Prepared by the WSU-GPSA Legislative Affairs Committee
James Dalton, Chair
Jacob Woodbury, Project Lead
Reanne Cunningham, Member
Umar Farooq, Member
Sandte Stanley, Member
Zara York, Member
Additional information about ballot measures and candidates for State/Local elections may be found at sos.wa.gov and ballotpedia.org
What Does It Do?
Referendum 90 concerns a new law which would require comprehensive education regarding sexual health and consent in public K-12 schools. The teaching must include information about affirmative consent, bystander training, methods of preventing unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. School districts can create their own curriculum for teaching sexual health and consent education or use one that meets the requirements that has been approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Parents can opt their children out of this sexual health education if they so wish, and schools must comply with parent wishes. If the Referendum passes, all ages of students (K-3, 4-5th grade, 6-8th grade, and 9-12th grade) would receive medically and scientific accurate information about sexual health and consent that is age-appropriate. Voting FOR the referendum would see curriculums based on these requirements implemented in public K-12 schools in Washington. Voting AGAINST the referendum would prevent these types of curriculums being implemented in all public K-12 schools.
Arguments in Favor
In a statement, the bill’s sponsor and supporter Senator Claire Wilson, who represents Auburn (30th District) said, “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”. Testifying before the State House education committee in support of this law, Lake Washington High School senior Sasha Conner said ,”Consent, specific STDs and STIs were never really addressed [by current sexual health instruction], let along the LGBT community... The curriculum based in this bill is like the Netherlands, which works on teaching children about healthy relationships, names of body parts, good vs bad touch, and consent, which are crucial in preventing child sexual abuse and stigma against sexuality”.
Speaking on YouTube about the bill, State Representative Vicki Kraft said, “They [the curricula] contain content most parents are not comfortable with, and do not feel is age appropriate, and many don’t feel it’s medically and scientifically accurate either”. )A group organizing against the referendum, Parents for Safe Schools, says on their website, “Huge numbers of students are failing math, science, and English. Olympia should prioritize improving literacy and helping students graduate, not creating a new mandate”. Speaking to the State House Education Committee against the law, Lorraine Jenne, the Board Chair from Wahluke School District said,”[The bill] is an overreach of the role of our local school board and community members, and an overreach of the rights of parents to determine the timing and context of their own children’s sexual education”.
Why Does It Matter to WSU Students
WSU students may have siblings or family members who are K-12 students. Additionally, WSU students may go on to live and have children in the state of Washington. This referendum would affect the education of those family members or children by requiring they undergo sexual health and consent education at an appropriate age. Washington state students who attend WSU will have likely undergone this sort of sexual health and consent education as K-12 students, therefore affecting the knowledge and training on campus related to these issues.
What are advisory votes?
Advisory votes are non-binding referenda meant to convey the will of the people to the legislature about new laws, especially new taxes. In 2020, there are four advisory votes, all of which have to do with new taxes.
Advisory Vote 32 has to do with a new law concerning plastic bags and imposing a charge on using paper bags or other single-use bags used in retail businesses. The new law bans many types of plastic bags starting in 2021 and charges eight cents for the use of bags made of recycled paper.
Argument in Favor
The new law creates a statewide standard for the use of plastic and paper bags in retail settings. It creates a uniform method of distributing bags, instead of the patchwork of laws currently used in many localities that change bag distribution from place to place in Washington. The law seeks to reduce litter and waste from these bags, which are one of the most common pieces of litter found on state roads, beaches, and other public spaces.
Speaking on the Senate floor against the bill, State Senator Ann Rivers (18th District, La Center) remarked that she had heard about the spread of disease from using reusable bags, instead of using disposable plastic bags. She said that while the reusable bags are intended to be washed and “that’s not an activity that many people are going to participate in”. She was concerned that the coronavirus could persist on reusable bags and become a new method of transmission for the virus.
