Apr 13, 2023 - News

Prepare for nonbinding tax advisory votes to go away

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The nonbinding tax advisory votes that appear on your general election ballot are set to become things of the past.

Driving the news: The Legislature has voted to eliminate the advisory votes, which ask Washington voters to weigh in on statewide tax measures after they have passed.

Why it matters: Supporters of axing the advisory votes said they confuse voters — who might mistake them for an actual referendum that can roll back a law — and make ballots long and unwieldy. Those who argued for keeping the advisory votes said they provide valuable public feedback.

Details: The advisory votes came out of a 2007 ballot measure, I-960, which was sponsored by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman. But the votes have no practical effect.

  • The advisory vote process never has had the power to repeal a tax measure.

What they're saying: "These votes only pollute our ballots with anti-tax propaganda specifically designed to instill distrust in government — and they do it on our most fundamental sanctuary of democracy, the ballot," the repeal measure's sponsor, state Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) said in a news release.

The other side: State Rep. Peter Abbarno (R-Centralia), was one of several lawmakers who objected to lawmakers eliminating the advisory votes without a vote of the people.

  • "Advisory votes are an essential part of our process — they are a sacred part of the ballot," Abbarno said during a floor speech last week, calling the votes "an opportunity for families, for seniors to share with us what's on their minds."

What's next: The plan to repeal the tax advisory votes heads to Gov. Jay Inslee, who can choose to let the measure become law or veto it.


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