AP NEWS

Panel approves bill to repeal non-binding tax advisory votes

February 7, 2020 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Senate panel has advanced a measure that would repeal the requirement that non-binding tax advisory votes appear on ballots for future elections.

A provision under an initiative voters approved in 2007 gives the public the chance to weigh in on tax increases, even though regardless of the outcome, no changes in state law occur from the votes.

The bill to remove those measures from the ballot and voters pamphlet was approved Friday by the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee. The committee removed a section of the bill that would create a task force, with the sponsor saying she already had an agreement with budget writers that the task force would be included in the Senate budget proposal set to be released later this month.

On last year’s November ballot, voters were presented with a dozen of the non-binding votes on revenue bills approved by the Legislature last year, including an increase in business and occupation taxes on large banks and a change to the state’s real estate excise tax. Voters voted against nine of the taxes and in favor of three of them.

Supporters of the measure say that advisory votes are taxpayer-funded push polls that are confusing for voters. Opponents argue that voters have a right to weigh in, even if it doesn’t have any tangible impact.

The measure now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, the last stop before a potential floor vote.