Advisory Vote 33
Advisory Vote 33 deals with a new law concerning renting heavy equipment to consumers. The heavy equipment taxed under this law deals with equipment that typically is used for construction, earthmoving, or industrial applications. The tax imposed is 1.25% of the rental price of each rental and will be used in the state budget for motor vehicle and transportation projects.
Argument in Favor
Since the tax is used for motor vehicle and transportation projects, this tax could provide needed funds for roads and other infrastructure. Arguing for her bill in committee, Sen. Annette Cleveland (49th District, Vancouver) said that United Rentals (a company which rents heavy equipment) asked her to bring forward this bill to better define heavy equipment and define when fees on heavy equipment rentals are collected.
The taxes and fees hurt heavy equipment rental businesses. This bill also ends some unique rules Washington State has surrounding heavy equipment rentals. Speaking against the bill on the House Floor, Representative Ed Orcutt (20th District, Kalama) said, “What we’re doing is taking property off the property tax rolls, but we’re not taking the corresponding tax off of the tax rolls... 10 million dollars in tax revenue will still be collected, but by different taxpayers”.
Advisory Vote 34 deals with an increase to the business and occupation tax for certain businesses, and a reduction to certain surcharges related to the business and occupation tax. The bill is intended to provide funds for workforce development and education.
Argument in Favor
The tax is meant to increase training for jobs that are needed in Washington State, such as architects, computer scientists, engineers, and health care practitioners. Representative Noel Frame (36th District, Seattle) said on the floor of the House arguing for the bill, “We need to get those students invested in... We need to have providers that are willing to serve”.
Speaking on the House Floor against the bill, Representative Jim Walsh (19th District, Aberdeen), said, “This B&O tax is disproportionately chilling to small operations... At the core of the underlying bill here is a logic flaw, and that logic flaw is in order to provide more educated practitioners of whatever the field is, whether it’s health care, or data centers, or in this case architects and engineers, that in order to provide more trained people to fulfill those roles, we are gonna jack up the tax rate on the companies in those businesses.”
Advisory Vote 35
Advisory vote 35 concerns an increase to the business and occupation tax for manufacturers of commercial airplanes.
Argument in Favor
Washington’s low business and occupation tax rate was too low, and thus violated world trade organization rules on fairness. Raising the tax rate will bring Washington in line with international trade rules, and reduce the threat of retaliatory tariffs from other nations, not just on the sale of commercial airplanes but on Washington’s other vital export industries such as agricultural products, fish, wine, and intellectual property such as software. Retaliatory tariffs hurt not just one industry but all those that Washington seeks to promote.
Washington’s low tax rate gave commercial airplane manufacturers a competitive advantage against international competition, especially those manufacturers that are subsidized by their own nations. Raising this low tax rate will decrease the advantage that Washington manufacturers had and give those manufacturers a reason to leave Washington for places that are willing to keep their own low tax rate and bear the threat of retaliatory tariffs. Keeping the commercial airplane manufacturing industry happy is important to Washington’s economy.
Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8212
This is an amendment to the State Constitution, the highest law of the state. This amendment to the State Constitution would allow a new type of public funds to be used for investment into private companies, in forms such as stock. Currently, only a few types of public monies can be used for this type of investment, such as trust or pension funds. If this amendment was enacted, money paid in a payroll deduction to state long-term care funds will also be allowed to be invested into private companies. This money would be held in a Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Account.
Argument in Favor
These funds will not be used for several years, in some cases, for many years. Between when the funds are collected and where they are used, they should be allowed to grow as an investment in private companies. This will allow the funds to pay for more care and for the care of more Washingtonians over time. Other long-term funds such as the state pension fund and other state trust funds are already invested in this way, so this would align this fund with other funds under the law.
Investment is never without risk. Currently, the country is in the midst of a recession, and another recession was seen just over a decade ago. The risk of investments was foreseen – the risky prospect of investing in private companies is banned for most public monies, with few exceptions, for a reason. Usually, public money can be invested in bonds, such as Federal Treasury bonds, or other bonds issued by states or localities for investments into their own infrastructure. These bonds have far less risk and are a better option for money that Washingtonians will require when they need long-term care.
