Washington Senate moves to eliminate advisory votes on tax increases

Feb 9, 2023, 1:37 PM
child marriages tax vote stricter blood alcohol...
State Capitol in Olympia. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Washington state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would repeal advisory votes — non-binding votes from the public that are currently required to be held on all tax increases.

The bill, SB 5082, would eliminate these advisory votes if the state House of Representatives passes it.

Bill forcing Washington residents to vote advances from committee

Advisory votes were originally introduced in Initiative 960 in 2007, which required all tax increases to be adopted with a two-thirds vote, required a 10-year cost analysis to be distributed to voters, as well as the advisory vote.

“With this measure, the people intend to protect taxpayers by creating a series of accountability procedures to ensure greater legislative transparency, broader public participation, and wider agreement before state government take more of the people’s money,” the initiative read.

Advisory votes are non-binding and do not eliminate any passed tax increases but rather act as a way to gauge voter opinion, and 75% of advisory votes were rejected by the legislature.

Some opponents are arguing that these advisory votes are clogging up the ballot and promote an ‘anti-tax’ sentiment. Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) is the bill’s sponsor and released a statement explaining why she thinks that the advisory vote system should be discarded.

“These non-binding, vote-imposters pollute our ballots with anti-tax propaganda specifically designed to instill distrust in government—and they do it on our most fundamental sanctuary of democracy, the ballot. They are fraudulent because they use loaded, misleading language meant to push private interests and to influence rather than measure public opinion. We need real tools for making the Legislature’s work more transparent, not political rhetoric,” said Kuderer.

The legislation was proposed by the Redmond-based nonprofit Northwest Progressive Institute. The bill’s text explains that the goal of the legislation is to remove the advisory votes in order to make the ballot clearer.

The legislature finds that making the act of casting a ballot as simple as possible will help promote the free and equal elections guaranteed by Article I, section 19 and Article VI, section 1 of the Washington state Constitution. The legislature recognizes that transparency and fiscal responsibility are important to the people of Washington, and that election administration and ballot design should reflect these long-held values. The legislature further finds that the people rightfully expect items on their ballots to be neutrally and accurately worded. Finally, the legislature finds for the votes that Washingtonians cast to have meaning, the ballot must be limited to candidate elections that give the people the power to choose their representatives or ballot measures that determine what laws and plan of government the state and its localities shall have.

Seattle food truck, café regulations remain post-pandemic

The bill would instead create a voter website with access to information about operating, capital, and transportation budgets, as well as state spending on both state and local levels. It also asks that a QR code and website address be placed on voters’ pamphlets so voters can easily access the information.

Senate Republicans who argued against the bill claimed the advisory votes are essential to the democratic process and allow voters to voice their opinions on all tax increases which affect them.

“Some who support Senate Bill 5082 claim, without any supporting data, that abolishing advisory votes would encourage more voter participation. Because nothing says ‘your voice matters’ like getting rid of direct democracy?” the state Republican caucus said in a statement. “Democrats think advisory votes are confusing to voters. In truth, they just don’t like what votes have to say.”

Local News

micro-home village...
Bill Kaczaraba

Micro-home village for homeless approved by Pierce County

The Pierce County Council has given the go-ahead for a controversial micro-home village for homeless people in Spanaway.
11 hours ago
Allergy season...
Ted Buehner

Allergy season arrives early across the Pacific Northwest

Allergy sufferers, achoo!! Sniffle! Runny nose and red itchy eyes. Allergy season is here already in the Pacific Northwest.
11 hours ago
L.B. Gilbert

Bumbershoot announces lineup with homecoming headliner Sleater-Kinney

Bumbershoot announced their 2023 music lineup with some acts that you will recognize and some that you will soon
11 hours ago
File - Credit cards as seen July 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. A low credit score can hurt your ability...
Associated Press

What the Fed rate increase means for your credit card bill

The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by another quarter point Wednesday, bringing it to the highest level in 15 years as part of an ongoing effort to ease inflation by making borrowing more expensive.
11 hours ago
L.B. Gilbert

Officer shot in head in Everett in stable, serious condition

A shooting early Wednesday morning ended with at least one person dead and an officer hurt after an incident in Everett.
11 hours ago
police lights distracted drivers shooting...
Associated Press

Authorities: Missing mom, daughter in Washington found dead

A missing Washington state woman and her daughter were found dead Wednesday, according to police.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Washington Senate moves to eliminate advisory votes on tax increases