Possible approval for initiative seeking to reverse natural gas phase-out legislation

The court challenge to the ballot title for an initiative seeking to repeal the natural gas phase-out may come to a conclusion this Wednesday afternoon.

Signature gatherers for Initiative 2066 may hit the streets as early as this weekend.

The language of the initiative will be scrutinized by a judge in Thurston County Superior Court, and a supporter of the initiative anticipates a decision shortly after the hearing.

According to Washington State Republican Party Chair Jim Walsh, well-known organizations like the Washington Environmental Council and Pacifica Law Group are using this issue as a means to slow down the process. He explains that the gathering of signatures cannot proceed until the matter of the title is resolved. Walsh, who also serves in the state House of Representatives, sheds light on the motivations behind these actions from the left.

The organizations are challenging the clarity and informativeness of the ballot title and description.

According to Walsh, these challenges are merely time-wasting and lack substance. He believes that they are designed to delay the process by a few weeks.

Supporters of I-2066 are seeking to put a stop to House Bill 1589, which was passed by the Legislature this session. The bill allows Puget Sound Energy to begin making plans to transition away from natural gas.

The state Attorney General’s Office crafted the ballot title and description. Initially, the title stated, “Addresses concerns regarding natural gas regulations.”

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Allyson Zipp has received requests from opponents for substantial revisions.

“These reviews cannot be appealed, giving the trial court hearing the challenge significant authority over the issue,” Walsh explained. “During the hearing, the judge possesses considerable discretion and has the power to completely revise the title if they choose to do so.”

Zipp was urged to make a swift ruling.

Walsh expressed his desire for a prompt solution, emphasizing the importance of resolving the matter immediately and allowing the people to have a say in the decision-making process.

Once the ballot title is given the green light on Wednesday afternoon, Walsh assures that the supporters of I-2066 will waste no time in printing signature petitions.

“We only have until July 5th,” he emphasized, alluding to the impending deadline for submitting the signatures of a minimum of 324,516 registered voters.”

According to Walsh, although it is not unprecedented and they have done it before, the current timeline will be extremely tight.

Three initiatives supported by Republicans will be put to a vote by the public this November. These initiatives include the repeal of the state’s Climate Commitment Act, the repeal of the capital gains tax, and the option for individuals to opt out of the state’s long-term care program.

The hearing regarding I-2066 is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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MBS Staff
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