What is the Governor?
The governor is the chief executive of Washington State government. The governor can sign laws or veto them after passage by the legislature. The governor can appoint justices to State and County courts. The governor can also issue executive orders to state agencies.
Loren Culp is a lifelong Washington resident who currently serves as chief of police of the city of Republic in Ferry County, WA. Culp served in the U.S. Army and was a small business owner. Culp took a strong stance on the state initiative 1639, a gun control initiative which was passed by voters, but Culp believed to be unconstitutional. On the COVID pandemic, Culp believes, “I believe Washington’s current Governor has drastically overstepped his proper and Constitutional role during the COVID outbreak thus far. He has twisted the emergency powers that Washington State law gives him.” Culp also said during a debate on October 7th that the state government should focus on cutting waste and programs after the pandemic hurt the state budget.
Jay Inslee is a fifth-generation Washingtonian who grew up in the Seattle area. He has previously served as a state representative and Congressional representative from the 4th Congressional district. Inslee was first elected governor in 2012. About the COVID pandemic, Inslee says, “The COVID-19 crisis has been a difficult time for Washingtonians and their families, and Jay has used every avenue at his disposal as governor to ensure protections for workers out of work and those on the front lines. Additional unemployment and sick leave protections, eviction bans and rent freezes, and other measures have assisted families during this difficult time.” About higher education, Inslee’s website says, “Jay partnered with large Washington employers such as Microsoft and Amazon to pass and fund the historic Workforce Education Investment Act, which ensures full and partial college tuition scholarships are available to working and middle-class Washingtonians.”
Washington Lieutenant Governor
What is the Lieutenant Governor?
The Washington Lieutenant Governor is a statewide elected office that has several duties. The Lieutenant Governor serves as the President of the State Senate, managing the discussion on the floor concerning any legislation being debated. The Lieutenant governor also chairs the committee that decides which legislation will advance to the Senate floor for debate. They also serve on a number of other state committees and boards, such as the State Finance Committee and the Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations. They also serve as governor when the Governor is out of state or otherwise incapable of serving. The current Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib is leaving the Lieutenant Governor position after serving a single term.
Denny Heck is running for the Lieutenant Governor position as a Democrat after serving five terms in Congress from Washington’s 10th Congressional District. In Congress, Heck served on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. About the COVID-19 pandemic, Heck says on his website, “COVID-19 is the greatest challenge our state has faced in my memory. It has caused immense suffering – thousands seriously ill or dead; hundreds of thousands out of work, and millions dealing with disruption of life, separation from loved ones, and the burden of an unknown future. There can be no higher priority for state action”.
Marko Liias is running for the Lieutenant Governor position as a Democrat after serving six terms in the State Legislature from the 21st District. Liias was the first in his family to attend college and served as the Senate Majority Leader in the most recent term in the State Senate. About higher education, Liias writes on his website, “I’m proud to have been part of historic investments in higher education so now Washington students in low and middle income families can go to college for free or reduced tuition. I’ve also worked to make financial aid available to more students, including undocumented learners and Dreamers.”
Secretary of State
What is the Secretary of State?
The Secretary of State oversees many governmental operations, notably elections and voting. The secretary of state executes elections laws and ensures that county elections offices are in compliance with state election laws. They also make sure that state elections are secure.
Gael Tarleton is running for Secretary of State as a Democrat after serving as a State Representative from the 36th Legislative District since 2013. She says in her election statement, “I’m running for Secretary of State because I have 30 years of experience as a senior defense intelligence and national security analyst defending our country from attacks. I believe that this office needs a new type of leader to protect our election systems and voter information against current and emerging threats.”
Kim Wyman is running for Secretary of State again as a Republican after serving in the position since 2013. She says in her election statement, “Because Washington is a nationally recognized leader, we have been able to help other states innovate and secure their elections by expanding mail-in voting options during the coronavirus pandemic. I am proud to be the only candidate with elections experience – in fact, I’ve run over 120 elections in Washington.”
