June 17, 2024

Pacifica Clients Help Ensure Public Investment Disclosures Stay on WA Ballots

Clients represented by Pacifica Law Group helped secure an important victory for Washington voters earlier this month when Thurston County Superior Court Judge Allyson Zipp dismissed a lawsuit that sought to deprive voters of information about the financial impacts of three initiatives that will appear on the ballot in November.

Pacifica’s clients—No On 2109 Committee, No On 2117, and No On 2124—intervened in the lawsuit to help the Washington Attorney General’s Office defend including a “public investment impact disclosure” (“PIID”) for each measure. Under a recently enacted law, Washington voters are entitled to information on the ballot about the budget impact of measures they are considering. A PIID is required for any measure that “repeals, levies, or modifies any tax or fee” and would “cause a net change in state revenue.”

In the suit, Washington State Republican Party Chair Jim Walsh and Mainstream Republicans of Washington Chair Deanna Martinez challenged the law’s applicability to three ballot measures that voters will consider this fall.

The measures—Initiative 2109, Initiative 2117, and Initiative 2124—would repeal laws establishing the state’s cap and invest program and its capital gains tax, and undermine the state’s long-term care program. The measures, if adopted, would significantly reduce state funding for K-12 education, transportation and environmental programs, healthcare, and other important public services.

In an effort to deprive voters of this information on the ballot, plaintiffs argued that Washington’s law mandating PIIDs did not apply to the three Initiatives. Specifically, they argued that Initiatives 2117 and 2124 did not require PIIDs because the laws those measures would repeal or amend do not impose taxes or fees, and that I-2109 would not impact state revenue because another law, I-2111, already repealed Washington’s capital gains tax earlier this year.

Judge Zipp fully agreed with the State and Pacifica’s clients, dismissing the complaint in full. “The legislature’s intent with the public investment impact disclosures is to respect the people’s reserved power of initiative and referendum and enhance the people’s ability to exercise that power by providing greater transparency and necessary information,” Judge Zipp noted in issuing her ruling.

The Pacifica team includes Kai Smith, Paul Lawrence, and Meha Goyal.