The good and the bad, what do initiatives mean for counties?

Initiatives can have large impacts on counties. In this second part of our election series blog posts, we look specifically at initiatives and their effects. The first post looked at changes within the legislative membership and the last post will look at the what happened within the WSAC membership.


In addition to half of the state Senate and all of the House of Representatives up for election this year, there were four measures on the ballot. Washington’s voters said no to new taxes and yes to gun control and new law enforcement standards.

I-1631 was defeated with over 56% of voters turning it down. Had it passed, the initiative would have charged pollution fees on sources of greenhouse gas pollutants and created a public board to determine how to use the revenue to reduce pollution, promote clean energy, and address climate impacts. Governor Inslee has already publicly stated that this issue remains a priority for him.

Passing by almost the same margin by which I-1631 lost, I-1634 will prohibit local governments, including counties, from passing new taxes on food, beverages, and ingredients. It does not repeal Seattle’s sweetened beverage tax, but it does prevent it from increasing.

I-940, the excessive force initiative, passed with almost 60% of the vote. This measure will require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training. It also changes standards for the use of deadly force by adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation. I-940 originated as an initiative to the Legislature but was sent to the ballot when the Legislature declined to pass it. The Legislature did approve a negotiated compromise bill, but it was declared procedurally defective by the state Supreme Court, and the proposed changes did not make it to the ballot. The Legislature will now need a 2/3 majority vote to amend the initiative and pass the compromise developed by law enforcement and reform advocates.

Finally, I-1639 also passed by nearly 60%. This measure will require increased background checks, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for the sales or delivery of semiautomatic assault rifles. It will also criminalize noncompliant storage upon unauthorized use, allow fees to support the increased workload, and enact other gun-realted provisions.


Mellani McAleenan

Mellani joined WSAC as the Director of Government Relations and General Counsel. Mellani has worked in government relations since 2000, most recently as Director of Government Affairs for the Dental Association. Mellani has also represented the state judicial branch of government as the primary legislative advocate for the Board for Judicial Administration, Administrative Office of the Courts, and Supreme Court. Mellani earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Seattle University and her BS in Human Services from Wayland Baptist University.

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