What is the State Treasurer?
The State Treasurer is a state executive position which has duties concerning cash flow, investments, and debt of state accounts. The Treasurer reports annually to the state legislature yearly about the condition of the treasury, and sits on the boards of state finance committees.
Duane Davidson is running for State Treasurer again as a Republican after serving a first term starting in 2016. Davidson says in his election statement, “I’ve been a strong advocate for an adequately funded Rainy Day Fund and will continue to steadfastly protect pension reserves and work to eliminate the unfunded pension liability. I will continue to advise the legislature on reducing the amount of state debt that is too high. I’m proud of the state debt refinancing that saved the state over $450 million in interest and achieved a triple-A bond rating for the first time in state history.”
Mike Pellicciotti is running for State Treasurer as a Democrat after serving two terms as a State Representative from the 30th District (Auburn). Speaking about his record on his website, Pellicciotti’s campaign says, “He championed open government laws and was the first legislator to call on the legislature to make legislators’ records available to the public, while also voluntarily disclosing his own. Mike has also introduced legislation to fix property valuations so that Washingtonians do not overpay their taxes. He has successfully advocated to end corporate tax breaks, while reducing taxes on working families and retirees.”
What is the State Auditor?
The State Auditor examines the finances and activities of the state and local governments to make sure they are using funds in legal and proper ways and seeks to make the workings of governments more efficient and transparent. The Auditor’s office produces reports about state and local projects and investigates fraud, whistleblowers, and the performance of state and local agencies.
Chris Leyba is running for State Auditor as a Republican. Previously, Leyba was a police officer, detective, and law enforcement performance auditor. Leyba states on his website, “As auditor, I will ensure my role is to be a complete buffer between the agents of my organization and the rest of the state. The auditor’s office must conduct fact finding operations and data analysis completely separated from the potential interpersonal relationships its auditors may have with members of other government organizations.”
Pat McCarthy is running for State Auditor again as a Democrat. She is currently serving her first term in the position. McCarthy has also served as Pierce County Executive and Pierce County Auditor. On her website, McCarthy states, “Audits are the number one priority of my office. In this year alone, we have completed 888 audits with another 501 audits in progress. These audits range from fiscal audit of local and state governments to specialized performance audits, including cybersecurity audits.”
What is the Attorney General?
The Attorney General represents the State in all cases involving the State’s interests, including state courts and federal courts. The Attorney General also helps to protect the state’s citizens against fraud, investigates and prosecutes persons accused of crimes, and proposes legislation to the Legislature.
Matt Larkin is running for Attorney General as a Republican. Before running for this position, Larkin has previously worked in White House Communications, as a prosecutor in Pierce County, and has represented his family’s manufacturing company. On his website, Larkin states that, “It is the duty of the Attorney General’s office to enforce our laws and make sure the people of our state are treated fairly, given justice, and their rights protected. As your Attorney General, I will put the rule of law first, follow up on those who are breaking the law, and make sure our citizens know someone is standing up for them.
Bob Ferguson is running for Attorney General as a Democrat. Ferguson has served as Attorney General for two terms. On his website, Ferguson states about his record as Attorney General, “Bob has made consumer protection a cornerstone of the Attorney General’s Office – cracking down on powerful interests that don’t play by the rules. Bob has doubled size of the Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s Office – at no cost to taxpayers! He has taken on several billion-dollar corporations that violated the law, and returned hundreds of millions of dollars back to the hardworking people of Washington.”
Commissioner of Public Lands
What is the Commissioner of Public Lands?
The Commissioner of Public Lands directs the administration of Washington State’s public lands, such as forests, parks, waterways, and coastline. They oversee the state Department of Natural Resources, including some of the firefighting forces responsible for taking on forest fires. They also oversee the State Geologic Survey which produces maps and processes data about public lands.
