Huge effort to stop anti-initiative bill in the House by “Heroic Holy” — plz thank him

by | Apr 2, 2015

 All anti-initiative bills in Olympia are dead except one:  Senate Bill 5715.  That’s the horrible bill that allows the governor to slap a biased warning label on initiatives he doesn’t like.  The Senate passed it and now it’s being considered in the House.  We’ve been highlighting its many flaws over the past few weeks.   

          The proposed text of the warning label is so incredibly biased and loaded that it’s obvious that it would sway voters to reject the initiative (not because of the dollar amount, but because of its’ biased wording).

“Initiative Measure No. . . . concerns (statement of subject).  This measure would (concise description). The state budget office has determined that this proposal would have an unfunded net impact of (amount) on the state budget.  This means other state spending may need to be reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal.  Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes . . □ No . . □”

        Yesterday was the last day for the House committee to vote on the bill (there are 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans on the committee).  They did.

        But first, the ranking Republican on the Democrat-dominated committee, Rep. Jeff Holy (R-Cheney) forced a full examination and discussion on the 38 word warning label by introducing 22 amendments to the bill (with the help and support of his Republican colleagues Luanne Van Werven from Bellingham and Brad Hawkins from Wenatchee).  This forced a 20 minute discussion, debate and vote on each one.  Some examples:
*  Change “The state budget office” to “The governor’s budget office”
*  Change “this proposal would have” to “is estimated to have”
*  Change it so the governor doesn’t have the option to slap the warning label on some initiatives, and not others.

         It was truly heroic.  Some amendments passed, most failed.  But most interestingly, some of the most scathing statements about the bill during those 20 minutes were not made by Rep. Holy, but by the committee’s Chairman Sam Hunt (D-Olympia).

        Fortunately, TVW recorded this valient effort.  

        The discussion, debate, and votes on the numerous amendments runs from 37:45 – 56:15 (this link should fast forward to the beginning):

        To start things off at 38:05, Chairman Hunt (D-Olympia) said:  “This is a bill that one of the Republican leaders in the Senate (Joe Fain R-Covington) finds near and dear to his heart, and we are going to try to keep this bill alive, even though some of us really don’t like it.”

         Later on, during a discussion on one of the amendments that sought to remove the second sentence from the warning label, Rep. Holy said (starts at 48:20):  “This removes a biasing sentence from the ballot title language.  It is perjorative, it is biasing, if we take that second sentence out, this would have at least a balanced read.”

        Hunt responds:  “Well I understand that this is one of the priorities of the prime sponsor of the bill (Joe Fain R-Covington) and I would recommend we leave it in there for now and urge a no vote.”

         At 49:00, Rep. Holy presents his amendment that reads:  “it is possible this proposal will affect other aspects of the budget”.  After listening to Rep. Holy make his argument, Hunt responds:  “I would urge a no vote, this may make the proposal more palatable so I would urge a no vote.”

          At 54:55 – 55:10, Hunt thanks Holy for his sincere efforts to improve “this very controversial legislation.”

          At 56:15 – 57:10, Rep. Holy gives his closing argument.  After citing the strong opposition statement by the ACLU and others, he ends with:  “This is wrong is so many ways, I urge a no vote.”

          At 57:10 – 57:30, Chairman Hunt responds, “Thank you Rep. Holy and I share your concerns, we all have concerns with this bill.  I would hope that it does not become a player in the game.  We’ll see what happens.  I do share your very grave concerns.  Call the roll.”

          The final vote in committee was 4-3, all the R’s opposed, all the D’s in favor (although Democrat Sherry Appleton, despite multiple attempts by staff to solicit her verbal “aye” did not say a word but was nonetheless recorded as a “yes” vote — fast forward to 57:44 to watch that).

        So now this deeply flawed bill, slightly modified by the committee, gets forwarded to the Rules committee where Speaker Frank Chopp will decide whether or not to advance it to the Floor.  He should not.  Even the legislators who voted for it clearly recognize how biased and damaging it would be to the initiative process.

         Representatives Holy, Van Werven, and Hawkins deserve an enthusiastic “atta boy” for their impressive effort.  

         Please — RIGHT NOW — send an email that says something like this (feel free to add more, there’s a lot to say): 
“Thank you for your blizzard of amendments to anti-initiative bill SB 5715.  You forced a thorough examination of this deeply flawed legislation.  If this bill dies, it’s because of your actions in committee on Wednesday.  I encourage you and other members of the House to stop this horrible bill from advancing.”

          Cut & paste their email addresses into the “To” line of your email:;

           Also, make sure to cut & paste the other members of the state house into the “cc” line of your email:

        The most important thing you can do to stop SB 5715 is by sending the email above.

         Each of us must do our part to protect the initiative process from this horrendous legislative assault.  

          And please help us with the 2/3-For-Taxes Constitutional Amendment Initiative.  Success is the only option with the signature drive for I-1366.   Please help us make it happen.