(The Center Square) – Halfway through the legislative session in Olympia, House Republicans are doubling down on pressuring majority party Democrats to hold public hearings on six initiatives to the Legislature.
House Republican ranking members and assistant ranking members sent letters to House committee chairs and vice chairs Tuesday requesting public hearings on the measures which have all been certified by the Secretary of State’s Office.
“There are 2.6 million signatures, and 800,000 voters who signed those initiatives,” Republican Leader Sen. John Braun of Centralia said during a Tuesday morning media briefing. “That’s 20% of our electorate, and they can’t take the time to even hear the initiatives, let alone vote on them?”
Braun added, “That should be unacceptable.”
Democratic leaders of the House and Senate did not hold a media briefing on Tuesday as they typically do, because of floor action in both chambers, but when she stepped just outside House doors, Rep. Beth Doglio, D-Olympia, was asked for comment about the letter from House Republicans.
“I had a good conversation with Rep. Dye today and no decision has been made,” she told The Center Square.
Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, is the ranking Republican on the House Environment & Energy Committee chaired by Doglio, who will decide whether or not Initiative 2117 to repeal Washington state’s cap-and-trade law under the Climate Commitment Act gets a hearing.
The CCA’s carbon auctions are widely perceived to have driven up the cost of gas in Washington state.
Pressed further if her response means she is still open to the possibility of a potential hearing on I-2117, Doglio said, “Absolutely.”
The Legislature may approve the initiatives or send them to voters. If an initiative is rejected by the Legislature or the Legislature takes no action by the end of the session on March 7, the secretary of state will certify the initiative for the next November general election. The Legislature may also pass an alternative proposal to accompany an initiative on the ballot.
The other five initiatives to the Legislature would loosen restrictions on allowing police to pursue dangerous criminals, establish parental rights in public schools, abolish the capital gains tax, allow people who are employed to opt out of the state’s long-term care program, and ban further efforts to pass income taxes.