Sue Kuehl Pederson
Sue Kuehl Pederson is running for the Commissioner of Public Lands as a Republican after a varied career including time as a Fishery Biologist, a power analyst for Seattle City Light, and time with the Army Corps of Engineers. On her website, Pederson states, “Sue brings a responsible resource management perspective to the position with her biological background. She believes improved timber management can reduce disease and excess fuel in our forests, leading to a reduction in wildfires.” Sue also believes that salmon and hydropower dams on Washington rivers can coexist, “In Washington we deserve good resource management and a keen understanding of the balance needed between the natural world and humanity.”
Hilary Franz is running for the Commissioner of Public Lands as a Democrat. She is currently serving her first term in the position. She has also served on the Bainbridge Island City Council and on the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. On her record as Commissioner, Franz’s website says, “As the leader of Washington’s wildfire fighting force, Hilary implemented cutting-edge strategies to keep fires small and protect our communities. She started by listening to our firefighters, visiting communities from Omak to Forks. And then she took action, bringing together state, federal, and local fire chiefs to develop Washington’s first interagency wildfire strategic plan.” On energy in the state, Franz says, “Hilary knows we must be proactive in seizing new opportunities. In the face of climate change, she is prioritizing clean energy, including developing our state’s first solar power on public land. This innovative approach not only sets Washington on course to meet its goal of 100% clean power, it also means millions of dollars more for our schools.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction
What is the Superintendent of Public Instruction?
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) oversees K-12 education in Washington State. OSPI carries out Washington’s Constitution, which dictates, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” The Office distributes state and federal money to local districts to carry out education. It also creates statewide learning standards for K-12 students to learn and graduate.
Chris Reykdal is running for Superintendent again after serving his first term. He also served six years in the State Legislature. On his website, Reykdal states, “I am prepared to work as hard as it takes to ensure all of our kids have affordable access to community colleges, universities, technical colleges, apprenticeships, military service, or a host of on-the-job training opportunities.” About Referendum 90 (explained above), Reykdal believes, “Referendum 90 requires the safe and effective teaching of youth about their development, ways to protect themselves, and ways to protect others. It is focused on age-appropriate curriculum that is determined by locally elected school boards.”
Maia Espinoza is an entrepreneur running for Superintendent. She has also served on the Race and Ethnicity Student Data task force at OSPI. About school choice, Espinoza believes, “If students are unhappy in school, their desire to learn may be hindered for life. Honoring school choice empowers parents and students while telling us which schools need help.” About Referendum 90, Espinoza believes, “The recently passed sex education policy takes away local control and exposes our children to inappropriate material like teaching 4th graders about sexual positions and teacher-led role play. Parents and local schools know what’s best for their communities. As Superintendent, my top priority will be ensuring the social and emotional safety of Washington’s children.”
What is the Insurance Commissioner?
The Washington State Insurance Commissioner oversees the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and oversees the insurance industry serving Washington. They also carry out duties protecting customers of insurance and advise consumers on health coverage issues.
Mike Kreidler is running for Insurance Commissioner as a Democrat again and has served as Insurance Commissioner since 2001. Kreidler has also served as a state legislator and Congressional representative. On his record as insurance commissioner, Kreidler states on his website, “Kreidler convinced the state Legislature in 2019 to pass the nation’s strongest law to protect consumers from surprise bills resulting from a medical emergency. The new law took effect in January 2020. No longer can a consumer be caught in the middle of a billing dispute between doctors and insurance companies”.
Chirayu Avinash Patel
Chirayu Avinash Patel is running for Insurance commissioner as a Republican. Patel is an insurance agent. In his voter pamphlet statement, Patel says, “I am the only candidate who has incorporated Specific Roles for Mr. Kriedler and Mr. Welti in the Office of Insurance Commissioner. I will be the External Insurance Commissioner for 60% of the time. Mr. Kriedler and Mr. Welti [A Libertarian candidate for Insurance Commissioner who lost in the August primary] would each be External Insurance Commissioner for 20% of the time if I am elected Insurance Commissioner. I would fill the roles of Ronald, Nancy and Nixon, and Mr. Kriedler would be assigned the role of Carter and Mr. Welti would be Gerald Ford.”