Potential approval of initiative to overturn natural gas phase-out bill looms

The court challenge to the ballot title for an initiative aiming to repeal a natural gas phase-out is expected to conclude on Wednesday afternoon.

Signature gatherers for Initiative 2066 could be out by this weekend, indicating that the process of collecting signatures is nearing its completion.

The language of the initiative will be debated in Thurston County Superior Court, with a decision expected shortly after the hearing, according to a backer of the initiative.

According to Jim Walsh, the Chair of the Washington State Republican Party and a member of the state House of Representatives, organizations like the Washington Environmental Council and Pacifica Law Group are using this issue as a means to delay the process. He mentioned that the gathering of signatures cannot proceed until the matter of the title is resolved.

The organizations are challenging the clarity and usefulness 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 intentionally delay the process by a few weeks.

Supporters of I-2066 aim to put a stop to the controversial House Bill 1589, which was recently passed by the Legislature. This bill grants permission to Puget Sound Energy to begin strategizing on transitioning away from natural gas.

The state Attorney General’s Office drafted the ballot title and description, which initially stated, “Concerns natural gas regulations.”

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Allyson Zipp has been requested by opponents for substantial revisions.

“These reviews cannot be appealed, giving the trial court an unprecedented level of authority in the matter,” Walsh explained. “During this hearing, the judge possesses significant discretion and could potentially make substantial modifications to the title.”

He encouraged Zipp to reach a prompt decision.

“Just provide us with a prompt resolution,” Walsh urged. “Let’s address the issue immediately and leave the decision in the hands of the people.”

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

“We only have until July 5th,” he emphasized, pointing out the importance of submitting the signatures of at least 324,516 registered voters by that date.

According to Walsh, the timeline is not unprecedented and has been successfully achieved in the past. However, he acknowledges that it will be a challenging task to meet the deadline.

There are three initiatives backed by Republicans that will be decided by voters in the upcoming November elections. 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.

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MBS Staff
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