upheld the targeted law.

Additional Reading:



Proponents of a veto referendum in Washington file signatures to repeal a bill requiring comprehensive sexual health education in public schools

Parents for Safe Schools, sponsors of Referendum 90, submitted 266,000 signatures to the Washington Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday. To qualify the referendum for the November ballot,129,811 of the signatures must be valid.

Referendum 90 petitioners seek to repeal Senate Bill 5395, which was signed by Governor Jay Inslee (D) on March 27, 2020. Senate Bill 3395, sponsored by Senator Claire Wilson (D), vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, was passed in the State House on March 4 along party lines with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against. It passed in the Senate along party lines on March 7, except one Democrat, Tim Sheldon, joined all Senate Republicans in voting no. The bill is on hold pending the verification of signatures, and if placed on the ballot, the result of the election.

Senate Bill 5395 would require public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students in grades 6-12 beginning in the 2021-22 school year and for all public school students, including those in grades K-5, beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The curriculum would have to include instruction and information regarding affirmative consent and bystander training. Sexual health education would need to be provided at least once to students in grades K-3, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in grades 9-12. Sexual health education would not be required to be integrated into unrelated subjects or courses.

Under SB 5395, comprehensive sexual health education means “recurring instruction in human development and reproduction that is age-appropriate and inclusive of all students.” Course materials would need to be medically and scientifically accurate, meaning the information has been verified or supported by scientific research, has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and is recognized as accurate by organizations such as the Washington State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Under the bill, schools would be required to notify parents that they are providing comprehensive sexual health education and make all course materials accessible to the parents. Parents could file a written request with the school district or the school’s principal to excuse their child from sexual health education instruction. School districts would be required to grant such requests.

SB 5395 sponsor Sen. Claire Wilson (D) said, “Some people hear the words ‘sex education’ and mistake the focus of the curriculum, which is health and safety, and is age-appropriate for each grade level. This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators. It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior. It’s about teaching all children to respect diversity and not to bully others. Students need a safe place to ask questions, to fully understand consent, and to have the information they need to make safe decisions.”

Parents for Safe Schools said SB 5395 “mandates graphic sex education starting in elementary school” and “orders school districts to ‘comprehensively’ include sex ed in all curriculum — including math, social studies, science, business and computer classes. … Keep the Olympia activists out of our classrooms. Parents and elected local school boards should be the only people deciding what is taught in our classrooms.”

The Washington State Catholic Conference, which opposes SB 5395, said, “The law requires ‘affirmative consent curriculum’ defined as ‘a conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity as a requirement before sexual activity.’ This requirement is not in accordance with church teaching that sexual activity be reserved for marriage. Parents can opt their children out of classroom instruction, but they cannot opt them out of school yard discussions and the culture change that may take place at school.”

Parents for Safe Schools had raised $158,903 according to the most recent reports available on June 11, 2020. The largest donor was The Reagan Fund, which is the name of the Washington State House Republican Leadership PAC.

Since the first in 1914, Washington voters have decided 38 statewide veto referendum measures at the ballot. Opponents of laws targeted for repeal collect signatures for veto referendum petitions hoping that voters will repeal the laws at the ballot. The most recent veto referendum, Referendum 88, was on the ballot in Washington in 2019. Voters rejected the targeted law, Initiative 1000. In 81.6% of cases (31 of 38), veto referendums resulted in the targeted bill being repealed. Conversely, 18.4% (seven of 37) of veto referendum measures resulted in the targeted law being upheld.

Between 1906 and 2019, 522 veto referendums appeared on the ballot in 23 states. Voters repealed 341 (65.3%) of the targeted laws. Voters upheld 181 (34.7 percent) of the targeted laws. The states with the most veto referendums were North Dakota (75), Oregon (68), and California (48).
Additional reading:


State legislative special elections scheduled in Louisiana, Washington

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 54 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives on July 11, 2020. There is no primary, and the filing deadline was on May 22.

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 38 seat in the Washington State Senate on November 3, 2020. The primary is on August 4, and the filing deadline was on May 15.



Bitnami