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CougsVote 2018 - General Election Resources

2018 Washington State Initiatives and Advisory Votes - Prepared by the WSU-GPSA Legislative Affairs Committee

2018 Washington State Initiatives and Advisory Votes

Prepared by the WSU-GPSA Legislative Affairs Committee

Joshua Munroe, Chair

Shima Bahramvash Shams, Member

Margaret McCoy, Member

Andrew Gillreath-Brown, Member

Naomi Wallace, Member


Additional information about the following initiatives and advisory votes may be found at and

Advisory Vote 19 - Non-Binding Question on Oil Spill Tax Repeal


What Does It Do?

AV 19 asks the voters whether they want to keep Senate Bill 6269, which was implemented on April 1st, 2018.  The bill addressed oil spill response resources, and increased the amount of revenue to be raised to increase those resources.  The language in AV 19 on SB 6269 is as follows:


“The legislature expanded, without a vote of the people, the oil spill response and administration taxes to crude oil or petroleum products received by pipeline, costing $13,000,000 over ten years for government spending.”


The question being asked is whether the proposed taxes should be repealed or maintained.


Pros and Cons

Supporters for the repeal of the tax argue that voters should have a say in legislation that affects the taxes they pay.


Supporters for the maintenance of the tax argue that voters shouldn’t be asked to weigh in on every legislative decision that affects taxes, as it would hinder the legislative process at the state level.  Additionally, they argue repealing the tax would affect disaster preparedness.


Why Does It Matter to WSU Students

  • WSU students are also taxpayers
  • Asking this question raises the issue of the voter’s/citizen’s role in affecting passed legislation


Initiative 940 – Police Training and Criminal Liability in Cases of Deadly Force Measure


What Does It Do?

I-940 has two major components:


Good faith test - If passed, I-940 would put in place a two-part good faith test when deciding if the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers is justifiable. The objective good faith test would be met if “a reasonable officer, in light of all the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time, would have believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to the officer or another individual.”


The subjective good faith test would be met if “the officer intended to use deadly force for a lawful purpose and sincerely and in good faith believed that the use of deadly force was warranted in the circumstance.” I-940 would further require an independent investigation in cases where an officer’s use of deadly force resulted in death or serious bodily harm and would remove the requirement that an officer must be proven to have “acted with malice” to be convicted.


Training - If passed, I-940 would require officers to receive de-escalation and mental health training. The requirements for this training would be set forth by the state Criminal Justice Training Commission in consultation with law enforcement agencies, tribes, LG BTQ+ persons, people of color, and more.


The curriculum includes covering tactics used to avoid escalating situations, alternatives to physical/deadly force, reducing mental health stigma, as well as instruction on implicit/explicit bias and the intersection of race and policing.  I-940 would further mandate first aid training and state that officers have a paramount duty to render first aid to save lives.


Pros and Cons

Supporters argue that the initiative would implement much needed training and accountability for law enforcement officers, providing protections for civilians and officers alike.


Those opposing the issue believe the proposed standards would make law enforcement officials more vulnerable to professional recrimination, and would place an onerous burden on their ability to function in their communities.


Why This Issue Matters for WSU Students

  • Trust between students and the law enforcement community is always important to preserve a safe campus environment.


Initiative 1631 – Carbon Emissions Fee Measure


What Does It Do?

The measure would charge major carbon-emitting companies with a carbon emission fee. The fee would start with a $15 per metric ton of pollution on January 1st of 2020 and increase annually by $2 per metric ton until the state’s total greenhouse emission is reduced to the defined goal.  Although British Colombia implemented a similar carbon fee in 2008, this initiative would make Washington the first U.S. state to take such action on carbon emissions.


Revenue from the fee would fund three major program categories: clean air and clean energy programs/projects (70 percent), clean water and healthy forest programs/projects (25 percent), and education programs designed to increase community health (5 percent).


The Nature Conservancy is the major donor of Clear Air Clean Energy WA, the action group which supports this measure. The Western States Petroleum Association and Association of Washington Business are the major donors opposing this measure.


Pros and Cons

Supporters claim that this measure helps to have cleaner air, water, and natural resources in Washington State and provide funding for needed environmentally-focused jobs and research. According to supporters, the initiative also encourages companies to use renewable sources of energy over fossil fuels, claiming that the use of renewable energy would contribute to a more competitive energy-producing market.


Opponents to the measure argue that oil refiners, in response to the implementation of such rules, would decide to not change their production and business model, and that the result would be no decrease in carbon emissions while passing the addition fiscal burden of the fee on to consumers.


Why This Issue Matters for WSU Students

  • It focuses on a major identified contributor to climate change—carbon levels in air and water—which is linked to personal health outcomes
  • It raises questions about the scope of regulation and its application to matters of carbon emissions and air/water quality


Initiative 1634 – Prohibit Local Taxes on Groceries Measure


What Does It Do?

Initiative 1634 is a measure that is about prohibiting grocery taxes on certain, but not all, grocery items. Currently, the term grocery item is defined as “any raw or processed food or beverage, or any ingredient thereof, intended for human consumption”. This definition does not include alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana products as a grocery item.


This measure would prohibit future increase of current “local taxes, fees, or assessments on raw or processed foods, beverages, or their ingredients, intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages, marijuana products, and tobacco, unless they are generally applicable and meet specified requirements.”  Existing sales and use taxes would continue.


Pros and Cons

Supporters for I-1634 argue that the measure would reduce food insecurity by keeping grocery items affordable.


Those opposing I-1634 argue that the measure would have no impact on food insecurity or affordability, as most taxed grocery items are processed materials like soda that lead to worse health outcomes.


Why It Matters for WSU Students

  • Food scarcity and affordability are major budgeting issues for students
  • Health outcomes and food choice are affected by what is deemed both affordable and healthy



Initiative 1639 – Changes to Gun Ownership and Purchase Requirements Measure


What Does It Do?

I-1639 would implement restrictions based on a minimum age for purchasing firearms, background checks, waiting periods, and storage requirements, where the age requirement would go into effect on January 1, 2019 and the remaining restrictions would go into effect on July 1, 2019.


The minimum age to purchase a pistol or semiautomatic rifle would be raised to a minimum 21 years old.  This does not affect any guns presently owned by people between the ages of 18 and 21.  Background checks would include showing proof of firearm safety training that has been completed in the last 5 years and the police chief or sheriff would need to indicate that the purchaser is eligible to own a firearm.  Other laws applicable to pistols, such as not delivering firearms to an individual with an arrest warrant, would also be applied to semiautomatic rifles.


An additional firearm purchase fee of $25.00 would be applied to the firearm purchase to assist in funding the assessment of the purchaser.  A ten-day waiting period would be applied from the date of purchase to when the dealer could deliver the semiautomatic assault rifle.  Firearms must be stored so that a prohibited person could not gain access, which could result in a fine of up to $250.


Pros and Cons

Supporters for I-1639 argue that assault rifles need additional regulation, and are currently easier to acquire than handguns because they are classified alongside hunting rifles.  Requiring background checks, training, and storage of these weapons would not create an undue burden on gun owners.


Those opposing I-1639 argue that the measure conflicts directly with the 2nd Amendment.  Additionally, they argue that the requirements for mental health screenings are overly vague and that the change in age restriction is arbitrary.


Why It Matters to WSU Students

  • Shootings on school campuses increased dramatically over the last twenty years, making any issue involving firearm access one of student safety
  • Many students fall in the 18-21 age range, which would be affected by the initiative


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