Initiative Petition Forces Ballot Vote on Issaquah Plastic Bag Ban

Initiative Petition Forces Ballot Vote on Issaquah Plastic Bag Ban

Issaquah, WA, Oct. 21, 2013 (PBBR) - The City of Issaquah, Washington passed a plastic bag ban on June 12, 2012. Now, an "initiative petition" seeks to repeal that law. An initiative petition will force the voters of Issaquah to decide if they want the plastic bag ban.

The ordinance prohibits all retailers from providing a single-use plastic bag to a customer at the point of sale. The City’s ordinance also requires a five cents charge for paper bags that are commonly known as 1/8 bags (882 cubic inches) or larger.

On September 5, an initiative petition was submitted to the Issaquah City Council for the "Repeal of Plastic Bag Ban and Forced Paper Bag Charge".  It was determined that many of the signatures were invalid. The petitioner then resubmitted additional petitions within the required time frame with amended signatures.  On October 3, 2013, King County where Issaquah is located, certified that the petition had the required number of valid signatures.

The City Council then had two options for handling of the initiative petition:
1) The initiative petition may be adopted by the City Council in whole, without alteration.
2) The initiative petition may be directed to a vote of the people, in which case a special election must be held on the next election date.

On October 21, the Issaquah City Council took action and voted unanimously to bring the initiative petition before the voters. The next special election will be February 11, 2014 at an estimated cost to taxpayers of approximately $50,000.

About "Initiative Petition"

Citizens of Washington may initiate legislation as either a direct or indirect state statute. In Washington, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. (1)

The City of Issaquah adopted the power of initiative in 1986, re:

1.12.010 Power of initiative and referendum adopted.

The City of Issaquah hereby adopts the power of initiative and referendum for the qualified electors of the City as provided pursuant to RCW 35A.11.080 through 35A.11.100, including RCW 35A.01.040, 35A.29.170 and 35.17.240 through 35.17.360. Such powers are to be exercised as provided in the above referenced sections of the Revised Code of Washington as they now exist or may be amended from time to time and said sections are incorporated in full by this reference. (Ord. 1719 § 1, 1986). (2)

The State of Washington rules for certifying initiative petitions, re:

RCW 35A.01.040 Sufficiency of petitions.

    (4) To be sufficient a petition must contain valid signatures of qualified registered voters or property owners, as the case may be, in the number required by the applicable statute or ordinance. Within three working days after the filing of a petition, the officer with whom the petition is filed shall transmit the petition to the county auditor for petitions signed by registered voters, or to the county assessor for petitions signed by property owners for determination of sufficiency. The officer or officers whose duty it is to determine the sufficiency of the petition shall proceed to make such a determination with reasonable promptness and shall file with the officer receiving the petition for filing a certificate stating the date upon which such determination was begun, which date shall be referred to as the terminal date. Additional pages of one or more signatures may be added to the petition by filing the same with the appropriate filing officer prior to such terminal date. (3)

Reference Case

Issaquah's initiative petition is not unique to plastic bag bans. The Town Council of Basalt, Colorado passed the Waste Reduction Bag Fee in 2011.  A local Basalt citizen disagreed with the Waste Reduction Bag Fee and challenged the law by launching a petition drive. He was able to secure the required signatures on the petition which forced the Town Council to take action.

The Council decided to rescind the Waste Reduction Bag Fee and further allow the Basalt voters to decide what to do. On the ballot was a measure to ban plastic grocery bags and charge a fee for paper bags.  Basalt voters rejected the ballot measure by a vote of 52% to 47%.

At the same time as the Basalt vote, the same measure was placed before the voters of Carbondale, Colorado. That measure was passed by voters with a margin of 51% saying yes to plastic bag regulation.

Issaquah Initiative Ordinance

On February 11, 2014, the voters of Issaquah will be asked to vote on the following initiative ordinance:

Initiative Ordinance No.______
This initiative ordinance to the City Council of the City of Issaquah, Washington deals with retail carryout bags. Currently, City law prohibits certain retail establishments from providing lightweight plastic carryout bags to customers, requires a 5 cent charge for paper carryout bags, and encourages reusable bag use. The proposed initiative ordinance would repeal this law. In addition, the proposed initiative ordinance would require future regulation of retail carryout bags be approved by a majority vote of the City Council and a majority vote of the citizens at an election.

Should this initiative ordinance be enacted into law?


Source: City of Issaquah


(1)  Ballotpedia

(2) City of Issaquah

(2) Washington State Legislature

Cover photo: Issaquah Historic Train Depot. Author: Ron Reiring. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Uploaded to[/s2If]